Short Story Sunday: A Slam Dunk
We’ve got another Short Story Saturday. The writer, Charles Wilson, said this was based on a real incident.
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“JEEEZUS, WOMAN, CHILL OUT! IT’LL BE LIKE FINDING MONEY IN THE STREET. TRUST ME! IT’LL BE A FUCKIN’ SLAM DUNK!” Twitch yelled at Suzie over the wind noise.
They were rolling down the 101 in the convertible with the top down. It was a wonderful autumn day, perfect weather for a drive…which was good since the top was ruined and wouldn’t stay up at any speed over about 30 MPH.
But that was cool. It was sunny, warm, and, to the passersby, the car wasn’t in that bad shape–a few scrapes and dings, but it still had all four wheels and the top was down so they were stylin’.
Just cruising down the road-with a couple of empty trash bags and a loaded AK-47 in the back seat hidden under a pile of laundry…
They were going to take a tour of the Lost Coast, that almost forgotten stretch of California. And they were going to harvest themselves some weed. Without getting permission of course…
It was gonna be a slam-dunk!
Twitch had driven the route a couple times by himself that summer both checking out places where dirt private roads left the pavement and keeping an eye out for greenhouses. Also the tell-tale sign of a high obscuring fence. In a particularly remote little canyon, he had noted several big greenhouses within a minute’s walk from the road.His last tour was a couple weeks earlier and his nose had reassured him that his guess was correct. People were not growing tomatoes in those things.So the plan was to spend a few hours at Shelter Cove and later roll through that area well after sunset. Twitch had already chosen their target, it was just a matter of parking, picking, and taking their harvest home.
He had enough crank in a pocket to keep an army platoon awake and he was already chewing a wad of gum at about 200 chomps per minute. He was prepared! He had it all figured out…
His girlfriend Suzie wasn’t so sure.
They made it out to the Cove and had some lunch. Actually she had lunch, he had no desire for food whatsoever. They drank a few beers and smoked a few doobs just killing time with a bunch of local dudes down at the boat launching area. Fishermen and surfers came and went while the sun crawled slowly across the sky.
Eventually, after what felt like a week or more, it had set. Darkness set in and a little later a full moon started to rise above the hills. It was finally time to get to work.
Twitch started the car, they drove up the hill, and off into weed country.
He turned the car onto a road he had checked out extensively and headed for the spot he figured was to be their staging area. Once there he pulled the car off the road, shut it off, yanked the key from the ignition, and they climbed out without opening the doors. He dropped the key in his right pants pocket, grabbed the bags, clippers and finally the AK. Just in case…
Suzie produced a couple small “headlights” out of her purse so they could see to work and off they went.
A dog started barking some distance away but since they were headed in the other direction they didn’t pay it much attention. They quietly walked on the road a few hundred yards to where he had seen greenhouses less than a minute’s stroll from the pavement. Once there they made their way around a gate and up to the nearest one where he pulled out a knife, made a long slit in the plastic covering the thing and seconds later they were inside. It was still much warmer inside the greenhouse than the air outside and the smell in there was enough to get you high all by itself.
He gently set the AK on the ground, handed Suzie a bag and a set of clippers. Silently they put on their headlights and went to work cutting the big stuff as fast as they could.
In less than 15 minutes they had filled their bags and they slipped back out the hole they had entered through. He bent and picked up the AK on the way out.
They hoofed it back to the car. The dog was still woofing away in the distance but they were done and soon gonna be outta there.
That is until he reached in his pocket for the key and couldn’t find it. In a rising panic he felt the other pockets. All of ’em were empty except the foil bindle of crank in one back pocket. Emergency supplies…
He put his hand back in the pocket he was sure he had dropped the key into and felt around deeply. That’s when he discovered the hole. Somewhere during their raid the key had fallen out and he didn’t notice. Shit! Things were getting complicated!
They walked the road between the car and the greenhouse half a dozen times trying to find the thing. No luck! He slipped back into the greenhouse and using his headlight he looked around on the ground desperately. But with the same results… Double shit!
Well if this didn’t constitute an emergency Twitch didn’t know what did. He took the bindle out of his back pocket, opened it and took a snort. Clear the mind and all that…
But it didn’t help any with finding the keys.
They returned to the car where he had already stashed the AK and the bags of weed under his dirty laundry. Then he started trying to hot-wire the car into starting so they could get the hell outta there. He was still trying as dawn lightened the sky, then started to turn into daylight.
He was muttering to himself, OK yelling maybe, and Suzie was sulking, chain smoking, and saying “I knew something like this would happen”. He woulda slapped her silly if he wasn’t so damned busy trying to get the car started.
That was the situation when Jimmy pulled up in a big 4 door pickup, stopped and asked if they had a problem. Damn straight they had a problem!
