A lonely older woman is cornered by gangsters after her car breaks down in a notorious town. She devises a cunning plan to trick the men and escape the grave danger, unaware of what awaits her when the gang lord arrives.
As the last rays of sunlight slipped behind the horizon, Candice, 75, was driving alone in her old Mustang on a breezy Saturday evening to meet her old friend. The deserted area plunged into darkness, and she seemed to be the only sign of life in a desolate neighborhood that appeared long forgotten.
Candice watched the sky cloak an ominous shade of purple as she tuned into the radio to keep herself entertained on the two-hour long drive through the unfamiliar town. The first thing she heard was a news report about police on the lookout for a notorious gang lord named Kingston, ‘The King.’
This name sounds too familiar, the retired teacher thought but was immediately distracted. Her car shuddered and lurched forward as the engine let out a loud groan. Candice’s car sputtered to a stop in the heart of the shady neighborhood, with no human existence in far sight.
“Oh dear! I should’ve started early,” mumbled Candice as she peered into the dark and dirty alley, unable to shake the feeling that she was being watched…
With trembling hands, Candice tried to restart the car. But no matter how hard she tried, the engine wouldn’t turn over.
Candice’s heart began to race as she scanned the grim streets lined with crumbling buildings and flickering streetlights. She peeked out to look for help, but nobody was in sight.
“I guess I’ll have to do it myself,” she grumbled as she stepped down from her Mustang and opened the bonnet sputtering hot fumes. The howling wind tearing from the trees haunted her as though she’d stumbled into a world where she didn’t belong.
“You lied to us…Look what I’m gonna do to you, you silly ole woman.”
Candice couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong with the engine and stood helplessly in the alley, her eyes darting nervously for help. She was disgusted by the dirty streets, stray cats rummaging through the overflowing dumpsters, and leaking drains.
Candice had heard stories of the dangerous gangs who ruled the streets here and knew she had invited herself into trouble by getting stranded there.
With each fleeting moment, the woman’s fear grew as she kept calling the mechanic. But the phone signal was weak, and Candice couldn’t call anybody.
“Oh boy! How will I go from here? There’s nobody to help me,” she worried, looking around in fear. And that’s when Candice heard them — loud, heavy footsteps echoing through the crumbled buildings, growing louder and terrifying as they approached nearer.
The woman’s stomach churned with anxiety as she turned around, and what she saw closing in on her confirmed her worst fears.
“What’s wrong, oldie? Whatcha doin’ out here alone?” asked a tall man with a menacing look in his eyes.
Candice’s heart almost skipped a beat when the guy approached her. And before she could step back and get into her car, she was surrounded by more men from all sides.
Their dark-colored outfits, black leather jackets adorned with heavy chains and spikes, strange tattoos snaking up their necks, and unsettling grace made it clear to Candice that they were the notorious gangsters who ruled this town.
“I…I don’t know what’s wrong with my car,” Candice stammered, trying to keep her panic-stricken voice steady and pretending she didn’t recognize them. “I was hoping to call a mechanic, but there’s no signal…”
“Oh, is it? Do you need help, lady?” one of the guys laughed. Candice’s heart started throbbing, and she could feel their eyes on her as the musky odor of their sweat grew stronger the nearer they approached.
“What if she goes and brings the cops? We should kill her.”
The gangsters exchanged glances, and before Candice could say anything or move an inch closer to her car, a man had already occupied his seat behind the wheel.
Another guy started fidgeting with the engine while the other gangsters inspected the car for anything worth looting. Candice knew she was in trouble and tried to remain calm, but when the men started meddling with the dashboard and her handbag, she couldn’t keep up her silence.
“Please get out of my car,” said Candice. “I don’t want trouble…let me go before I call the cops.”
The bandits exchanged glances again, and for a moment, it seemed like they might let Candice go, thinking she was a helpless older lady who’d call the police. But as she sighed a deep breath of relief, a man in front of her lifted his jacket, exposing the handgun tucked into the waist of his black denim.
“There will be trouble if you don’t keep that goddamn mouth shut, lady,” the man growled. “Just one pull of the trigger, and you’ll regret trespassing on our territory.”
Candice’s heart sank as the men stepped out of the car and swarmed around her in a circle.
“Give us your jewels and your phone,” a gangster threatened Candice. She knew there was no escape and that she was trapped. That’s when her instincts kicked in when she remembered the news report on the radio.
“You messed up with the wrong person, gentlemen…I was just looking for the King!” said Candice.
The men stopped dead and looked at her, their faces pale and shocked at hearing the word “King.”
“W—What?? W—Why are you looking for the King?” asked one of the guys.
Candice knew she had to keep up the act or risk losing everything, including her life. So without thinking twice or weighing the consequences, she looked up and said:
“I’m the King’s mother!”
The bandit withdrew his gun as the other gangsters exchanged worried glances. Candice grew tense if they’d bought her lie about being their gang lord’s mother. She was frightened but decided to play along with the plan to stay alive and escape.
“Did I hear someone ask me if I needed help to fix my car? Yes, please! I’d be grateful if you could repair it…I’m getting late to meet my son, and I’m sure the King will be pleased with his boys for helping his mother,” said Candice.
She let out a deep breath of relief when the men pushed her car to the nearest garage with her seated behind the wheel. She was glad about escaping soon, but as the men worked on her car, one of them got a call from their gang lord, the King.
“King, we have a little trouble here…your mother is with us, and she said she’s looking for you,” spoke the bandit.
Candice’s heart started thumping when the guy paused and exclaimed,” What? Your mom is already dead??”
