Anti-Theft Measures

Everyone knows: you dont tug on Supermans cape. You dont spit in the wind. And the Lord loves a working man.

Oh, and for the love of God (or the other guy), remember: in the Gutter, there aint no such thing as an easy payday.

Anti-Theft Measures by Ben Reese

The car was a tasteful gray but to Mark it looked like gold. The streak of blue chalk the meter maid left on the front tire showed it had been parked there since before six, when meters stopped charging, and that the owner had paid the fee. It was after one now and the other spaces were empty, the street deserted but for Mark and the Audi. 

It was the TT model, small and lozenge-like, like it was meant to be swallowed rather than driven. Inside was Mark’s target—an iPhone 6 Plus. Any iPhone was a prize, but the latest model was always worth more. The Plus was still a novelty and Mark knew Jerry would pay extra for it. 

He approached the passenger side and eyed the sticker on the window. 

“Protected by security measures, my ass,” he said. Nearly every car had that sticker, and lots had that little red light blinking near the lock. But those were scare tactics, Mark knew. Hardly anyone actually used a car alarm anymore. Too much trouble when they went off. 

With a glance either way, Mark shifted his weight to his left leg and raised his right foot. He loved this part. The secret was to aim for a spot six inches inside the car and drive with the heel. Kicking in a car window made Mark feel like Bruce Motherfuckin’ Lee. 

This time was no different. He felt a shot of exhilaration as the window exploded into diamonds of safety glass. In a second he had the door unlocked and open, sweeping the seat with a hand wrapped in his windbreaker. Then he was in with the door shut behind him. 

Before the iPhone, the glove compartment. A glance took in the usual: owner’s manual, pens, receipts, breath mints. Then something that made Mark’s heart pound—a black holster. But his excitement flagged when he saw Vipertek stamped into the leatherette, and dimmed even further when his fingers found it empty. 

Not a real pistol, just a stun gun. Still a shame it wasn’t here, he thought. Jerry paid top dollar for firearms but even a stun gun would swell this take. 

Still, the iPhone. 

Mark lifted it and thumbed the button, lighting the screen and presenting him with a slider, another welcome surprise. No fingerprint scan, no code, no security. 

A tap brought up the photo gallery and he randomly picked a folder. He was hoping for kids, little ones. Infants if he was lucky. 

Jerry would pony up for a hot phone, but Mark knew he could collect a finder’s fee that’d dwarf whatever Jerry offered if there were family photos. So long as he wasn’t caught stealing it, who could prove he hadn’t found the iPhone? With pictures of their brats on it, people would pay even if they suspected how he’d gotten it. 

No kids, but Mark was pleased with what he did find. 

Breasts. Bare breasts on a pale torso beneath a rucked-up sweater. 

Perfect. Better than kids. People pay dearly to get sex pics back. It’s all well and good for celebrities’ to leak, but what would the boss think if these showed up in his inbox? And if that made the transaction more blackmail payment than finder’s fee, Mark could live with the distinction. 

Smiling, he pocketed the iPhone and left the car. 

Three blocks away, in the drivers’ seat of his pickup, Mark reactivated the phone. May as well see how good those photos were before he pulled the sim card. 

The breasts reappeared. Mark swiped sideways and the next photo slid into view, same breasts from a wider angle. Now he could see the woman was on a metal chair, hair covering the part of her face visible in the frame. 

The third photo revealed the handcuffs. 

The knife showed up in the fifth. 

Mark’s thumb slid faster, animating a stream of photos that became increasingly scarlet as they passed. He stopped with the breasts onscreen again, staring like pale eyes from the bloody sheet they sat upon, the rest of the woman’s body nowhere in the picture. 

Trembling, Mark backed into the iPhone’s gallery and chose another folder. Another woman, blonde and tied to a bed. Another folder and another woman, older, eyes closed on what looked like a dental chair. And another, younger, with a nose ring. And others. Many others. 

He heard the truck door open and felt the pressure at the base of his neck at almost the same time. 

“Never heard of Find My iPhone?” a voice asked. 

He got out “No! I have but…” before the stun gun crackled. 

Mark opened his eyes and saw men’s leather shoes, the kind with little holes in a pattern on the toe. 

“Stay here,” he heard. “I’ll be just a minute.” 

Then the electricity again. 

He heard the Audi first, and then tires came into focus, the blue chalk mark on one rotating until it stopped pointed at his head. The leather shoes returned. 

“I had other things in mind for tonight,” Mark heard. His arms, which were tingling but still refused to move, were bound behind his back. “Imagine my annoyance when my lady friend and I returned to find the window broken and my phone missing.” 

Mark saw the trunk lid rise and tried to talk but all he managed was a wheeze. 

“She insisted I call the police after I used her iPhone to find you. I barely persuaded her back into the taxi and on her way home—a much different destination than the one I had in mind for her, I’ll add.” 

Mark tried to fight as he was lifted, but he tumbled into the car.  

“You’re not my type, but I’ll make an exception,” the man said. “You see, I don’t let people take what’s mine. And these?” 

He angled the smartphone so Mark could see the thumbnails. 

“They’re mine.” 

When the lid closed, the trunk was dark as a grave. 

Ben Reese is an ex-reporter, an ex-editor for a famous dotcom, and currently in advertising. He was born on Leap Day, which makes him way too young to write stories like this. Ben lives in Seattle with his wife, two sons, small dog, and a voracious tortoise named Claire.