It was getting late in the evening. The sun was low in the west and Laban was pulling his boat up on the trailer. He had been fishing all day and he was ready to pack up and get home. His client had already left and Laban had pocket a hefty tip for putting the man on some big fish. He put the bar in place holding his boat motor locked in position and pulled away from the ramp so the next person in line could back down. There was a parking lot up by the Forest Service campground and he parked to finish stowing his gear.
There were dozens of families camping in the area and Laban noticed a girl walk by, heading toward the lake. He had his rods locked in the storage compartment when he noticed a group of four men going past in the same direction the girl had gone. They all had on blue stocking caps and carried blue bandanas hanging out of their back pockets. Laban knew the type. They belonged to a local street gang called The Lobos. They hung out around the lake sometimes, usually starting trouble and intimidating the tourists.
He tried to avoid them whenever possible. They usually didn't mess with him. He looked a little intimidating himself. He was about six three and 240 pounds and none of it was fat belly. His mop of red hair and bushy red beard made him look mean, although he was a gentle man. He had played defensive end in college and six years in the NFL. He was never good enough to start but he was good enough to make teams. His lack of speed had hindered his football career and he retired with a fat bank account and while he was still healthy.
He tried mixed martial arts for three years and had won more fights than he lost, but he retired from that too. He discovered he just didn't like getting hit. Now he was a professional fisherman and guide on Lake Casitas near Los Angeles. He didn't need to work, but he enjoyed putting customers on big fish.
He fished his keys out of his pocket and opened the door of his truck. He heard loud voices from the direction of the beach. A girl was arguing with a man about something.
"Stop it," he heard her say. "I'm not bothering you. Leave me alone. I said stop it!" He heard a slap and a man's curses.
Reluctantly, he put his keys back in his pocket and walked toward the beach until he could see around the big rocks hiding the beach from his view. The gangbangers had surrounded the girl he had seen earlier and their hands were all over her. Laban didn't want to get involved but they were being very aggressive. He got his phone out of his pocket and called 911.
"Emergency services, how can I help you," he heard a woman's voice.
"Listen, I'm at the north boat ramp at Lake Casitas by Lakeview Marina. There's a young girl here and four members of the Lobos are molesting her. They're feeling her up and she doesn't want them to. I'm afraid it's going to get ugly."
"Sir, we have a car in the area and we're sending two more. What's your name?"
"Laban Sadler, and they're starting to get rough." The girl was shouting at the gang members now. "Can you hear that?"
"Yes I can. Laban, don't do anything. Wait for the officers to get there. We don't want you getting hurt."
One of the gangsters slapped the girl across the face and another grabbed her bikini top and was trying to rip it off.
"Shit," Laban said. "One of them just hit her and they're trying to rip her clothes off."
"Laban, just sit tight. The car will be there in three minutes."
"One of them just pulled a knife," he told the woman. "I don't think she's got three minutes. I'm going to leave the line open but I'm going to try to distract them. Tell your officers to get here now."
He heard her voice saying something but he wasn't listening. He put his phone on video mode and set it on the rock so it could record what was going to happen.
He walked closer. "What's happening, dudes?" he asked.
The men turned toward him. "You better keep walking, punk," one of them said. The girl tried to run and one of them grabbed her.
"Please," she wept, "They're hurting me. Help me!"
"She your girlfriend?" Laban asked.
"Yeah, that's right," a burly black man about twenty seemed to be their spokesman. "You better get your ginger ass on up out of here."
"I don't think she likes you," Laban said. "Maybe you boys ought to move on."
Two of them moved toward him. "We beat your ass if you don't get to stepping," the leader said.
"I don't think so," Laban said. "Have you ever noticed that there are some people you just shouldn't fuck with? I'm that guy. Let the girl go and I won't hurt you."
They all laughed. "Ain't but one motherfucker going to get hurt here," the one holding the girl sneered. "Kick his punk ass."
