Alson Foxx was a thief. A natural born thief who stole as a child. At age seven he got caught stealing a pair of earrings from the department store his mother frequented. How did he get behind the counter without being seen? His mom put him up to it, they said. She got arrested. His dad threatened to beat him to death if she did a day. Luckily, his mom did not go to jail and Alson lived to steal another day. But the fear of death and jail would have scared any other seven-year-old, but not Alson. Family said he was wise for a kid when he said, “He would not get caught stealing again.” They misunderstood that statement for not stealing anymore, but he meant what he said.

            Once he reached puberty, he experienced the affects like every other teen; raging hormones, superior knowledge of the world and adults were idiots. His voice changed and he no longer wanted to be called Alson, but Foxx. He was still a thief, but chose his targets wisely, as he did his associates. Before his parents divorced and his father passed, they told him the word friend was used loosely; true friends were hard to come by. You might have one in a lifetime. And for that reason, he was pretty much a loner; only a couple people knew what he did for money. By his senior year in high school, he and an associate robbed a jewelry store. They said it could not be done; it was not worth it. But with the pandemic in full swing and everybody wearing mask that increased the odds of a successful heist. Foxx and Lyle were average looking guys; Foxx was born with a pleasant expression on his face that looked similar to a smile; Lyle looked innocent and harmless with those big brown eyes. Both with medium builds, no unusual hair styles or tattoos or anything noticeable. They took only cash. Simple…too simple for Lyle and he tried it elsewhere and stopped a bullet between the eyes. That convinced Foxx brick and mortar robbery was not in his future. They kept their relationship quiet so when Lyle got killed the cops never approached Foxx about his association with him. Good.

            Foxx had a part-time job at the local McDonald’s. When he wasn’t flipping burgers, he worked on cars at his uncle’s garage. Even though cars had become computers on wheels people still tried to save a buck and go to the jack leg mechanics. He was good with his hands; when he was a kid, he always played around with his dad’s tool box. Dirty hands and calluses were a badge of honor for him. One day a couple of the guys at the shop showed him how to start a car without the keys, something that might come in handy if a customer’s keys were lost or misplaced. That was interesting. He mastered that quickly; he also did not have to keep his head in a repair manual all day regardless of make or model. His older cousin, Maxx, complimented him on his ability. “You’re a natural, Foxx, I might teach you a few things one day.” That meant a lot to him, everybody respected and feared Maxx. Every now and then the cops rolled by slowly and gave everybody the once over. One scary looking cop had a cleft lip and wore mirrored sunglasses like those cops in the movies. His skin crawled every time he looked his way. Thanks to Maxx his fantasy of becoming a pro like the characters in the heist movies and video games became a reality. And now here he was delivering a car to a transfer point before the owner knows it’s gone and reports it. He came up the exit ramp at 99th and Halstead into traffic jam. A lane was closed due to construction, but traffic still moved steadily. He signaled to get in the turning lane at the intersection. He caught the light…a camera light at that. Good he wore oversized sunglasses and a baseball cap. He noticed an unmarked SUV cop car across the street waiting to go south on Halstead. Behind the wheel, a guy with mirrored sunglasses stared at him when he turned north.

            That scary detective. Did he make him?

            Don’t panic, he didn’t see you.

He moved at a reasonable speed; eyes glued to the rear-view mirror. Suddenly, the cops made a quick U-turn, lights flashing. He was made. Maxx warned him about that guy and his obsession to catch them. That made him extremely dangerous. He was not going to be the first. He lived for this; out run and out maneuver the cops. Be smart and remember you got an advance for this baby. There were not many Malibu SS 396’s around, especially in Chicago. At the next corner, he made a hard right into the neighborhood. Forget the stop signs. He sped around a vehicle taking its time. He glanced in the mirror; he didn’t see anything. Shoot down the alley, no speed bumps in this neck of the woods. But not too fast. The garages were dilapidated, doors ragged and discolored, weeds were two feet tall between the cracks in the concrete. No vacant lots to duck into…but what was that? An open garage. It looked unused. He stopped and looked around; no cars coming. He backed in and waited to see if the cops passed.



            Detective Andy Wilson watched the cherry red Malibu pull up to the light. “Get ready to run a plate.” He told the newest detective in Grand Thief Auto.

            “Okay, which one?” Detective Shirley Rango asked.

            “That Malibu getting ready to make a right.”

            Her fingers hit the keyboard. “Nothing sir.”

            “He just got it; it hasn’t been reported yet.” He knew who that was behind the wheel. “Hit the lights!” They made a sharp U-turn in the middle of the intersection. Wilson slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a guy on a motorized scooter. “Get out the way!” He shouted and lost sight of the Malibu just that quick. That was the newest kid on the block, Alson Foxx. Intelligence said he was a new member of the gang of thieves operating out of the garage on 89th and Loomis block. A bunch of smart guys who kept a low profile. They were not stupid like guys just getting into auto theft over the past decade where carjacking became the norm. Over several months, Foxx had gotten better, so he had been told. This youngster might be the key to his salvation. His boss might forget his, alleged, indiscretion with a very attractive party girl turned informant. Her greed matched her treachery. She needed more money, which Wilson did not have, other than what the department budgeted. And, of course, their occasional fling got leaked. Wilson denied it vehemently, but the lieutenant was no fool and now he was on his shit list.

            Catch Foxx and get him to flip; off the list you go.

