Saturday, December 26, 2009

SECRET SANTA: My Fool-Proof Plan for World Domination

[The following is a transcript from a meeting of The League of Extra Evil Gentlemen (and a Few Ladies), the honorable and malicious Professor Leopold Strake, presiding.]

Strake: It comes down to magic. Or, rather, the belief in magic. As you know, when a magician has three cups and a ball under one, his hands move so fast you can’t keep up. Thus, when he asks you to pick the cup you think the ball is under, you’re basically just guessing. The same thing applies when he makes the quarter “disappear” from one of his hands while, in the next instant, he “pulls” the coin from your left ear. You’re so busy being impressed that you may not have realized he picked your pocket.

That’s what I’m going for. The Magic of Distraction. My fool-proof plan for world domination will have lots of distractions. Better to keep the attention of Those Who Would Thwart Me off me and onto their own, inane wants and desires.

First, I’ll invent a device. On this device, you can download any type of music, video game, movie, TV show, or, adult entertainment you want. [Dick Norton, munitions expert, sniggers.] People will be able to carry around gigs and gigs of mindless distractions that will fixate them on only things they want. You see, there will be no external speaker on this device. You have to have headphones in order to separate each person from the person next to them. Thus, people will go the entire day in complete isolation, not even caring if they bump into other people.

Louisa Strake [raising her hand]: Honey, can I...

Leopold Strake [covering the microphone]: I told you not to call me that in front of the League.

Louisa: I’m sorry. But the device you want to invent is already out there. It’s called an iPod.

Leopold [looking confused]: Are you sure?

Louisa [nods].

Leopold [scanning the room. Sees every head nod in agreement.]

Leopold [clears throat]: No matter. We will co-opt this iPod for our own agenda. The other part of my fool-proof plan for world domination involves the unlimited availability of Stuff.

Roger Deacon, electronics genius: Stuff, sir?

Leopold [points finger at Deacon]: Yes, stuff. The modern human, especially those in North America, need to be conditioned to a state in which nothing is inconvenient. We need to convince builders to construct drug stores on every corner, huge department stores within a mile of each other, coffee shops in the parking lots of coffee shops, and fast-food chains all over the place like acne on my teenager’s face.

[All heads turn to Lenny Strake. He takes no notice since he’s playing a game, with headphones, on an iPod.]

We will start a campaign to convince the American public (and others around the world) that the only way to true happiness is to buy things. Then, when they’ve over-extended themselves, we, as the League, will step in and rescue them, offering them hope when, in reality, we’ll be tightening our grip on the world.

Louisa [raising her hand]: Leopold, dear, that state already exists in the world.

Leopold [looking confused]: Are you sure?

Louisa [nods].

Leopold [scanning the room. Sees every head nod in agreement.]

Leopold [looks at the sheet of paper in front of him.] Mindless, “reality” entertainment on television?

Louisa [nods].

Leopold [scanning the room. Sees every head nod in agreement.]

Leopold: Overpriced medicine?

Louisa [nods].

Leopold [scanning the room. Sees every head nod in agreement.]

Leopold: Overpaid athletes and entertainment stars who think they’re entitled to do anything they want, reported on by various media establishments, all designed to distract the public’s collective attention?

Louisa [nods, smiling].

Leopold [scanning the room. Sees every head nod in agreement. A few fellow Leaguers don’t make eye contact.]

Leopold [reads the entire list, his eyes dart back and forth. Angrily, he crumples up the paper and throws it in the trash can.] Who is the person who orchestrated this most ingenious plan for world domination? It’s fool-proof! I want to know right now! [He stands motionless, his finger aimed at the entire panel of evil men and women.]

Louisa [rises, pats Leopold’s hand] It’s okay, dear. I’ll still let you rule the Bahamas.

[end transcript]

Do Some Damage At Christmas, podcast show notes.

Hey folks!

Just a quick break from the secret santa schedule before Scott's goes up.

