I don't own any of this; which should probably go without saying.
Old habits die hard, I guess.
I know that sounds weird, but that was really the first thing that ran through my mind. We were back stateside for the first time in four years; and it looked like we were gonna be here for at least a little while. A gallery was showing some of Amy's work; so we were headed back to L.A. There was also some talk of staying and teaching art at UCLA; so this wasn't likely to be a short visit.
I gripped the wheel of the '69 Mustang as it streaked down the freeway. Yeah, I probably could've chosen a little less flashy car; I mean, we're still technically wanted fugitives, although I was pretty sure that the DEBS had basically given up on us. Even when they were looking for us, they really weren't trying very hard. We hadn't even seen a plaid skirt in months.
I looked over at Amy and offered a small smile. Her blue jumper was zipped up to her neck, even though the early evening air was warm enough for us to drive with the windows down.
"You couldn't have bought a Prius?" She asked.
"The first words you've spoken since we left the dealership are 'you couldn't have bought a Prius?" I rolled my eyes at her.
"I mean, something with a little better gas mileage…"
"You mean, something that won't get us caught?" I translated.
"You don't really have anything to worry about, remember? Technically, I kidnapped you from Endgame. You're the victim here," I quipped.
"It's not me I'm worried about," the former DEB replied. She smiled thinly, damn girl was starting to pick up my mannerisms. "You go to jail, and the only time I'll get to see you are conjugal visits at the women's prison."
"I didn't get to be genius mastermind supercriminal by getting caught," I grinned. "Besides, some girls out there would love to get laid by a convicted felon."
"Some," she agreed detachedly, "not me." She leaned forward slightly to look in the passenger side mirror. "Take the next exit," she ordered.
I knew that voice. That was her "DEB" voice. The voice she used when she was in spy mode. The last time I'd heard that voice was almost four years ago. "What is it?"
"Two cars back," she recited, businesslike, "black Buick. I've been seeing that car all over town."
I glanced up at the rear view mirror. They didn't seem to be doing anything that screamed "spy" to me. "There are a lot of black Buicks in L.A., honey," I told her gently.
"Not like this," she insisted. "Black Buick, tinted windows. The driver's kept the same distance from us for the last ten miles."
"Think he knows we've spotted him?" I asked. I still wasn't sure I bought her logic, but I'd learned long ago to trust her instincts on this kind of thing. I guess an ex-spy is probably the second best person to spot another one. The best being someone who currently is a spy.
"Don't think so. Either he's just tracking us, or he's waiting for us to make a move," She replied.
I looked up at the road ahead. There were a fair number of cars in all the lanes, but they were pretty widely spaced, and moving quickly. I gritted my teeth and checked to make sure my seatbelt was secure. Without a word, Amy did the same. I looked over at her, meaningfully. "You sure about this?"
"Yeah. He's tailing us."
"That's not what I mean. I mean, if you're right, and we run; then we're back running. It means that none of it's gonna happen: the gallery, the teaching position. It's over. All of it." I told her.
"And if I'm right, and we don't run?" Amy asked.
"Then we get caught, and I go to jail," I replied.
She looked at me and smiled slightly, "punch it."
I gripped the gearshift, and downshifted to third. Amy had griped about getting a manual transmission on this car 'cause she didn't know how to drive it, I had to remind her that buying a '69 Mustang in automatic was either a) impossible or b) sacrilege. I glanced up at the rear view mirror again, so far they hadn't cued into the fact that we were on to them. That'd change soon. I quickly looked at the traffic ahead, trying to pick out a route to weave between the cars. But let's be honest, I was gonna end up winging it.
The tires squealed against the asphalt as I slammed my foot down on the accelerator and wrenched the steering wheel to the left, aggressively swerving into a small empty space in the left-hand lane. In the mirror, I watched as the Buick swerved to the right, moving closer, then cut back into the center lane just to our right.
"I guess that ends the 'are they following us' debate," Amy commented.
"Yeah, you can gloat later," I replied tightly, swerving into the shoulder and accelerating. I had to put some ground between us and them before I started dodging traffic again.
Whoever was behind the wheel was good. He was behind us almost before I had a car length on him. If I hadn't punched the accelerator, he'd have sideswiped us right into the cement barrier dividing the highway. "Hang on!" I yelled at Amy as I saw the black car grow in the rear view mirror.
It slammed generously into our rear bumper with a loud crunch. "Jesus Christ," I muttered, "what the hell did they do to that car?"
"A Buick doesn't have that kind of acceleration," Amy pointed out, needlessly. "I got a feeling that they don't necessarily care if we come back alive."
"DEBS?" I asked frantically as I swerved back into traffic, taking a fraction of a second to glance at the driver's side mirror, to see the Buick fall back to find an opening a couple of cars behind us.