The gangsters stopped fixing the car and glared at Candice as her blood ran cold. They approached her with menacing stares, lifting their jackets to take out their guns.
“You lied to us,” one of the gangsters spat. “You’re not the King’s mother…look what I’m gonna do to you, you silly ole woman.”
Candice knew she had invited trouble for herself and had to get out of there as soon as possible.
But before she could make a move, the men flocked around her.
“Where do ya think you’re going, lady?” a man growled.
Candice’s lips twitched when she realized her deception had gone too far. She knew there was no escape now, and to her horror, the gang lord had ordered the men to detain her to find out how she knew he had been hiding in that area.
“Please! Let me go!” begged Candice. “I don’t know the King. I just lied to scare you…”
Moments later, a van pulled up as the men hurried to greet their gang lord. A tall, tanned man in aviator glasses and a thick black hoodie paired with black jeans and suede boots stepped down.
Candice trembled in fear, imagining what could happen to her. But when the King drew closer and removed his mask and glasses, her heart almost skipped a beat when she felt a jolt of recognition after seeing that face.
“Kingston??” she gasped as the gang lord froze on his spot, unable to believe his eyes.
“Miss Gosling??” he staggered at seeing his former high school teacher — the one who had always fought for him when nobody did. And the one he had cried to after his mother died.
Candice couldn’t imagine she would run into her former student like this. During her teaching career, she had always been kind to her students and went the extra mile to help them. And Kingston was one of them.
The gang lord and Candice stared into each other’s eyes, and they were frozen in place for a moment.
“Miss Gosling! Is it really you? Oh my God…it’s been ten years since we last met,” said Kingston, his voice rough and shaking with emotion. “I can never forget what you did for me…You were the only one who stood by me when everybody else wanted me gone. You were the only one who cared for me like my mother when my whole world fell apart after I lost my mom to cancer.”
Tears sprang into Candice’s eyes as she looked at her former student from top to toe. She’d always wanted him to be an achiever, but here he was — standing in front of her as a gang leader searched for by the cops.
“What happened to you, Kingston? What the hell is all this? I thought you’d be a doctor…You said it was your dream,” Candice’s voice broke Kingston’s silence as tears gushed into his eyes.
The weight of his past mistakes was heavy on his shoulders as Kingston looked at Candice, the only person in his life who’d made him feel ashamed.
“Miss Gosling, I’m so sorry…I can’t believe I’ve become this horrible person…someone I never wanted to be. I’m so ashamed of myself, and I know I hurt you and have let you down…I’m so sorry for that,” said Kingston, tears streaming down his face.
Candice cupped Kingston’s hands in hers, her heart shattering at his pain and regret. She knew he was capable of much more and decided to help him find his way back.
“Son, it’s never too late to change,” said Candice, her voice brimming with compassion. “Circumstances could’ve led you astray, but I know you can still fix everything. Forget about your past and think about your future. What good are you doing to yourself by hiding and running all the time? I believe in you…it’s in your hands whether you want to come this way…with me, or go that way…toward the dark life you’ve created alone.”
Kingston felt a glimmer of hope he hadn’t felt in years as Candice spoke. With a trembling voice, he held her hands and cried. “Thank you…Thank you, Miss Gosling! Thank you for believing in me, even when I lost trust in myself. I promise to be the Kingston you’ve always known and loved…I promise to make things right.”
But the gang was upset at seeing their coolest leader in such an emotional state with tears in his eyes.
“King, she should be punished for lying she was your mother,” said one of the members.
“We should take everything from her and throw her out of here…”
“What if she goes and brings the cops? We should kill her.”
But to their shock, their gang lord opened the car door for Candice and helped her get in.
“Even if a fingernail touches my teacher, you’ll all pay the price for it,” he said. His gang was upset that he turned against them in favor of an older lady.
A conflict arose between the gang and the King, but Kingston made sure his teacher drove away safely while he tackled the gangsters alone.
Candice fled the spot, her eyes gushing with tears, hoping her former student would keep his promise of mending his ways. Three years passed, and one day, she was alone at home when a sudden ring of the doorbell startled her.
When she opened the door, she saw Kingston standing on the porch, holding a bouquet of her favorite white flowers in his hand and wearing a pristine smile beaming across his peppered stubble.
“Kingston?” gasped Candice. “Or should I call you King?!”
She couldn’t hold back her tears of joy as Kingston entered the house, looking different, more mature, and peaceful.
“I’m sorry it took me so long to visit you, Miss Gosling!” he said, his voice happy and sincere. “I never knew what true freedom was until I took responsibility for my mistakes and surrendered to the police…I’ve changed for the better…and I would’ve never done it without your trust and support.”
“I hope the cops don’t come for me if I treat you to tea and your favorite ginger cookies!” Candice chuckled.
“Ah, don’t worry! The King is long dead…buried…and gone!” said Kingston, sharing a hearty laugh. “I’m just a security guard now! And these are for you…a small token of love from your old student from my first salary.”
Candice shed tears of joy as she took the flowers and hugged Kingston. She knew that no matter what happened, this guy would always hold a special place in her heart.
What can we learn from this story?
Circumstances might lead to a path you were never prepared for, but it is never too late to change your course and amend your mistakes. Kingston’s life had changed due to unforeseen circumstances, and he became a notorious gang leader. However, he took responsibility for his wrongdoing and changed for the better after meeting his kind former teacher.
Never underestimate someone’s potential by their appearance. What might appear physically weak in your eyes could be mentally challenging. When the gangsters cornered Candice and were about to rob her, thinking she was a helpless, older lady, she lied to them about being the gang leader’s mother. Despite weighing the risks, she played the mind game with the bandits in an attempt to escape from them.
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