When mountain ranges cut across the horizon before and behind her, and the blue Toyota still hovered in her rearview mirror, Terrin’s better judgement gave way to curiosity. She tapped the break lightly. The car seemed to hesitate, just a moment, as cruise control disengaged, and then she eased the car into a speed that might be described as grandmotherly. At least to other people. Her own grandmother collected speeding tickets like fine china and had recently begun wall-papering the dining room with them.
Dalia looked up as the car decelerated, glanced at Terrin, then the side mirror, and shook her head. “Don’t do it,” she said.
Terrin took her eyes off the road for half a second to purposefully give her an innocent look. “It’s not illegal to go under the speed limit.”
Dalia didn’t say anything, and Terrin could guess the dry look she was getting.
“I just want to see if this guy will pass me,” Terrin murmured.
“And if he doesn’t…?” Dalia asked.
The Toyota was catching up. Terrin counted fifteen seconds before she checked on it again, and thought that it had slowed down as well, but it was slowly closing the gap.
“If he doesn’t, then maybe I’ll pull over and make him,” Terrin said.
Dalia checked the mirror again too. “And if he won’t…?”
“What?” Terrin glanced at her again, once, then a second time. “What kind of stupid tail would pull over with us? He has to know there’s two of us in here.”
“The kind of stupid tail who would follow us for fifty-three miles, within sight at all times, in a baby blue Toyota, with a license plate that says ‘EET MY DUST’,” Dalia said flatly. “Just pull over now. I want to ask him for his mother’s number so I can tell her how bad he is at his job.”
Terrin slowed down a little more. She glanced at the speedometer and tried to remember when going too slow did become illegal on the highway. Ten miles under the speed limit? Twenty? She dropped to fifteen under and crossed her fingers.
The Toyota crept closer.
The highway hum surrounded them.
Dalia tested the latch on the glove box. Her favorite toys were in there, polished and ready. The latch opened cleanly, polished too. Eased shut. Snapped open. Eased shut.
“He’s not that stupid,” Terrin murmured. She liked to try to speak things into existence.
“Stupid until proven clever,” Dalia said. “It’s the national motto.” She was usually more successful at shaping reality. Terrin wrinkled her nose at her for taking the wrong side.
The Toyota drifted close enough for Terrin to catch the outline of the driver, then close enough for her to see the shape of his ill-advised goatee. He hadn’t shaved in a few days, so the lines were indistinct and faded into an uneven stubble across his cheeks. Dark-haired, undisciplined. Eyes hidden behind cheap plastic sunglasses, like one might pick up at a gas station.
Dalia leaned her head down and slightly to the right, eyes trained on the mirror. Both she and Terrin took long, steady breaths.
Then the Toyota was right on their bumper. Then scooted to the left, passed them, close enough for them to feel the air shift as it sped up. It scooted right and buzzed forward, engine revving.
Dalia rested her head back against the headrest and breathed out. She laughed, quietly.
“He didn’t even use his signal,” Terrin said.
Dalia chuckled a little louder. “I still want his mother’s number.”
A moment. Terrin glanced over at her at the closed glove box.
“We may have been in this job too long,” Terrin murmured.
Dalia met her eye seriously. Another moment. “I worried about tails before I had a hidden compartment in my trunk and top-secret clearance,” she said.
Terrin looked back to the road. “Yeah,” she breathed. “Me too.”
I’m a thief! I stole the first line of this piece from my friend, Kid. Be sure to stop by her blog to see the original story. Then check out all these other blue Toyotas that the thieves ran off with.