IN THE LAND OF KEYS
By Larry O. Grand
SO after I left the B.M.R. I headed straight across the street to the QuickStop to cash my check, since the people there knew that people from the B.M.R. would be wanting to cash their checks immediately so they could buy beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, and had set up a check cashing system where they only charged fifty cents to cash a B.M.R. check instead of the usual dollar, but they abandoned that plan after too many people complained of favoritism, but anyway I was standing outside the B.M.R. with my thirty bucks, which was a little extra because I had donated twice in the same week, and standing next to the payphone was Craig Lackey and Justin Rosenfeld, two of the biggest losers that I've ever known but they were almost as antisocial as I am, and so we'd been casual friends for about two years. Both were always wearing black overcoats and berets in an attempt to look sinister, but they ended up looking extremely moronic. As a matter of fact, many people thought Justin was retarded, partly because he stuttered, but no, he was actually just a moron. Craig was actually a few steps above moron, but not very much. I approached them. "Hey, fellows, what's up?" The two looked up, a little startled. "Oh. Nodal. It's you. What're you doing here?" said Craig. I flashed them the check that I was still clutching in my hand. "Just gave at the B.M.R. I was just gonna go in to cash this thing and get me some Gatorade." "Yeah?" said Craig, looking around suspiciously, "Well, you might wanna wait a few minutes." "Y-y-y-y-y-yuh." said Justin, who had the uncanny ability to smile whenever he was talking, no matter what the subject, and let me tell you, if you could see this smile, you would be convinced that he was retarded, "We're g-g-g-g-gonna h-h-h-h-h-hold up this p-p-p-place." Craig reached over and smacked Justin on the side of the head. "Shut the fuck up, dumbass! You just blurted out the whole plan, ya shithead!" "S-s-s-s-sorry." said Justin, still cracking that smile, "Does that m-m-m-mean we ha-ha-ha-have to kill him n-n-n-n-n-now?" He reached under his coat and pulled out a .45. "No, stupid, we won't have to, RIGHT Nodal?" said Craig, glaring at me from above the rim of his sunglasses, "As a matter of fact, you want in?" What the hell, it's Sunday, it's a holiday weekend so there were no classes the next day, what else was I going to do, maybe go downtown to the Infinity Cafe because it's the only place that sells beer on Sunday, except for Ignoreland, but you have to be gay to get in and I really, really, really hate techno music, so yeah, "Sure. What do you want me to do?" "Well, Nodal," said Craig, "how about this. You go in, cash your check there, and then we burst in and hold up the clerk while he's got the drawer open!" "Right .... then you'll take all the money, and then I'll never see you guys again, and where will my cut be, huh? THAT'S one hell of a plan. What were you going to do BEFORE I showed up? Where's your car, Rosenfeld?" "A-a-a-a-a-a-a-t-t-t-t-t-t-t home." stuttered Justin, "It's g-g-g-g-g-g-got no g-g-g-g-g-g-as." "Wait a second. You mean .... to tell me .... that you two were planning on hitting the QuickStop, with no REAL plan, and NO GETAWAY CAR?????!!!!!" "Hey .... we're workin' on it!" said Craig, glaring sideways at Justin, "Okay, so we don't have a car, yet. We were plannin' on stealing one .... yeah, why don't YOU go and get us a car and we'll take care of the cash." I never said that Lackey and Rosenfeld were geniuses, now did I. "Alright." I said, stuffing my B.M.R. check into my back pocket, "I'll go and get us a car. I'll be back in ten minutes. Just do me one favor, would you? Actually two ..... while you're getting the money, would one of you grab me some cigarettes and a Gatorade? I really need something to drink." "Yeah, sure. Cigs and Gatorade. Got it." said Craig, looking over at Justin, who was nervously fondling his gun through his pants -- at least, I HOPE that it was the gun, "You sure you can make it back here in ten minutes with the car?" I had already turned around and headed towards the B.M.R. parking lot. "Hey, don't you guys trust me? Just keep your end of the bargain, and I'll keep mine." I didn't think that Lackey and Rosenfeld were capable of holding up a convenience store, much less their own pants, but I wasn't going to be able to cash my check, and that meant I wouldn't be able to catch the bus back home, so I had to acquire transport somehow. Heading back to the B.M.R. parking lot, I figured that anyone parked here was either hooked up to a machine, or was helping someone get hooked up to a machine, which would give me enough time to hotwire the thing and be out of there. And then I saw it .... the red Ford convertible .... with the license plate "VAN 001" .... Cassandra Van Der Poole's hot little number. The top down and everything. This would be just too damn easy. She had come in during my last twenty minutes, and it usually takes about an hour for the whole plasma process to be finished, and she'd have to check out, so there wasn't a problem with time. And there weren't any windows in the B.M.R., and no one else was around, and to get this piece of crap started would take less than five minutes. But it was Cassandra Van Der Poole, and even though she was a snot and a bitch, she still said hey to me today, and I bet she'd be one hell of a lay, and I'm sure that I could easily get her in bed if I really wanted to, which I really didn't until that day, and I began to feel a slight twinge of guilt in attempting to steal her car, but then I just said fuck it, if the dumb bitch thought her car would be safe in this neighborhood, she deserved to have her car stolen. So I hoped into the front seat. As I reached under the steering wheel to grab the starter wires, I leaned to the right and opened the glove compartment. And there it was ... a set of keys. To the car. And a credit card. Cassandra's. This was unbelievable. I would be SURE to get that stupid girl into bed now. I took the keys and started the engine. I checked my watch, it had been eight minutes since Lackey and Rosenfeld had gone inside. I decided to just