Willow '06: Gone In 60 Seconds

"I wonder," Toad said to himself presently, "I wonder if this sort of car starts easily?"

Next moment, hardly knowing how it came about, he found that he had hold of the handle and was turning it. As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul... He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street, he was only conscious that he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest. And he sped he knew not wither, fulfilling his instincts, living his hour, reckless of what might come to him....

Kenneth Grahame, "The Wind in the Willows"

# 1 #

Not far from the glitter and excess of the Las Vegas strip, a nondescript, late model Ford Escort drove through the cool night air of the upscale neighborhoods and businesses of Vegas's Summerlin district. Jonah Smith slowed the car, peering intently at the fancy stores. Being the wrong color and ethnic race, under the cover of darkness was the only way he would be able to get a good look at the area. Had it been during daylight hours, the young man would have been stopped by a well-meaning officer of law enforcement, with an oh-so-polite suggestion that he should high-tail back to his part of town. The Reservation part, but only for his own safety, mind you.

Jonah's older brother, Chanu, sitting gunshot, looked at the address written on the piece of paper stained from the chocolate bar he was eating. He grimaced at the mess on his fingers and wiped them on already dirty, faded blue jeans.

"The corner of Haulapai and Sahara. Rafe messed up. The Jag was supposed to be at the corner of Haulapai and Sahara," Jonah said.

"He didn't mess up," JD Dunne said from the back seat. "There it is." JD pointed to the car sitting in the showroom of "Exotic Imports, LTD".

Chanu and Jonah gazed in stunned disbelief at the twenty-foot high glass windows making up the front of the building. Inside the cars, the kind fueling many a car junkies' wet dream, gleamed in the all night showroom lights. Porches and Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bertones, and on the raised middle platform, a 2002 Jaguar S-TYPE R.

"That's the ride we're supposed to boost?" Chanu asked JD.

"Yep," JD said.

"You're shitting me, man."

"No shit here." JD grinned.

"How we supposed to...?" Jonah trailed off, looking at the windows again.

"Pop the trunk and I'll show you," JD said getting out of the car. From a distance, the men were as different as night and day. Where Chanu and Jonah were tall, dark skinned with long black hair -- Chanu's worn in braids --, clothes worn and mostly dirty, JD was short and undeniably white, with close cropped black hair, clean shaven and dressed impeccably. But if one were to get close enough to look in all three sets of dark brown eyes, they would see the same look of hard anger. Anger at a society that had turned its back on all three, at different times and different circumstances, but the results were the same.

"This is crazy, man," Chanu said as he and Jonah joined JD at the open trunk. "We ain't got nothing in there for this job, JD."

"Sure we do," JD said and lifted something out of the trunk.

"A brick?" Chanu scowled.

"How's a brick gonna help?" Jonah asked.

"Watch and learn." JD bounced it in his hand a couple of times and headed toward the showroom. Ten feet from the glass, he pulled his arm back and hurled the brick. The silence of the night shattered as the window exploded on impact and alarms sounded amidst a shower of glass raining down.

Behind JD, Jonah and Chanu jumped at the noise and both stared, jaws slack, as JD strode into the showroom, glass crunching under foot with each casual step. "Coming?" he called out.

"Shit, man! I'm gonna fucking jack that fool Rafe!" Chanu smacked his younger brother on the arm. "Get the hell out of here!" Jonah took off at a run and once Chanu saw his brother heading away in the Escort, he turned back to the smashed showroom and hurried inside to find JD already up on the platform holding the Jag.

With his brother away from the danger, Chanu's attitude took a sudden turn. More excited with each passing second, he watched JD go to work in awe.

An opened door added the Jaguar's alarm song to the wailing choir filling the air, but JD seemed unaware of it, as he pulled a screwdriver out of his back pocket and slid into the driver's seat. A few moments of concentrated work on the mechanism of the steering column, found the Jaguar's massive 4.2 V8 supercharged 400 bhp engine bellowing. Chanu calmly climbed into the next to the wildly grinning JD.

"Piece of cake," JD said, putting the car in first gear.

"Undoubtedly," Chanu replied and they both started laughing.

"Hang on." JD played the clutch and accelerator like a conductor and the Jaguar screamed in response, as the engine RPM's tacked at 5,600. He popped the clutch and the wheels laid a strip of English rubber before reaching the edge of the three foot high platform.

They flew through the air for a good five feet and hit the ground with a solid thump. The all wheel positraction of the drivetrain had the rear wheels spinning independent of each other and on the slick tile and glass covered floor, the car scrambled for purchase, sliding side to side for a heart stopping moment. Front wheels finally caught and the car shot out of the showroom.

