|by Mark Finn|
Chapter Twenty: Welcome to Tempe
"There it is," said Larry, turning down the music. Everyone sat up and peered ahead. "Phoenix, Arizona."
"Great," said D.J. as he closed his eyes. "Wake me when we get to Tempe."
"Uh, there it is," said Larry, indicating Phoenix. "It's in there."
"In there?" said Turk.
"Yeah, it's a suburb of Phoenix." Larry frowned. "I thought I told you that."
"What else did you think you told us, but didn't really?" said Burt.
"He told us, I just forgot," said Turk. His irritation showed as he attempted to stretch. "Wherever we're going, step on it, will you? I'm sick of this van."
"Working on it," said Larry. They cruised through the business end of I-10, looking at Phoenix out of the windows, searching for telltale signs that they were in foreign territory. It didn't work; there were too many corporations that they recognized. Only the lack of trees and proliferation of cactus told them they were outside of California.
"Deej, keep your eyes peeled for the exit," Larry said.
"What am I looking for?"
"Something that says Tempe," Larry said.
"You guys are a couple of geniuses," said Turk from the back seat.
"Who peed in your corn flakes?" said Burt.
"Don't mind me, I'm just sick of being cramped up like a sardine."
"Mmmm, sardines," said Larry.
"There's the exit," said D.J.
"On it," said Larry, banking the van right.
They chased the exit ramp around and onto a wide, four-lane street. "Everyone start looking for gas," said Larry.
"Jeez, again?" said D.J.
"Get a car, then complain to me," said Larry shortly.
"Shit," muttered D.J.
They found a Best Western Hotel right next to a U-Tote-Um, and filled up with gas and snacks first, before checking into the hotel. While Larry filled out the guest registration form, Burt and Turk snagged every single tourist brochure with things to do in Tempe and Phoenix.
Finally, at long last, the group hauled their luggage inside, along with select parcels from the van, and collapsed on the beds. Larry was the first to sit up. He commandeered the table and spread out a folder worth of pages with little maps and drawing on them. At a glance, it looked exactly like how Larry set up for a game.
"Okay," he said, "we're up and out of here by 8 AM sharp. Turk, unpack those outfits and let's see what you've got."
Turk groaned. "Can't it wait until tomorrow?"
Larry put down his pencil. "Sure, take all the time you want. Let's sleep in late, not get any work done, and leisurely stroll over to the offices when we get around to it. Since it's Saturday, the rental place will close up early, we won't have a backhoe, and then we can go home empty handed. By all means."
Halfway through the harangue, Turk got up, swearing, and rooted through the canvas bags until he came up with two identical dark blue jumpsuits, the kind that mechanics wore. One of the suits was huge; the other, smaller. Both were equally wide.
"Looks like you're one of the construction men," said Burt.
"Yeah," said Larry. He took the larger suit from Turk and disappeared into the bathroom. When he came out a few minutes later, the guys all laughed.
"What's so funny?" said Larry, looking down. "Am I not zipped up?"
"No, you're fine," said Burt, "but you look really different."
"Like a felon," said D.J, smiling.
"Glad you think so," said Larry. "You go try on the other one."
"What? Why me?"
"Look at it," said Larry. "It's short, but wide. That's you, my friend."
"Not that wide," said D.J. as he examined his own torso.
"Go on, put it on," said Turk, tossing Larry a yellow hard hat.
"You'll pay for this," said D.J. He shook his finger at Turk. "You got this size on purpose!"
"Swear to God, it was all they had," said Turk.
Larry had the hat on now, and was admiring himself in the mirror. "Wow," he said. "I look so . . . common." He faced Turk. "What else you got in there?"
Turk stared at Larry for a second, then snapped to. "Uh, lessee," he said, throwing things out on the bed. "Three toolbelts, with stuff like tape measures and pencils, four pairs of work boots, a couple of white T-shirts..."
"What are those for?" said Larry.
"The wife-beaters?" He held up one of the sleeveless t-shirts. "I figure me and Burt could be the grunt labor. See," he said, standing up to demonstrate. "We tuck our jeans into the boots, put on the white T-shirts, and wear the bandanas, like so?" He wrapped a rolled up red kerchief around his head. "Very Bruce Springsteen."
"I like it," said Burt.
"Me too," said Larry. "Good job, Turk."
D.J. came out of the bathroom. "I am NOT wearing this!" he said, excitedly.