This is our first podcast. Well, sort of. It's the first you'll get to hear but, true to it being recorded by two writers, it's not the first attempt at recording one. You'll still hear it's a bit rough around the edges, but we're proud of it. If you've not listened yet, click on the link to the right.

Here's the books we talked about this week;

-Parker: The Hunter. Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of the Richard Stark classic.

-Gun Monkeys. Victor Gischler

-Big City, Bad Blood. Sean Chercover

-Caught Stealing. Charlie Huston

-The Lost Sister. Russel D McLean

-Let It Ride. John McFetridge

-When One Man Dies. Dave White

-Grinder. Mike Knowles

-Yellow Medicine. Anthony Neil Smith

-The Devil's Staircase. Helen Fitzgerald.

-Gutted. Tony Black.

-The Last Place. Laura Lipman.

-Judas Kiss. J.T.Ellison.

-Beast Of Burden. Ray Banks.

-Slammer. Allan Guthrie.

We'll be back at work at future podcasts soon, playing around with the formula, smoothing out the gremlins, bringing in the other guys. If there's anything you want to hear, let us know.

We hope you all had a great christmas, and look forward to writing for you in the new year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

DSD Secret Santa: Crime Fiction and Fast Food

Russel D McLean

As The Estimable Mister White said yesterday, I’ve been away and working on my tan (yeah, because that’s what booksellers do at this time of year – spend the days out on the beach, especially in Scotland), but how could I overlook the chance to do the Christmas Day DSD Secret Santa Post?

So you know how this works: the evil genius (ie, The Stringer’s incredibly smart girl) distributed random topics suggested by your heroic bloggers to each member of the team. In between moaning about work (as Dave pointed out, I do a lot) I managed to sneak a look at my topic.

So we present, on Christmas Day (in the morning), my reply to the following challenge:

"Compare crime fiction to your favourite fast food restaurant..."


Now, those of you know of my sordid past will also know of my antipathy towards a certain very well known chain of fast food restaurants for whom I worked as a teenager. I will not mention them by name, but let’s say that they were responsible for my general weight gain which I never ever shook off.

But that’s not to say I have a thing against fast food. Oh no, as you may gather I do love my food. And by love, I mean adore.

And I was thinking about this, what fast food places do I like?

And I started thinking about all those pizza delivery places I dig. And the restaurants, too. Now, it’s tough for me to pick an outright favourite chain or anything, but let’s talk about pizza in general as a metaphor for crime fiction.

Pizza, as one of my ex-bosses used to say, is nothing more than “fancy cheese on toast.”. And I think the same could said of crime fiction. In a purely metaphorical way. At the heart of the genre, there is a base of conventions. Some of these are different – you have stuffed crust serial killers and Neopolitan procedurals – but these variations of our fancy metaphorical cheese on toast are only your starting point. I mean, sometimes all you want is a basic pizza, a base and the cheese (and the tomato paste which is the fancy bit).

But then it comes to the toppings. Those little additions that add a unique taste and texture. I like to think of these as equivalent to the author adding their own personality, voice and quirks to the solid base of their pizza. This is where they get creative, where new tastes are discovered, where the “fancy cheese and toast” becomes something different, occasionally even unrecognisable.

So, there you go. Crime fiction as fast food, specifically pizza. Insane ramblings or genuine metaphor? Only you can decide. I’d like to thank whoever gave me this topic, as well, because I used it as an excuse to order pizzas in order to indulge in some top quality… um… research.

Yeah, that’s what it is.

Anyone know if I could put them down as expenses?

Anyway, my dear DSDers, I just want to wish you all a merry Christmas and hope that, even if ain’t a holiday you celebrate, that all the same you have a wonderful day. And I shall leave you with James Brown and his wish that you have a soulful Christmas.

Get down!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

SECRET SANTA: Chekov's Gun

So here's the deal.

