Join Our Newsletter

Read a sample mystery every week


...or Read FREE Stories on Your Phone
The Clean Car Company
About the Author: R.T. Lawton is a retired federal law enforcement agent, past member of the MWA Board of Directors and has over 140 published short stories in various anthologies and magazines, to include Mystery Weekly. He has sold 47 short stories to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and has six collections in paperback on Amazon.

Danny was sitting in a large booth in the back of a dimly lit bar where the light faded out long before it could reach the back door. Normally, this dark booth was used by cheating lovers who didn’t want to be recognized out on the town with someone other than who they were supposed to be with. But since it was still early in the day, Danny was the one occupying the dark cubicle so he and his partner in minor crimes could privately discuss remedies for their current lack of funds. Problem was, Jackson hadn’t shown up yet.

He glanced at his cheap digital watch for the tenth time and hoped his partner hadn’t run into some kind of trouble, like the law or even worse, loan sharks. It was on his mind to finish the dregs of his watered-down drink and leave this black hole of a place, Jackson be damned, when the dimness where he was sitting suddenly got a lot darker.

On the opposite side of the table, two bodies slid into his booth. Then, one slid in beside him. Danny was blocked in. With his eyes long used to the lack of lighting in this part of the bar, he recognized two of the guys now sitting in his booth as local hoods, small time criminals trying hard to reach up for greater fame in the city’s underworld. The third person was a kid in his teens. Him, he didn’t know at all.

Danny decided to just keep his mouth shut and see what kind of trouble he was in. No sense volunteering information they might not know about, but as far as he knew, he hadn’t said or done anything to rub any of them the wrong way. Of course, they could be pissed at his partner Jackson for some reason and were going to take it out on himself just to make a point. With that comforting thought, he sat motionless, barely daring to breathe as he waited for them to start the ball rolling. It didn’t take long, but their initial statements left him a little confused.

“The stupid bastard tried to load a bolted-down ATM machine into the bed of a stolen pickup last night and got himself arrested,” said the hood next to him. “by the time he gets out on bond, it’ll be too late for us to use him.”

Danny knew this tall, slender man sitting to his right by the first name of Leroy, last names seldom being used in his world of thieves, muggers and candy stick men, otherwise known as robbers armed with a gun. As Jackson’s old uncle used to brag, “When I show ‘em that stick in my hand, they give me all the candy. No problem.»

The three intruders continued their conversation as if they were the only ones in the booth.

“I told you we shouldn’t bring him in on this job,” replied the big man sitting across the table from Leroy. “Now we’re shy a wheel man and have to find someone else that’s good at getaway driving.”

Danny knew this hood only by the street name of Caps, from his penchant for knee-capping people who crossed him in some manner or other.

“Hey,” piped up the teenager sitting beside Caps and across from Danny, “I got a license and can drive a car. Let me do it.”

Caps slowly turned to his right, slid one muscular arm up behind the teen, grabbed the back of the teen’s neck in the palm of one very large hand and rotated the kid’s head towards his own.

“I told you before we got here not to talk at any time during me and Leroy’s business meeting to discuss robbing the check cashing store. Didn’t I?”

Caps then tilted his wrist forward and back so that the kid’s head bobbed up and down like he was agreeing with what Caps had just said.

“Unfortunately, you are my sister’s sole progeny and she asked me very nicely to show you the ropes, but you, you are one major screwup. Did I say anything about you being the getaway driver on this job?

Caps then rotated the kid’s head sideways from his right shoulder to his left shoulder and back a few times as if the answer was a negative.

This story appears in our JAN 2021 Issue
(Visit Amazon for a print version)

Buy JAN 2021 Issue

Buy It Now

Digital Subscription

Price $24.75 Cdn

You will immediately receive the current issue.
Future issues are emailed on the 1st of each month.

Reader Discussion

Add Your Comments

Read stories on your phone