The Memory Thieves

By J.T. Robertson

Chapter 1

As Jacob clasped the sealed envelope to his chest and began to run, he wished he’d remembered to wear better shoes.  His penny loafers slapped against the pavement as the first alarms rang out behind him, followed by another and another, until it seemed the whole world knew what he’d done.  He sprinted down the alley toward Jefferson and McDaniel, almost falling as he turned the corner, barely missing an older woman whose dog gave a snap at his ankle.  

Faster, he thought.  I have to go faster!

With every footfall, he expected to feel hot lead thud into his back through his sweat-soaked shirt.  Someone yelled at him from across the street but he ignored it, focusing his attention on the task at hand.  

Left foot, right foot, curb, right foot, crosswalk, left.

A car nearly struck him as he crossed South Avenue, but he leapt forward at the last second, escaping its bumper.  

Need to be more careful.  One stumble and it could all be over.

Jacob kept his head down as he ran, watching for obstacles.  As he passed Busby’s Bar and Grill he took a chance and looked up, zeroing in on the white car that had been left for him.  He barreled toward it as new sirens joined the cacophony.

Almost there.  Just a little farther.

He vaulted over the ornamental fence around the municipal parking lot and yanked open the car door, sliding the precious envelope onto the passenger seat.  It took four tries to get his key in the ignition, then he slammed the little car into reverse, the wheels squealing backwards as he threw it into drive.  

Could have given me something with a little more punch, he thought.

It was inconspicuous though, the type of car that could easily disappear in traffic.  It had a convertible top, but other than that, it was nothing flashy.

“Get out of the way!” Jacob yelled at a man on the sidewalk, pumping the horn as he raced out of the parking lot.  He needed to get some distance between him and downtown fast.  It helped that it was mid-morning on a Tuesday; there wasn’t much traffic.  As he gunned it, his feet burned from their recent abuse by the thin penny loafers, the car racing beneath a series of traffic lights.  He got through just as they turned red, one after the other.

Just need to get away.  This is my last chance.  One final job.

The sirens from the bank faded in the distance, but others grew to replace them, getting closer.  On the long straight stretch between McDaniel and Tate, Jacob glanced in the rearview mirror.  Three gray and white patrol cars came up quick, their lights spinning as they forced regular traffic to the side of the road.  Jacob knew he couldn’t outrun their powerful engines with his little six cylinder.  


He’d have to lose them the hard way, but he only had one chance.  If it didn’t work, he’d get a short trial and a long sentence.  That’d be better than the alternative—lying on the sidewalk with a bellyful of government-issue lead…