The Jag raced through the maze of streets; quickly regaining speed after each expertly maneuvered corner. Shooting up the onramp to Interstate 95, JD shot through the slower moving traffic and headed toward the outskirts of Vegas.

"Hey, newsflash, JD, you're driving a stolen car," Chanu said after catching a look at the ascending speedometer.

"Yeah, ain't it great!" JD let out a rebel yell and pinned the accelerator to the floor.

Chanu joined the yell and set the top of the line sound system on his favorite radio station. With the receiver's volume cranked, the Jaguar's mirrors started to shake, as the woofers thumped with the heavy bass beat.


Thunk! A tennis ball bounced against the warehouse wall, bounded back and was caught. Thunk! Bounced again and caught. Thunk! Back and forth. Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! The noise of the small yellow ball hitting the metal wall echoed through the cavernous space.

A dozen purloined cars, exotics and classics, filled the left side of the warehouse, partially hidden behind a number of large packing crates. Automotive diagnostic equipment and large red tool boxes took up the right side. In the center of the floor, a man sat reading a newspaper at the small desk. The man's Nordic good looks -- tall, wiry, blond, green-eyed -- were slightly marred by a large puckered scar running down the left side of his face. He shifted in the chair and his black leather jacket opened, revealing a shoulder holster housing an HK USP45. He paused in his reading of the latest body found dumped at Lake Mead and glared at the young blond punk tossing the ball.

"Enough, Rafe."

"What's your problem, dude?" Rafe Mosely asked, not stopping.

"You. This." He pointed to the crap in print spread across the desk. "Where the hell are they?"

"You need to chill, man. They'll be here soon, it was an easy boost," Rafe said, sarcasm oozing from his voice. "Why you nervous? Back in the day, they say the great Chris Larabee had anti-freeze in them veins. What happened?"

Chris stood and made his way over to Rafe. His movements slow and stalking. Rafe laughed, but the belligerent sarcasm had a touch of nervous tension to it. Rafe threw the ball again, a sly smile crossing his face. Chris caught it before it could hit the wall and hurled it to the opposite side of the warehouse.

"Enough." Chris growled low and grabbed Rafe's arm in a crushing grip. "I've shot men for less." His other hand crept close to his leather holster.

The smile slid from Rafe's face. "Shit, man. It's cool. I'll find something else to do."

"Just do it quietly," Chris said, and let go of Rafe's arm. He headed back to the desk without another glance at the younger man.


Chanu looked at the speedometer and shook his head. He turned down the radio and spoke to JD. "Stolen car, JD. S-T-O-L-E-N, man. Slow down." He glanced back out the window, but as the car continued north on the Interstate, they moved away from the lights of the casinos. It was getting harder to see what was sitting in the shadows of the bushes along the median.

"What?" "Why you still going 90? You know there's always heat hiding in here, with their little testicular cancer causing ray guns. Slow your happy ass down."

"No fucking way," JD said sounding annoyed. "This bitch is calibrated for 140, easy. I wanna see if these British boys are full of shit or not."

"Not here, man."

"Yes, here." JD floored it and the gauge jumped from 90 to 100, then 110, 120, 130 and buried at 140, but both men could feel the speed continuing to increase.

"Fuck, yeah!" JD hollered and flipped the stereo back on. Chanu stared at his friend, for once thankful the warehouse wasn't much further.


Rafe stood in front of the desk and cleared his throat.

"Something wrong, Rafe?" Chris asked, still reading his paper.

"Jonah just pulled through the gate."

"Yeah, and...?"

"There ain't no one behind him."

"Thought you said I was supposed to "chill--man,"" Chris said, not looking up.

"Yeah, yeah, but I'm missing Springer. They better get here soon."

Chris snorted and finally raised his head when Jonah stepped into the warehouse.

"Everything go okay?" Chris asked.

"Yeah. Just a little more complicated than usual." The young man in question turned a glare on Rafe.

"Complicated how?" Chris stood, concern flickering in his eyes.

"Man, Chris, the Jag was under glass." "And JD boosted anyway?" At Jonah's nod, Chris turned his own glare on Rafe. "What'd I tell you guys about taking from inside?"

"What! You know how hard it is to find the new Jag's, man? I told JD I found one, he said he could do it," Rafe said, belligerent tone back.

"Stupid, Rafe. It's fucking stupid, that's what!"

Rafe winced in the face of Chris's anger, but he didn't back down. "It was the only one I could find that there was even a remote chance on getting. JD's good. He'll be here."

Chris made a step toward Rafe, but stopped when a purring motor sounded right outside the warehouse doors. The Jaguar slid through the opening and Rafe flashed Chris an "I-told-you-so-smile" and then stepped out of the way when the angry man growled.

