Road Rules – An Excerpt

Clayborn Press will be releasing Road Rules in the next couple of weeks. Here now is an excerpt.

   It’s a sad thing to watch a grown man wet himself.  It’s even sadder when he owes too much money. Andre Koradovich had both these things on his mind as he tapped the tire iron against his leg.

    The soiled man in question, really just a kid named Brian, sat in a straight back chair sobbing.  Two big guys with the names “Kenny” and “Zed” stitched to their shirts stood behind him. They had duct taped his arms and legs to the chair.  

    “I- I- I- thought everyone’s credit was good at Andre the Giant’s,” said Brian.

    Koradovich, standing large at six-foot-five, began swinging the tire iron back and forth in front of him like a golf club.  “It is, Brian, it is.” He leaned in the kid’s face. “That’s why you got two-and-a-half percent on the vig.” He stood and started swinging the iron in a circle over his head.  It cut the air just above Brian’s head on each pass.

    Brian winced every time he felt the breeze.  “That’s unfair.”

    “That’s a hundred a week,” said Koradovich.  “Less than I charge most people. On four grand, I should be getting one sixty out of you.”

    “But I tried to pay on it.”

    Koradovich stopped swinging the iron.  “No, Brian. Trying is giving me seventy-five bucks or fifty or…  Hell, twenty-five bucks would have told me you were serious.” He smiled.  “You pay me; I make money. It’s why I got into this business. Instead you hid like the little bitch.  So now you get beat like a little bitch.” He raised the tire iron like a baseball bat and took aim at Brian’s knee.

    Brian screamed, only to be interrupted.

    “Hey, boss, that thing’s here.”

    Everyone looked to see a man poking his head in the door.  He didn’t look so much like a man as he did a hound dog with coke-bottle glasses.

    “Am I interrupting?” said the hound dog man.

    “It’s all right, Beamer,” said Koradovich, frozen in mid-swing.  “The shipping crate?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Did they stick it in Havalcek’s car?”

    “Come see for yourself.”

    Koradovich lowered the iron.  Brian visibly relaxed as Koradovich walked by him.

    “Here,” Koradovich said to Kenny, who looked like a wrestler despite the growing beer gut, handing him the tire iron.  “Finish up for me. I gotta take care of this.”

    “And when we done?” asked Zed.  Zed might have passed for a rapper if it weren’t for the “I Love Jesus” T-shirt under his mechanic’s smock.

    “Well, if you leave one of his knees intact,” said Koradovich, “I’d say put him to work on the lot washing cars.  Let the boy work off his loan.”

    “We’ll take care of it,” said Kenny.

    Koradovich followed Beamer out into the hall.  As soon as the door closed behind him, Brian started screaming.

    “Did you shut the door to the showroom?” asked Koradovich as they made their way through the back halls of the car dealership.

    “Oh, yeah,” said Beamer.  “Unless a customer’s in the garage, they won’t hear anything.  And I told the mechanics to take an early lunch.”

    “Good man.”

    They emerged outside into a small lot encircled by chainlink fence topped with razor wire.  Cars in various states of decay, none newer than 2004, sat haphazardly around the lot. Some, ones that had reached the end of their first decade, had cracked windshields, flat tires, or puddles of various fluids underneath.

    Among them sat a pristine 1962 Cadillac DeVille.

    “I can’t believe Havalcek kept that beast on his lot,” said Koradovich.

    “He actually hired a some security outfit to keep it there,” said Beamer.

    “Which one?”

    “Jordan & Associates.”

    “That outfit Mason uses when he’s not fucking over a client?”

    “I guess.  Only reason we managed to boost it was the sister working the overnight shift had a tiny bladder.”

    Koradovich threw back his head and laughed.  “You’re fucking kidding me.”

    “Swear to God.  Gordie told me about it when he brought the car in.  Said she just sat there at the entrance to the back lot in her little Volkswagen.”

    “Some people.  Gimme the keys and stay where you are.”

    Beamer did as he was told.  Koradovich stepped around the car, opened the trunk, and stared.  Inside he found a small shipping crate with “Gdansk,” “Belfast,” and “JFK” stamped on the outside.  The crate had broken locks and came open easily. As the jeweled contents glittered back at Koradovich, he said, “You retag this car?”

    “Do you know how hard it was to find a VIN tag for a 1962 Cadillac?”

    “Beamer…”

    Beamer pointed at the car’s vehicle identification tag under the windshield.  “We got a tag off a 1964 Caddie someone was selling for parts. Gordie gave the guy a couple hundred for it.  We put Havalcek’s tag on that one and dumped it on Carnegie.”

    Koradovich let the crate lid fall shut and slammed the trunk.

    “We happy, boss?” asked Beamer.

    Koradovich stood staring at the closed trunk.  He took a deep breath, then started laughing. “Oh, yeah, Beamer.  We’re real happy.” He tossed the keys back to Beamer. “Call Yarazelski and tell him I got a job for him.”

    “That the repo guy Mason sent us a while back?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Isn’t he an idiot?”

    “Idiots follow orders better than most people. How do you think you got a job?”

    Beamer ignored the jab.  “I still don’t see why you don’t just fly that thing in the trunk down to Florida.  If it’s so hot, why not get it to the buyer as fast as possible?”

    “So you’re not an idiot.”  Koradovich clamped a hand on Beamer’s shoulder as he walked by.  “I thought of that, but then how many vintage Cadillacs the feds will be looking for when they find that crate missing.”  He lumbered back inside the car dealership. “Then tell me how many airplanes they’re going to watch, including charter flights.  I’m betting it’ll be a lot more airplanes.”

    Beamer stood in the lot staring after his boss.  “Feds?”

    Before he could go after Koradovich to ask what he meant, he heard sobbing coming from inside.  Kenny and Zed emerged with a bloody and trembling Brian hanging between them. They took the kid over to a Plymouth Voyager that probably would never see the streets again and dumped him in the back.

    “Our boy needs to rest up,” said Zed.  “He’s got a busy day ahead of him as our new lot tech.”

    “And that’s hard work,” said Kenny, “when you got a broken kneecap.”

    Beamer turned and headed back inside the dealership, thankful he’d never borrowed money from Andre Koradovich.