Fighting to be free, p.2
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.2
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         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley

  “Just kill me if you have to, because I’m not doing it,” I said, awkwardly shaking my head.

  “I don’t want to kill you, Kid. You’re amazing at what you do. The best I’ve seen. It’d be a waste,” Brett said, looking at me hopefully.

  The arm across my neck pushed down harder, making me groan as I struggled to draw breath. “No!” I choked out.

  Brett growled in frustration. “I need you to do a job. It’s five cars, one night. One job, then you’re out.”

  Just one job? But would it actually stop at one? The thrill of boosting cars was like some sort of addictive high. If I started again, would I be able to stop? I wasn’t convinced I would.

  “Can’t do it,” I said ignoring the metallic tang of my own blood as I chewed on the inside of my cheek. I knew what was coming, and it wasn’t going to be painless.

  But instead of delivering the slow, brutal death I was envisioning, the gun was withdrawn and Brett stepped back. “You should think of your mother, Kid. She’s so screwed up. Having her daughter murdered like that, then her son getting sent down. She kind of went off the rails. I’ve been looking after her for you. It’d be a shame if something awful happened to her after all she’s been through already.” He shrugged casually as if we were talking about the weather.

  The son of a bitch is threatening my mom? I thrashed, managing to get one of my arms free so I could push myself up, but before my attempt could accomplish anything, I was slammed back down on the table roughly.

  “Don’t you fucking dare!” I shouted acidly.

  Brett chuckled. “Kid, I like her, honestly. I don’t want to have to hurt her. One job and I’ll leave your mother alone,” he bartered.

  I squeezed my eyes shut. As much as I hated my mom, she was still my mother at the end of the day and I didn’t want her hurt, especially not the type of hurt I’d seen Brett inflict on so many other people.

  Awkwardly, I nodded in agreement. Air rushed back into my lungs as I was yanked up to standing by the back of my shirt. Shaun smiled wickedly at me as he patted the top of my head. “There’s a good boy,” he teased condescendingly. I gritted my teeth, trying not to react.

  Brett clapped his hands, rubbing his palms together excitedly. “Great! The job is in three days. Here, take this cell and I’ll call you with the details, I had it all set up for you. And take the apartment, too.” He slid a cell phone and the apartment keys across the desk.

  I grabbed the phone and shoved it deep into my jeans pocket. “I’ve got a place. One job is what we’ve agreed to, so I don’t need the apartment. Thanks anyway,” I said, trying to be polite even though I actually wanted to maim him.

  “Okay, Kid. Whatever you want.”

  I turned to leave but caught sight of Shaun arrogantly smirking at me. Before I could stop myself, I raised my arm and threw a punch into his face. The satisfying crack of his nose made me smile as blood instantly spurted from his nostrils. He yelped, shocked, his hand shooting up to his nose to staunch the flow.

  “Don’t ever touch me again. There’s a good boy,” I growled angrily, using his words. I turned and strutted out the door, ignoring Brett roaring with laughter behind me.

  CHAPTER 2

  THIS IS IT,” the cabdriver announced, cautiously locking his door with his elbow as he stopped outside a filthy-looking, dilapidated apartment block.

  Trying not to turn my nose up at the place the state had arranged for me to stay upon my release, I handed him the requested money and stepped out. Instantly, the sweet aroma of burning weed assaulted my nose from where several people milled around outside smoking joints in broad daylight. The cab sped away almost as soon as my door closed, leaving me standing there among the scummy-looking people, who were all looking at me like they wanted to beat and rape me to within an inch of my life.

  As I made my way up the sidewalk toward the front of the building, a barely legal girl stepped forward and set her hand on my chest. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hair was wild, and she looked like she hadn’t washed or changed her almost nonexistent clothes in about a week. “Hi there, handsome, you looking for someone?” she purred.

  “No thanks,” I replied quickly, shrugging away from her hand as I continued to the front door.

  Once inside, I walked toward the little reception desk, my feet sticking to the cracked tile floor with each step. I had to laugh when I realized that the guy was sitting behind chunky thick bars with what looked like bulletproof glass behind them. He even had a handgun sitting on the side of his desk.

  He sneered distastefully as I approached. “Yeah?” he grunted, muting the TV show he was watching.

  “Hey. I’m Jamie Cole. I was told I had a room here.”

  “Cole? Let me see …” He shifted in his chair, causing it to squeak from the pressure, and shuffled through some papers.

  I turned subtly so that I could see up the hallway, making sure no one was sneaking up on me from behind. I’d gotten pretty adept at staying out of trouble. As long as you saw it coming, you could either face it head-on or walk the other way.

  “Yeah, here you are.” He ticked my name off some sort of list, then sniffed and wiped his nose on the back of his hand as he pushed himself up from his swivel chair and padded over to a little cabinet mounted on the wall. He pulled down a set of keys and waddled back to me, plopping down heavily. Everything looked like too much effort for him. The guy was carrying about fifty pounds of sheer fat around the middle, so no wonder life seemed taxing.

