"Nah I'll be out there soon. You're home right?"
"Course." With that I hung up and finished walking to my garage. I had my own car, the same kind every guy gets as a first car. I didn't like driving though. My mind always plays out the worst possible scenarios, and lots of them. People call me a pessimist, I say realist. Plus seeing Trent get hit by a car back in the tenth grade hadn't reinforced my confidence either.
"Hey Cobie." Yea, I'm the kind of guy who talks to his car. Backing out, I quickly cycled through radio stations. My mom had driven Cobie last when her car was in the shop. Unfortunately most of the radio stations in this city catered to an older demographic, and really only one played songs from my generation. Of course, we don't have a whole lot of great music to be proud of but a guy can only listen to so much Elvis and Bobby Darren. Yea, when I said older, I meant older. The town Uncle Raymond lived in was a quick ten minute sprint away, if you followed the speed limit anyway. I pulled up to his house just as the sixth minute ticked over.
"Jesus Christ kiddo." He was waiting for me on the front step. "I thought you were a nervous wreck behind the wheel?"
"Just cause I don't like it, doesn't mean I'm not good at it."
"In more ways than one."
"Actually, that's why I called you."
"Oh?" As he raised an eyebrow questioningly, I debated with myself how much I should tell him. Ray was one of the most trustworthy people on the planet, but with a guy like Kevin, outsiders could prove very bad. "I was sure you were done with the game."
"I am, I'm just, I'm sorting something out." There, that was good.
"I heard your dad say that a lot Mitch."
"I am not my dad."
"I know." With that he stood up and motioned for me to follow to the back yard. "What do you need?"
"Just a car." As I spoke, he made a hard right into his garage door.
"Pick one." Before me were two cars I knew all to well. Lynette, the Porsche Cayenne was one of Ray's trophies. Some asshole three blocks down had a reputation for beating his wife. After she finally took him to court he won, he spent the money on this car. Ray got a little bit pissed at that and took it. I have no idea how he's kept it hidden so close to the prick for the last three years. Next to her was Josie. Josie was the bitch who taught me to drive. A 1970 Valiant that Ray and my dad had spent most of their twenties restoring.
"These are the two most prestigious ladies you've got Ray."
"Yea and they're the only ones available right now."
This was a tough decision for me. Josie had the power. I needed a getaway ride and she was it. She stood out though, it was still a little early for guys to be breaking out their classic cars. Lynette blended in a lot better. Black SUV's are far more common on the streets.
"Josie." Ray grabbed a key off the wall and tossed it to me.
"When do I report it stolen?"
"Tomorrow morning. I'll be doing the thing around five."
"Gotcha, take care kid." He fist bumped me and I climbed in the car. She started loud and then settled to a low growl. It had been a long time since I'd heard that noise. As Ray opened the door for me and I backed out, I looked right at the console.
"Don't be too much of a bitch, ok?" Josie had dangled my death in front of me a few times before. Once, the brakes failed as I almost careened into the river, and there were many other times.
"She doesn't like you cause you don't treat her right!"
"What's that mean?" I yelled back.
"Easy Mitch. With a woman like that. You gotta drive it like you stole it!" I laughed and said fuck it as I got on the street. Maybe he was right, I'd always driven Josie like I was handling a baby, I mean, she kinda was. I gunned the gas hard as I shifted. The car responded perfectly, by pitching me into the seat and launching down the block. I set a new record getting home. Parking in the garage I hurried inside because I starving. As I grabbed another helping of the lasagna in the fridge I decided I was patient enough to be picky this time. I sat around the microwave until it was heated all the way through. Walking downstairs with a plate growing hotter by the second, my night seemed like it would follow the same pattern as yesterday. That is, until I saw Trent.
"What's up dude?"
"Trent? Jesus man, scare the fuck outta me why don't you?"
"I think I just did."
"Well yea. Fuck, how long have you been here?" I set the plate down as I was losing feeling in my hand now.
"I dunno, fifteen minutes. Dude we need to talk."
"You don't have to worry about anything."
