What could possibly make a man despise not only roller rinks, but roller skates and everything related to them as a whole? Maybe, due to his large stature, he wasn’t the fastest of skaters, and the other children never let him forget it. Maybe he was involved in a terrible accident, leaving one of his best friends six feet under, and his other best friend only able to enjoy “rolling” in a wheelchair. Maybe his parents owned the rink, and one night as they were closing, a fire ripped through the establishment, cooking them like the well-done steaks they enjoyed as a happy family every summer at their lake cottage.
Maybe, for someone like CIA agent Luke Hobbs, it is a decidedly unlucky potluck gumbo of all three – a “hat trick,” you may say, if you are Canadian, or a magician. Maybe “maybe” isn’t the best opening word for this paragraph, because that is exactly what happened – there’s no question about it. Those types of things don’t happen without other people remembering them and being able to testify to the occurrences. Proof enough? Jesus. Get off my ass already.
Life has a funny way of repeating itself, something Agent Hobbs was reminded of as he chased after not only world famous car thief Dominic Toretto, but also demons from his past, because life has a funny way of repeating itself.
Hobbs followed Toretto through the twists and turns of the city scape for what seemed like just under two hours – with occasional pit stops for food, drink, bathroom breaks, and dialogue betwixt other hooligans (most of which was not privy to Hobbs), when the unexpected happened, surprising not only him, but Toretto, and also anyone else who might be watching, because let’s face it, for a secretive criminal and an agent who “doesn’t exist,” they have been making quite the fucking spectacle of themselves around the city. Real attention whores, if you ask me.
Down the streets they raced. Even Hobbs would have to admit that every time Toretto further depressed his gas pedal, he admired the extra time taken to add the fourth exhaust pipe to his “Cherry Chariot” (round abouts the 45 minute mark of their reign of terror, Hobbs had nicknamed his opponent’s vehicle “The Cherry Chariot” because of its bright red color; oddly enough, he had also donned the same nickname upon his penis years prior, which is super-gross), because as we all know, more vroom-vroom makes you wanna zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom in a poom-poom. Just shake ya rump, indeed.
With each passing mile marker, Hobbs inched closer. He could almost taste victory, hear the cuffs being placed on Toretto’s wrists; smell the sweet aroma of his cologne and adrenaline mixed, dancing in his flared nostrils; feel the contours of his backside pressed against his pelvis as he bent him over the trunk of his car, the pat down taking a hard right turn down a back road that felt just so damn hard, and so damn right.
Hobbs shook his head, returning his concentration to the task at hand, for this was no time for silly daydreams. Besides, it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and the way his chest heaves as he—Dammit, Hobbs! he thought to himself. Get your shit together and get this son of a bitch behind bars!
Gasoline burned as they raced along, but it was no comparison to the fire inside Hobbs. Tires screeched as they rounded the corner, but it was no match to the screeches of Hobbs’ superior on the phone earlier that day, informing him that if he didn’t catch Toretto, not to bother coming back to the office. “But boss, I live for my job,” he tried to argue. “Well, just call me Officer Constipation, because I don’t give a shit!” his boss fired back. She was always the best with snappy comebacks, this among the snappiest. Snappier than the official CIA snapback hat that soaked up his sweat of frustration.
Toretto may pride himself on always being first off the line, but Hobbs’ entire being was on the line, so this time, he was going to be the first to cross the line, because Toretto had crossed the line one too many lines. I mean times. Too many times. The lines of the road whizzed by. A passing zone, finally! One to always follow laws, Hobbs had been waiting for a safe area to pull up alongside the Cherry Chariot and demand it pull over. Now was his one and only shot.
Punching the gas, he quickly apologized, knowing that taking out his anger on inanimate objects was not only unhelpful, but childish. “Sorry, buddy.” Besides, it would be much easier to drive using his feet to control the pedals and his hands to steer. “Ahh, this is much better,”he said aloud to no one in particular, because he was the only occupant in the vehicle. Well, he and the spirits of his long-deceased friends…
He pulled along side Toretto, rolling down his passenger side window. “Pull over!” he commanded, pointing to the side of the road. Toretto rolled his window down in turn, replying, “I’d love to, really I would, but my wife is in labor and I just got my interior reupholstered. Afterbirth and leather are like oil and water, bro!”
“Sure as shit they are!” Hobbs could see his point. “Alright, you go on ahead and I’ll meet you at the hospital. We’ll discuss this over cigars. And hey, congratulations.” Pleased with his good deed, he turned up the volume on his car stereo, drumming along on the steering wheel. During a rather high energy call and response chorus, he glanced over at Toretto, expecting him to join in. It was then he realized Toretto was alone in the car. He had been lied to, his child-loving ways used against him. “You son of a bitch!”
Toretto’s only response was to point straight ahead. “I’m not falling for it this time, jokester!” Hobb yelled back. Toretto pointed again, this time with more urgency. “No!” Another point. “No!” Another point. “No!” This went on for roughly four minutes. They were on a very long, very straight road.
Eventually, Hobbs conceded. “Fine, I’ll look. And nothing will be there, and then you’ll point and laugh at me, and tell me to ‘Slow my roll…oh, no, wait, that’s clearly impossible because you’re the slowest thing alive. Ha ha, slow poke. You’re fucking worthless.” Clearly, the children Hobbs grew up with were overly rude and their parents should have punished them for using such harsh language, and their barbs had done a number on his psyche. That number was probably 69, because he’s really fucked. OH! NAILED IT!
