Chapter 34 Drive By

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Dahl—Tuesday, 8:57 PM

I slip away from Baron's greasiness. My strut's cockier by the time I pass the hotel exit lights.

"Phone—Call Petit Guy."

It rings only once.

"Dahl! I'm outside..." Ti Guy doesn't expect details through the phone.

"I'm coming..." My voice seethes like lava.

Scanning the cars in the parking lot offers no clue as to what he's stolen. A bronze-colored, four-door import skids in front of me. The window lowers.

"Dahl!"

"Scooch over big guy, I'ma drive..."

The locks pop with a click and I sink into the seat. I accelerate then flow into the traffic on the strip. My passenger looks like he's gonna burst if I don't fill him in soon—he's been a champ so far.

"Alright brother—this sucks..." I place my phone in the convenient dock that comes standard in this freshly-stolen vehicle. "Baron's not paying Nightmare until we deal with the Mayhem," I trace the gun in my waistband—it's loaded, safety-off. "They're loadin'-up truck eight minutes away in the outskirts," I lock onto the destination, looks like I've got the right of way, "We are gonna slide down on 'em. Make 'em scatter."

"I got you, brother!"

I peek over at him while navigating ahead of Sunday-drivers. He's amped, sweat stains through his black and yellow flannel, eyes caffeinated, or worse.

"What you carryin'?"

"Micro-sub, under the seat, Dahl. Blap! Blap! Blap!"

"Damn straight. I got 'Monsieur Hallo' in my pants."

We share a look. Any other time the lawls would be real.

"Here's my plan," I turn onto a side street—the traffics thinning, "in and out, brother. Spray and pray. I wanna know what they're gonna clap back with while we're still armored by the car. Then we'll get hands on and fuck shit up. I wanna bounce in five minutes tops, before this car gets made or shit gets sloppy."

"You got it, brother!"

I turn the docked screen right a bit so he sees the map.

"Tunes?"

"Fuck yeah, Dahl!"

I drag my tied do-rag over my head and adjust it over my nose. In the rearview all I see is my terrified eyes. Time to put on the war paint. I attach an aux cable and crank the dial. My partner in crime masks up.

Heavy metal screams around us. The bassline rumbles like steel cables about to snap. Guitars riff like marching evil. Drums beat like the rising pulse of the monster waking up inside me. I burst through the onion layers bred over me, shedding the papery non-violence, self-preservation, decency—releasing thoughts altogether. Thinking'll get me killed tonight.

Ti Guy's head beats to the rhythm while I beat the steering wheel like a snare drum. The smooth asphalt turns to bumpy gravel and we're a minute from our final destination. I see 'em—two transports getting loaded up, two trucks, two motorcycles. Half a dozen guys loaf against a chain-link fence while a seventh, in a full chem-resistant suit, dumps buckets into a dumpster-sized bin. More than I expected. I silence the music as we roll up. Ti Guy's punching his window controls without success—the mechanism's broken.

Just seconds away now. He watches my hand, gripped to the wheel. I raise one finger, two, three, form the Bank Street 'b'. He bends his arm in a tight 'V', smashes out the window with his elbow, then extends the micro sub-machine gun as we skim past them—unloading its cartridge.

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