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The Beech Boys Run Amok
About the Author: David M. Hamlin is the author of Winter in Chicago (Open Books Press, 2016), a mystery about abuse of power, glass ceilings and AM rock radio in 1975. He has also written Los Angeles's Original Farmers Market (Arcadia Press) and The Nazi/Skokie Conflict (Beacon Press), commentary columns, professional journal articles and the box copy for the Hot Wheels(TM) 40th Anniversary Edition, Gilmore Oil White Truck and Agajanian Special midget racer.

“Thing is, why go to all the trouble of using a shim or a coat hanger, maybe give up and just smash the window? You still gotta hot wire the thing, right?”

Donald Beech sat across the table from his younger brother Jimmy, his feet sprawled out into the kitchen where Jimmy’s wife Liz was scraping furiously at the cooked-in egg Donald had left in the frying pan.

“Plus the car alarm,” said Liz.

“Don’t mean a thing,” Donald said. “We’re in L.A., right? Probably a couple hundred car alarms going off in this city right now, they don’t mean jack unless there’s a squad car on the block. And then it’s a false alarm, some loud truck set it off.”

“So what’s your bright idea?” Jimmy was staring out the window at the tiny back yard where despite the bright spring sunshine two dying rose bushes were the only sign of life.

“Simple,” said Donald. “We get them to hand us the keys.”

Liz snorted. Jimmy swung around in his seat and aimed his best raised eyebrow at his brother.

“Really. You say ‘Hey, me ’n’ my brother here, we need to steal your car could you please hand me the keys? Thanks so much.’ Like that’ll work.”

“Your problem, you got no imagination, Jimmy.”

“Okay, smart ass,” said Liz, turning to face him, the sponge in her hand dripping egg-tainted droplets on her bunny slippers, “give.”

“What we do, we scope out some junk yards, scrap metal places, we find an old Valet Parking sign.”

He paused, shifting his focus from one to the other, waiting.

“Yeah, so?” Jimmy flipped an open hand in the air. “That’s it?”

Liz snorted and went back to scrubbing.

“Y’all don’t see very far, do ya?” said Donald. “We get this sign, we cruise around all those neighborhoods on the west side, got a half dozen restaurants on every block, see?”

Liz stopped and turned.

“You’re gonna set up like a valet operation, any restaurant doesn’t have one, steal the first car pulls up?”


Jimmy frowned. “And then what? Can’t sell it, we got no title or anything. Could drive it around, but you got a car and I got the van, Lizzie’s drivin’ that Chevy beater her mom gave her. What’re we gonna do with another car, a hot one we can’t sell?”

“We could forge papers,” said Donald.

“You two? Not a chance.” Liz took off her apron and moved to join them. She faked kicking Donald’s legs out of the way and he moved them to let her pass.

“Besides, anybody you morons could hustle into buying a car off you will already know who you are. Guys down the block, high school pals aren’t in jail or the army, that bunch at that bar you never, ever visit,”—she shot Jimmy a look—“they’d all know right where to find you, the deal blows up. And you two don’t want that, seeing as how everybody in this neighborhood knows the Beech boys aren’t fighters, they’re lovers.”

“Don’t call us that,” said Donald. “Damn high school snots gave us that, Beech boys. Hate it. Hated them assholes even more. Anyhow, the answer is chop shop.”

He rapped the table with his knuckles several times so they’d get it.

“We find a good chop shop, sell it cheap, they turn the thing into spare parts. Case closed.”

“That might work,” said Jimmy.

Liz got up and added some hot from the pot to her coffee.

“You want to be smart about it,” she said. “Find a shop wants in on the deal first.”

“I got an idea,” said Jimmy. “That body shop a few blocks over, down the street from Normandie on Washington.”

“I know that place. Whatsis name, Jorge Sanchez?” Donald pronounced it George.

“Not anymore,” said Jimmy. “Place is Korean now, something like Park Body Shop, I think. Last time I noticed, guy’s working on nothing but Hondas, maybe a Hyundai here and there.”

“That’s perfect,” said Liz.

“How come?” Donald was sitting up now, paying attention.

This story appears in our FEB 2017 Issue
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Reader Discussion

Excellent tale. Great characters and dialogue. I really enjoyed it.
By Nick Sweeney

Loved the story. Clever, well-written, and very entertaining from beginning to end.
By Earl Staggs

Reads easily. Dialog believable. Characters fairly well differentiated, if not clichéd. Plot line obvious, but the journey getting there carries you along. Everyone a little wooden, however. And the ending is a throwaway...
By Sal Baby

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