’72 Skylark, 6

I’ve done jobs miles and miles from here, surrounded by mountain peaks and sludge water and sandy beaches, redwoods and pines. I get around; I only come here, home to the dying trees and the crumbling roads, when it pays well enough. But no matter where I go, there are always would-be expats brought back home and hating themselves for not reaching escape velocity. They don’t realize there’s no escape velocity at all–just gravity, pulling in reverse.

“What brings you back this time?” I ask.

“Family and business,” Miriam says, and the smile’s all gone. She lifts her hand, holding her glass but pointing a finger toward the exit. “See that car out there, ‘Rick’?”

I turn, trying to ignore the waggle in her eyebrows as she speaks my fake name. She’s pointing at the car she parked outside. Glad she brought it up before I had to; makes things easier. The car’s old, but polished; red, but with a thick, black racing stripe down the middle, like she stole it from a drag racing museum. It’s all nose, headlights sticking out so far past the front tires I’m amazed the front bumper wouldn’t drag into the dirt. “Pretty. Yours?” I ask.

“My brother’s, soon,” she says, which is interesting; I don’t usually get the chance to talk to my marks about my clients.

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