Two hours had passed, seemingly in an endless drag, and Otto's large
garage had once again filled with familiar faces, young and old. Kip and
Tumbler had tried to protest, but Memphis, Sway and Otto himself would hear
nothing of it. Someone needed their help, and whether they liked it or not,
they were going to get it one way or another.
Memphis paced the room thoughtfully, leather jacket still covering
his tall slim frame. His frosted blonde hair was neat and styled, his
intelligent, gentle eyes ever watchful of the people around him. One hand
rested near his mouth, as if in deep thought, the other on his hip firmly.
Otto hovered in the doorway to his office, Junie gone home for the
rest of the day. The large lazy mastiff lounged sleepily at his heels,
drooling generously. Otto's grubby overalls had been rolled up at the
sleeves, and the rag hung limply from one pocket. He watched Memphis
Sway sat reversed in a spinning chair, leaning her chin on her
crossed arms patiently. Her blonde dreadlocks rested around her face and on
her lean feminine shoulders gracefully, light eyes looking around at the
collection of friends and colleagues, new and old. She felt safe to be in
such familiar company.
Donny Astricky had taken it upon himself to lean his large frame
against the temperamental Ford, and his kind dark eyes admired it
knowingly. His large hands were in his pockets now as his eyes flitted
about to take in the small crowd. It had been a while in coming, but to him
it had been inevitable that they all reunite sooner or later.
Sphinx, the large silent imposing figure that he was, held a
switchblade firmly in one hand, proceeding to flick it out sporadically,
pushing it down again with his free hand. His strong face looked as mean as
ever, and the penetrating eyes never left the weapon.
Kip slouched in a grubby armchair at the far side of the room, hair
gelled back, eyes staring at a nonexistent point on the wall opposite
amidst tools and keys. He had been lost in his own little world for some
time now, and had not said much in almost fifteen minutes.
Standing cocky as ever not too far from Sphinx, his dark sunglasses
covering his eyes, was Mirror Man, nodding away to his own silent beat in
his head. His bright, over-the-top clothing singled him out from everyone
around him, and he seemed content to be so original and individual.
Hovering in front of an active laptop, typing away frantically and
effortlessly was Toby. His blonde hair was wispy and somewhat tousled, as
if their phone call had woken him from a much-needed sleep after a long
night of surfing the net. His innocent eyes never left the screen.
Freb stood curiously, seemingly a little nervous, close to Otto,
glancing at everyone frequently in turn. He sighed restlessly often,
waiting for the plan of action to be announced, made public knowledge as it
were. His all-black trademark clothing almost made him unnoticeable.
And finally, there was Tumbler, seated near Kip on a cleared
workbench, not sure what to do with himself, eager to get his all over and
done with as soon as possible. He didn't even want to be here, was much
more concerned with getting everyone else uninvolved. It struck him that it
was his fault... all of this. It was because of him that Kip had agreed to
this. His blonde hair, lighter at the tips, was dishevelled, but still
spiky as always, gelled into place. His blue eyes were observant and
concerned. His youthful face wore a frown.
There was only one figure missing, and the reason for their ominous
silence was because of this absence. They had contacted him, and were just
waiting for his report on this threat. Lyle Shepherd... that was what Kip
and Tumbler had called him.
As if on some sort of cue, Atley Jackson appeared in the doorway,
swinging the wooden door closed behind his lank frame, looking down
distractedly at a scribbled collection of notes on a crumbed piece of
Memphis and everyone else along with him turned their heads
collectively towards Atley, and waited, just like they had been for the
last hour or so. It had in truth only taken a short amount of time for
everyone else to arrive, but Memphis wanted to wait until Atley had arrived
until he got down to business.
"I think we got ourselves a problem," Atley said without provocation.
His shaded eyes met those of Memphis, sway and Otto, and he sighed loudly.
"One Lyle Shepherd," he continued, flashing the paper momentarily, "is a
convicted convict, charged in the past decade for just about everything
under the sun. And I mean everything."
Memphis waited... more waiting. Why was everything determined to make
him wait recently?
Atley's eyes scanned his paper as he read from it loudly, "Theft,
attempted murder, assaulting a police officer, grand larceny, disturbing
the peace, kidnap, causing grievous bodily harm."
Tumbler frowned considerably, and Kip glanced up at him on the
workbench from his slouched position in the armchair. Kip furrowed his
brow, and gave his friend a reassuring look.
Atley had moved across the garage, through the small collection of
car thieves, young and old, and handed Memphis the paper. Memphis let his
gentle eyes look it over, and groaned, rubbing his head once over, ruffling
his light hair, before passing it to Sway. She let out a whistle, and
discarded the paper, letting Otto take a glance.
