It was two in the morning and the streets were empty when we set out from Dan’s garage. It had been in the plans for weeks, months maybe, but tonight it was actually going to happen. That doesn’t even count my dreams. I had been dreaming about it for years, even before I knew what the sign meant. It was higher up than all the others and the bolts were twice as thick. And it was the only one—they were practically begging me to take it.
The four of us took backstreets and moved slowly because of the equipment we had with us and the beer we’d drank. Dan’s parents were in Idaho for the week and we’d done our best to make the most of it. For some reason Mike was carrying both step ladders. Everyone else just had their tools in their jackets. We all had walkie-talkies, which Tom had somehow managed to unearth from the dark recesses his dad’s attic.
When we’d met up after school we fortified ourselves in Dan’s garage while Tom’s brother got us beer and checked the materials and went over the plan—everything had to go perfectly.
It took us almost twenty minutes to set everything up and get in position. It was a four man job: two lookouts, and two men on the sign. It was the only street that got any traffic but it was late and there were only four cops in the whole damn town; and it should only take a minute. I was on the sign with Mike, who’d said that under no circumstances be a lookout when there was a sign to steal. Right after we started, Tom’s voice crackled over the walkie.
“Cop! Get the fuck down.”
We chucked the ladders into the nearest yard and walked casually down the adjoining street. We set up again as soon as he passed.
“At least we got those fuckers out of the way early,” Mike hissed.
I only had one bolt left when Dan’s voice broke through.
“He turned around, get the fuck out of there!”
This time there was no choice but to abandon our tools and run. The siren turned on as the cop charged after us. Mike and I were sprinting down opposite sides of the street when he went down; I didn’t see how, he must have tripped. I hopped the fence to my right and started bushwhacking through the neighborhood. I eventually stopped a few blocks away and hid under a huge tree in someone’s backyard.
I took a while to catch my breath. They definitely caught Mike—his parents were going to eat him alive, but Dan and Tom should have made it back by now. I checked my phone: Dan had texted five times in increasingly panicked tones, ‘Where the hell are you guys?’
I was still in a cold sweat, though my breathing had calmed down. Why the fuck did he have to turn around? We were so close too: only one bolt left.
I was so scared that I hadn’t even noticed I was still holding my wrench.
What if they’re still there?
It had been close to half an hour, surely that was enough time to handcuff a drunk seventeen year old and confiscate a pair of cheap ladders.
I still didn’t move.
Mike would want me to do it. He would want something for all the shit he was about to go through. I tossed the wrench up in a slow arc and caught it deftly in my hand.
Mary Jane, you are mine.