Fasten Your Seatbelt, Baby

Fasten Your Seatbelt, Baby, (2008)
Acrylic on canvas
102×102 cm
Private collection

Fasten Your Seatbelt, Baby

The Miami sun beat down on the chrome of the 2007 white Lamborghini Murcielago, turning it into a shimmering mirage. Inside, sweat beaded on Marco’s brow despite the arctic air blasting from the vents. He wasn’t worried about the heat, though. It was the woman beside him, Natalia.

Natalia, all crimson lips and curves that threatened to burst out of her little black dress, was trouble with a capital T. Her emerald eyes held a glint that could curdle milk, and the diamond-encrusted Walther PPK in her hand wasn’t exactly a picnic accessory.

“You sure about this, Marco?” Natalia’s voice was a husky purr, sending shivers down his spine. It wasn’t the good kind.

Marco swallowed, the lump in his throat mimicking the skyscraper profile of Miami rising in the distance. “As sure as I can be, doll.”

He wasn’t sure at all. This whole heist, his brainchild fueled by tequila and desperation, was starting to feel less like “Ocean’s Eleven” and more like a bad episode of “Cops.” But Natalia, with her promises of a fat payday and a one-way ticket out of this life, had woven a seductive web.

The warehouse loomed ahead, a squat, concrete monstrosity guarding its secrets behind a rusty iron gate. Marco pulled up next to a sleek black Maybach, its windows tinted so dark they could be portals to another dimension. A tall figure emerged, silhouetted against the harsh neon light above the entrance.

“Enzo,” Natalia greeted, stepping out of the Lambo with a practiced swing of her hips that would make a priest blush. The man grunted, his face obscured by the shadows of his fedora. A quick exchange of a briefcase and a duffel bag later, they were back in the car, the engine growling to life.

But as they sped away, the roar of another engine shattered the night. A black Dodge Charger, headlights like angry eyes, was hot on their tail.

“Damn it!” Marco swore, his heart hammering a frantic rhythm against his ribs. Natalia, however, seemed unfazed. With a practiced flick of her wrist, she chambered a round.

“Looks like we have company, baby,” she said, a smile playing on her lips that sent a cold dread down Marco’s spine. “Fasten your seatbelt.”

The chase was a blur of screeching tires and adrenaline. Marco weaved through the neon-drenched streets of Miami, Natalia leaning out the window, firing back at their pursuers. The Lambo, a magnificent beast on a straight path, felt clumsy and exposed in the tight confines of the city.

Just when Marco thought they were done for, a stroke of luck. A police barricade loomed ahead, blocking their escape route. But the Charger, less maneuverable, couldn’t make the sharp turn. With a sickening crunch, it slammed into a bus stop, the sound echoing through the night.

Natalia smirked, holstering her gun. “See, baby? Told you we’d make it.”

But as Marco pulled over, relief giving way to a bone-deep exhaustion, he noticed something strange. The briefcase Enzo had handed over was open. Nestled amongst the stacks of cash was a small, velvet box. Inside, a diamond necklace glittered, its brilliance rivaling the Miami skyline.

Natalia’s eyes widened. “That wasn’t in the deal.”

Her voice, usually a seductive purr, was laced with a dangerous edge. Marco gulped. He knew then, with a sickening certainty, that this night was far from over. The real heist, it seemed, had just begun.