Flash rolled into the abandoned lumberyard and up the ramp into a fifty-three-foot trailer that had bags of gluten and corn free organic dog food painted on the sides. He pulled the battery and ratcheted the Mercedes down like a professional calf roper and jumped off the back of the trailer as the driver started to reload pallets of dog food. Flash stood in the swirling gravel dust churned up by the forklift and gave minimal load directions. It took them under six minutes from the time he’d driven through the gates to locking the trailer.
The driver smacked his gloves together, tossed them in the cab. “GPS?”
“History before I started it.”
“Dead, set and locked down?”
“Come on, Colin. I didn’t start yesterday.”
“No, but you took your sweet time.” Colin leaned on the cab with one hand, unlocked the “Fire Extinguisher Inside” box with the other. He pulled the fire extinguisher, slammed the box door. “Trouble?”
“Met a girl.”
Colin turned his head, popped a grin, elbowed Flash in the shoulder
“Not like that, man. A girl girl.”
“Worst kind of trouble.”
“She’s not a banger…She’s…different.”
“What I said.”
They split up, climbed into their respective sides of the cab. Flash dropped his leather bag on the console, took the fire extinguisher handoff. Colin lurched the rig through the deserted lumberyard’s gates while Flash unscrewed the bottom of the extinguisher, stuck his hand inside and fished out two waxed paper bundles.
“One-sixty.” Colin hit the ignition on a vape, blew the smoke sideways out the window. “How many non-target free-styles you pull today?”
“Don’t be cute, you’re a freaking one-man white car crime wave in this town. Scanner’s lit up with hot cars. The Lexus I know was you belonged to a city councilman’s wife and they have everybody with a badge that can drive out looking for it. You’re finished here.”
“How am I supposed to —”
“Uber. I’ll drop you someplace civilized.” He chuckled, hit the vape again. “Six? Jeez, Flash. You shopping for a keeper?”
“Not really…” He zoned a few extra seconds, could still taste onion rings through the dust. “But I might have found one.”
Harli and Maddie, from their vantage point in the rented black Camaro three parking spaces away, watched Cheryl the real estate agent slam Kevin’s motel room door, climb into a metallic red Lincoln SUV and chirp the tires getting out of the Super 8 lot. Harli thought the Lincoln would be a cool car for Flash to steal. She pushed on her temples with the heels of her hands. God. What was she thinking?
“This isn’t going to work, Maddie. You know that, right?”
“Of course it will work. You could have gone horny college girl, done the Flash til he was stupid and walked out of his room with the cash. Would have saved us some trouble.”
“I don’t do that. Weaponized sex is like so Twentieth Century and reality TV and so not me. Besides, I think he’s one of those weird Unicorn kind of guys who can see that stuff coming, and I…Well…”
“You don’t want him to think that about you because you’re not one of me. Got it. Ten minutes. Do you need to pee again? Questions?”
“Do you think the police will get the video from Target of us buying all these black clothes?”
“No one will call the police, Harli. The money is payment for an insurance fraud stolen car. Relax.”
“Will Flash hate me forever for this?”
“Flash will get over it. Anyway, you’re robbing Kevin, not Flash.”
“What do you suggest for a black ski mask, Harli? Pink? Red?”
“The masks cover our mouths. Our eyes will give us away.”
“Not with these. Party City. White-out vampire contacts.” She tilted the rearview, popped the contacts in, flashed Harli a buck-toothed smile. “How you rike me now, Grasshoppuh?”
Harli rolled her eyes. “Talk about Twentieth Century…”
At straight-up 9 pm Flash carried a Red Dragon branded paper bag from his room to Kevin’s, knocked on the door, raised his voice to delivery driver level. “Red Dragon.”
Kevin opened the door, reached out and dragged Flash into the room, stuck his head back out to look around and Harli cracked him on the head with Maddie’s Browning. Hard, but not too hard.