This time, Toretto wasn’t lying. Imagine the horror Hobbs felt as he faced forward and saw an innocent young boy slowly making his way across the street just ahead of them. Are you imagining it? Well, you’re going to have to, because this is a novel, not a movie, so I can’t actually show it to you. Seriously? Why are you choosing this to be so hard headed about? It doesn’t even make sense. Alright, there, Che Guevara, good luck with your revolution.
With only seconds to react, the instincts of both drivers took over. Cutting the wheel to the right, Toretto simultaneously pressed a button on his dash, engaging his nitrous oxide boosters. He held on tight as his left side wheels left the road; his years of experience allowing him to keep control of his vehicle. “Wooo hooo!” he cried out his window, a smile on his face as wide as the suspension of disbelief required to believe that this – along with every other thing they’ve ever shown in a Fast and Furious film – would be possible. To the right, a patron exits at a restaurant, dropping her doggy bag as she witnesses the action. Running out of room, Toretto steers toward the doorway, yelling “Thank you” as the diner holds open the door. Driving into the restaurant, he winks as he grabs a burger off of another diner’s plate, taking a big bite. As he drives along, he grabs another’s drink, the large Coca-Cola emblem visible to all as he takes a large, refreshing gulp. One more quick turn of the wheel and a spike of the breaks and he is able to drive out the back exit, stopping for a moment to catch his breath.
Determined not to kill a seemingly innocent child – unlike so many in our proud law enforcement agencies – and also determined not to be outdone in style points, Hobbs cut the wheel to the left, also pressing a button on his dash to engage his nitrous oxide boosters. He immediately crashed into a pole, destroying his car and knocking out power to city blocks worth of businesses and residences alike.
Bruised, but not beaten, Hobbs crawled from the wreckage. Brushing himself off, he looked into his driver’s side mirror to assess any damage done to himself. Miraculously, not a single hair was out of place. He then remembered the child. Frantically, he ran around the back of the car, unable to spot him. “Kid! Where are you?!” No answer. Tears welled in his eyes as he dropped to the ground to look under his car, fearful he had been too late. Beside his rear tires he saw a puddle. Oh, God, I hope that’s not blood, he thought. I know it’s not the delicious Coca-Cola I was drinking, thanks to their new spill-proof lids. Coca-Cola, when you need something to drink and would rather not have water, and you’re not a fan of Pepsi, because it tastes like dirty puddle water.
Dipping his finger into the puddle, he brings it to his mouth, touching it to his tongue. Lord knows he’s tasted enough blood to know it in any situation, and this wasn’t blood. His fear shifts to what he just ingested and if it is poisonous. He begins to freak out, but is cut short by the soft sounds of salvation, sliding so silkily sideways, slipping seamlessly into his sonar scepters (ears.)
Excited, Hobbs immediately jumped up, slamming the back of his head and neck against the hot exhaust pipe of his mangled machine. “Ouchies!” he cried out, reaching back to touch the wound. To his surprise, he feels the Flowmaster emblem branded into his skin, like permanent built-in product placement. He smiled as he thought of all the extra income he was going to net by being what amounts to a walking billboard, and as he stood, smiled even more as he saw the child on the sidewalk.
“Are you alright,” Hobbs asked him.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I really appreciate that evasive action you took there, very stylish…” Hobbs grinned, feeling very proud of himself. “But I was already on the sidewalk by the time you reacted. It was kind of unnecessary.”
One of the first things Hobbs learned when he joined the police force was not to let common sense get in the way of enforcing laws – no matter how arcane they may be – so the child’s comments were quickly shrugged off. In the distance, the sound of Toretto’s engine starting back up, however, brought him back to reality. “I’m glad you’re OK, kid,” he started to say, quickly trying to think of an action plan. That is when he noticed the child’s shoes weren’t shoes at all…but roller skates!
Fear gripped him. A trail of sweat began to form on his forehead, which quickly grew to a river. “A River of Dreams,” one could say. No, no one couldn’t. That wouldn’t make any sense. Sorry, I’m listening to Billy Joel as I type this part. Anyway, Hobbs was starting to have a little freak-out because of all the nightmare’ish experiences he had as a child revolving around roller skating. However, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to catch Toretto on foot.
“Kid, I’m a CIA agent. I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to commandeer your roller skates.” The child looked up at him, a sad look on his face. “But, my father gave these to me, and he was killed—“ Hobbs cut him short, pulling his gun and pointing it at him. “THE FUCKING SKATES! NOW!”
The child’s words were cut short by the sound of a shot firing. Clutching his leg, he falls to the sidewalk. “You shot me! Ouchies!”
Hobbs moved toward him, holstering his weapon. “It’s just in the leg. You’ll be fine. It’s not like you have any major arteries or anything there. Now, the skates; I need them to catch the bad guy.” He kneeled down, taking a deep breath as he untied the skates and pulled them from the child’s feet.
Many memories flooded his mind as he slid the skates onto his own feet – some good, many bad, but all emotionally jarring. He stood, shakily, like a freshly born colt new to the world of being upright. “OK, OK, OK,” he repeated to himself, slowly coasting back down to the road. His nerves, nay, his fears, were getting the best of him. That is until he saw Toretto taking off, flipping him the ol’ bird from his window as he did.
As a frequent animal shelter volunteer worker, he had too often seen the damage flipping a bird can do, and while that isn’t exactly what Toretto meant, that is how Hobbs took it. That was all the motivation he needed. With a gut-rumbling growl, he was off.
The child, still holding his leg, watched. I have no idea how he’s going to catch that guy; he’s not very fast, he thought to himself.
But dammit if he isn’t furious.
*Should any prospective publishers wish to contact me about my Twitter book deal, please feel free to inbox me. Serious offers only, please.*