ON THE CLOCK
The car was so perfectly placed I almost missed it. Between bouts of itching imaginary spiders and sniffing the car almost stayed hidden. The black Audi was such a commonplace model in this upscale area that it blended in like army camouflage. The car was double parked in front of the TD bank on Hurontario Street.
It was 12:30 p.m. – a time when everyone was running errands on their lunch break. I figured the Audi to be waiting for someone inside the bank.There was a driver behind the wheel in a nice grey suit, and he was checking his watch often as though it were a nervous tick. The engine was running to keep the cold February air from getting inside.
I scanned the street for any Missasagua cops before starting across the street towards the car. I had to force myself to stop scratching as I picked up my pace. I put my hand into my pocket and gripped the taped butt of the revolver. The army surplus jacket concealed the gun while keeping me warm.
I jogged up to the Audi as though I were the person it was double parked for. I said a silent prayer to the twelve step God and pulled at the rear driver side door. The door opened and I was out of the cold and into the warm artificial climate.
The driver looked behind him for a second until I convinced him to keep his eyes forward.
“Not for another two minutes.”
“This is a real fucking gun with real fucking bullets. Drive.”
“Not for another minute and fifty five seconds.”
The driver only had one hand on the wheel. The other, his right, was held up between the seats. He had his suit jacket sleeve pushed up and he was looking again at his watch. It was a large silver time piece with several dials and hands.
“Drive!” It came out whinier than I wanted, so I shoved the gun harder into the back of the drivers head to make up for it.
“Listen, we got one minute and forty two seconds left. Then we’re out of here. I’ll drive away from here to somewhere a bit more private and I’ll give you the keys. I promise, but not for another minute and thirty eight seconds.”
“What the hell are you waiting for?”
“My boss. If I move the car before I’m supposed to, he’ll take it out on my ass. Come on you know how it is.”
I looked around the car; it was immaculate. There were no personal items, no wrappers, and no bags. The inside of the Audi looked like it could be a company car. I thumbed back the hammer. “Move the car now, or you’re dead.”
“Listen, this job is important. I promise in a minute and fifteen seconds, max, you will be out of here and on your way to ownership of this fine European automobile, but you gotta wait.”
I was stuck. I wasn’t going to off some chauffeur for a car. I had been sent up for little shit before there was no way I was going down for killing somebody. I couldn’t just walk away either. The driver would call the cops as soon as I got out. I was stuck for another minute and fifteen seconds.
I scratched an imaginary spider with my left hand and gripped the gun harder. “What’s your name?”
“They call me Glen. How bout you? You gotta name?”
“Don’t worry about me. This job worth dying over Glen?”
“Job’s important because I said I’d do it. I gave my word I would wait in the car for another fifty eight seconds. If I break my word and fuck up here, I won’t be able to find work again. Plus there’s my boss to consider. He’d kill me.”
“That’s why I’m self employed,” I said laughing at my own joke. “How much time is left on the clock?”
“Forty eight, but I think we’re done waiting,” Glen said. He extended his arm and pointed towards the bank.
Three men were rushing at the Audi. They were all in matching grey suits with white shirts and no ties. Each man was also wearing matching plastic Batman masks. The three men broke from their huddle and each ran to a different car door. The rear passenger side door opened and a man with a Batman mask and a huge revolver shoved me into the middle of the backseat. My gun scraped away from the back of the drivers head as I was sandwiched in between two Batmen with bigger guns than mine.
The car rapidly accelerated through its gears. Glen spoke to me over his shoulder as he sped away from the bank. “See, I told you that you wouldn’t have to wait long.”
The Batman up front turned to me with his shotgun. “Who the fuck is this Glen?”
“I don’t know his name yet, but he’s into taking over the lease on the car – immediately. I said he could have it when we’re done with it.”
My gun was sweaty in my hand, and it was now pointed at no one. The barrel shook as the ants under my skin tried to crawl out through an old hole. I didn’t dare scratch the spot they were trying to escape through. The front seat Batman, on the other hand, had his gun pointed right at my face. His barrel didn’t shake. Even when the car went over bumps the shotgun never left my right eye.
“Get his gun.”
The Batman on my right put his revolver to my head and took my gun. I didn’t fight it. I put my hands in my lap and began to scratch like a dog after a tick.
“Look at this thing. You ever clean it?”
“I… I… never used it yet. Look, you guys can just let me out. I don’t even know what you look like. I made a big mistake and I promise if you let me out I won’t tell anyone I swear.”
“Promise is a promise pal,” Glen said. “Just like I promised to wait outside the bank, I promised to give you the car. Just sit tight. Okay…Well I don’t even know your name. Why don’t you just tell me? You know mine.”
“Davey. Everybody calls me Davey.”
“Good money in car jacking Davey?”
“I know a guy. He gives me a couple hundred for the cars I get. If they’re high end enough.”
“Couple hundred for this. Shit Davey that is a rip off.”
“Yeah well it gets me by. I got habits you know?”
“Don’t we all Davey. Don’t we all.”
I bounced into the Batman on my right as the Audi cornered off Hurontarioon to another street. We did three more turns like that before we stopped. The windows all rolled down and I felt the cold air chase all the heat in the car away. I stopped scratching and held myself tighter to keep warm. Glen and the Batmen got out leaving me in the back seat. I didn’t move a muscle, not even when the clothes began to come through the windows. Suitjackets, shirts, pants, and masks were tossed onto the seats beside me one by one. I stared at the floor forcing myself not to look up. Despite the cold, my ass was wet with sweat. I was sure I was a dead man.
Seconds went by and then I heard car doors opening and closing. I snuck a peak to my right. All four men got into a tan Ford Taurus. The car started and it drove up close to the passenger side of the Audi. Glen yelled out to me but I kept my head down. He yelled again, “Davey! Davey, look at me man.”
I raised my head not at all ready for the shot. I screamed when the car keys hit me.
“Promise is a promise. Car’s yours Davey. Take it easy.”
I sighed and slid my ass off the car seat. The damp material made an embarrassing noise, but I didn’t care - I was alive, I had the car, and I was breathing. By nightfall I would have my fix and I could sleep easy. I could even call Crime Stoppers and earn a little cash with the getaway car description. I laughed as I started my climb over the seats. Things were looking up. It was then that I heard my name again.
I turned my head and saw one of the unmasked Batmen throw a flaming bottle through the open back window of the Audi. It only took a few seconds for my damp pants to catch up with my shirt.
BIO: Mike Knowles is a Canadian writer. His first book, Darwin's Nightmare, is out this year under ECW press.