Theo Doukas was tinkering with his bike as the rest of the men in the security detail finished putting on their leathers. Jane watched as they strapped various implements of destruction to their bikes, spiked baseball bats, chains, even a large pipe wrench with a rock clamped into the jaws. Their jackets were patched with a Satanic-looking stud grinning and grasping the shapely hips of a naked woman face down and ass up. Along with the “Incubiker” and “Detroit” rockers was the not-so-subtle Latin phrase “FUTUIS MUNDO”.
As Theo became aware of Jane’s presence he glanced over his shoulder, smiling at her puzzled glance. “Wanna know what it means?” he growled with the voice of someone confident with command. He dropped his wrench clanking to the ground as he rose and turned towards her. He was a little over six feet tall and moved with the grace of an experienced martial artist or even a dancer. Wiping the grease from his hands with a black bandana, he tucked it in his left back jean pocket as he looked Jane up and down slowly. His gaze was appraising, not invasive. She returned the look, taking him in from his well-worn but neatly polished engineer boots to his slightly tousled black hair. Theo’s demeanor was masculine without being macho, and Jane’s smile was more authentic than she’d expected.
She liked him.
“I know what it means,” she said, waving at the motto. “Nice sentiment. Just kind of trying to relate it to my own motto, Futuis viam meam ad Deum.” She watched him carefully to see if he caught the Latin.
Theo blinked thoughtfully. “Hmmm. ‘Fuck the World’ or ‘Fucking My Way to God.’ Never had much use for the big G myself. I like what’s here, what I can take. Speaking of which,” he met her eyes. “Before we start this run, you got to know one thing. I’m told that you’re the tough little bitch that put my crew in the clinic.” He paused as she nodded once. “No biggie, I’m sure they had it coming. But don’t try that shit on me. I won’t make the mistake they did.” As her expression turned puzzled, he smiled grimly. “Thinking that tiny isn’t dangerous.” He lifted his hand as if to brush his hair out of his eyes, and gave a quick flick that Jane couldn’t quite follow.
However, she had no problem feeling the edge of the knife Theo now held at her throat. She didn’t move. Softly, he murmured, “Fuck with me, I will end you.” The tone was almost loving, and Jane wasn’t surprised to find herself turned on. He nodded downward, and she risked a look. His other hand had a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol leveled at her midriff. “Blink once if we’re clear.”
She looked back up at him solemnly, then suddenly grinned and widened her eyes comically before exaggerating a slow blink. Nodding, Theo smoothly reholstered the gun and pushed the blade back into a wrist sheath hidden under the his denim sleeve.
“Damn, you guys really are brothers, aren’t you?” she murmured, and he finally grinned at her. “Yeah. He got the brains, so I had to settle for the looks.” He gestured at her leathers, her jacket, chaps and boots all varying shades of brown incongruous in the garage full of black leather, iron, and chrome. “What’s with the Sky Captain getup?”
She shrugged. “Eh, black leather makes me look pasty. Same reason I’d rather have amber than diamond, any day. I like things that used to be alive to look that way.” She fingered her aviator’s cap, and smiled up at him. “Plus, I used to masturbate with a Rocketeer action figure.” She was gratified to see his eyes widen slightly. Gotcha. “So what’s the plan for this? We’re getting some Russian imports?”
He grunted assent. “You might say that. Tony Bumblefuck across the way was kind enough to facilitate their trip here, and now he seems to think that we’re dumb enough to think he actually needs an fuel truck delivery to his fortress of stupitude. Taking down the tanker is not a big deal – my boys can do that in their sleep – but the whores inside need to be moved quickly into the van.” He waved towards the corner of the garage, where an overweight Incubiker lounged back against a black van with no windows, smoking a cigarette.
“Last two times we had Rich to sweet talk the sluts out of the truck, and that worked fine. He even got a little on the side, just because they like hearing ‘suck my cock’ in Russian.” Theo grimaced. “Seeing as he apparently had a violent conversation with your foot, it’s a good thing you’re fluent in Mother Russian, or we might not be so happy to have you around.” He glanced up past her shoulder. “Isn’t that right, Beecee?”
