Authors: Thomas, Kathryn
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Jack of Hearts copyright @ 2014 by Kathryn Thomas. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or review
Tina Harris scanned the bar to check out her options for getting laid tonight. There weren’t many prospects but it was still early, just six o’clock. It had been a while since she had last felt a man’s touch, but after the day she had just had, she was definitely in the mood for some lovin’.
Being an ex-con made for a tough life. Washing cars at the local Honda dealer wasn’t exactly glamorous work, but when it was all you could get, it was better than nothing. At least it paid the bills and kept her out of trouble. Sometimes there was even a little extra for a beer now and then.
She’d pulled a year in the New Mexico State Penitentiary for breaking and entering. Normally she would have gotten probation, or at worst, a few months in the county lockup, but she had been in and out of trouble so much they had sent her away. Now, six months out of the clink and four months into her car washing job, she had finally caught a break.
She had already finished her daily quick rinse of the new cars to remove the ever-present dust and was working off the backlog of customer cars. That was her life. If a car got a service, it got a wash. After four months of practice, she could wash and dry a car in ten minutes, tops. She had worked off all but three cars when she heard a woman in the service writer bay giving someone hell. It took her a couple of minutes of eavesdropping, but she finally worked out that one of the service technicians had locked the woman’s keys in her car… the dumbass.
As she worked, she smiled to herself that someone could be so stupid, but the harpy started to get on her nerves. Finally, she dropped the power washer wand in disgust and strode into the bay. The service manager and three service techs were standing around while another tech worked furiously at the door.
While the woman browbeat the service manager about how this was making her late to pick up her kid at school, Tina walked up, shoved the service tech aside, and took the length of wire from his hands. Without saying a word, she pulled the shim from the door then shoved it back between the frame surrounding the door glass and the car roof at the proper place. After she re-bent the length of wire to make it stiffer, she slid it through the crack between the door and car. Less than fifteen seconds after she walked up, everyone heard the
as she tripped the power lock button with the wire. She opened the door as she shoved the shim and wire into the tech’s chest.
“Thank you. At least someone around here is competent,” the woman said as she slid into the driver’s seat.
Tina nodded, but said nothing, shutting the door behind the woman. She turned on her toe and had almost reached the big roll up doors when Arnie, the service manager, called her back.
She thought she was going to be blessed out, but Arnie took her to his office and thanked her. He also told her that he had been impressed with her work ethic and he was going to find something else for her to do … something other than washing cars. It looked like
Car Wash Tina
was going to need a new nickname.
She was jerked back to the present by the sensation of her beer being dumped into her lap. “Shit!” she cried as she leapt to her feet, arms held up and out like a bird of prey as the spilled beer spread along the bar and dribbled onto the floor.
“Watch it, bitch!” A big-boned girl sneered, wiping at her soaked hip. “Look what you did! You spilled your beer all over me! Goddammit! This was an expensive shirt!”
“I spilled my beer? You’re the one that backed into me!”
“You’re going to have to pay to have these cleaned.”
Tina barked out a brief laugh at the sheer gall of the woman. “Yeah, right. Like that is going to happen. If anything, you owe me a beer.”
The woman stepped in close. She stood a half-head taller than Tina, but Tina didn’t back off from anybody. Ever. “I don’t owe you shit,” the woman sneered.
“Kim, come on. Let’s go,” said a pretty blond as she tugged gently at Kim’s arm.
Tina said, her voice becoming low and dangerous. “You need to back up and get out of my face.”
“Or what?” Kim challenged, stepping in closer still.
“Or you’re going to get fucked up.”
the peacemaker begged as she tugged at Kim’s arm again. “Let it go.”
Kim stood her ground a moment more as she glared at Tina, and then backed off.
Tina relaxed. Kim was a big chick, at least seven inches taller than her own 5’3”, and probably outweighed her by at least fifty pounds. She turned to go the bathroom, intending to dry off her pants enough so she didn’t have to ride home in a puddle of beer, when Kim shook off her friend’s restraining hand.
“Look, you bitch, you...” Kim said as she took Tina by the shoulder, but she never finished.
Tina felt Kim take her by the left shoulder. She pivoted on her left foot, turned with Kim’s pull, and punched her right in the nose. She pulled back on the punch, not wanting to break her hand or the woman’s nose, but she put enough behind it to rock Kim’s head back and bloody her nose.
Kim staggered back, her hand coming up to her nose as her eyes opened wide in surprise and pain. As Kim looked at her bloody fingers, Tina could see in Kim’s eyes that this wasn’t over. She got set to take Kim’s attack when the bouncer grabbed each of them by the arm. “That’s it, you two! Out!” he snarled as he dragged them to the door.