“Got any tools man? I lost my keys and I can’t get my car started.”
“What’s it doing here anyway and how did you lose the keys? Snooping around maybe?”
“We were just taking a tour of the Lost Coast and I had to stop and take a piss. I must have dropped them somewhere.”
“That’s funny, I leave the engine running when I have to piss by the side of the road. Mister, I think you’re lying up a storm but I want you guys outta here so I’ll go get some tools. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“We’ll be here” Twitch said.
“Unfortunately!” Suzie muttered to herself.
A few minutes later the truck returned. With two men in it this time. They both got out and Jimmy dragged a toolbox out of the back of the pickup. He lugged it over to the car and set it on the ground. As he bent over he spotted a couple inches of blued steel sticking out from a pike of clothes. A gun barrel! As he stood up his hand suddenly shot into the back of the car and came up with the AK holding it by the end of the barrel. In a couple seconds it was pointed at Twitch.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS FOR? BOTH OF YOU GET OVER THERE AND SIT DOWN!” The unblinking eye of the AK followed Twitch without wavering as both he and Suzie followed orders.
The other man from the truck reached under the pile in the back and came up a bag of fresh bud.
“Just touring the Lost Coast, eh? With bags of fresh cut weed and a loaded AK. Yeah, RIIIGHT!… ASSHOLE!!!”
The man holding the bag looked over, spied a cell phone on the passenger seat and picked it up as well. The AK’s staring eye never left the thieves so there was nothing they could do but try and lie their way outta the situation.
“We got the weed from a friend. He said he had too much to deal with and he was going to have us clip it.”
“YEAH, RIIIGHT! And who was this friend?” Jimmy asked.
“Uh, his name is Carl.”
“Well, there ain’t no Carls in this canyon, mister. Or the next one over. I think you ripped this shit and then screwed up. Well, you’re lucky ‘cause instead of just using this gun on your worthless ass, I am going to keep it till I can give it to the law. Along with that” and his pal held up the phone. “You two are getting a ride outta here NOW and I suggest you don’t come back. In fact, maybe you should start thinking how you’re going to explain why you had a loaded AK-47 in your car to the cops. I’m sure they’ll be curious to know.”
Suzie was loaded into the back seat of the truck with a warning and her friend was escorted into the front passenger seat. Jimmie’s buddy climbed in the back seat behind Twitch then kept the muzzle of the AK , a cold little metal O, pressed to the back of the thief’s skull. Just in case…
30 minutes later they were let out at an intersection of two paved roads with no phone, no gun, no weed, and no car. And 80 miles from home…
“AND DON”T COME BACK TO THIS CANYON WHEN THE COPS ARE DONE WITH YOU. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
And with that final warning, the truck started up and started away. As it did, the wheels spun in the dirt while gravel pelted the would-be thieves and they were left enveloped in a cloud of dust and diesel exhaust.
Oh, yeah, it was going to be a slam dunk all right…
A slam dunk!
And a Sequel to the story:
WHERE’S MY CAR AND WHERE’S THE FUCKING WEAPON?
Twitch stood sheepishly in Fast Fred’s kitchen while small flecks of Fast Fred’s saliva pattered on his face like warm drizzle.
“I lost the key, man. Then the guy I thought was going to help me spotted the gun and things went totally to shit then.”
“It went totally to shit the second I handed you the damn key, you asswipe! I shouldda fuckin’ known better! Anytime I hear you start to talk slam dunk, you’re usually gonna dive into a garbage can headfirst.”
“So you lose Joejoe’s damn AK to some backwoods dude who is probably polishing it right this moment. Joejoe’ll be overjoyed to hear that I’m sure. You’re in deep shit, dude! And where exactly did you leave my damn car?”
The following afternoon Fred and a buddy are heading down a typically bad country road with the buddy driving and Fred champing at the bit to reclaim his wheels. They round a curve and there it sits in pretty much the same shape as when Twitch had borrowed it. Which was pretty bad but it drove so…
From a dirty paper bag Fred produced some wires with alligator clips on them, popped the hood and was starting to hot wire his car when this 4 door pickup idled around the curve, slowed and pulled up beside him. Freddie’s buddy started his own car and pulled away leaving Fred to deal with any complications. It wasn’t his piece of shit car!
“Hey mister, what do you think you’re doing?”
“This guy stole my car and left it here. I’m trying to get it started so I can take it home.”
“Well, I’m meeting a county sheriff in just a few minutes to turn over a gun and a cell phone. Want a ride and file a theft report with the sheriff?”
“OH, FUCK NO, I GOT WARRANTS OUT FOR ME. I GOT A SUSPENDED LICENSE TOO. I GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!”
Jimmie shrugged, rolled the window up and continued to his rendezvous with the law. When he returned half an hour later, Fast Freddie and his car were gone.