Awakening

Randall Raines was up before anyone else in the one-story flat he shared with his mother and little brother, Kip. He looked out the window down his street, into his neighborhood, into his world. Normally, the mornings were the hardest part. It reminded him of how things used to be. The death of his father came with grief, but also with the burden of financial hardship.

At first, their lives stemmed predictably. His family had been convinced they would be cushioned, that no harm would come to them. Their friends told them they would be alright. The dealership told them it would be alright. The bank told them they would be alright. The insurance company told them they would be alright. Everyone had told them that if they ever fell upon bad times, security and safety would be there for them when they needed it most, and vulnerable, his family had believed them.

Randall looked around with a sigh and scratch of his head. Since then, he'd learned that the good intentions of others could not be trusted.

The insurance company stopped giving them coverage. The bank told the Raines if they didn't sell the house themselves, the bank would seize it. The dealership stopped calling to check on them, and their friends just stopped calling all together.

Randall Raines took in a deep breath of morning air as shards of sunlight struck upon his wife-beater, curling against muscles cultured by hard labor, sun, and sweat.

So he'd done the only thing he could do. Randall went down to Otto's for a job, hoping he could put together some cars, do some oil changes, or hell, just pump gas for all he cared. Any money was good money, and he was willing to start at the bottom.

But sometimes, he learned, there was more to a business than the sign in the window. It started out as a favor here and there, a cover while the boosters worked their late shift. He met Donny, Atley, and Sphinx - as well as a few other colorful characters that came and went from week to week. And before he even understood what was happening, he began to become accepted into their culture. He learned the names of the ladies. He drove the boosts to their drop-off points. And finally, he began performing the actual boosts themselves. His skills prospered over time, and Randall became an asset to the business.

Though in the beginning, Randall grew uncertain, even fearful of his deceased father looking down upon him, he knew his father would understand. He was providing for his family, by doing what he found he could do best, law and legality be damned.

His job was not a obligation; it was not just a nine to five. Randall had found purpose. He found friendship. He found cash, and more importantly, he found a reason to get up out of bed in the morning - something he lost a long time ago, and he had thought for good.

Randall stretched his back in the light of the warm rising sun, put on his shades, threw a mechanic's uniform over his back, and draped a leather jacket over his shoulder. His beat-up, faded '67 Pontiac Firebird was the one that drove him to the gas station, but that wasn't the only car Randall would drive tonight.

Mustangs, Lamborghinis, Mercedes-Benzs, and Humpheys called his name, begging him to release them from the glass and plastic prisons that encased and sold them.

This morning Randall drove his Pontiac down to Otto's to get some work done, but tonight a booster named Memphis would return with more money than he could count and a cat-caught-the-mouse grin stretching across his well-shaven face.