âLook!â said Harley.
âWhat?â said David.
They had come to a standstill under a streetlight between the smudgy brick walls and broken windows of Forbes Street. An upstairs window suddenly shone out like a jagged star of dirty gold. Looking up at the stab of light, David saw the bricks below it were striped with graffiti. The same few words were scrawled on top of one another, but in different colours. Whereâs Quinta? someone was asking, over and over again. The senseless question staggered from wall to wall.
It was Harleyâs fault they were picking their way through such a dangerous part of town.
âItâll be cool,â Harley had said. âForbes Streetâs really wild. Glue sniffers are scared to go there. Even the police are.â
But Forbes Street was not wild â just poor and dirty. It was people who made a city dangerous, and Forbes Street was deserted. Yet there must have been someone around somewhere, because Harley, standing under a street lamp, was staring at a car â an ordinary, battered, smeary, blue car.
âMight belong to a drug dealer.â Davidâs voice was sarcastic.
âNo! Look! There! â Harley hissed. âTheyâve left the keys in it.â
Sure enough, dangling from the ignition was a round silver ball on a silver chain. It seemed to wink at David.
âTwinkledandory!â said David.
âStop it,â said Harley. âYou sound such a nerd.â
âI like words,â said David. âI like inventing them.â
âWell I donât,â Harley said. âSkip it. Look at the keys!â
Over the last six months â ever since his mother, the school music teacher, had run away with a jazz guitarist â Harley was more and more intent on living dangerously. The trouble was that he wanted David to come along for the ride.
âForget it!â said David, staring at the swinging silver ball. It winked at him.
âWhy not?â Harley persisted. âWhoever owns this car is so stupid he deserves to lose it. It would be good for him; heâd take more care of it next time. After weâd had a turn with it, that is.â
âForget it!â David said. âAnyway, whoâd drive?â
âWell, you wouldnât have to,â Harley said scornfully. âI would. Iâll bet I could drive this thing, and the crate it came in.â
âYeah, but any cop who sees us will know weâre only kids,â said David, immediately irritated with himself for sounding so cautious â so dull. Though he knew so many fierce words, somehow he was always cautious when it came to actual adventures. But no way would he say that he wanted to go straight home â that his mother would already be worrying. Harley, with his hair sticking up like the crest of an excited cockatoo, was ready for anything â reckless and free.
âMy uncle showed me how to drive,â said Harley. âHe said that I could drive better than most of the guys he knows.â
âYou could be the best driver in the world,â said David. âBut some copâd still stop us. Youâre only fourteen and you look about eleven. Not âcause youâre short. Itâs the way your hair sticks up and your ears stick out. Youâre an earocomic!â
âYeah, sure,â mumbled Harley, trying to flatten first his hair and then his ears. He hated being reminded that he was small. âIf weâre cruising along, not breaking any rules, no copâll even look at us.â
He ran around to grab the handle on the driverâs side. The door opened so obediently that it frightened David all over again. Things just werenât as easy as that in real life â or they shouldnât be.
âSee?â said Harley, sliding sideways into the driverâs seat.
âStupidodorous!â muttered David, but he couldnât help following. So what if they did get into the