"Doesn't feel right," Amy shook her head. "This doesn't feel like them. They'd be trying to grab us and pump us for information."
"Keep an eye on that car. I'll keep us alive, you just make sure you know where he is," I replied, as I squirted the Mustang into the carpool lane and tried to beg a few more miles per hour out of the engine. The speedometer was just starting to push its way past 100.
"Lucy, get down!" Amy yelled as she grabbed me and tried to force my head and my knees into as close proximity as she possibly could, she then threw herself protectively over me. The driver's side window disintegrated over me, and as the near-unguided Mustang brutally rear-ended the BMW in front of it, I heard the unmistakable rat-tat-tat of a burst of machine gun fire.
"Shit!" I yelled, as I slammed on the brakes, causing the Buick to overshoot us. Then I chanced a peek over the dashboard, just in time to see the beamer we'd just hit spinning into the concrete divider on the right side of the high way. "Dammit, are they okay?" I asked frantically as we sped past the totaled car.
"I think so… I don't know," Amy replied, uncertain. "It doesn't look too bad." She frowned, "hey, he was driving alone in the carpool lane," she added, indignantly.
The Buick, now in front of us, slammed on the brakes. I didn't even bother slowing down, I sped past him, and swerved back into traffic.
"Lucy, we have to get out of here, or someone who isn't us is gonna end up dead," Amy said somberly.
"I know," I replied tightly. Frankly, I was a little more concerned about the possibility that someone who was us was gonna end up dead; but Amy made a good point.
Almost on cue, the traffic cleared in front of us. Not much, but enough that we had a free speedway to run on for a while.
"We're not gonna be able to lose them," Amy told me, "we got anything to shoot back with?"
"Glove box," I replied. I couldn't tell you why I brought them. Neither of us had fired a gun in almost two years; and even then it was only target practice. Old habits die hard, I guess.
Amy liked a little flash in her choice of weapons. A steel-plated Browning Hi-power was her weapon of choice. Me, I went for the more basic: a Beretta 9mm. It did the job nicely, and didn't stand out too much.
The high powered silver pistol slid into her hand with practiced ease and she smoothly chambered the first round. "Magazines?"
I shook my head, "you've only got what's in that load; so make it count."
"Do you like the rear window much?"
I looked at her and frowned at the apparent non-sequitur. "What?"
Amy spun around and fired a series of shots through the rear window. The high-powered rounds tore effortlessly through the tempered glass and splattered against the Buick's front windshield. "Sonuvabitch."
"Armored glass. Guess they didn't want to take any chances." Amy replied.
"How about their tires? They look like solid rubber?" I asked.
"With the maneuvering they've been doing? Not likely. Solid rubber makes the car more sluggish," Amy explained. "But I don't have a shot."
"How much time do you need to take one?"
"One opening," Amy replied.
"Okay, you take the front tire, I'll take the rear. Hand me that Beretta."
"You're driving," Amy pointed out.
"Yeah, I know that." I momentarily released the steering wheel long enough to chamber a round. I looked over and arched my eyebrows, "you might want to hold onto something."
Amy looked at me, confusion painted over every feature, then comprehension dawned on her. "Oh no," she shook her head.
I smiled, "trust me?"
"Relax, if we screw this up, then you can tell me that this was a bad idea."
"If we screw this up, we'll be dead," Amy pointed out.
"All the more reason for us not to screw up," I replied. I glanced down at the speedometer. 160. That would do.
I waited for the Buick to close to about half a car length; then I tapped the brakes.
Not much, mind you, just enough to make the driver freak out.
To his credit, he reacted quickly to the brake lights.
He just reacted badly. He swerved to the left, the car balancing on two wheels as he tried to avoid a rear-end collision with the Mustang.
At the same time, I swung the wheel brutally to the right and yanked on the handbrake. The Mustang, reacting almost as if it had read my thoughts, fishtailed and swung around, facing backwards.
Beside me, I heard Amy fire a series of shots at the passenger side front tire of the Buick. The first two bounced off of the car's hubcap, but the third hit home, and the hard rubber tire exploded.
I took a shot, through the windshield this time, hitting the passenger side rear tire.
From there, the laws of physics pretty much took over. Both passenger side tires were pretty much ripped free of the hubs, and the metal rims gauged deep into the pavement. The driver's side still had a substantial amount of momentum, and the large sedan flipped over, like a book pushed too close to the edge of the table.
Yanking on the hand brake again, I swung the car back around, and watched in the rear view mirror as the Buick flipped over and over again; finally coming to a rest, upright, and approximately half its original thickness.
Silence fell over the car as I slowed to something a little closer to the posted speed limit.
I turned over to Amy, trying to sound nonchalant, "so…" I started.
"Ever get the feeling that something's going on that you really should know about?"