Jane refused to turn around, just turning her head slightly to where the big man from the alley slouched towards them. Theo looked amused at the man’s surly expression, eyes glaring at the small woman from under a white bandage covering his stitches. “BeeCee, I don’t know that you’ve been formally introduced. Jane, BeeCee. He’s Michael’s left hand man – me, of course, being the right.” Seeing that neither of them were making any move to greet each other, he sighed, as if the father of unruly children. “Right.” He motioned towards the black helmet the giant held in his oversized hands. “What’s with the hardhat, BeeCee?”
The larger man grunted, nodding towards Jane. “Mr. Doukas says she’s supposed to wear it.” As Jane frowned, Beecee grinned mockingly. “It’s the law, bitch. Deal with it.” He held the helmet out just long enough for her to reach for it and then opened his fingers to let it drop.
Jane gave a slight kick, her boot catching the helmet before it hit the floor. It flipped neatly up into her waiting hands with a hard slapping sound. Beecee’s mouth opened for a moment, speechless, then he frowned with annoyance and stomped sulkily to his bike.
Theo watched him, amused. He swung a leg over his own bike and watched Jane as she gracefully mounted the seat behind him. “What was that, more of your kung fu Barbie shit?”
“Nope,” she said, eyes twinkling as she buttoned the helmet strap under her chin. It fit her like a black shiny salad bowl, making her look like a character from a video game. “Hacky sack with the stoners in high school.” She wrapped her arms around his waist, leaning forward. Theo could feel her breasts pressing into his back through the layers of leather. Jane nuzzled against his jacket, breathing in deeply with satisfaction. “Mmmm…Love me some leather. Yum, yum.” For a moment she seemed lost in reverie, then looked up, seeming surprised to see him watching her. “What, like you don’t sleep with your floggers? Let’s go, stud, Mother Russia has some pussy waiting for us.”
He laughed then, but there was no warmth in it. The garage was filled with the roar of exhaust pipes as the bikes rode out of the garage into the Detroit afternoon.
An hour later, Jane was standing on top of the tanker truck, tapping the helmet absently on the against the side of into the dark circle of the opened hatch. To her left the Incubiker team waited impatiently, alternately glaring up at her or nervously along the street, watching for police. Theo stood at the bottom of the ladder on the side of the truck, his face angry and intent. “They want what?” he said loudly, voice filled with frustration.
Jane looked down at him, her expression regretfully bemused. “They want a Hello Kitty vibrator.” She laughed softly at the ridiculous request. “That’s really what they said, Theo. Hey, on the bright side, they’re only asking for one.”
Theo looked up at her suspiciously. “You’re fucking with us, aren’t you? I told you this needs to happen quickly – The money we gave Detroit’s finest only keeps them away for so long. Plus, Beecee’s getting carried away.” He waved towards the big man who was working over the hapless truckdriver. The poor delivery man’s face was bloody and his body sagged between the two Incubikers who held him up for Beecee’s fists.
Jane sighed. “Boss, I would fuck with Beecee from here to wednesday, but I would not fuck with you. I’m seriously telling you, they are insisting that they were promised a ‘hello kitty’ vibrator – ” Jane stopped suddenly as a thought occurred to her. She called down into the tanker for a moment, and when an answering stream of Russian echoed metallically up to her, she started laughing.
“Something to share with the class, Ms. Jane?” Theo did not look amused as she turned to look down at him, chuckling.
“Sorry, boss. My mistake. It’s not ‘hello kitty.’ It’s Kitty LaRue – as in, the ‘great American pornstar’” She shook her head. “Tony promised them that she would be here to greet them”
Tony didn’t look amused. “Where do you get ‘vibrator’ out of that? Do you even speak Russian?”
Jane chuckled again, unfazed by his suspicious tone. “Better than Tony does. Apparently he charmingly referred to Kitty as his ‘fucktoy’.” She shrugged. “Fucktoy, vibrator, same difference to them.” She grinned impudently down at Theo’s scowl and laughed again. “Hey, man, you gotta love cross-cultural communication.”
