Runaway Highway

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Chapter 6 - 100,000$

Johanna’s POV

“Care to tell me why you’re taking me to the windmills at this time of night?” Mia asked, crossing her arms and sulking on the passenger seat of my car.

“Because,” I explained “I got this message from a guy named John who wants to work with me. You know I don’t usually do this, it’s quite dangerous to meet a random guy in this town at night... But I’m desperate for the money.”

Mia shrugged her shoulders “I know... It’s gonna be alright Jo, you’ll see.” This was her way of cheering me up. Throughout the many years of our friendship, we never really showed affection for one another through cute words or hugs, we showed it by being there for each other no matter what. I never questioned her loyalty. She had never let me down, not once, so I knew I could count on her.

We arrived at the windmills soon enough. It was in the highest part of town and was quite isolated. It was good for meetups to talk business because I was sure no one was spying on me. As I drove closer, I instantly saw a lonely car, it’s driver leaning against it, smoking.

“Oh you’ve gotta be kidding me!” As soon as I saw who it was I reached for my glove compartment and took out my handgun. Mia didn’t even flicnh at the sight of the gun. After all, she carried one herself.

“Oh shit, it’s Gazelle!” Mia said, covering her mouth. “Could he... Is it a coincidence that he is here on the exact same night you arrange a meet up with a mysterious guys?”

I didn’t answer her. I was furious. If he was indeed this John guy, why did he think it was necessary to trick me? Was was every guy in this town so fucking insane?

I put the handgun behind my back in the waistband of my trousers and got out of the car.

“This is not gonna take long.” I said to Mia, shutting the door behind me.

Sam’s POV

I arrived 10 minutes earlier at the rendezvous spot. The night was crisp, no humidity was in the air. It was cold enough to put on a jacket, but not cold enough to make me want to stay inside the car. I lit up a cigarette, leaning against my car as I puffed out the smoke.

I tried to play out in my head what I was going to say to Johanna but it was virtually impossible because I had no idea how she would react. She seemed like a shy, quiet girl, but she also seemed sure of herself. It was a strange combination, so I couldn’t predict how she’d react.

That was when I saw her car pull up some meters away from me. I put out my cigarette with my boot and pushed myself off the car. I turned in her direction, my hands in my pockets due to the cold. I noticed she had brought someone, some girl with dark purple hair. She girl stayed in the car and Johanna walked in my direction.

Her feet were stomping the ground and she was walking in a hurried manner. I noticed she kept her right hand behind her back, inside her jacket.

Oh shit.

When she was 2 meters away from me she stopped dead in her tracks. She pulled out her gun and rested it next to leg, pointed to the ground. That stance was threatning enough to keep me at a safe didtance, but not enough to make me run away.

“What the fuck Gazelle!” she said, her breath clouding the cold air “Are you supposed to be John? Fuck man what’s wrong with you?”

I was completely taken aback. I never thought she’d be this aggressive. She had her black hoodie up so I couldn’t see her whole face, but she was clearly fuming.

I put my hands up as I searched for words, to show my innocence “Johanna, I see you’re mad and I understand that, you have all the right to-”

“Don’t tell me what I have the right to or not.”

Yikes.

“Right. I’ll go straight to it then. I know you are doing jobs for Lickety and I’ve heard you’re quite good. I just lost my main man, he’d fix my car, come with me to the races, do all the technical stuff... I just need your help to fix my car. It got pretty damaged from the last race.”

She didn’t answer right away. She pointed her gun at my car.

“Is this it? It looks alright to me.”

“No, this is my secondary car, not my race car. I managed to get that one home from the race god knows how.”

She huffed “Silly question, of course Gazelle has another car.”

Her tone was quite rude. I furrowed my eyebrows and challenged her “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh please, did I offend you by point out you’re filthy rich?”

I was starting to think she was less of a badass and more of a bitch.

I sighed, getting a bit fed up of her attitude “Look, do you want to help me or what?”

She looked straight at me. I could see behind her blue eyes that she was thinking. She glanced back at her car, at her friend, and placed her gun on the hood of my car.

“First, why don’t you start by introducing yourself, you know, show some manners.”

I almost choked. If this was her plan to show she had the upper hand she wasn’t going to be successful.

“I think you know who I am. You just called me Gazelle so you’ve clearly seen me or at least heard about me.”

“Sure, but I don’t know your real name. I can rule out John though, right?”

“My name is Sam. Collins.” I stated. I had to change my strategy if I was going to get what I wanted. She wasn’t going to back down her stance, so maybe I should try to appear less threatening. After all, I had no idea how loyal she was to Lickety and he was my rivals. I had to make her trust me.

