Finn, Barlow and Daryll piled into the ancient Honda and sped off into the Baltimore night, now trailing a bit of the car’s bumper that had become snagged on a Chrysler’s rear end as Barlow attempted to extricate himself from the too tight parallel parking spot. They clattered eastbound, a symphony of rust bucket percussion accompanied by the lightshow provided by the dangling muffler. Barlow had always been the default driver of their merry band, not so much because of his advanced motoring skills, but because neither Findley nor Daryll had a car. In point of fact Alton Lee Findley had never even driven a car, having been chauffeured his entire life by his mother, a much improved upon red head orbiting sixty, who still turned men’s heads wherever she went. She delighted in passing Finn off as her “boy-toy” much to his constant embarrassment, and made worse by her frequent references to his pretty mouth. No wonder he was such a psychotic mess. All her fault. Yes, he thought, all her fault.
Barlow winced, his sphincter tightening as the little car bounced and bucked along the rutted inner city street, still leaving a constellation of sparks in its wake. Barlow actually loved to drive, providing the traffic was to a minimum, and despite its resemblance to a recycling bin, his Honda was fast, nimble and reliable. Alton constantly disparaged its looks and pedigree, being used to his mother’s BMW, but beggar’s can’t be choosers, thought Barlow. Let the nutcase learn to drive himself. Jeeze. The guy was almost thirty.
“ What did you do to that poor girl back in the bar, Finn? Why you always have to hurt people? “, whined Daryll from the back seat, the waves of trash washing over his lap as Barlow rounded a corner a bit too sharply. “We’re in it deep, man, and you’re just making it worse. She was nice, Finn, might have even helped us out. We gotta figure this out, dude. The cops are probably looking all over the state for us, and you go leaving a trail even that Clouseau dude could follow. Man, we’re fucked. And Joanna’s been locked in the house all day. Who’s gonna take care of her?,” moaned Daryll. “She’ll starve!”
“Shut up Daryll, you little pussy! Fuck you and your damn little dog! Bitch kept telling me I looked like that queer guy from Aerosmith. Hate that shit, man, I bit HER damn lip off. Serves her right. Bet she thinks twice. Anyways, I got a plan, I know just what we’re gonna do, so shut up or I’ll bite you, too!……… Barlow!! Pull over here! In front of that rowhouse!”
Barlow jammed the brakes and wrenched the car to a halt in front of the white marble steps of a seemingly abandoned rowhouse. “Wait here,” commanded Findley.
Finn leaped from the car & bounded up the steps as they glimmered in the streetlight. He glanced at the names on the door buzzer and jammed his finger into the button for 302.
MENDOCINO JONES, read the weathered brass plaque.


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