As he turned the corner, Jake saw the two punks and a girl, maybe seventeen, blonde (dye job, and not too bad) - very attractive. The boys were looking for trouble, and he had an appointment to keep, so he figured on playing it safe. They might be punks, but there were two of them, and you didn't have to be a genius or a he-man to stick a switchblade in a guy's ribs. Playing it safe was the way to go, and he would have if it weren't for the sidelong glance the girl sent his way.
"What's a girl like you doing with these chuckleheads? You can do better, you should trade up."
That did it. The short one was going to be the first to speak and the first to pull a knife. He had the most to prove. His friend was tall and lanky and looked nervous - just along for the ride.
It was the short one - big surprise. He continued, "you got any smokes?"
Shorty flexed his fingers, arched his eyebrows and shrugged in a bad imitation of a humble beggar. He tried to force a smile - he'd seen too many movies this kid.
"So, can we maybe bum a few?"
He was pissed - he was an easy target - and Jake could tell he was just about to pull the knife like a big boy. His pal still looked nervous - knew what was coming. Now was the time to act, so Jake sent his balled fist slamming into the tall one's jaw. He dropped like a bag of wet cement. Shorty was taken off guard and forgot his lines, so Jake tried a little improv and broke his nose. While the little creep leaned against the brick wall and bled, Jake gave the girl a smile.
"My car's down the street. Why don't you come with me? We can have a bite."
She blinked, tried to remain calm and composed, but she was all pins and needles. Just the same, she took a hesitant step towards Jake, then another, and as he turned she matched his stride and locked arms with him. They covered a few yards before she spoke.
"What do you expect from me?"
"Your eternal gratitude, if you play it smart."