When you're writing for Do Some Damage you get an inordinate amount of emails. Mostly they're from Stringer complaining about his football/soccer team alienating him. Sometimes they're from Weddle whining about the blister on his toe.

And when you get them everyone hits reply all and answers. Russel talks about work. John and Mike--the reasonable ones--tell us to just ignore them. And they do it politely...(Is that good, guys? Can you let my brother go now?) And Scott... well Scott does love his emoticons.

Anyway, somewhere in the midst of Stringer's 37th foul mouthed email, he started talking about Christmas. And how cool it'd be to do a Secret Santa. (I think it was Stringer. It may have been John or Mike---SERIOUSLY... LET HIM GO!! Oh and Hey, Scott--<@:-) )

He said we should all come up with a wacky topic, email it to his girl, and she would distribute one topic to each member of the DSD randomly. And we'd have to write a post about it. So, for the next week you get to read the official DO SOME DAMAGE SECRET SANTA Blog Posts!

Well, maybe not Russel's... I think he's like... working on his tan... Guess you'll find out tomorrow!

(Steve, just pop the damn thing already...Yuck!)

"Was Chekov's Gun ever actually loaded?"

My first thought was... do they really expect me to research every episode of STAR TREK to find out if he had a loaded gun? Seriously, I'm not doing that. I'm not that much of a Trekkie. I mean, I loved the summer action flick, but I really don't know all the different aspects of the Trek Canon.

So, I'm not doing that. I'm not going on IMDB... I really don't care about Chekov's gun? And even if it was loaded, wouldn't it be set on stun anyway?

Wait, what's that?

Oh.... right.

The literary device.

In a letter, Anton Chekov once wrote, "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."

That seems to answer the question, doesn't it?

I mean a close read of that quote shows that the rifle is indeed loaded.

So, if you're asking if it ever really was loaded... then you have reason to believe Chekov was lying. Why is that?

A quick look into the past of Chekov shows why you'd think that...

He renounced theater after the critical reception of THE SEAGULL went very badly. I mean, let's assume that Chekov really hated theater. Hated theater like I hate pasta. What would a man like that do?

He'd go on and on about a loaded rifle... only to have it never be loaded.

But THE SEAGULL was brought back to the theater two years later. He helped bring it back after renouncing the entire genre... and Chekov wrote two more plays AFTER "renouncing" theater...

So, was Chekov's gun loaded?

Not after THE SEAGULL.

No... he kept it unloaded as a cruel... harmful joke. That's how he got his revenge on theater and theater goers. He talks about how we should all expect this gun should be loaded and then GO OFF... but it just clicks on an empty chamber...

And now all of us are paying for it... because we're all trying to find a way to make the gun we put on stage in Act One... go off in the third act...


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Literary Theory

John McFetridge

There, I said it.

A long time ago in the dark ages of my life I used to talk about literary theory all night. Usually in the Rymark Tavern on Peel after the hockey game ended, drinking pitchers of Molson draft and eating pig’s knuckles out of the big pickle jars.

Then, of course, I realized that literary theory isn’t about literature at all, it’s about the theory – whichever one you’re trying to use the literature to prove. From Marxism to libertarianism to feminism to some kind of realitivism of something, I never really understood.

Back in my day, kids, it was all Derrida and Lacan and deconstructionism – never mind who the author is, pretend this literature just arrived here from aliens if you want, all we talk about is ‘the text.’

Now when I hear someone talk about ‘the text,’ I know it’s time to go looking for a football game to watch (and my Bills are coming back, oh yeah, next year playoffs for sure, you heard it here first).

These days one of the newest literary theories is Darwinian.

I kid you not, Literary Darwinism – Evolution, Human Nature and Literature.

Okay, maybe that does make a little sense, you usually need people in literature and they usually display some aspects of human nature.

A good place to start with this is an article in the new York Times magazine by D.T. Max from November, 2005 available online here.

The theory is new enough that it hasn’t really been genre-fied yet and they seem to be only talking about the classics, but I’m sure Literary Darwinism could be applied to crime fiction.