            “Hold on and buckle up tight, Rango.” He hit the gas going down Halstead like a madman. “He had to turn down an alley.” They slowed at the next corner, turned right and into the alley. His gut told him Foxx was around here somewhere.

            “I’ll call for back up.” Rango said.

            “No, no, this is all ours!” Wilson figured Foxx would turn the Malibu over to someone in this area. Wait a while and check all the garages for several blocks. Be patient.


            Foxx backed all the way in quickly and carefully. This old brick two-car garage was full of junk on both sides of this beautiful gem, which the oil light just came on. His heart pounded; a car raced his way. Oh, no! Please don’t let it see the exhaust fumes pouring out the exhaust. This damn thing needed a ring-job. It could not be the engine they wanted. Whatever…he promised, no scratches or dents. A cop car zoomed by. He moved to fast to see him. He sighed. Wait a while and make your move.

            The door started closing! Who did that? Somebody had to be coming.

            He opened the car door; it was a tight fit getting out. The overhead door slammed shut. The fumes got thicker. Turn off the engine, hurry! He could not get back in the car fast enough; the wiring he used was pushed under the dash too far. He felt frantically; no luck or room too stretch from this side. He crawled over the hood. Shit! He couldn’t get the door open. He coughed profusely. Open the garage window and door! He crawled over ragged furniture and other stuff covered with dusty tarps to the door. He turned the knob and it fall off. He grabbed the crank to open the vents on the window, but the handle broke off midway leaving it half open. He put his mouth as close as he could to get air. He inhaled as fast as possible.

            The door started to open. Thank God!

            He spun around too fast and tripped on something and hit his head on a bench or something. He saw stars and darkness for a second, but remained conscious.

The door stopped a quarter of the way!

A welcomed breeze hit him in the face; he coughed into the dusty floor as he crawled to the front. Plug the tailpipe! He managed to grab a rag and shoved it in the pipe; it didn’t work.

The door dropped shut. No, no! He was so tired.

The door started to open. Crawl out…now! He laid there; he was so tired. The air cleared, slightly. He was not going to leave this car...too valuable. Maxx would continue to be proud. He crawled to the apron. No cars or people. He turned and crawled back, pulled himself up by the car mirror. His head spun like a top, too much smoke, he coughed profusely, but he managed to get back in.

The door started to close as soon as he put the car in gear. No, not again!

But it stopped and went back up.

He laid his head on the steering wheel for a second. The vehicle moved slowly forward and hit the light pole on the other side of the alley.


            Detective Wilson peeled back the wrapper on his Twinkie; took a bite and continued to stare ahead. His new partner, for the time being, had thick legs and an attractive smile. He liked her. He needed to stop those thoughts, that’s why he was already in trouble.

            “How long are we going to sit here, boss?” Rango asked.

            “Not too much longer. I’m telling you; Foxx is around here. There’s got to be a drop off point. He didn’t get off at Halstead to go to McDonald’s.” He devoured the last of his snack and they pulled off. “We’ll go through these alleys again. I got a hunch I can’t shake.” He heard sirens getting close. “Wonder where they’re going…a fire? I don’t see smoke.” They sped down the closest alley. Two blocks down they saw a red Malibu blocking the way. “There it is, Rango. I told you!” When they got closer somebody was slumped over the wheel. The ambulance and fire truck came from the other direction. “Is that, Foxx?” He couldn’t believe he asked that dumb question…of course it was. Thick smoke poured out of the car’s exhaust and the garage. They slipped on their covid mask. “Well, it’s not a fire.” There were several senior citizens standing around.

            “I wonder what happened? I’ll go ask.” Rango got out and approached the group.

Wilson rushed over fanning smoke and snatched the door open. He pushed Foxx off the steering wheel and reached under the dashboard and snatched a cluster of wires. The car shut off. The paramedics moved in and pulled the young car thief from behind the wheel. He did not look good, at all. It would be a miracle if he were still alive. Somehow, Wilson had to make this look good for him. They chased a known car thief and forced him to hide in a garage and unfortunately, he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. His gut said it won’t work, but worth a try. Wilson got out the way and let the paramedics do their job. Other cops gathered around as the ambulance took the body away admiring the Malibu. It was a beauty, but it was useless without a good engine.

            Rango came back from talking to the witnesses. The fire crew gave them the thumbs up and packed up their equipment. “You’ll love this, boss. The neighbors said that the old lady,” Rango paged through her notes, “A Ms. Smith’s garage door has a mind of its own. It just opens and closes whenever, all times of day. It opens halfway, a quarter of the way and all the way. The lady with the red hair said she came out to take the garbage. She called the fire department when she saw all the smoke coming from beneath the door. It opened and the car rolled out. Our boy was hiding and got caught if that story about the door is true.”

            “Damn, talking about bad karma.” Wilson shook his head. The garage door started to close and stopped halfway and went back up. He walked over and looked around. He did not see any electric eyes to stop the door if they were blocked.

            “I told you what it does,” The red-haired lady shouted.

            “She also said that the lady said her grandson said it’s defective.”

            “Makes sense, these new openers have their own code and can’t be hacked. Foxx stole a car with a blown engine. He didn’t see this one coming. Well, that’s one car thief we don’t have to worry about.”

The End



Eric Burbridge


Eric Burbridge has been published in Ariel Chart and in The Stray Branch. He is the author of the short story collection, "Consolidated Separates." He is working on a novel, but his heart is in writing short fiction.

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