Eddy Vasquez quit counting. More than fifty cars lined the dormant highway that cut the desert wastes outside Phoenix in half. He parked his jet black Grand National in the queue.

Around the cars were crowded mostly kids sporting the latest hip-hop fashions. They popped their hoods to show off their engines. They bragged how they were the best, laying challenges and placing bets.

Eddy’s crime partner, Turko, was sitting in the passenger seat. Eddy turned to Turko and said, “We got enough time to watch a few races, Turko, then we gotta deliver the Llello.”

“What?” said Turko. “You’re not racing tonight?”

“No. What’d I just say? We don’t got the time, Turko. You know what will happen to us if we don’t make the delivery tonight.”

It was a rhetorical question and Turko just shrugged. He knew exactly what would happen to them if they didn’t drop off the five kilos of cocaine at the stash house. J.W., the big bad Mexican biker who ran the stash house for the Arellano cartel, would—well, Turko didn’t want to even consider what J.W. would do to them. It’d be nightmarish, to say the least.

The best racers had shown up tonight. There was C-lo Rider in his hatchback with the turbo’d jdm H22a motor swap. The kid was as covered in tattoos as his car was painted in Aztec warrior art.

There was Lady Death, a quiet innocent looking girl with a wicked penchant for racing. Her car was the black ‘68 Chevelle with racing stripes. There was Kayron with the supercharged Mustang GT.

Then there was Danny Malone.

Danny stood at the head of the pack, talking shit. Danny raced in a Camaro SS, had never lost a race, and let everybody know it. “Who wants to lose their pink slips tonight,” he said.

No one spoke up, and Turko shook his head. He was fed up with Danny’s bravado. Everyone was, but Turko the most.

Above all, Turko wanted to beat Danny in a race. Just one time, Turko wanted to win and rub it in Danny’s face. Rub it in good.

Eddy saw his ex, Melissa, with a new boyfriend. They’d just broken up yesterday, and already she was with another man. He rushed from the car, so fired up he left the keys in the ignition.

“You talk a lot of shit, Danny,” said Turko.

“I talk a lot of shit,” said Danny, “because I can.”

“Fuck you, Danny.”

Danny dared Turko.

“You think you can beat me?”

“You’re on, fucker!”

“We race for pink slips.”

“Whatever,” Turko said.

Danny grinned, and Turko jumped in Eddy’s car. He met Danny at the starting line a quarter mile up the road. Danny revved the Camaro. As the flagman prepared to signal the race to start, Turko felt for the first time a sinking in his stomach. The flagman shouted go. They peeled out neck in neck up the stretch.

Eddy shouted, “What the hell, Melissa?”

He’d been in a shouting match with her this whole time. The new boyfriend kept quiet, letting Eddy vent.

“We just broke up last night,” Eddy said, “and you’re already seeing someone else?”

Now the car lights were getting closer. Like four white monstrous eyes, they loomed out of the night.

One set of lights pulled away from the other and, nearing faster than the other, Eddy looked up for the first time and noticed the Grand National. He saw Turko behind the wheel, losing the race.

Desperation overtook Turko, with it, his control of the car. The Grand National began to fishtail, and the car veered into the crowd.

Melissa was screeching at Eddy, “You don’t own me, you don’t tell me what to do.”

With a hideous thump, the car plowed through Melissa and her boyfriend. They came apart in front of Eddy’s eyes and the gory pieces pelted him like rotten fruit and the blood splashed him like a car through a puddle. The car passed so close to his face he felt the slap of wind.

The car barrel rolled through the rest of the crowd, and more kids flew apart. Bodies flew up into the air like a trapeze act of blood and flesh. Finally, the Grand National collided with the parked cars.

The Grand National exploded. A giant white cloud of cocaine swept over the screaming survivors. The five kilos of cocaine Eddy’d put in the trunk.

~ fin ~

Jason Duke is a crime writer and Iraqi war vet who served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army for six years, including a 15 month deployment to Iraq. Jason now lives and writes full-time in Phoenix, Arizona, and his fiction has appeared in publications including Plots With Guns, Thuglit, Spinetingler Magazine,, Crimefactory, Needle Magazine, Yellow Mama, Darkest Before the Dawn, and A Twist of Noir. He also has stories in the e-anthologies D*cked and Pulp Ink. When not breaking to write short stories, Jason is writing novels and is currently working on his second book titled "Once Upon a Time in Arizona". You can catch up with Jason on Facebook.