go ahead, cruise over there, and wait for them. Besides, it would probably be a good idea to see how the thing handled. So I put the car into first, and it slid into gear so smoothly, I wondered if Cassandra handled the same way. I took the credit card, slipped it into my jacket pocket, and closed the glove compartment. I pulled out of the space and across the lot to the QuickStop. It had been only nine minutes, but Lackey and Rosenfeld burst out of the door right when I pulled up. "ABOUT FUCKIN' TIME!!!" Lackey screamed as he jumped into the front seat. Rosenfeld tossed a large paper bag into the back seat, followed by himself. I slammed on the gas, peeled out of the lot, and went up the hill to merge with Pacific Street. "Hey, it was only nine minutes." I said, "I was early!" "Yeah, yeah, whatever." Lackey said, twisting around and snatching the paper bag out of Rosenfeld's hands. "Nice car y'got here." "Thanks, it's Cassandra Van Der Poole's." I said, gunning down the straightaway, speeding up to 55 in a matter of seconds. "No shit!" Lackey said, turning on the stereo and flipping through the CD changer (which was filled with the predictable college girl crap), "Good one, Nodal. I've been wanting to stick it to them Van Der Pooles anyway. The bitch's dad will probably buy her a new one, anyway." He opened the paper bag and began poking through it, keeping a firm grip on it so it wouldn't blow away. "So where's my Gatorade and my cigs?" I asked, flipping the stereo off and turning on the radio instead. It was tuned to P.U.'s student-run radio station, WPUZ, which plays nothing but alternative-wannabe punk shit all the time. I switched it over to the classic rock station. "Here's your cigarettes." Lackey said, fishing out a pack of Spenser's, the crappiest, cheapest, most generic locally-produced cigarettes in the world. "Gee, y'know, you could've swiped me some GOOD cigs." I said, sarcastically, taking the cigarettes. "And where the fuck's my Gatorade?" "I dunno, Justin was in charge of that." Lackey said, rooting through the bag, pulling out a couple of ten dollar bills, "I think this is the biggest thing in here." I glanced over my shoulder at Rosenfeld, who stammered "U-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-h-h-h- h-h-h, I m-m-m-m-m-m-m-must've forgotten it." "Great." I said, turning back to the road and making that sharp turn at the intersection of Georgia Avenue. I glanced over at Lackey, who appeared to be counting money out of the paper bag, "So how much did y'get?" "Well, let's see ..... " said Lackey, "it looks like we got a couple of tens, a wad of ones, a couple of penny rolls, a roll of dimes ...... maybe about thirty-four bucks." I almost slammed on the brakes in my astonishment of their stupidity. "Wait, wait, wait, wait, WAIT A FUCKIN' MINUTE. All you got out of this was thirty- four bucks???? And you bothered taking the coin rolls???!!!! You don't take the coin rolls, they're too heavy and they're not worth a damn thing!!! AND YOU FORGOT TO GET MY GATORADE!!!!!" "Hey, fuck off, Nodal, it's Sunday, they didn't have that much anyway." said Lackey, stuffing all of the cash back into the bag and pulling out a roll of nickels. "That's what the kid behind the register said." "AND YOU BELIEVED HIM???!!!! They have to have some sort of change box back there, how else are they going to break the big bills down over the weekend when the banks are closed???!!!???!!!!!!" I was so pissed off at that point that I wasn't even going to smoke the cigarettes; I just tossed them out the side of the car. "Hey, what'd you do that for?" Lackey said, turning his head to watch the cigarettes disappear off the side of the road. "Lemme tell you fuckups something, you really don't have half an idea how to do anything, do you?? You didn't have a getaway car, much less a plan for pulling a stunt like this. If I hadn't come by, what were you planning to do next, huh?" "Aw, shit, Nodal, lighten up." said Lackey, "At least we got thirty-four bucks. If you don't want the change, I'll take it. Gee whiz, lighten up, whydon'tcha?" At that point, I was really pissed off, because I had no cigarettes, and I was dying of thirst, and if I was going to get a cut of the loot it was probably going to be around ten bucks, which was making this whole escapade just a little too ridiculous for me. Plus, we were driving in a stolen car, and any minute now, by my estimation, Cassandra Van Der Poole would be realizing that her precious convertible was gone, and then the cops would be out looking. So, of course, being the only person in this group with SOME intelligence, it was up to me to figure out what to do next. After some brief arguements, I convinced Lackey and Rosenfeld to stop at the nearest gas station and food mart, with a credit card acceptor at the pump. Using Cassandra's credit card, I filled up the gas tank while Rosenfeld ran inside to get me my cigarettes and Gatorade, using my share of the ten bucks. I then suggested that we get out of the county as fast as possible and then ditch the car somewhere. We left the gas station and headed out onto Arlington Boulevard, which connected directly to the interstate. Wiping the fingerprints off the credit card on my pants, I tossed it out the window so I couldn't be traced to it (I found out later that, by complete chance, the credit card struck a fencepost on the side of the road and was discovered by the cops, which is how they were able to trace us out there that far). We got onto the interstate, and I sped up to 75, and we had the radio on, loud, and I had finished off my Gatorade in a matter of minutes, and Lackey was singing really horribly to the Journey song that was playing, and Rosenfeld was in the back seat repeatedly asking me if I would lower the top because the wind was too much for him, and I kept ignoring him as I was lighting cigarettes, taking a couple of puffs and then tossing them out the side of the car, and Ms. Van Der Poole's car was just humming along nice and smoothly with hardly any sign of slowing down. Then we ran off the road and tumbled down the embankment.
All contents copyright (c) 1997 Larry O. Grand
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