Spencer’s idea for quick cash brought Zach, Clare, and him to the edge of the city. Cars lined up one after the other in an abandoned parking lot surrounded by empty warehouses. Drivers and onlookers partied around their cars, showing off their engines and their attractive bodies.
“What are we doing here?” Zach asked in a whisper. Clare drove her car into the parking lot, parting the crowd of the city’s underbelly for access. Spencer looked on from the passenger seat, while Zach scrunched down in the back trying to avoid being seen in the window.
“These guys run odd jobs all the time,” said Spencer. “We just need to join a crew and get on one of them. We get a cut and boom, we have rent money!”
“Are you insane?” asked Zach. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”
“I’m in,” said Clare. “I need money by tomorrow.”
Zach shut up. He focused on the path ahead. Clare’s pizza delivery sign on the top of her car granted the authority to allow continued passage through the party. Spencer kept giving Clare directions on when to turn. They passed a supercharged muscle car and a little VW bug filled with a dozen clowns.
“I hate clowns,” mumbled Zach. When he said that the clown in the back seat turned and stared straight into Zach’s gaze.
Clare’s car was now deep in the heart of the crowd. They weaved through the horde of bodies dancing to the rhythm of the music playing somewhere in the area. Several engines revved, one-upping the other. In the distance, tires screeched against the pavement as races were beginning.
“Just follow my lead,” said Spencer. “I know who to talk to. His jobs are recommended. He always takes care of his crew.”
“But we’re not in his crew,” said Zach. “We’re clearly not supposed to be here. There is no way he’ll let us tag along.”
“His crew is family,” said Spencer. “And he has a large family. This will be fine.”
Clare drove her car through the final layer of partiers. They appeared before a group of men and women centered on a bald, muscular figure with a thick black mustache and wearing a tank top.
Zach sunk lower in his seat. He recognized the leader of the crew Spencer was infiltrating. His name was Fin Rigs. It was rumored he was a member of the Italian Kartel, a deadly car jacking ring. He was responsible for thefts across the city, including the theft of the police department’s own vehicles. It took the city two days to notice, and the only reason was people started seeing active cop cars as opposed to the corrupt system the city was settled in.
“Fin!” Spencer cheered from the window of Clare’s car. “Fin, hey! How’s it going?” He stepped out of the vehicle to greet Rigs’ crew with his arms wide open. Zach pounced forward to try and stop his friend from going any further with the plan, but it was no use.
“Does Spencer actually know what he’s doing?” Clare asked Zach still in the car.
“I hope so,” said Zach.
Fin Rigs glared at the newcomer with astonishment. Immediately, he brought out his gun from the back of his pants. His gun was followed by half a dozen more from the surrounding crew.
Spencer stopped only a few steps from the car. He raised his wide-open arms into the air.
Zach wanted to hide, but Clare sat up straight and tall. She would not back down, and so Zach wouldn’t either.
“Funny, Fin. You can put the guns down,” laughed Spencer.
“You’re the one waltzing in here like you own the place,” said Rigs. “Who are you?”
“It’s me, Spencer!” he announced. “And Zach!” He turned and pointed at Zach in the backseat of the car. “We’re Uncle Ned’s kids.”
“Uncle Ned?” Rigs questioned.
“You know Uncle Ned, Aunt Monica’s ex husband. How is she doing?”
Rigs’ eyes turned into a squint. He stared down Spencer for a long minute.
“Uncle Ned sends his blessings,” said Spencer, trying to break the silence with awkward conversation.
Rigs smiled. “How’s the old man doing?” Then he pulled back his gun.
“Just got him on new meds for his knee,” said Spencer. “A little loopy right now, but he’ll adjust. Some days he doesn’t even recognize us.”
“I think it’s working,” Clare whispered inside the car.
“For now,” said Zach.
The rest of the guns outside the car lowered.
“Why don’t you come out, Zach?” Rigs yelled. “Gotta say hi to my cuz.”
Zach nodded his head. He grumbled, “There it is.”
“You have to go out there,” said Clare as casually as possible.
“I don’t want to,” said Zach.
“Please or this is going to fall apart,” said Clare.
Zach took in a deep breath and stepped out of the car.
“Hey,” said Zach. “Long time no see. Hardly recognize you now.”
“Same,” said Rigs. “What are you two doing here?”
“We need to join your crew,” said Spencer. “Just a quick job. Preferably today.”
“Yo, I don’t know about these guys,” spoke up one of the ladies standing on the outside of the conversation.
“It’s okay, Katrina,” said Rigs. “They’re family. We take care of family.”
“Thank you,” said Spencer while looking at Katrina.
“You’re in luck, boys,” said Rigs. “Thanks to the Super-Defenders rolling back time, the banks have ordered an emergency delivery of cold hard cash. We plan on relieving them of their burden. Is that your car?”
“You know it,” Spencer said with a smile. He hit the roof of Clare’s car. “Sure, she’s seen better days, but she was the top of the line once.”
“Hey,” said Clare from the driver’s seat.
Rig’s crew eyed down Clare’s car unimpressed.
“This thing won’t go above fifty!” Katrina argued.
Rigs slowly took a lap around the car. He glanced over every inch of the exterior, taking in the rusting spots, faded green paint, half inflated tires, cracked windshield, and pizza delivery sign.
“Let’s ditch these chicos,” said Katrina.
“Katrina’s right. It doesn’t look like much,” said Rigs. “You’re out.”
“Oh, come on!” Spencer yelled.
“You may be family, but we can’t use you,” said Rigs.
“What would Uncle Ned think of this?” said Zach, even to the surprise of himself. “It doesn’t look like much, but it’ll get the job done. Gets a pizza across the city in under twenty.” He looked back at Clare when he said that. She smiled at his compliment.
“Really?” Rigs asked.
“She can weave through traffic like no other,” said Zach.
Rigs stepped forward to take a closer look at Clare. He held up his hand for another moment of silence. He smiled down at Clare in the driver’s seat. She lowered her window down an inch, inviting Rigs to come closer. When he leaned in, she quickly raised the window back up, teasingly. Rigs laughed.
“You really want to bring this piece of junk to our heist?” said Rigs.
“Yup!” said Zach. “Just like Dad would have wanted.”
“It’s perfect,” said Rigs.
“What?!” yelled Katrina.
“What?!” said Spencer.
“They’ll never see Zach coming,” said Rigs. “We have them tail the caravan. Nobody questions pizza delivery. You couldn’t have come at a better time. See? You can always rely on family.”
The rest of Rig’s crew nodded with their leader’s assessment. Katrina rolled her eyes. Then she glared at Zach and his friends while Rigs led his crew to their cars. It was time to get to work.
To be continued…