But first things first.

D.T. Max says that, “Jane Austen first published Pride and Prejudice in 1813. She had misgivings about the book, complaining in a letter to her sister that it was ‘rather too light, and bright, and sparkling.’ But these qualities may be what make it the most popular of her novels... the common reader, Pride and Prejudice is a romantic comedy... On a more literary level, we enjoy Austen's pointed dialogue and admire her expert way with humor... But for an emerging school of literary criticism known as Literary Darwinism, the novel is significant for different reasons. Just as Charles Darwin studied animals to discover the patterns behind their development, Literary Darwinists read books in search of innate patterns of human behavior: child bearing and rearing, efforts to acquire resources (money, property, influence) and competition and cooperation within families and communities. They say that it's impossible to fully appreciate and understand a literary text unless you keep in mind that humans behave in certain universal ways and do so because those behaviors are hard-wired into us. For them, the most effective and truest works of literature are those that reference or exemplify these basic facts.”

Okay, it’s getting kind of musty in here, but let’s plod on a little:

“From the first words of the first chapter ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife") to the first words of the last ("Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters"), the novel is stocked with the sort of life's-passage moments that resonate with meaning for Literary Darwinists. (One calls the novel their "fruit fly.") The women in the book mostly compete to marry high-status men, consistent with the Darwinian idea that females try to find mates whose status will assure the success of their offspring. At the same time, the men are typically competing to marry the most attractive women, consistent with the Darwinian idea that males look for youth and beauty in females as signs of reproductive fitness. Darcy and Elizabeth's flips and flops illustrate the effort mammals put into distinguishing between short-term appeal (a pert step, a handsome coxcomb) and long-term appropriateness (stability, commitment, wealth, underlying good health). Meanwhile, Wickham - the penniless officer who tries to make off first with Darcy's sister and then carries off Lydia - serves as an example of the mating behavior evolutionary biologists call (I'm using a milder euphemism than they do) 'the sneaky fornicator theory.'"

So, Pride and Prejudice, in addition to be very well-written and quite entertaining, hits us at a deeper level and confirms some of our most basic instincts as ‘truths,’ maybe even “universally acknowledged,” and that’s why it’s still so popular.

So, what of crime fiction? Do the crime fiction novels that have survived as “classics” also hit us at this deeper level of instinctual truth? Do the moral values held by Holmes and Spade and Marlowe resonate with us? Are the conventions of the genre necessary for its very survival?

The Literary Darwinists might say yes. An important part of their theory is “that literature began as religion or wish fulfillment: we ensure our success in the next hunt by recounting the triumph of the last one.” Or by imagining how we’ll be successful in the next one.

And the most successful “organisms” are the ones that adapt best to changing environments so I would say it’s no surprise that crime fiction is doing so well.

And it’s no surprise that change happens slowly. Crime fiction often walks a fine line between telling stories about really unpleasant people and then offering up satisfying endings. Too much unpleasantness and the ending doesn’t matter. Not unpleasant enough and the story often seems pointless.

A tough balance to find.

The next stage in the evolution of literature is, of course, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is just a cash-grab, though.

And, like the best academic theories, Literary Darwinism is likely to be successful because it’s vague enough to include just about everything and you can argue about it all night.

In the Rymark Tavern with pig’s knuckles and Molson draft.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have You Heard The One About The Zen Master?

By Jay Stringer

This one's for Joe Strummer.

One of the very first pieces Russel wrote for the site was about swearing in crime fiction. I want to return and dig away at the topic, but it hasn’t come from any thoughts about craft.

This weekend saw an historic moment in the UK, with the campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name to Christmas number one instead of the latest X Factor single. I blogged about it elsewhere, and I’m not going to go on a long rant about it. Suffice to say, it was a fun thing to watch and there was a lot of shouting on both sides.