"Fuck that! I have a shit ton to worry about! And so do the others. You've seen the looks they give you!" He slumped down in my computer chair. "And they haven't even skimmed the surface."
"You're thinking about that day five years ago."
"Yea man, I mean, I know you preach that you're not the same guy as your dad. God knows I want that to be true. But I can't shake it."
"Trent, even if I was, I've got you and the others in my way. So chill." It didn't seem to reassure him. Now how about we forget this shit until tomorrow and instead, we slaughter a few thousand lines of code. He laughed a little and we broke out the most violent game I had and set high scores all night. Trent crashed on my couch around midnight but I didn't want to sleep. With the job I had to do tomorrow coming up, and the brutal reminder Trent had just thrown at me, I knew that dream was going to happen. The perfect neighbourhood, the white house, the eerie silence, and the explosion. I hated it, I hated it because I lived it and because I knew exactly what had happened. I knew it was one of the best things that could have happened for me, and I hated that. Eventually I let sleep happen, and I was right. I was damn happy when I woke up in the morning.
"Twenty after eight. Fuck." Technically late by my own schedule, I unfortunately wouldn't be able to shower this morning. Trent wasn't on the couch. "Yo!"
"What do you want asshole?"
"Nutella bagels!" I hollered back.
"Screw off!" I knew he was going to do it anyway. He'd at least put them in the toaster. I splashed water on my face, got dressed without caring a whole lot and took the stairs two at a time. Rounding the corner into the kitchen, sure enough, there were bagels in the toaster.
"Awe you're such a good little bitch." I laughed.
"Yea, but you don't know what I did to them." He got me there, I for some reason couldn't get a good come back. We ate quickly and got on our way. As we walked we talked about any and everything. Trent and I comically fed off each other. We could create a bit from one thing and seamlessly transition to something else, one minute we're trying to outdo each other with racist jokes and the next we're talking about the likelihood of politics running the Olympics. Before I knew it we were at the school.
From then, the day kind of faded by. As fifth period drew closer, the feeling of dread became more and more prevalent. It felt like forever, and yet it seemed to happen in an instant, when I was in Kevin's classroom.
"Well?" he asked.
"We're on our way now." I answered coolly.
"Then why the fuck did you show up?"
"Attendance." I was surprised at the calmness in Nate's voice.
"Funny. Now get the hell out." And we did. We made our way to my house. I treated everyone to a bottle of coke and a bandanna as we sat in the kitchen, still a little unsure of all this. Attempting to calm everyone down I suggested a game, everyone agreed. After a couple hours went by Jessica finally stood up and announced that we should just get it over with. We shut down the console and went over our game plan one last time. Nate and Jessica would walk in, ask a cashier where to find something and just kind of wander for a few minutes. By that time Riley, Trent and I would be sitting in the parking lot. With hoods drawn we would burst in, grab our hostages and immediately demand the money. Whoever didn't grab Nate or Jessica was to secure any other customers and watch the door. We decided this would be Riley. After I got the money we jump in my car and hopefully we're gone before anyone even calls the police. It felt foolproof, at least as much as it could be. My team hurried to my car and quickly got into the parking lot.
"I see three aside from our two." Riley announced from the back seat." I corrected her.
'Wrong, there's two kids and their incredibly short mom getting little bag candies on the other side of that rack." As I pointed, sure enough three more people came into view.
"Damn, you are good at this."
"I'd rather not receive compliments for it. Let's see if we can wait for the kids to leave at least." Everyone agreed to that. One of the kids made a fuss, probably because he wanted more candy or something, but the mom had a good amount of control, she said something and he listened. In only a few minutes they were gone. "Ok, now!" We all burst from the car and threw open the doors.
"Everybody hands up!" Riley had an impressively loud voice. The remaining customers were immediately terrified. Nate and Jessica played the victims very well as Trent and I grabbed them like human shields. "You three, in the middle and on the floor!" My turn I guess. Jessica was surprisingly light as I spun around to face the cashiers.