"I think problem is an understatement," Otto commented quietly,
laying the paper inside his office before Freb could take a look. The
youngster frowned, tried to peek, before Otto was forced to actually close
his office door to prevent him from doing so. There was something on that
paper that they didn't want the young crew to see.
Sphinx and Donny sat patiently on their respective sides of the room,
eyeing the others curiously. They would get their look later, they knew.
They knew how to be patient. Years of boosting cars had taught them such
"So what exactly is it that we're doin' here?" Mirror Man asked
bluntly after a moment of prolonged silence. He looked around through dark
shades, and shrugged his lean shoulders, glancing hurriedly up at Sphinx.
The large statue of a man simply blinked.
"We're waiting," Memphis replied, his eyes never meeting Mirror
Man's. The young dark-skinned man waited, and then slumped his shoulders
back against the wall, taking his hint to shut up and sit tight.
A few eyes darted momentarily in Tumbler's direction, and the young
man tried his best not to notice, glancing to this and that as if he was
distracted. Memphis knew he did realise the attention he was being paid
though... he also knew Tumbler didn't like it.
Memphis sighed lightly, and made his way for the exit at a calm pace,
tapping Sway on the shoulder as he went. She glanced up immediately, her
eyes looking around once before she followed silently, a little meekly...
odd for her.
Sway came to meet Memphis outside the door moments later, her blonde
hair cascading in controlled tight locks over her feminine shoulder, her
eyes curious. He had a purpose for calling her out here; she just didn't
know what it was.
"What is it?" she asked quietly, careful not to let herself be heard
inside the closed garage. She stood close to the taller figure of Memphis,
as if the proximity helped to calm her nerves.
As Memphis touched her arm, she shuddered slightly. What had her so
spooked? It wasn't as if Shepherd had threatened her life. But Memphis knew
what it was almost as soon as he thought about it... it was the fact that
someone she knew was being threatened so vehemently. Shepherd's record was
"I think we ought to consider getting Kip and Tumbler out of Long
Beach... Tumbler especially," Memphis informed her after a moment of
serious consideration. It hadn't taken him long to come to the conclusion.
It was the only sensible thing to do.
But Sway shook her head almost instantly. Apparently she did not
agree. "No," was all she said.
"Why not? If he stays, then we risk getting him killed." Memphis was
being insistent but not harsh in his words. He chose them carefully, spoke
them cautiously. The last thing he wanted or needed was to offend the woman
"What happens if Shepherd finds out we shipped him outta town, huh?
What do you think he'll do to the rest of us," Sway corrected firmly. "And
then what's to stop him from tracking Tumbler down? Kip too if you send
them both away." Another strong shake of the head. "They wouldn't be able
to live with themselves if that happened... I know I wouldn't."
Memphis let the words sink in, and then embraced Sway tightly and
affectionately. Sometimes she was so much smarter than him. She had a good
head on her shoulders. He kissed the top of her head, and then her lips
gently. He nodded.
"You're right," he whispered to her. Then he said louder, "All
right... everyone stays... if they want to."
* * *
Tumbler had taken it upon himself to slump himself down in the far
corner of the room, where it was quiet and distant from everyone else, and
just think. He had been down here for a good ten minutes now, whilst
everyone else talked. Memphis and Sway were still outside speaking
He didn't care what they were talking about. He just wanted everyone
to leave... he wanted to go back to his apartment, lie on his bed, and
think about how much of an idiot he was. All of his life, he had never let
anyone use him like that... never.
His back was rested firmly against the wall behind him, his knees
drawn up loosely in front of him and his elbows leaned on them. His hands
dangled before his legs, and he spun one of his large rings round and round
his finger as if it would help him think. Not that there was much to think
This was his problem... well, technically -to Shepherd at least- his
and Kip's. Nevertheless, he wanted Kip out of danger. He wanted to handle
The door opened as his mind resolved itself, and his blue eyes
immediately darted to meet the face of Memphis, followed by Sway, as he re-
entered the garage. There was a look of certainty on his own face, as he
motioned everyone to listen.
"I've been thinking," Memphis said loudly, drawing attention to
himself, "and I've decided that not everyone needs to be involved in
this... not if we're careful. With a little bit of deception, we can make
Shepherd believe that everyone he wants involved is taking part. One car
here and there if you're not willing, then there won't be any problems. I
don't want anyone to feel obliged to put themselves at risk."
There was a moment of silence, and everyone looked at one another,
fleetingly at Tumbler, who sighed and glanced at the floor, trying not to
look bothered. He tried to give off an air of nonchalance, and wasn't sure
whether or not he succeeded.
"So," Memphis continued purposely, "who's in?"