This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”.
You can start reading at Chapter One, which began with the premise: “An unemployed teacher, in a wine store, runs into a former student.” Each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!
We hope you enjoy!
Chapter Four: Getaway Plan
Outside the corner bodega, Zack’s girlfriend, Ashlee, sat behind the wheel of a rusted blue Buick. “It’s taking too long,” she thought as she puffed on her cigarette. The car idled roughly, belching exhaust out of the tailpipe and obscuring her view of the traffic coming up the street. Ashlee wanted to shut the engine off, but with the ignition wires hanging from the side of the steering column, she wouldn’t have known how even if she’d tried.
She knew the second Zack came running out, she’d have to drive fast in order to dump this car before the cops started looking for them. Zack had been careful to steal a common-looking vehicle for the job, and he’d taken the extra precaution of knocking the chrome “LaSabre” emblems off the trunk and side panels, as well as attaching a new license plate he’d stolen from a car in the mall parking lot. Now if he would just hurry the hell up so they could get out of here.
Ashlee watched the front of store from the rearview mirror. She was parked just past the shop in a curb space next to the alleyway. From here, they could race down the street to the freeway entrance and be across town before the cops had even radioed in a vehicle description. She took one more drag off the cigarette before snuffing it against the dashboard and tossing the butt out the window.
As she kept an eye on the front door, Ashlee checked her disguise in the mirror. She had on a big pair of sunglasses and a Marilyn Monroe wig she’d worn to a Halloween party a few months before. Ashlee had originally thrown this bash as a going-away party for Zach, but like most of her boyfriend’s schemes, things hadn’t quite worked out as planned. First, Zack had been expelled from high school. Then when his Marine Corps recruiter found out that Zack had tried to forge his high school transcripts, Zack’s trip to boot camp was cancelled. Deep down, Ashlee was happy Zack wouldn’t be going off to fight in some Third World shithole. But after his final meeting with the recruiter, she’d noticed a look in Zack’s eyes—a look that unsettled Ashlee every time she remembered it. He’d had that same look after talking to Victor Tomasso, and she feared that somewhere beneath her blonde wig and her thick sunglasses simmered an equally unpredictable flame.
Suddenly, Ashlee’s thoughts were interrupted by the sight of some shoppers running out of the store and scattering in all directions. The front door slammed behind them, and she noticed Zack’s leather-jacketed arm reach up and turn the lock. “What the…?” thought Ashee. Then, from the corner of her eye, she saw a short Asian fellow poke his head around the front of the building before turning back and disappearing down the alleyway.
“Oh, crap…That’s Nyguen!” exclaimed Ashlee under her breath. Binh Nyguen, or “Benny” as he was known around the neighborhood, was the guy Tomasso wanted Zack to shake down. “Tell that sneaky little bastard to pay up,” Tomasso had ordered. “If he don’t, I’m gonna kick his dog-eatin’ ass all the way back to Saigon.”
Ashee could feel her heart pounding hard in her chest. She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, craving another cigarette. She kept watching the mirrors, hoping that Zack would come running to the car so they could drive away. Then she saw one of the ladies Zack had chased out of the store dialing her cell phone. “Shit!” thought Ashlee. “Here come the cops.”
Just then, she felt a buzz against her left breast. She reached under her bra-strap and pulled out her cell phone. There was a text: “WATSUP SEXY?” It was Tiffany again. Ashlee was often late to school, but at 11:30 on a Thursday morning, it was natural that Tiffany would be wondering where she was. In fact, this was the fifth text Tiffany had sent in the past fifteen minutes; she could be very persistent that way.
“Not now, Tif,” thought Ashlee as she tucked the phone back into her bra. She noticed her hands were starting to tremble. She really wanted another cigarette, but she didn’t dare. Too much was happening. Instead, she checked her cell phone, which had started buzzing again. “R U OK ASH?” it read.
“I would be if you’d leave me the hell alone!” Ashlee mumbled.
Again, she stuffed the phone under her bra-strap and gripped the steering tightly, trying to stay calm. As she sat there waiting, the Buick’s worn-out engine began shaking and sputtering—so much so that Ashlee had to keep her foot pressed down on the gas just to keep the car running. Her mind kept repeating, “Goddamn it, Zack…Hurry up!”
Ashlee’s eyes darted back and forth between the rearview mirrors, searching for signs of trouble. Again her phone buzzed, startling her. “Damn it, Tif!” she barked, irritated by the distraction. She grabbed the phone from her bra and started to turn it off. Then in the rearview mirror, she saw something that made her stomach sink. Running up the street toward the store’s entrance was Benny Nyguen, followed closely behind by six young Vietnamese men carrying baseball bats, chains, and pieces of pipe. In Benny’s hand was a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun.
Ashlee’s phone buzzed once more, and as she looked down at the screen, she noticed that it was not a text from Tiffany this time. It was an incoming call from Victor Tomasso.