“Tell them to get their skank asses out of that truck in the next two minutes or I will toss in a match and close the hatch.” Theo turned angrily from the tanker and walked over to the van, yelling at the driver to unlock the back. Jane shrugged and turned back to the hatch, speaking quickly to the sex workers waiting fearfully inside.
A moment later a thin pale hand reached up and she helped the first woman out. She was painfully thin, elegant cheekbones sharply outlined under a shock of ragged black hair. She wore a metallic black tube dress with silver shoulder straps, small breasts barely tenting the fabric as her nipples crinkled in the chilly air. She clutched a tiny bag in her hand, and Jane could see a small book and some loose photographs inside. In spite of her emaciated state she looked inquisitively at Jane, asking a short question.
Jane’s smile turned sad, and she replied with a few short Russian words, trailing off into English. “I’m nobody you need to know, sweetheart. Just go with them.” She motioned towards the bikers.
The Russian woman looked down the ladder at the men waiting below, then back up at Jane. Her voice was earnest to the point of desperation. “We are good fucking! They not be sorry to buying us!”
Jane sighed. “I’m sure they won’t be sorry, you poor sweet slut. But you might be.” She caught the woman’s eye, and her voice dropped to a whisper. “If that happens, let me know. I’ll see what I can do.”
The woman’s expression changed and she suddenly looked disdainful. “What you mean? We LOVE to fuck! And drugs! We are party girls! You said these men give more than Tony and Kitten. You lie?” Seeing Jane shake her head slowly, the Russian laughed, hard and brittle. “So we go with them. We work in America finally! We will find rich man!” Scornfully, she sniffed dismissively at Jane and turned to make her way down the ladder. “You just can’t find man for you!”
Jane just watched her go down into the waiting arms of the leering Incubikers, a hard look in her eyes. As she heard the next prostitute climbing up out of the hatch, she gave a sigh and reached out to help her.
When they were all out and in the van, she and Theo remounted his bike. He looked at her thoughfully. “You did a good job up there. Worth the $1500, easy – we’ll make that back off those girls in a day.” Firing up his engine, he raised his voice over the growl. “I’m kinda surprised, though. Don’t you feel a little guilty? You are tough, but you don’t seem the type for running whores.”
She looked at him evenly. “You’d be surprised at what type of work I’ve done, Mr. Doukas, sexual and otherwise. ” She nodded towards the van as it drove off. “Those girls chose to come here. They chose this kind of work. They knew what they were getting into, even if they convinced themselves it would lead to something else. I call that risk-aware, and as they say back in Mother Russia, ‘not my circus, not my monkeys.’” Her voiced softened just a bit, but there was no regret in it. “I’m no fucking saint, Theo. I just want my money. Speaking of which…”
Theo nodded, and took a hand off the throttle to fish out his cel phone, pressing a number to speed dial and then saying, curtly, “Brother. It’s done. Bitch delivered as promised.” There was a pause, and Theo nodded again. “Good. Later.” Pocketing his cel, he nodded at Jane. “Your money is deposited. Feel free to check.”
She smiled sweetly at him. “No need, I can tell.” She held up her wrist, where a bracelet made from an intricate skein of copper and brass housed a dark green stone. Theo looked puzzled, but Jane simply smiled, waiting, and nodded towards the jewel. It suddenly flared brightly, the light fading into emerald numbers glowing inside the stone: “$-1-5-0-0-*” Jane ran a finger over the stone, and it dimmed back down into dark smooth jade.
Theo grunted. “Neat trick. LCD under tinted glass, wired with Bluetooth to your cel?” She shrugged noncommittally and got on his bike, and he muttered over his shoulder. “All that fancy shit. Just call the fuckin’ bank, get it over with.” Revving the throttle, he waited as she pressed her body against him.
“Ah, Theo, you’re a Luddite at heart.” At his angry glare over his shoulder, she laughed. “Relax, big boy, it just means you like to keep things simple. It adds to your charm, manly man.” She playfully tapped her helmet against his. They rode back towards St. Antoine Street, leaving the empty truck and the ruined driver on the side of the road behind them.