Tina didn’t resist and allowed the bouncer to lead her out, but Kim swore and struggled to get away. The bouncer released Tina and devoted his full attention to Kim as he hauled her to the door and unceremoniously tossed her out. As the bouncer turned to face Tina, Kim’s friend hurried through the door.
Tina held up her hands in surrender as the bouncer returned. “If you toss me out there, she is going to be waiting and it’s going to get ugly.”
“You should have thought of that before you took a swing at her.”
“Fuck,” Tina muttered as her lips pursed in annoyance and frustration.
The bouncer escorted her to the door and held it open for her. As expected, Kim and her friend were waiting, the friend tugging frantically at Kim’s arm as she tried to drag her away before the situation escalated any further.
“At least walk me to my car?”
“Not my problem,” the bouncer said as he allowed the door to swing shut.
“Don’t do it, Kim,” Tina warned as the big woman shook off her friend’s grip.
“Now I’m going to fuck
up,” Kim said as she advanced on Tina.
Tina knew this was about to get out of hand, and the last thing she needed was to be arrested for fighting and violate her parole. “You need to call your friend off,” Tina warned as she stepped away from the entrance to give herself some room to maneuver.
the friend shrieked in a last ditch attempt to defuse the situation. That, or she didn’t want to see her friend get her ass kicked.
Kim tried to use the advantage of her size by lunging in. Tina sidestepped the wild and over-reaching grab and fired another hit right into Kim’s nose… much harder this time. Kim grunted in pain and fell her hands and knees in the gravel parking lot.
Tina stepped around the downed woman and headed to her car. “Your friend needs to learn when to quit,” she sneered as she passed the second girl, resisting the urge to shake her abused hand.
“Her dad is a cop! You’re going to go to jail!”
She turned and watched Kim stagger to her feet as blood dripped from her nose. Sure enough, out came the cell as Kim wiped at her nose with the other hand. Tina raged to herself. This situation kept going from bad to worse. She was torn. She could just get in her car and leave, but the friend would almost certainly get her license plate number. That would lead to the cops showing up at her place followed by accusations and denials. And who would they believe? The cop’s daughter with the bloody nose or ex-con without a mark on her?
Tina watched as Kim wailed into the phone about how a woman had picked a fight for no reason then beaten her in the parking lot, sniffing and boo-hooing as she told her story.
The conversation didn’t take long. “Who’s fucked now, you cunt?” Kim sneered with a nasty smile, her tears suddenly dry.
Tina glanced at the friend, and though she didn’t sport the same nasty smile, she knew in an instant the friend would lie her ass off to protect Kim. It would be two against one.
“Fuck,” Tina muttered again as she turned and walked away while they didn’t know who she was. She could come back for her car later, after the dust settled.
Less than an hour later, while Tina crouched in the bushes across the road from the bar, she watched as the tow truck hooked up her car. She had watched the two cops that arrived, one obviously Kim’s father from the way he hugged and comforted her, systematically eliminate cars until only hers was left unidentified by a customer. It hadn’t taken long since the bar wasn’t busy.
Now they knew who she was, knew that she was on parole, and knew she had a record for various minor and not so minor crimes as long as her arm. As her ‘82 Corolla was hauled away, she pouted. As little as it was, that car was the only thing she had of value. Just as her life was beginning to turn around, fate had shit on her again.
She stuffed her hands into her still beer-damp pants and began to walk. The bar was near the run-down trailer she rented on the outskirts of Santa Fe. So she would have to walk several miles along side of the road before she would arrive at her destination. If a cop were to come along now, she would be hosed, but she made it to the apartment complex she was aiming for without incident.
It took her about five minutes of systematic checking, but she finally found an unlocked beat up old Chevy. With no tools to punch the lock, she looked in the center console for the keys. No keys, but a snub-nosed .38 was in there. She snorted and shook her head in wonderment. You had to be a special kind of stupid to leave a gun in an unlocked car. She didn’t find the keys above the sun visor either, but she did find the ignition key under the floor mat.
Yep … a special kind of stupid,
After a stop at her bank’s ATM to withdraw what money she had, a whopping $260, she headed south on I-25 to Albuquerque. She had lived in New Mexico her entire life, but there was nothing there for her now save a parole violation and another stint in lockup. The low fuel light blinked on just as she entered Albuquerque. She turned east on I-40, headed for Texas, and made it almost to the east side of the city before the fuel light nagged her into stopping for gas.