"What?" said Larry, as Burt and Turk laughed.
"This," said D.J. He spun around to show that the seat of the jumpsuit hung down about six inches. "It's not short enough, and I look like a dork."
"Relax," said Larry. "We'll give you one of the belts. No one will notice. I swear."
"Easy for you to say, Ralph Kramden," D.J. retorted. "You don't look like an idiot."
"Don't be too sure of that," said Burt.
"Deej, relax, it'll go just fine." Larry took off the hat and sat it on the countertop by the sink. I think this'll work. I really do. Okay, here's the news. Tomorrow, we suit up, eat breakfast, and do a drive by of the site. After that, we go pick up clipboards, the backhoe, and any other last-minute essentials, and then we go and do some major bullshitting. It really is that simple."
"I'm still not sure about the bullshitting part," said D.J.
"Deej, with us there on Saturday, there's an excellent chance that we won't even need to bullshit. This stuff is just for show, so no one will ask questions. Nobody pays any attention to construction crews."
D.J. still looked dubious. Larry laid a hand on his shoulder, but addressed the room. "For the criminal mind to flourish, it is necessary to think beyond the norms of society. People get away with crimes all the time because they think they will get away with them. No one will care that we're digging a hole in the ground. I swear to you, this will go off without a hitch." He walked back into the bathroom to change.
D.J. looked at Burt and Turk's faces. They were thinking the same thing that he was. "We could overpower him," D.J. said.
"With what?" asked Turk. "You got a tranquilizer gun?"
"Good point," D.J. said.
"Like it or not, we're along for the ride," said Burt in a quiet voice. "Worse comes to worse, a thousand bucks'll get at least one of us out of jail."
"I'm calling dibs on that," said Turk.
"And I'm going to bed," said Burt. "I have a feeling we'll all need a solid eight hours of sleep."
"Good point," said Turk, stripping down to his boxers. "Scoot over."
D.J. shook his head, wondering how he got stuck with Larry again. By the time he changed out of the jumpsuit, Burt was snoring, Turk was drowsing, and Larry was making more notes on the table. We are so fucked, D.J. thought, closing his eyes.
Chapter One: The Navel Adventures of Larry Croft
Chapter Two: 1123 Miles to Tempe
Chapter Three: Enter the String
Chapter Four: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Chapter Five: Rutlege's Story
Chapter Six: The Plot Thickens
Chapter Seven: The Fifth Man is Revealed
Chapter Eight: It's a DRY Heat
Chapter Nine: Preparing to Lam
Chapter Ten: The Mislaid Plans of Mouse and Man
Chapter Eleven: The Danger of Talking to God
Chapter Twelve: Anchors Aweigh, Let's Go Men
Chapter Thirteen: The End is Near
Chapter Fourteen: Roll to Hit
Chapter Fifteen: Six Feet of Beef Stick for the Soul
Chapter Sixteen: Hello, My Name is Indio, California
Chapter Seventeen: Threadgill Takes Charge
Chapter Eighteen: The Players on the Other Side
Chapter Nineteen: On the Road to Perdition
Chapter Twenty: Welcome to Tempe
Chapter Twenty-One: The Game is Afoot
Chapter Twenty-Two: Should Have Known Better
Chapter Twenty-Three: Test-Run at the Waffle House
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Supply Run
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Backhoe
Chapter Twenty-Six: A Frank Discussion
Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Brief History of Larry's Van
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Go Speed Racer, Go
Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Owner of the Thumbscrews
Chapter Thirty: Brain Teasers
Chapter Thirty-One: Frick and Frack Check In
Chapter Thirty-Two: Scouting
Chapter Thirty-Three: The Stakeout
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Food Fight
Chapter Thirty-Five: Time to Dig
Chapter Thirty-Six: Deep in the Night
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Paydirt
Chapter Thirty-Eight: The Phallus of Ebon Keep
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Otto and Stacy Make Good
Chapter Forty: Thieves in the Night
Chapter Forty-One: Critical Failure
Chapter Forty-Two: Downtown
Chapter Forty-Three: The Hoosegow
Chapter Forty-Four: An Emergency Breakfast
Chapter Forty-Five: Two Early Phone Calls
Chapter Forty-Six: Threadgill Meets the Gang
Chapter Forty-Seven: Back to the Van
Chapter Forty-Eight: Five Days Later
Table of Contents