“Shit..OW! The fuck?” Kevin clutched the top of his head with both hands, staggered back into the room, fell on the bed. “Whaaa? Who? Awwwww…Dammit. OW! He pulled his hands down, looked at his fingers. “Holy mother of fuck! I’m bleeding!” Harli raised the gun again and Kevin dove under the pillow. “Take it, whatever you want, but don’t hit me again…Don’t fucking shoot me, either, you crazy bitch. God dammit, OW!” He rolled onto his stomach buried his head further under the pillow. Awww…Bitch! My fucking head.”
Maddie pushed her way past Harli and Flash, lifted the pillow and stuffed a dirty washcloth in Kevin’s mouth. She had trouble at first with her gloves and the cable ties stuffed in the side of her boot but got organized, pulled his hands together and zip tied them. She motioned to Harli to pull his feet up and in a few more awkward moves they had Kevin cable-tied and thrashing on the bed like a prize-winning fish in the bottom of a bass boat. In white Jockeys.
“Kung Pao chicken’s getting cold, ladies. Gotta run.” Flash bowed, took a back step toward the door and Harli stuck the Browning in his ribs.
“Yo, yo, yo, sisters of spandex darkness. Guns scare me and I’m wearing my last clean pair of underwear.” Maddie pointed to the desk next to the TV, Flash set the Red Dragon bag down. Maddie motioned for him to open it and when he stepped back she counted fifteen ten-thousand-dollar bands. She spun Flash around, rubbed him down fore and aft in the pocket range, and came up with the missing ten grand.
“Hey, come on. The rub was quality, but it wasn’t worth ten grand. Finder’s fee, okay?”
Maddie dropped the money in the bag, spun him again, pushed him and Harli out the door. She followed them with the dragon bag and continued to push until they were all in the Camaro. She pulled off her ski mask, shook out her hair, Harli did the same.
Flash didn’t seem surprised to see them. “Which one of you is Bonnie and which one is Clyde?”
“Cute, junior. She tells me you’re a Berkley boy. Can you prove it?
“Is there a latent hippie blood test?”
“Cassie’s Place is what?”
“Since 1964 it’s been a continuous ‘meaning of life’ talk-a-thon coffee bar, upstairs behind Grant’s Market. Cute, smart girls who don’t buy razors or hair brushes until they graduate, guys in stupid round Amish looking hats and designer chuka boots, all flying low on over-priced caffeine wishing they weren’t virgins.”
“Ding! The money for the car is between you and Harli. We’re going to drop you at Lowe’s across the street. Walk back over and unhook Kevin. Act scared, like we kidnapped you and threw you out.”
“Then hook up with us in 723 at the Marriott. We’ll order pizza, have some fun.”
“Only if Harli stays in that black leotard. I thought I was falling in love with Bonnie or Clyde, whichever one she is. Was?”
“Shut up.” Harli managed an on the edge of disgusted frown. “Liberal Arts guys fall in love every other week.”
“What about Global Economists? When do they fall in love?”
“They don’t,” Maddie interjected. “Not on my watch. Harli, can we take his lofty bullshit horniness to Lowe’s, please? Before the smell of youth in heat overwhelms me?”
Harli stopped the Camaro by the pro door cart corral, Maddie leaned forward, pulled the seat back with her. “Adios, junior. If it takes too long to smooth Kev out, save the walk to the Marriott, we girls need our beauty rest. He might be pissed, don’t let him kick your ass.”
“The last ass he kicked was his mother’s, on the way into planet Earth.” He squatted down, hung on to the open door. “Harli with an I, next time you rob someone, put a clip in the gun. It’s more convincing that way.”
Maddie’s eyes got huge. She raised her eyebrows and they got even bigger. “Sweety?”
“I didn’t want it to go off and shoot him on accident.” Her smile sneaked out again, with a blush building behind it.
“That’s comforting. I think.” He stood, stayed bent into the car. “Order pizza, ladies. Easy on the bell peppers.”
Harli had turned her head, trying to kill the blush, and mumbled at her window. “I don’t eat bell peppers. On pizza, anyway.”
“All that and a black leotard. I knew I felt something tug at my heart.”
“That wasn’t your heart, and you were doing the tugging.” Maddie pushed him away from the door. “You. Beat it. By that I mean leave. Harli? Drive.”