The Car that Refuses to Get Away

Jeff stands quietly at the bottom of a stairwell. Adrenaline courses his through him, and he breathes deeply trying to remain calm. A dark-haired man in a black collared shirt stands next to him smoking a cigarette.

“Any minute now,” the man whispers. “He’ll come right down those stairs. Don’t let his shoes touch bottom before you unload.”

Jeff nods and betrays nothing on his face. Inside, his stomach churns, and he feels almost unable to move. There must be something he can do to change what is going to happen, what he must do. It was Donnie Brasco, right? That was his name? The FBI undercover agent who had penetrated deep into the mob and done everything the mob wanted except murder? And when it was time to murder someone, he came in from the cold. He had never been forced to commit the nearly unforgivable sin. He had been bailed out.

Why is Jeff here? Who would bail him out? He does not know the man with him, but he knows he has to do what the man said. The only way to escape his fate is to be killed or to have someone, anyone, an angelic personage even, intervene.

Maybe it was all a dream? He often dreamt of running from criminals, having a gun, trying to fire, and having the gun misfire. His friends liked to tease him when he recounted these: “Your gun doesn’t fire, Jeff? That’s what that dream means, dude.”

Maybe his gun would not fire, and he would know it was a dream.

Footsteps from above. The sounds echoes through the cement stairwell. The man next to Jeff crushes out his cigarette, and Jeff thinks that surely the building owner would be annoyed to find a smashed cigarette butt inside. The man motions to Jeff to move just out of the line of sight of the final few stairs. He puts his index finger to his lips softly and indicates to be ready with the gun.

Jeff can hardly breathe. His vision seems to narrow, as the footsteps down the stairs draw closer and closer. He pulls the pistol from his waist band. Could he really shoot a man in cold blood? He must not. But to fail is to die. To succeed is also to die.

The footsteps are just above them now, and Jeff can see the dress shoes and then the slacks. Jeff closes his eyes for just a moment, and when he opens them, the target is down to the final two steps.

Jeff steps into view and shoots three times. Blood appears on the target’s silk shirt, and he sinks to the floor, shock across his face. He dies almost without a sound.

Jeff must not be dreaming. He has just destroyed his eternity. He would never make the celestial kingdom. He might repent in sackcloth and ashes and maybe get the telestial kingdom. But there is no coming back from taking a life. Who had he even killed? And why?

The man with him steps over and looks down. “Nice work,” he says. “Let’s step outside. Our ride should be here any second.”

Jeff must follow. Yes, he must get away. He will have to confess and turn himself in. But not now. He needs time to think. Maybe there is some other way to look at this. Maybe he should try to escape and avoid prison altogether. Yes, he will be guilt ridden for the rest of his life, but better to be out than in prison, right? But maybe he deserves prison? He cannot decide.

In the bright warm day, they wait quietly on a sidewalk as traffic flies by. A pink Cadillac convertible approaches and slows.

“Here’s our ride,” the man says.

“A pink Cadillac convertible?” Jeff says, stunned.

“Get in the back,” says the man.

Jeff climbs into the back seat. “Isn’t this the most obvious car in the city?”

“Shut up,” says the man, as the driver pulls away.

Jeff cannot understand, and he hardly notices that the driver takes a right, then another right. Now, Jeff can hear sirens and see police cars and ambulances weaving their way through traffic. The driver takes another right.

“Are we circling back?” he says, incredulous.

“I wanna see who shows up,” says the man.

“When we’re driving a pink Cadillac convertible?”

The man whirls on him. “You think any cop in this city would believe our getaway car would be a pink Cadillac convertible?”

Jeff stares at the man’s cold, dark eyes. “I guess I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

“You let me do the thinking, kid,” says the man. “And act casual. Don’t look guilty.”

Jeff sinks back against the white leather seat, the hot sun beating down on him. Traffic moves out of the way for the cops, their driver keeps looping the same blocks, and people are gathering at the scene of the murder, all while Jeff wonders how they can not be caught in their pink Cadillac convertible getaway car that refuses to get away.

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