Title of Story: Sacrifices to a Worthy Cause
Author: Joel T. Kant
Date Written: August 2000, heavily modified March 2, 2019
Chapter Title: Car Thieves
Chapter Number: Twelve
Copyright: (c) March 2, 2019
Conrad began to talk about what his sister being alive meant to him, but Fritz cut him off, "We can't sit around here talking about it!"
Conrad was hurt at the interruption from his friend, but thought maybe he did have something in mind to help his sister. Conrad bent down and peered at the crumpled front passenger fender and the flat tire underneath.
Conrad sadly concluded, "We can't go anywhere."
"I can't ride the motorcycle with a flat front tire, but cars carry a spare. You do have a good spare, don't you?"
"Yes. I don't like those little spare tires and my car has a huge trunk, so I carry a full-sized spare."
"Move over and let me take a look at your car."
After Fritz took a good look, he said, "John and I were out in a Jeep in the back country once when something like this happened against a big boulder. He had a clever way to deal with it. It worked and we drove out of there."
"I think the only way my hot rod is moving is with a tow truck."
Fritz stuck his head under the fender, "This is an old car with a frame rather than unibody construction. That's good. What kind of jack does it have?"
"John told me most jacks come in the types ladder, scissors, or hydraulic. I'm hoping it isn't a scissors."
Conrad answered, "I have the kind that goes under the bumper. Ladder, I think it's called."
"Good. Let's get it out," Fritz ordered.
Conrad looked at the passenger fender and remarked, "The tire is not just flat, the fender is cutting into it. If we put the spare on, it'll just ruin it too."
"We'll take care of that."
As Conrad watched Fritz set up the jack, Conrad said, "You can't lift the car from the fender. It's not strong enough to support the car's weight."
Fritz frantically worked the jack lever and said, "Watch."
Conrad was right, of course. Rather than the car lifting, the fender bent. It bent upwards, away from the wheel well.
"Oh, I get it," Conrad said.
"Get the spare tire ready while I finish."
Fritz repeated the process a few times. When he was done, the fender was mangled even worse than before, but it no longer pressed in on the wheel. Fritz then used the jack the way it was designed to be used. He and Conrad changed the flat wheel. The new wheel rolled fine now that the fender had been bent away. Fritz and Conrad then lifted John's motorcycle and put it in the car's trunk. The motorcycle stuck out, but Conrad had some rope. They got it securely tied. They then got in the car, with Conrad in the driver's seat.
Conrad remarked, "Aren't we supposed to stay and report this accident to the police?"
"That's unimportant right now. Besides, Chief Clymer is in on this, so will help with any difficulties."
"He knows you and John aren't dead?"
"Most of the force doesn't know, but he and Officer McCormick helped arrange it. Remember, this time, John and I are working for the cops, not competing with them. There's a problem, though. The bad guys seem to have a source of information in the police department! Let's get going."
Conrad accelerated his car out into traffic. The car handled decently despite the damage from the accident. Fritz directed Conrad which exit ramp to take.
John came to the peephole of the door when he heard the knock. He expected it to be Dr. Ruby, but was surprised to see Fritz. His reaction went far beyond mere surprise when he saw Conrad standing next to Fritz. John opened the door.
Fritz told John the bad news.
Conrad pondered, "I wonder how my parents will react when they learn they were correct all along. Iris really is alive. Maybe soon she'll got to ride Suzy the Horse that they bought so she'd come home."
Fritz sympathetically said, "You can't tell them, Conrad. Soon, but not yet. Promise?"
Conrad reluctantly gave his word that he'd wait. Both Fritz and John were relieved at that response. Conrad never went back on his promises.
There came a knock at the door. John opened it and Dr. Ruby came in, then did a double-take.
Dr. Ruby said, "Conrad Morrow, I presume?"
Dr. Ruby turned his gaze to Fritz.
Without being asked, Fritz said, "He learned his sister's alive."
Dr. Ruby nodded at this, then asked, "Where are Jason, Joyce, and Iris?"
"I lost them, but I have a description of their new car and it's license number."
Conrad broke in, "It's my fault Fritz lost them, sir."
Dr. Ruby made a hand motion for Conrad to stop, "Fritz, get the laptop. Upload the car description to Entangle's computers. Then, forward it to the Port City Police and the other agencies. This may get leaked to the bad guys by whoever is in league with the Obliterators, but it is our only hope of finding the car in time."
Fritz rushed to comply.
In another part of Port City, a white rental car pulled into a parking lot of a mall. Jason, Joyce, and Iris got out, leaving it behind.
Jason commented, "This is what we should have done in the first place rather than messing with renting a car. I'll bet Agent Fink was watching the car rental places at the airport."
"We should set a trap for Gordon Fink," Joyce said. "I remember that Tomlin wants to capture an Entangle agent alive and question him about all sorts of operations."
Iris knew perfectly well that Gordon Fink was not an Entangle agent, but she wasn't going to tell them that.
"We'll deal with Gordon Fink later," Jason said, then gestured at the hundreds of parked cars, "Which car do you like, Karen?"
Iris said, "Tomlin said we needed a car with a good-sized trunk."
Joyce pointed at a large brown car with an enormous trunk, "How about that one?"
"Looks good," Jason said, pulling out some lockpicks.
In just two minutes, Jason was in the brown car and had the engine going. They headed back onto the road. This was about the same time various Port City squad cars were notified, because of Fritz's e-mail, to be on the lookout for the white rental car.
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