It got me thinking about profanity (Not that I need much of an excuse, as you can tell from previous entries.) Now, for those who don’t know the song –and I’m sure there are about six of you out there- it builds in intensity until reaching a crescendo, as the phrase Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me is shouted repeatedly.

It’s loud, it’s immediate, and it’s a direct connection to an emotion. I think that whether you love or hate the song, or even the use of the word, you instantly get the message. Job done.

But the fact that the song contains such language, and such angry usage of it, seems to create more debate than the meaning of the song itself. Never mind that the lyrics references police officers who were members of the KKK, or that it uses that link to attack right wing corporate agendas. Never mind on the other hand that it’s still a song on a major label and way overplayed. It has a naughty word in it. A lot.

This seems to make it an easy target. ‘you only like it because there’s a swear word’ is something that was levelled at me many a time in my youth. ‘They just swear to get noticed’ is another. These things are used to weaken the message of the song, or this week, to weaken the message of the chart sales.

I’ve spent a lot of time coming up with defences for this. Some of them have been witty and insightful, and would come with footnotes. Others were short, sharp and snarky. But I’ve come to the realisation that they were all pointless. Why defend something that I don’t think needs defending? And what exactly is wrong with swearing for effect? Anything I say or write, I hope, is for effect.

I had a conversation with some family members recently who were appalled at my potty mouth. They argued that it was a sign of weakness -that I didn’t need to swear when I could make the same point with other words. And they were right; I could have made the same point with other words. But it would have taken longer.

I think a well-placed swear word (or sometimes 14 well-placed swear words) shows far more intelligence than most grammatically correct and verbose speeches. Being able to swear effectively should be akin to reaching the level of Zen master of language, and is not a sign a sign of weakness.

If some crazy war of the words broke out, and I was needed to enlist in an army and fight of the alien invaders through the use of big and weighty wordage, I could hold my own. I’m not the cleverest man on earth. I’m not even the cleverest man in the room (that room currently being empty aside from myself…damn….I had to explain the joke). But I am reasonably well read, I can come across as semi-literate in conversation and I have a few thick books on my shelf.

I guess for many people, intelligence is marked by showing how many words you can fit into a sentence and how long those words are. That’s fine; they’re welcome to that view.

But I’m a storyteller and I need to be quick. My tastes in reading and writing are the same; I find skill in getting a point across in the purest form. And it’s often hard to find a purer way than to swear. Fuck it.

And wear does this whole idea of swearing being wrong or base come from? Is it, perhaps, a hold over from days when the ruling classes controlled the written word? When big words, long words and scary foreign words –spooky language, as George Carlin would say- was used to intimidate, control and marginalise everybody else? If you can’t use the right words, you can’t be in the club. Isn’t it time we moved past these ideas?

I do still believe there are times when the use of profanity in music, books and films is gratuitous. But I come at it from the opposite direction. If the point has already been made, there is no need to force an extra word in. If you’ve found a purer form of language, then roll with it. Don’t add in an extra word just to seem cool, and that includes swear words.

Get in, make your point, and get out.

And don’t fuck it up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Consider the Snow Shovel

By Steve Weddle

I’m not a light sleeper, so when my wife starts talking about murder weapons, I pay attention.

“Consider the snow shovel,” she says when I come in from the fourth or fifth time digging out us or a neighbor. I’m resting between another almost-heart-attack. She was out earlier digging, and neither of us is terribly happy about it. Twenty-nine inches of snow can kinda mess you up your weekend.

The Snowpocalypse has me tired, sorta blurry in the eyes and weary. Might be where they got the word “bleary” from. If that’s a word. I don’t know from words much anymore. The snow comes down quicker than we can dig it away. “Need to clear what we can,” my neighbor from Iowa says. “Easier to dig out seven or eight inches at a time.” There’s probably one of those life lessons in there. It’ll come to me after a nap.

“Snow shovel?” I ask my wife as I’m clomping snow all over the kitchen floor.

“’Consider the Lobster’? That DFW essay?”

