A Night's Work

by Rachel Maizes

Jimi sucked on an energy drink and smoked. He tossed the burning stubs into brown grass. A pigeon waddled toward him and he kicked at it though it was beyond the reach of his sneaker. Damn birds carried diseases. He had to be careful now that it wasn't just him anymore.

The sky turned purple, then black. The air cooled. His butt hardened on the green bench in the small park behind the hospital. When he finished his last cigarette he reached for a tire iron under the bench. The metal added weight to his slight figure in a way he found satisfying. He held it along his leg as he walked so it wouldn't cast a shadow in the moonlight.

The hospital parking lot was large but he had already identified the car, an old Subaru that wouldn't have an alarm. The car had a baby seat in the back and he would need one soon, too soon, a week, two weeks maybe, he didn't know. They weren't easy to steal, too bulky to hide under his jacket like steaks or beer. He could probably get six hundred for the car, which had a dent in the door and another on the rear bumper. Good pay for a night's work. Way more than he made parking cars at a lot across the street from the performing arts center. When the shows were over, men wearing soft shoes and perfume waved programs at him and shouted across the parking lot, hey you, or hey, then turned away as if he didn't exist.

At the theater, he pretended the giant SUV's and tiny sports cars were his, imagined Jana, his girlfriend, riding next to him, reclining a leather seat to take the pressure off her back. Sometimes he took a car out during a show, dove into potholes, the grating of metal against asphalt evening the score until the next night.

Now he walked past Fords and Hondas and Buicks, many of them beaters, like the twenty-five year old Chevy he drove, the seat still pressed into his father's shape. He jiggled the tire iron in his hand and filled his lungs with cold air. In the distance, the Rocky Mountains scraped the sky. He was a bobcat, a coyote.

He raised the tire iron and brought it down through the window of the Subaru, the breaking as satisfying a part of the job as there was. He had never been good at much, but he was good at this. Within ninety seconds he had hotwired the car and was driving slowly to the chop shop, thinking about Jana and the life in her belly and what a good father he was to get a car seat even before the child was born.

BIO: Maizes’ work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Blackbird, The MacGuffin, The Barcelona Review and other literary journals. Her short story “Mama’s Boy” won Slice Magazine’s 2012 Spring Spotlight Competition. Her story "Retardo," which appeared in Eclectica, was named a Notable Story of 2008 in the storySouth Million Writers Award. She is currently a reader for Slice. She lives in Boulder, CO, with her husband Steve, and her dogs, Molly and Chance, under the benevolent dictatorship of Flora the cat.