What Might Happen In Vegas
by Bill Baber
blue Dodge Charger
Danny Naughton drove westbound on I-10 was as hot as a freshly poured cup of
McDonald’s coffee, the brunette with cherry-red lipstick in the passenger seat
He had stolen
the car in
downtown Tucson; he hadn’t planned on it, but he never was one to pass up a
crime of opportunity. He picked the girl up in a Northside bar. Neither action
required much effort on his part; the keys were in the car. The girl was
drinking a margarita and looked bored, like she was just waiting for something
to happen. She decided Danny might be that something.
He drove just
under the speed
limit even though he had switched out the plates. He liked that the girl didn’t
talk much, didn’t ask a lot of questions. He neglected to tell her he had
stolen the car. Cracking the window, he lit a cigarette. He planned on taking
the car to a chop shop a
guy that he knew operated in Glendale, figuring he’d get a couple grand for it.
Thought him and the girl would hop a flight to Vegas.
She played with
the radio as he
fantasized about what might happen with a little champagne and a Jacuzzi suite
at the Bellagio, when he looked in the rearview. Three
black Suburbans followed him, looking bigger than shit as heat waves danced off
their shiny hoods. What Danny didn’t know was that he had walked right into a
drug drop. Someone had been watching the Charger when it got left in Tucson,
waiting to be sure no one had followed it. There were twenty pounds of heroin
sewn into the back seat.
He took the exit
for I-8 that
went west toward San Diego. It didn’t get the traffic that the 10 did, and once
clear of Casa Grande, he put his foot into it. The girl looked amused. The Charger
pulled away, the pursuers becoming small dots in the distance. There was
nothing but seemingly unending saguaro-covered, rock-strewn hills and a deep
blue sky in front of them. Danny thought he’d stay on 8, then take 85 into the
west side of Phoenix. The girl applied another coat of lipstick. He started to
get hard thinking about Vegas.
Ten miles down
the road, one big
rig attempted to pass another, the one in the fast lane not doing much more
than sixty and struggling to get past the other truck. Danny watched the
mirror. The Suburbans, like desert vultures, swooped in on him in seconds. One
got right on his ass while another pulled alongside him. He thought about
braking hard and trying to switch directions. The third vehicle laid back,
ready to thwart that kind of escape.
The one on his
left turned into
the Charger, causing him to lose control. The car spun and when it caught the
soft desert sand on the side of the road, it rolled twice, coming to rest
upside down. Danny scrambled out first and instantly met a burst of gunshots.
Two men quickly
dazed and bloody girl, roughly tossing her into the back of one of the vehicles,
while two others sliced open the Charger’s seat, removed the drugs. and doused
the car with gasoline. One stood back a bit, lit a cigarette.
Danny could hear
screams of the girl as two of the Suburbans pulled away. He watched as a slow
stream of gas sought its way from the car toward him. He saw the evil smile of
the man with the cigarette. Saw his blood mix with the gasoline. And lastly,
saw the man flick his cigarette toward the car.
But Danny Naughton
died with a
smile on his face, because the last vision he saw was of him and a beautiful
brunette doing nasty things in a Vegas hotel room.
crime fiction and poetry have appeared widely online
and in numerous anthologies. His writing has earned Derringer Prize and best of
the Net consideration. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play, was
published by Berberis Press in
2011. He lives in Tucson with his wife and a spoiled dog and has been known to
cross the border for a cold beer. He is working on his first novel.