The two thugs advanced toward Laban and he circled a little, putting the one on the left in his buddy's way. When they came within range he kicked the nearest in the side of the knee. The knee gave way with a sickening crunch and the thug collapsed, screaming and writhing on the ground. The second threw a punch at Laban's face and he easily avoided it. He grabbed the extended arm and closed with his opponent. He locked his arms around the thug's back in a double under hook and smashed his forehead into the man's face. His nose crunched and blood spurted. Laban's huge arms flexed and he squeezed like a python. The thug began a high scream that was quickly cut off as the air was forced from his lungs. Laban heard ribs breaking and he threw the man to the ground. He was unconscious.
The remaining two stared at him. "You son-of-a-bitch; we going to kill you for that and then we going to have some fun with this bitch and kill her."
Laban knew he was in trouble if they had guns. They didn't seem to have any guns but they both drew knives as the leader pushed the girl into the water. She fell and cried out as she smashed against a rock. Her heard her arm break and the side of her face hit the rock. She lay there, stunned for a minute.
Laban knew he was in trouble. He was probably going to get hurt. If he made any mistakes, it might just turn out like they said it would. They fanned out, circling around him. One of them was holding his knife wrong but the other was clearly a knife fighter. Laban concentrated on the most dangerous. He moved toward the man and out of the range of the other. The man took a swipe at him with the knife. Laban couldn't avoid it, but the cut; aimed at his neck could be redirected and he struck the knife arm. The stroke went low and Laban felt it bite into his ribs. The blade struck bone and hung for a moment, just long enough for Laban's counterstrike. The heel of his right hand struck the thug just under his nose and crushed it upward. The nose exploded into a bloody mess and the man dropped the knife as the impact flung him through the air. His head struck a rock with a crack and Laban felt fire flood through his back as the second man buried his knife in Laban's back.
He felt almost paralyzed with pain, but he managed to spin, trapping the thug's arm under his left arm. He swept the man's legs with his right leg and dropped with him to the ground. He quickly secured an arm bar and tried to tear that arm off. The arm broke with a crunch and the elbow fractured. The thug went unconscious and Laban tried to sit up. He heard sirens screaming closer. He felt very weak. Someone was standing over him. An angel knelt down beside him, weeping, bleeding from a cut on the side of her head.
God, she was beautiful, Laban thought, but angels shouldn't bleed. He reached up to her with his hand and tangled his fingers in her long blonde hair. She sobbed and then screamed when she saw the blood running from his side. She looked up the bank and screamed at four figures Laban saw there.
"Over here," she screamed. "Please, help us! He saved my life and he's dying! Help us!"
Laban's vision drew down until he could only see the angel. His head throbbed and he knew no more.
He was very disoriented when he opened his eyes. He saw a small room with a curtain dividing it. He was lying in a bed, but it wasn't his bed. He saw medical equipment all around and he realized it was a hospital room.
"Hey, you're awake!" he heard an unfamiliar voice.
It took a huge effort to turn his head. He saw the form of a woman rising from a chair beside his bed. She moved to bend over him and her face came into focus.
"I remember you," he murmured. "You're the angel."
He heard her laugh and he slept again, secure in the knowledge that an angel was watching over him.
When he woke up again he remembered. He looked around and Gina was sitting in the chair. His sister noticed his eyes were open and she jumped up.
"Oh, my God, Laban; thank heaven you're awake."
He tried to speak but his throat was so dry that only a croak came out. He tried to swallow and it felt like his throat was full of sawdust.
"Drink," he croaked.
She held a straw up to his lips and he felt the cold ice water sooth his parched throat. She only gave him a sip. He took it gratefully and then relaxed his head back onto the pillow.
"Hey, Gina; where am I?" he asked.
"You're in intensive care in the hospital," she said. "Oh, my God, Laban; I thought you were going to die!"
"What happened to me?" he asked.
"Don't you remember? You saved a girl's life down at the lake. You nearly killed four gangbangers and you got stabbed in the side and in the kidney. They had to do emergency surgery. I'm sorry, Laban, but they had to remove that kidney. You only have one kidney now."
It came back to him. "Is the girl ok?"
.... There is more of this story ...