I’d been working vice for years. This was going to be the case that scored me
Six months chasing down The Orchid. She’d evaded me this long, but a tip from a
CI scored me the chance to arrange a meet. I was in the middle of the street
when she’d pinged me. My phone lit up like a firecracker.
“Lose the sweatshirt and meet me at The Juke in 15.”
I looked around cautiously. She clearly had eyes on me. The crowded street made
it impossible to tell who her minion was.
I dropped my eyes back to my phone to check the time. I knew seedy nightclub
was only a ten minute walk. I tucked my phone back in my pocket and walked as
if I didn’t have a care in the world. My heart was racing.
The adrenaline had the better of me, though, and I made the walk in eight
minutes. I looked up and down the street. No cars. No pedestrians. Completely
I shed my sweatshirt and stuffed it into a nearby dumpster. I did a walk around
the block to burn time and nervous energy. I was finally getting a meet with
the Head Mistress of Gambling.
By the time I made it back to the entrance of The Juke, I met the 15 minute
mark. I ran my hands over my hair to smooth it back from my face. I reached for
the door latch with my thumb and pressed the release.
Smoke occupied the top third of the room and the prominent jukebox was blaring
some kind of techno-new wave funk. The bar seemed filthy and empty.
The voice came from a dimly lit corner.
I mustered the courage to reply, “Hello. You must be The Orchid.”
I took three quick steps into the room.
I instantly realized my mistake.
The guns cocked from behind me.
This was going to be the case that scored me my shield.
I barely had time to register her beautiful face before the lackeys opened fire.
“Hurry up, Hitch! We’re almost there!” Blaze ran as fast as his legs would
carry him. He had discovered this place on his last adventure and was eager to
share it with his best friend.
“I’m trying, Blaze. You’re too fast!” Hitch hadn’t yet hit a growth spurt, so
Blaze stood nearly a head taller. His legs burned and his chest heaved as he
tried to keep up with his friend. The permanent crook in his knee didn’t help
things either. He looked ahead to see how far his red-headed friend had gotten
ahead of him. Blaze was already breaking around the corner. Hitch struggled to
turn the corner, but when he did, the sight was amazing. It was everything
Blaze had described.
Abandoned ancient vehicles. Cars from the 1930’s and 40’s lined up one after
one like train cars for as far as he could see. They were rusty and old. And
they were beautiful. The metallic smell of oxidation and daisies overwhelmed
his brain and his heart. It was so stunning, Hitch nearly cried. Old pick up
trucks missing their beds. Coupes with rumble seats. Hitch had never seen
anything like it. Only in picture pages did he see glimpses of the past.
“See! I told you. It’s a car graveyard. It’s like they drove here to die. I bet
your great-great-great-great-great grandpa had one of these!”
“But Blaze, isn’t it weird that there isn’t anything newer here? I mean...no
1980’s. No 2015’s. No 2035’s. Isn’t that weird to you?”
“Naw, man! Let’s go! Dibs on the rusty sedan over there!” And with his claim
made, Blaze sprinted toward his car.
Something felt very wrong about this place. Hitch was no dummy.
Blaze ran to his car and threw open the door. It relented with a screeching
“Blaze, I don’t think…”
“C’mon Hitch! I’m driving!”
“...this is such a good…”
Blaze slammed the door shut. Everything went hauntingly silent.
Hitch did his best to swallow the fear creeping up his gut like Boston ivy. He
cautiously walked to the car Blaze had climbed into. “Blaze?” he tested
cautiously. “Blaze, get outta there. We gotta make dinner.”