JD and Chanu got out of the car, and JD walked over to a large blackboard, with a marker tethered to it. He looked at the names, makes and models written all over the board and drew a black line through number thirteen -- 2002 Jaguar S-TYPE R. He turned back to the others and smiled.

"Don't bother timing her, she'll go 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds."

"I can vouch for that," Chanu said, grabbing a couple of 40 ounce bottles of Miller Draft out of a cooler.


"Aw, Chris, don't start man. It was cool. Everything under control." JD held out his hand for a beer.

"It was stupid, JD. You don't boost anything under glass. You know that."

A bright flash of light overhead brought a swift end to the argument. The men froze, each listening intently. Looks were exchanged as the sounds of sirens quickly got louder.



On a hot and windy spring afternoon, in an indistinct little town, one that made only a mere blot on the face of the great Mojave Desert, life went on as normal. Manhattan, Nevada, like its namesake far to the East, and named by adventure hungry men seeking to fulfill their dreams with silver and borax, was a small broken town that had briefly shined bright in the mid 1920's. Then the veins of rich ore and minerals ran out, and the exodus of people began, leaving behind broken dreams and shattered spirits. Time and nature, pushed back for such a short moment, slowly began reclaiming the land. And now, in the first years of the new century, the few people remaining in the dry hamlet either didn't realize, or didn't care that they were living in what amounted to a ghost town.

Small puffs of gritty sand, buffeted by the ever blowing wind, skittered down the one main drag, past the one forlorn stop signal, a rundown motel and a small country store to end its journey in the small bay of the only garage, one "L.N. ORR AUTOMOTIVE." In grease stained blue coveralls Buck Wilmington -- owner extraordinaire -- stood under the Plymouth Duster resting on his one and only car lift and motioned for his one and only employee to join him.

"You know what you got here?" Buck asked nineteen-year old Tommy Potter, staring up at the undercarriage of the car.

"Not really, no."

"What we got here is excessive resistance in the cranking circuit. You know what you gotta do?"

"Uh, no, not really."

"You got any other answers besides "not really"? "Um, sure..." Tommy stuttered a bit and then looked at Buck sheepishly. "Not really."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Buck sighed and ran a hand through his hair, making the thick, black hair stand straight up in places. His hand continued its journey, smoothing down the ruffled ends of a full mustache. "Right, so what ya wanna do is test the voltage drop, using the voltmeter of course. Then you're going to remove the primary lead from the ignition coil and crank her. See what ya got, and come get me. Think you can do that?"

Tommy shook his head and Buck shot him a hard look. "Got it," Tommy said, but the tone of his voice told a different story.

"Sure ya do, kid," Buck said with a smile and grabbed a soda bottle from the old-style machine and headed out the bay door.

"How's it hangin', Degger?" Buck asked the old man sitting on the one and only bench in front of the garage.

"I'd let ya know if I could find it," Degger said, taking a deep drag off an ever present, unfiltered Lucky Strike.

Buck sat next to the Denver Pyle look-alike and pointed at the cigarette. "Those things are gonna kill ya, Degger."

The old man laughed, coughed and nudged the ancient hound lying at his feet. "Don't you worry about it, Buck. The bourbon and bacon'll get me first."

Buck agreed with a smile, and the men sat in a comfortable silence, contemplating the dull burg. Then Degger pointed to a car stirring up the dust on the road. "That one," he said as it passed them, heading toward the interstate.

"1980 Mercury Cougar. 255 cubic inch V8 engine, based on the Ford Thunderbird body shell. They modified the chassis, but didn't improve its performance," Buck said, using a small Swiss-Army knife to dig the grime out from underneath his fingernails.

"And that one?" Degger asked, as another car followed close to the first.

"1970 Plymouth Road Runner. Proof positive of a single all-powerful deity. It was the first bargain priced muscle car ever. They even tuned the horn to resemble the "beep beep" sound of the cartoon Road Runner."

"Damn, you're good." Degger laugh-coughed again, but this time it resounded with respect.

Buck nodded in acknowledgment of the compliment. It was a game he and the old man played every day. Calling cars wasn't hard for Buck and if it gave the old man pleasure, who was he to deny it. Taking another sip of his soda, he stared out at the now-empty road.

"Heard you got to bingo last night," Degger said, lighting another smoke.

"That I did, Degger. That I did. God, who would've thought I'd be celebrating my fortieth birthday at the town bingo game?"

"The Lord has always worked in mysterious ways, is what I always say."

"But bingo?" Buck finished the soda and stood with a stretch. From inside the garage a horrific grind of metal on metal sounded.

"Uh, Buck...?" Tommy yelled over the noise.

"Excuse me, I best go see what the kid has gotten into." Buck headed back into the garage with Degger's weird cackle-hack following him.

There's a story here somewhere...