  He threw a couple of forms and a pen into a little metal drawer and shoved it hard so that the drawer popped out on my side of his protective bubble. “Sign on the bottom and it’s all yours,” he instructed as I retrieved the registration forms from the drawer.

  I scribbled my name and passed the papers back to him.

  Barely glancing at my forms, he tossed them to the side. “Okay, so there aren’t very many rules here. Just try and stay out of trouble. Make sure you lock your door, even when you’re in the room. Take anything valuable out with you, or lock it in one of the safes here inside the office,” he advised, waving his chubby hand at the row of little safes built into the wall. I nodded, and he continued, “You have a front door key. The door gets locked at ten p.m.; after that you’ll have to let yourself in. Your room is 234.” He shoved the drawer back through to me.

  I grabbed the set of keys from the bottom and shifted my bag on my shoulder.

  “Second floor, turn left at the top, and good luck.” He smirked, and I silently noted the amusement in his tone.

  “Right,” I mumbled. On the way to my room I avoided touching the railings and walls, covered in years of grime and dirt. If Brett didn’t kill me, then I’d probably die from some incurable infection I’d catch from this place; I could practically taste the germs with every breath.

  I found my room easily, unlocking the door and shoving it open. The room was bare save for a couple of bits of furniture; on the upside, the mattress looked clean, and the sheets piled at the end looked new, so at least I wouldn’t have to sleep in other people’s filth.

  In the corner, next to a door, was a little sink; I headed over to the door and opened it to find a toilet and the tiniest shower stall I’d ever seen. I could kill two birds with one stone, and shower while I’m taking a leak. Now that’s a time saver! I snorted before outright laughing at my predicament. The place was so awful that I kind of wished I were back in juvie; at least it was clean and familiar there.

  Dropping my bag, I flopped on the bed and stared at the ceiling. All I could hear was shouting and fighting from outside, and people banging around in the room next door. I closed my eyes and thought everything through. I needed to get a job, and I needed to get a car, and then I could get the hell out of this place. One job for Brett would make my mom safe; after that I could move on like I’d planned.

  When the sounds of girlie moaning and headboard banging started in the room next to mine, I pushed myself up and decided that I might as well go
and start the job hunt now.

  I left the rooming house in quite high spirits and headed to the nearest stores, starting to ask around for a job. A couple of people seemed interested, right up until I told them where I was staying, and then they backed off right away. It was obviously common knowledge what kind of people lived at that place—scum of the earth, murdering losers, just like me. By the third place I asked, I was lying and telling people I was in the process of moving. But I still didn’t manage to swing an interview.

  A little way out of the neighborhood, a junkyard caught my attention. I decided to try to fulfill my second task—getting a car.

  I headed toward the little white office trailer, but a guy stopped me on my way there. “Hey, what you looking for?” he asked politely, wiping his greasy hands on a rag. He was wearing oil-stained gray overalls and had a Yankees baseball cap covering his black hair; he was probably not much older than me.

  “Oh, hi. Uh … I’m not sure. Do you have any cars that need work to get them running? Ones that you want to get rid of cheap?” I inquired.

  A smile crept over his lips. “You know about cars?”

  “Yeah. A thing or two,” I answered. There wasn’t much I didn’t know about cars, actually.

  “Okay, well, I’ll show you what we’ve got. None of them run, though.” He shrugged and walked off behind the trailer. I followed behind, barely able to contain my excitement. I hadn’t had my hands on a car engine for what felt like forever.

  Around the back of the office, he stopped. “These are the ones we use for parts; the others we crush. They’re okay, except they don’t run. None of them are complete now, though. You could make a car out of the parts of the other ones and what we have around the yard,” he stated, nodding to about ten beat-up, scratched, and rusted cars parked there.

  “Can I have a look?” I asked, heading over to the first in the row. I instantly dismissed it because the chassis was rusted to hell. I hated welding. After looking at a couple, I settled on a pickup that had probably started its life as dark green. It had no wheels and no bumper, but those were probably lying around here somewhere. “This looks good. Can I turn it over?”

  He grinned and nodded, obviously thinking I was crazy as I jumped behind the wheel excitedly.

  The keys were already in it, so I pumped the gas as I turned the engine over, hearing the whine and slight ticking noise. It was perfect. It sounded like the problem was with the alternator, easy enough to fix if I could find the parts in the yard somewhere. I popped the hood and jumped out to look at the engine. As I clipped the hood above my head, I smiled. It didn’t look too bad at all; it just required a little cleanup and a few new parts. All she needed was some love and care. I shoved my hand down the side and pulled out the alternator cable. “You have a rag I could borrow?”

  The guy’s smirk grew wider as he threw me the rag he’d been wiping his hands on. I cleaned up the cable and plucked a stone from the ground, scratching the inside of the head slightly to give some friction before putting it back.

  “Can you turn it over for me?” I requested.

  He burst out laughing. “Look, man, this truck’s been here for almost a year, it’s probably rusted solid. I’ve tried to get this one going, it’s not just gonna be the alternator.”

  I shrugged. “Worth a shot, right? That’s just a temporary repair, I’ll have to change most of the fixings, but it should be okay.”

