“You want to park right outside, or around the block, or what?” asks Brian as we approach our destination.
I shrug. “Maybe a couple of blocks away? Seems less likely to draw attention than a random car parked out front.”
He laughs nervously. “Dude. We are about to draw all kinds of attention.”
“Yeah, but then we can run away from it, circle around to the car, and drive calmly away from a totally separate location! Much less suspicious than peeling out directly from the scene.”
It’s hard to tell behind the mask, but I think Brian’s still not convinced about his part in all of this. “Hey, if you’re worried about this, I can still do this part alone,” I tell him.
“Are you kidding? If I’m in this, I’m not missing the fun part. It’s all or nothing here.”
“Well, moment of truth. Time to park if you’re in, or drop me off if you’re bailing.” I hope Brian’s not bailing. He’s integral to my plan right now. I can probably make it work without him, and I’m definitely going to try if I have to, but I’m really going to be flying by the seat of my pants. And that is not a superpower I have.
Brian hesitates for just long enough that I start to mentally scramble for a new plan, then says, “No, let’s do this.”
He parks the car and we walk the last block in silence, listening to the sounds of the city around us. Then we turn the corner and see the skeletal frame of a building rising up in the moonlight, sectioned away from the rest of the city by a chainlink fence. The fence is covered in countless identical banners: EVAN TANGER FOR MAYOR. The roofs of trucks and earthmovers peek out over the top of the fence.
So much for my day off; I’m back at work. More or less, anyway. I don’t think that Mr. Steele is going to appreciate the extra effort I’m about to put in.
“Need a boost?” I ask Brian, but he’s already climbing up, fingers grabbing the links and bulky boots trying to wedge in for a toe hold. When it’s clear he’s going to make it, I clamber up a nearby section and drop to the ground inside the construction site.
Our first stop is the foreman’s trailer. The door’s locked, but that’s a problem easily fixed with a piece of rebar and a bit of effort. It’s a cheap trailer, and the lock is really more of a way of expressing intent than an actual attempt to stop a break-in.
When the door pops open, though, Brian and I exchange a look. This is the actual point of no return. We’ve damaged property now. It’s minor, sure, but it’s symbolic, like the mayor digging the first shovelful of dirt at a ground-breaking ceremony. This isn’t particularly bad, but it’s about to get a lot worse.
Still, with barely a pause, we step into the trailer. I flick on the lights and head for the desk, where I figure Mr. Steele probably keeps the keys. After checking a couple of drawers, I find what I’m looking for: a cardboard box with a dozen identical keys in it. I snag one and wave it at Brian. Steele’s ID badge is in here, too, and I grab it as well.
“All right, got it! Let’s go,” I half-whisper. Brian gives me a thumbs-up, apparently also reluctant to talk. I’m not sure why we feel like we should be sneaking here, since we’re about to make a whole lot of noise, but it seems wrong to be talking at a normal volume after breaking in. More spy movie problems, maybe.
Back outside, we head toward one of the bulldozers and climb inside. It’s a tight fit for two people, but I can see the excited smile on Brian’s face even with the mask, and I’m not going to take this part away from him. I know how I felt when Mr. Steele first showed me how to work the bulldozer, and the sheer joy that came from fulfilling a dream deferred since childhood.
I feel a twinge of guilt for what I’m about to do, but I shove it down and fire up the earthmover. “You ready for this?” I ask Brian over the noise of the engine. He’s wedged uncomfortably in the doorway, but his grin says it all as he nods.
The bulldozer roars forward and I guide it skillfully around the yard, swerving past piles of material as I go. My initial plan had been to damage some of the building’s support beams, but now that I’m actually here, I can’t bring myself to do that. I know how much work it took to put those up. I should, since I did some of it personally. I think of how the other guys on the site would feel tomorrow morning, coming in to see the building wrecked. This is between me and Tanger. I don’t need to ruin their weeks over it.
With that thought, I turn the bulldozer away from the building and head for the edge of the lot. Still picking up speed, we slam into the fence with a mighty clash. Sections of chainlink fall away beneath the bulldozer’s treads. Brian flinches, then laughs uproariously.
“This is amazing!” he shouts. “It’s everything I ever wanted it to be.”
“Yeah, this is the best!” I agree, mangling section after section of fence. Torn “EVAN TANGER FOR MAYOR” banners flop in my wake like stranded fish. I reach the corner and turn, continuing my rampage.
“Are we going to do the whole thing?”
“Yeah, might as well! It’ll look bad, and we can do it quickly with basically no damage to the ‘dozer. Then it’s on to step 2!”
A few minutes later, the entire fence lies in ruins. I idle the bulldozer near where we started. “Here, get out and take some pictures,” I tell Brian. “Make sure you get a good closeup of one of the shredded banners in there. That ought to rile him up.”
Brian opens the door and steps out, and I rev the engine and circle back into the site. I plow through a pile of bricks and drive them haphazardly toward one of the corner supports of the building, scattering bricks to the sides as I go. I slow the earthmover to a crawl as I approach, and finally bring it to a stop just a bit ahead of the beam. With the bricks strewn about, I’m hoping it’ll look to the untrained eye like damage has been done, without actually banging up the building at all.
Brian jogs over and snaps a picture of my handiwork. “Time to run?” he asks.
“Oh yeah,” I say. “Well past.”
Suiting action to words, we run. Once we’ve rounded the corner, by unspoken agreement we slow to a quick walk, the better to avoid attention. We reach the car without any problems, and although Brian is jittery enough to drop the keys twice before getting it started, soon enough we’re on the road and heading away from the scene of the crime.
“Okay, let me see your phone,” I say to Brian, who dutifully hands it over. I check back in my received calls and punch a number I find there into Brian’s phone. I text over the pictures Brian has taken, then dial the number. It rings a couple of times before a sleep-heavy, irritated voice answers.
“Hello? Who is this?”
“Mr. Tanger? This is Foreman Steele. We have a problem,” I say, making my voice gruff.
“Who? Foreman who?”
I don’t know Steele’s first name! Why don’t I learn anyone’s name? Panicked, I fumble for the ID badge I took from the office, playing for time as I try to hold it up to the ambient city light. “Um, from the new police building project in mid-city? Leslie Steele?”
His name is Leslie? Boy, does that not match.
“Oh, Les,” says Tanger, sounding marginally more awake. “What’s going on? What problem?”
“Someone’s broken into the construction site and smashed it all up. They rode one of the earthmovers all over everything, knocked a bunch of stuff down. The project’s going to be set back weeks, maybe more.”
“What?! When did this happen?” He sounds awake now, for sure.
“I just got word of it and went down there to check it out. I sent you some pictures.”
“Hang on.” There’s a pause, and when Tanger comes back I can hear him grinding his teeth together before he speaks. It’s only a single word, but it’s laced with so much venom that it’s practically a deadly weapon. “Everton.”
“Everton did this. Get to my office now. Bring his information. I’m going to kill him.”
“Literally?” I ask, but Tanger has already hung up.
I grin at Brian. “Well, he’s definitely riled up! Great pictures, by the way.”
“Thank you! We’re on to his office, then?”
“Yup! I told you he’d want to do this there,” I say, gloating only slightly.
“I won’t say this often, man, so I want you to treasure these words: you were right, Dan.”
“Oh, sweet vindication! I told you I was in the driver’s seat on this one.”
“So far,” says Brian, abruptly serious again. “Don’t get cocky, you know? We’re getting into the dangerous bit now.”
I double-check my phone. “Everything’s set here. Just keep your cool and we’ll be fine.”
“I hope so, man. I hope so.”