By Steve Brewer
Copyright 2004 by Steve Brewer
As always, for Kelly
The problem with boosting classic cars is they're so damned conspicuous. Steal a brand-new pickup truck or a run-of-the-mill Toyota and you can drive it for days before some cop might get lucky and nab you. But tool around a car-crazy town like Albuquerque in a hot 1965 Thunderbird with a gold metal-flake paint job, and people notice. And that's just asking for trouble.
Sam Hill knew he should take the stolen T-Bird directly to Mitch's Auto Salvage and collect his four grand. But he was thirsty, and what could it hurt to stop for a minute at a 7-Eleven, pick up a Big Gulp?
The Thunderbird drove smoothly, its eight-cylinder engine throbbing under the long hood. The wide-bodied car was heavy as a tank -- old-fashioned Detroit steel -- but it rode like a boat on calm waters, barely registering the potholes and patches that made the ramshackle commercial strip of North Fourth Street a hazardous obstacle course. Sam guessed the owner, a lawyer named Timothy Blankenship, had completely replaced the suspension system. Sam spun the steering wheel with one gloved hand, and the car floated up into the brightly lit convenience store parking lot.
He nosed the car into a slot by the door, cut the engine and climbed out. His reflection in the store's tall windows showed that he and the T-Bird made a pretty good match. He was dressed all in black, as usual, which complemented the car's black vinyl roof, and the gold paint set off his honey-blond hair. Sam's cheekbones jutted like the car's fenders, and his too-wide mouth mimicked the T-Bird's grille. A lean build, though he looked bulkier thanks to his black leather jacket, a heavy biker model made all the heavier by the stuff stashed in its pockets -- a ten-inch screwdriver, a ring of forty keys, a cell phone, a Mini-Mag flashlight and a set of lock picks in a suede pouch. Tools of the trade, weighing him down.