  He rolled his eyes and climbed in, clearly not expecting anything judging by the look on his face. As he turned the key, the truck spluttered to life for a split second before cutting out. It was loud as hell, but it was perfect. The guy stepped out, his mouth agape.

  “So how much you want for it? I’ll need the parts, too. New wheels and bumper. I’ll replace all of the plugs, clips, and cables as well,” I stated, taking another look into the engine.

  He pursed his lips in thought. “Call it … two hundred bucks?”

  I raised one eyebrow. “Two hundred is a little steep. You said yourself you can’t get it going. I’ll take it, and the parts, for one fifty,” I bartered, knowing I would pay the two hundred and it would still be cheap as anything.

  He rolled his eyes. “One seventy-five?”

  I nodded. “One seventy-five it is then. You think I could maybe fix it up here? I won’t be any trouble; I’ll stay out of the way, I promise. It’s just, I don’t have anywhere to do this …” That was a lie, I could easily get the truck to Brett’s warehouse, but I didn’t want to owe him anything.

  “Sure, why not,” he agreed

  “Awesome. I’m Jamie, by the way.” I stuck out my hand to him.

  “Connor,” he replied, shaking it.

  After paying for the truck, I made arrangements to come back the following day to make a start. On the way back to the hellhole that I now called home, I grabbed a sandwich from the corner store. As I headed into the building I ensured I steered clear of the drug dealer and the two prostitutes who had set up camp outside the door.

  * * *

  The next couple of days passed quickly. Other than a quick visit to my parole officer the day after my release, the rest of my time was mostly spent down at the junkyard; I was doing extremely well with the car. Connor was a likable guy; at twenty-one, he was fairly close to my age, as I’d guessed. His dad owned the yard, and Connor ran it for him most of the time. The day I finally finished fixing up my pickup, I was more than a little proud of myself.

  Connor sauntered out of the office, carrying two steaming mugs of coffee. “I can’t believe you did this. I tried with this one. I’m pretty good with cars, but this one was dead.”

  I took a sip, wincing at the slight burn on my tongue. “You know, I could have a look at the others if you want. Maybe fix them up so you can sell them?” I offered. I’d been thinking about this a lot recently.

  He frowned skeptically. “Yeah? And what would you get out of that?”

  I shrugged. “What would you sell them for in the state that they’re in?”

  His lips pursed as he thought about it. “I don’t know. Hardly anything. No one’s crazy enough to buy a car that doesn’t work. Present company excluded, of course,” he joked, laughing.

  “Okay, well how about this: I fix them up, you sell them, and I get half of the profit,” I suggested.

  “Half?” he repeated.

  “Only half of the profit,” I clarified. “So, for example, if you buy the car for a hundred bucks and sell it for two, then I’ll get fifty. That way you’re still making more than you normally would and I get some, too. Plus, they won’t just be worth two hundred when I’m done; you’ll probably sell them for closer to four or five hundred.”

  “Um … I’m not sure, Jamie. I like the idea, but I’m not sure how feasible it is. We’ve never been into selling working cars, only parts.”

  “Tell you what, how about a trial run?” I looked around and pointed at the car that, in my opinion, needed the least work to get going. “It’ll take me a couple of days to get it running but if I do, how about you stick it in the auction next week and see what happens?” I offered hopefully.

  He frowned over at the car. “I don’t know, I’m not sure my dad will be into the idea.”

  I shrugged. “What do you have to lose? If it doesn’t sell, then it doesn’t sell.”

  He chewed on his lip, obviously thinking about it before he finally nodded and stuck out his hand to me. “All right, deal.”

  I grinned, shaking his hand. “Deal!” I hoped with everything inside me that this worked out. I’d get to fix cars and make money at the same time.

  “Wanna go for a drink tonight?” Connor offered, sipping his coffee.

  “Sure, I’d like that.” It was nice to have someone to talk to, and I could certainly use a drinking partner.

  Just as I was about to arrange the details, my cell phone rang. Other than Connor, only two people had the number: Brett and Ray. I pulled the phone from my pocket roughly, hoping for it to be Ray. Un
fortunately, it wasn’t.

  “Hey, Brett,” I answered, forcing politeness.

  “Hey, Kid. I’m just about to send you the list for tomorrow night. Be at the warehouse at nine. I’ve done the scouting, so it should be easy.”

  “Sure. See you then,” I answered, ending the call, cussing under my breath.

  “Problem?” Connor inquired.

  I shook my head quickly. “Nothing I can’t handle.” I was trying desperately not to look forward to tomorrow night, but I just couldn’t help it. The thought of doing a boost was growing more appealing every day. The high I got from boosting was one of the only pleasurable things I’d ever had in life, and I’d missed it.

  My phone beeped with a new message, so I opened it, eager to see the list of cars I was to steal. I stared at the screen, shocked. The excitement that I was trying to keep at bay was bubbling over as I looked at the last car on the list.

  Audi R8 Spyder

  Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

  BMW Z4

  Porsche Carrera GT

  Bugatti Veyron

 
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