Exercising the craft—November 16, 2015

Prompt: First Lines: Coming up with a first line can be one of the biggest challenges of writing. Use one of these first lines:

Mindy stood nervously on the rail platform watching passengers disembark.

http://www.writermag.com/writing-prompts/first-lines-writing-prompt/

*****

Mindy stood nervously on the rail platform watching passengers disembark.

The day wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. Everything seemed to start off okay. The meeting in the morning went well. They’d robbed the bank, just like they’d planned. Then they’d walked away from the robbery site without getting caught. She and the team had dispersed, as per plan, and each of them took separate cars they’d rented days earlier to this new spot.

Five cars left the robbery site. Only four arrived at the rendezvous location. Where was Danny?

The group of passengers streaming from the train began thinning. Aaron hadn’t shown up yet. Without Aaron, finding Danny would be next to impossible. Aaron had the equipment they needed to track Danny’s phone.

Mindy sighed and went to a bench on the train platform. She craned her neck in one direction, trying to see around the people walking toward and past her. Could Danny be rolling into the condo they’d rented even as she sat there waiting for Aaron to show up with the tracking machine?

“Mindy!”

She turned to face the other direction. Aaron came jogging toward her, a roll-on suitcase tripping over sidewalk cracks behind him. Mindy got up from the bench, her heart fluttering. Seeing Aaron coming toward her brought to her the reality of their situation. Danny had disappeared.

“Anything?” Aaron asked when he came closer to her.

She shook her head. “Nothing. We’ve all been texting each other since we left the bank, and Danny’s text thread went dark after he sent the one saying he was in the car.”

Aaron pulled his phone out of his pocket and frowned as he scrolled on the screen. Mindy wanted to yank his arm toward her car. Why was he wasting time when they needed to get back to the condo to set up the equipment? What if something bad had happened to Danny?

After a minute Aaron put his phone away. “Let’s go.”

She hurried to the car, looking back once or twice to make sure he kept up with her. His face looked as grim as she felt. They reached the parking garage, and Mindy unlocked the car with her key fob. She went to the back of the car and unlocked the trunk then got into the driver’s seat. After a minute the car bounced gently with the impact of Aaron closing the trunk, and he got into the passenger side.

She navigated the car through the streets of downtown, following the directions she’d printed out back at the condo. No sense in using a GPS and risking anyone tracking them down sooner than necessary. That the cops would find them eventually no one in their team doubted. Their job, then, became to stay ahead of the cops until the cops gave up.

Police forces were stretched too thin these days. At some point the cops would let them go in order to track down the murderers and rapists. After all, Mindy and the others hadn’t killed anyone. They’d brandished weapons, sure, but the guns all had blanks in them.

Her phone chimed with the arrival of a text, and she fumbled for it at a red light. It was Connie asking where she was. As if Connie, Alex, and Kevin needed to worry about her.

Texting would take too long; she called Connie, put her on speaker, and kept the phone line live long enough to tell Connie she’d found Aaron. They were coming in. And they would find Danny one way or the other.

“You sure you want to know here he is?” Aaron asked, the only conversation he’d attempted since getting in the car.

“Yes,” Mindy responded without hesitation. “I built this team, and I promised all of you that you were each my responsibility. We have to find him, no matter what condition he’s in.”

Aaron grunted but didn’t use any words to respond. Ten minutes later they arrived at the condo. It was in a quieter part of town, not upscale but not sketchy either. Just a neighborhood of honest folks working for an honest day’s pay.

They went inside the condo, and as soon as they got through the front door Connie closed the blinds. Aaron set his roll-on on the floor and pulled out his laptop and a few other electronic items. He placed the laptop on the coffee table, and Mindy couldn’t help joining the others in crowding around him.

After typing a few unintelligible codes on the screen, the laptop began to whir. Aaron looked around at all of them, and they took the hint. Pulling away from their huddle, they all searched for somewhere to sit that would still allow them a vantage point. Mindy found that she couldn’t sit still, however. Now that Aaron had started searching, she wanted to keep moving. Maybe, if she kept moving, she would send some sort of cosmic energy through the universe to bring Danny home to them. To her. Safe and sound.

“Got him,” Aaron said. “He’s using his GPS, and it looks like…hang on, the computer’s hacking into his phone so we can see where he’s…”

Aaron’s voice trailed off. His expression changed from expectation to cold realization. He covered his mouth with one hand then sat back in the recliner.

“What, Aaron?” Mindy asked. “What is it? Where is he?”

“He’s driving south,” Connie said, her eyes getting big as she stared at Aaron’s computer screen and interpreted the information coming through. “He’s driving south, and he’s driving hard.”

Mindy’s heart started pounding. Had Danny gotten carjacked? Maybe someone saw him carrying the large duffle bags to the car. They’d tried to remain discreet, but someone could have pushed the panic button back in the bank, and—

“He’s been texting someone named Selena,” Connie went on, her gaze still locked onto the screen. “About fifteen minutes ago he stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station and said…he told her…”

“What?” Mindy demanded.

“Mindy, Danny’s made a run for it with the money,” Aaron said, his voice weary. “He’s duped us all and taken every penny of our hard work with him.”

Her knees went soft, and she sat down hard on the sofa hoping it would help her absorb the news.

It didn’t.

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