“Look Johanna, it was a dick move to trick you. I admit that. The truth is I didn’t want you to know who I was before you heard my proposition. I was afraid you’d turn me down before hearing what I had to say, or worse, tell Lickety that I was trying to contact you. I’ve heard you’re the best of the best in this town and that you’re a fair player, which I admire since everyone around here is a backstabbing son of a bitch. I also know that you work mainly for Lickety, so if you don’t want to make things complicated I totally understand. However, the fact that you don’t show off and that literally no one knows anything about you speaks volumes about how you don’t give a damn about the gangs and shit. I’m just a guy that likes to race, I don’t get involved with none of that crap, and I think you want to avoid it too. Join me and we’ll do what we do best while staying out of trouble.”

She licked her lips and crossed her arms. “Look Sam, you can’t fool me. I don’t know how much you’re involved with the gangs but to some degree everyone in this town is. Don’t stand there and pretend that Gazelle Industries is not related to the gangs in some way. Now, as for Lickety, wipe off your mind that I work for him. I work for nobody, I’m not exclusive, I’m not in anybody’s team. I just do my job, no strings attached. That being said, you best believe I’m not snitching on anybody, not on Lickety or any of the other racers. That’s how I manage to stay out of trouble, and that’s not gonna change.”

“I respect that. Nobody likes a snitch. As for Gazelle Industries, you’re very mistaken. I might be known my father’s legacy, but my family is not involved with the gangs. That’s a fact.”

A gush of wind came rushing in through the trees. I noticed Johanna pulled her thin leather jacket which she wore over her hoodie closer as the wind picked up.

“Alright then, keep telling that to yourself. But anyway, what’s your proposition?” She asked, taking her gun and putting it away in her waistband. Good, she was backing down. This was progress.

“First I think I’d like to see what you can do to fix my car. Then, if you manage to salvage it, I’d like to have you as permanent member of my race team. I know you don’t usually do this, but I’d pay handsomely.”

She took a deep breath through her nostrils. Then she took a step closer to me, closing that safety distance.

“I’ll tell you what. I know you got money, and I also know you’re desperate. Since we’re being so honest with each other, I’ll also tell you this: I know you’re not in it for the prizes or to gain status to your family (not that they truly need it, from what I’ve gathered). What you want is adrenaline. When you race, that feeling consumes you. Yeah, I’ve seen you race, I’ve studied you. Knowing that you’re among criminals and crackheads is intoxicating, and the added thrill that you’re rebelling against the police is enough to get you high. Am I right?”

I didn’t know what to say. It was like she took a single look at me and she had figured me out, like she had discovered the darkest part of myself.

“I’ll agree to your proposition. I’ll fix your car and get it ready for the next race. I’ll do more actually. I’ll make you win the next race. Lickety is gonna have to surrender his title.”

“So you’ll agree to be part of my team?”

“Easy boy, what did I just tell you? I’m not exclusive. The moment someone else appears with a better deal, I’m out. But until then, you can be sure I’ll show you the same loyalty I’ve shown the others.”

“How are you gonna make me win?”

She smiled cockily. “I’ll make you win for 100,000 dollars.”

My jaw almost fell to the floor.

“You’re insane right? You honesty think I’m gonna pay you that much? That’s the prize of two races.”

“Oh Sam,” she went on. “Take it or leave it. Lickety has paid me way more over the years. I know you have the money. Now the choice is yours. Do you want to win or do you want to keep losing?”

No one had ever spoken to me like that before. Her cockiness reminded me of my dad, but there was something drastically different about them. I believed Johanna, she spoke with an infectious confidence and with a hint of sensuality. She was making me believe I could win, and with her I sure as hell I had a pretty good shot.

“85,000 and you got yourself a deal.” I said at last.

“This is my final price.” She said calmly, her emotions at bay. “Look, I’m not gonna tell you what upgrades Lickety and the other drivers have made to their cars, I’m gonna give you something better. There is not a single car from the racers that I have not seen. That’s where your money is going, to the most knowledgeable person in this town.”

I hesitated. She shrugged her shoulders and turned around.

“I guess you don’t want to win.” She started walking in the direction of her car. “Have a good night Gazelle.”

“No wait-” I said, reaching out to her. As soon as I touched her shoulder she dodged it. It was like she had an invisible shield around her. “I accept your terms.”

She turned around to face me. “Good. We start tomorrow. Send me your address and I’ll be there at 9.”

She walked away, getting into her car. I walked towards mine so I wouldn’t stand there like a creep.

“100 thousand... 100 thousand dollars...” I said to myself as I turned on the car. “This is either the scam of the century or I just landed gold.”

--

Finally they’ve met! What did you think? Please don’t forget to leave a comment so I know what you want to read next!

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