Allan Herschell Company “Monster Mouse”

Lexi awoke to a press conference, or something that sounded like one, anyway.  She pushed herself up (she had been stretched out across the Discovery’s back seat) and saw Roger holding a little video camera on Dick, Rocky and Harold.  Dick had cleaned his face, but the blood from his cut eye was still dribbling enough to look dramatic.  Lexi yawned, blurring his words, but she could tell he was explaining in careful newsman tones about what had happened that morning, and how the police had attacked him without provocation.  Dobie, Victor and Joseph looked on.  Looking around for Glen and Molly, Lexi found them dozing in the back of the Suburban, whose rear seats had been folded down to make a bed of sorts.  The tailgate was open.  Molly had probably insisted it stay open, both to preclude any assumption of hijinks and to get Glen wishing that it was closed so that they could make out.  A highly political girl, that one was.

Dobie saw her waking up, and came over to the window.  “I’ll have an order of curly fries and a cheese danish,” she said.  He didn’t get the joke, so she asked, “What did I miss?”

“We’ve been ordered to come out at least four times.  I believe they may have attempted to fire tear gas through the door, but to no avail.  And, as you can see, Mr. Sheehan is turning this into a political statement.”

“Might as well,” Lexi said.  “What about the cars?”

“I don’t think anyone’s discussed them,” Dobie said.

“Did I sleep long?”

“Three hours.”

“Three hours?”  She threw the door open.  “You let me sleep for three hours at a time like this?  What the hell’s the matter with you?”

“Molly insisted we let you sleep.”

“Then you should’ve woken me the minute she fell asleep.  I do some of my best work while she’s asleep.  Hey, Harold!”

“Hey, what?” the older man answered.  He and Dick were returning the video camera to its case.

“I had a really stupid dream, that we fixed all these cars up and drove them from here to Woodford.  What do you think it means?”

“I think we’d have a police escort,” Dick said.

“I don’t care.  Do you?”

He considered it, then shrugged.  “Not really.  As long as they keep their hands off of me this time.”

“This is not a good idea,” Dobie said.

“I’m not listening to you,” Lexi said.  “You won’t even catch your own dinner.  Do you think we can make them run?  Joseph?  Rocky?”

“I can make anything run,” Rocky said confidently.  “I’ll take the Hornet,” he added.

“It’s you,” she replied.

Roger had already collected the keys from the other cars in the cave.  “Six cars, ten drivers,” he said, handing them all to Lexi. 

Lexi wanted to cry.  They hadn’t even taken inventory, to see if the cars could be made to run, and they were ready to hop in and drive them through God knew what kind of madness.  For her.  Well, probably for the cars themselves, too, but at least in part for her.  “I am in the presence of nutcases,” she said.

“I’ll second that,” Lars said.  “This isn’t worth risking our lives over.”

“I’m not risking my life,” Harold said.  “No more than on an average drive, I don’t think.”

“If we try to drive those cars out of here–which I highly doubt will happen, as they all need complete restoration–we’ll be shot in our tracks.”

Lexi looked over her shoulder at Dobie.  “Brutal honesty.  Is Ile du Soleil that screwed up and wrong, that they’d gun us down?” 

He pursed his lips, obviously thinking better of a glib response.  Victor answered for him.  “They’re close,” he said.  “Don’t give them an excuse.”

“As soon as I can get a cell signal, I’m calling CNN,” Dick said firmly.  “And Late Apex magazine.  Glen’s a journalist.”

Lars sneered.  “An automotive journalist.”

“And the publisher that owns Late Apex owns eleven other magazines and thirty newspapers, in case you hadn’t checked,” Dick shot back.  “It’s all in the family.”

“Molly’s a journalist, too,” Lexi added.  As if she’d heard her name, Molly shifted in her sleep and pushed her head up off of Glen’s chest.

“Best to make sure they know that, then,” Victor said, motioning toward the doors and the police beyond.  “Before the guns come out.”

“So this is theoretically do-able, then,” Harold said.  “If the cars will fire.”

“And stay running,” Lexi added, considering the keys in her hand.  It wasn’t all that momentous a decision, was it?  She picked out the Hudson Hornet’s keys.  “Rocky,” she called, and tossed them to him.  “Your Hornet.”  He caught them, laughing like she’d just made his day.  The rest of the keys would go to the assembled Road Associates, because she knew they were all competent drivers and mechanics.  She looked around the cave and let the cars pick their new owners.  “Harold, your Stratos,” she said, handing the keys off to him.  “Dick, your 911.  Roger,” she tilted her head, remembering his happiness at being able to sit in the other old Ferraris, “your Ferrari.”  Roger danced an actual jig.  Where the crusty old Texan had learned to do a jig was beyond her.  “Hey, Glen!” Lexi yelled.  “Wake up!  You just inherited an Allard.”  She surveyed her handiwork; five guys who were barely containing their joy, or, in Roger’s case, not bothering to at all.  It was a good thing.

“What about you?” Molly asked. 

Lexi hooked a thumb toward the smallest car in the room, the Alfa Romeo.  “I shall love her and pat her and name her Coquette.  Let’s see if any of them run, shall we?”