62. TunnelIt was time, Joel knew. Past time.

In a way, it was good — he was sick of worrying — but the future he imagined was filled with fear and dread.

The job — the “slam-dunk job a newbie could do in his sleep,” as it was described to him — had gone sideways in a hurry. People had gotten hurt, and too much attention had been drawn to places it was not welcomed.

Joel had tried to make the best of a bad situation, but sometimes a situation is too bad; the best just can’t be found.

He couldn’t take it any more. The waiting was literally killing him.

So he drove, just a bit over the speed limit and keeping with the flow of traffic, trying to drive as anonymously as possible. It wouldn’t do to be pulled over. He had checked his taillights in a plate glass reflection to make sure they worked. Couldn’t give cops reasons to search the car. Couldn’t have them opening the trunk.

He hit a pothole at 65 MPH, jolting the car. Joel held is breath, anticipating the worst, but nothing happened. He slowly exhaled, relieved, but cursing that this town’s roads were in such bad shape. His cargo, he knew, didn’t like to be surprised. It would react badly if provoked, he was told when this job started.

Well, the job was close to ending, one way or the other. Either way, Joel was relieved that his part in it was almost over.