“No. The snow shovel.”

“OK. Been with a snow shovel all weekend. Consider it considered. Wake me for the game.”

“For your blog,” she says. “Consider the snow shovel.”

“Right,” I say. “Snow shovel.” My boot laces are frozen. I can’t undo them. My fingers, stuck for hours getting damp and cold under my three dollar gloves, are just little pink sticks at this point. I have to get these boots off. I’m trying to think of when the burning in the feet started. Was it burning? How can I tell when it goes from cold to burning? The numb-to-the-touch feeling. Is that a feeling? I keep thinking what I learned in class, “I’m from the Red Cross. I know what to do. Can I help?” I move my feet around in the boots. It’s not really a problem. Just freaking out because I can’t get these sonsuvbitching bootlaces undone. If it’s not frostbite, I wonder what it is when you lose the ability to swear. “Sonsuvbitching bootlaces”? I’m not making any sense.

The ice on the laces cracks off, shards on the floor. Boots off. Socks peel off. Towel. Feet dry. Warm. New socks. Coffee. OK. Now. Snow shovel.

“Consider the snow shovel?” I say when I’m back and brain is mostly working again.

“For the blog?”

“Yeah,” my wife says. “Like a murder weapon.”


“Like holiday murder weapons. Right? A list?”

“Oh, a list. Yes. Holidays. Weapons. List. Perfect topic for a blog. I can do bullet points.”

“That a joke?”

“Dunno,” I say. “Whatcha think?”

“Not so much, no. Start with the snow shovel.”

“Right,” I say, feeling the weight of the coffee cup, the one a student stole for me from Chimes in Baton Rouge. Heavy at the bottom. Diner-style. A pop to the temple. “OK. I got ya. Like that big heavy metal stocking hanger thing one of the kids pulled off the mantel that year and got whacked in the head. That would be a great way to kill someone.”

“Um, sweetie. Don’t mention that.”

“How come?” I say.

“Social services.”

“Oh, yeah. OK. What else?”

“You tell me, writer boy.”

“Strangled with tree lights.”

“Sweet. What else?” she asks, pulling out one of those Ginsu-knockoffs to slice another piece of pumpkin bread. “How about stabbed through the eye with an icicle?”

“Nice one. Somebody used ice bullets in a book.” I look around the house.

“Hey, the star on top of the tree? Take one of those points into the Adam’s Apple?”

“Excellent,” she says, walking down the hall to the library, checking our decorations. “And the tree stand? Or a frozen fruit cake someone left on the porch overnight? “

“Hey, remember that time I nearly died after I drank three-fourths of a gallon of egg nog?”

“Yeah, sweetie,” she says, twisting some fake garland in her hands, testing its tensile strength. “That would be great if you could find a victim who is lactose intolerant and has no self-control.”

“Right.” Probably more of a cozy killer, egg nog. “Snow blower. The blade of a sled. Dang, there’s some violent stuff around these holidays.”

“Glass ornaments, too.”

“I bet the blog readers could think of another hundred. I’ll ask them,” I say.

“Cool. Oh, and sweetie?”

“Yeah, babe?”

“Be sure to tell them Merry Christmas and happy holidays and all.”

“You bet.”

“Oh, and the candles in the window, of course,” she says. “The flame top is small but really strong. Right through someone’s ear. Pop.”

“Merry Christmas, babe.”

“Merry Christmas, sweetie.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On The Clock

by Mike Knowles

This is an earlier story using the same character from last week. If you are one of the three people who read last weeks story, I will get to what happened to Glen soon.

The car was so perfectly placed I almost missed it. Between bouts of frantically itching what felt like ants under my skin, the car almost stayed unnoticed. 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 timepiece 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 gripped the gun harder resisting the urge to scratch. “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.

“Drive, Glen!”

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 decided there was no harm in scratching now.

“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… 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 Hurontario on 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. Suit jackets, 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 against the leather 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.