"Registers! Open them now!" They looked startled and didn't comply. "I am not even close to kidding assholes!" I tightened my arm around Jessica's neck, something I would apologize for later as I knew I was cutting off some air flow now. They received the message and began emptying cash onto the counter. "Pack it up!" I yelled. Trent backed over to Riley's little group and she came forward to pack the money into an empty backpack. Riley moved quick, and soon had almost all the money.
"Soooo," I froze. Partly because the voice that was talking to me was directly behind me and I was too far from the other hostages for it to be one of them, but also because I knew the voice. I spun around and found myself to be correct. It was Stephan! How had I not seen him? "Should I just give you guys the money? Or?" In his hands I saw a bag of tortilla chips and a five dollar bill. A million thoughts and questions raced through my mind, but I kept coming back to the same one. Why didn't he run? His voice snapped me back again. "Cause I don't wanna be a thief here, but if I give them the money, you'll just take it anyway. So what's the protocol here?" I told Jessica to take the money from Stephan and then ordered him to get on the floor with the others. I couldn't believe what just happened. Then Riley grabbed me and we headed out the door. We, almost literally, threw Nate and Jessica in the back with Riley before Trent and I got in the front seats. I peeled out and headed for a place to hide.
"What the fuck?" Almost everyone burst at the same time. "Isn't that guy in our class?"
"Yea that's Stephan, the guy Kevin punched on the first day, Jesus, we should count our blessings there." I made a hard right onto a residential crescent. "Jessica, by the way I'm sorry I choked you a little there."
"I'll be fine. Now what?"
"Now we hide." I made several turns onto other crescents and into alleyways.
"What's with all the double backing dude?" It was Nate.
"Confusing witness reports. If the police ask about the car, everyone is gonna say they saw it go this way then that way. Even if it all lines up it will take them forever to sort it out." I made another hard left and Riley almost hit her head on the ceiling. "Trent, grab my phone." He fished it out of the ashtray and I told him a number to call. A male voice answered almost instantly.
"Vince DeWalt, Mitch Townsend here, if you wanna clear that debt you have with my dad, have your garage open and cleared in the next five minutes."
"Fuck, fine!" The phone clicked off and I made another left.
"The fuck was that Mitch?" Nate's voice again.
"Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to Nate!" As I made my way down another alley I saw a car pulling out of a garage. "Just in time." As I parked and we cleared out I got the bag from Riley. A man met us in the backyard.
"We're clear then?"
"We'll forget you by tonight."
"That's all you need?"
"Yea, someone will be by for the car, either tonight or tomorrow morning."
"Then you best clear out."
"We will." The man went inside and I sighed hard. We had done it. I turned to look at my crew, it was official now. It was weird. This was the first time I properly noticed who these people were, and what they looked like. Trent had bypassed my filter years ago. But the others were finally coming into focus. Nate was average height and kind of thin. His hair was a bit like mine, short and naturally messy, but a much lighter colour. His eyes were a pale green. He couldn't have weighed more than a hundred seventy pounds and his body shape was almost rectangular. Jessica was a lot the same, tall and thin but with shoulder length black hair and almost yellow eyes. Riley was, well shit Riley actually took me back a bit. A little bit shorter than my six foot frame she had, well I guess you'd call it strawberry blonde hair and seriously blue eyes. A few freckles dotted across her face, dammit, was I getting attracted to her? That can't happen in a crew. "We need to get out of here." No one made an argument as we scattered.
When I got home I headed straight to my shower. I really just stood under the water for a while. As I towelled off I just stared into the mirror as the fog faded off it. I saw too much of my dad in my face. The short dark brown hair, the brown eyes, fuck our noses were the exact same. All I had was facial hair. My dad hated it and shaved every day religiously, I however maintained a shadow that appeared a few days old. As I grabbed my electric razor to trim my beard I saw the backpack from the robbery.
Finally dry and cleaned up I grabbed the bag. I didn't count it. As I opened the zipper I saw way to much. No convenience store should have this much cash on hand. I considered the chance that we caught them just before they would have dropped some in their safe, but that was tossed out the window when a handful of bills I was flipping released some white powder into the air.