My friend Trevor is showing off the custom vinyl he's drawn onto the hood of his Wings West Civic. In Forza Motorsports 2, you can draw anything you want on your car. "Check out my West Wing Civic," he says, as if it was something Martin Sheen would drive.
"Nice. What is it? On the hood there?"
"What do you mean 'what is it'? It's a famous character."
"Does it look like Earthworm Jim?"
"No, no, now that you said Godzilla, I can see it. The scale things on his back."
"I should probably draw radioactive breath." He goes into the custom vinyl screen and starts fumbling around with the different layers.
"I love how they always have Honda Civics in these games," Trevor says, considering various cone shapes in front of Godzilla's mouth. Trevor has a Civic in the real non-Forza world. He bought it used, and it was supposedly tricked out with some fancy muffler, but I'm pretty sure the noise it makes isn't the noise a muffler is supposed to make if it's not broken.
"The Civic is a good car," Trevor continues, applying a yellow/green color to the cone in front of Godzilla's mouth. "Good acceleration, decent top speed, excellent handling. 4.3 handling is good for Class D. Highly customizable for the rarity cash bonus. I'm always seeing tricked out Civics like mine. You know, I could auction this Godzilla West Wing Civic on the auction house. I'd probably get, like, fifty thousand for it."
We were just in Trevor's Civic before Shoot Club. While we were driving, his cell phone had blared some new ring tone I couldn't quite place.
"Is that 'We Are the World'?" I asked.
"Hold on, I gotta take this," he said. He flipped open his phone and studied a text message.
"Dude," I said as the brake lights on the car in front of us lit up.
He quickly slowed down. "I see it," he said, having not seen it. Then he studied the cell phone again.
"What? Who is it?"
"Amber Alert," he said.
"And they're calling you?"
"Yep. Hispanic male, early forties, light blue Honda Civic. Here's the license plate."
He handed me the phone. There was the license plate in the text message.
"Why are they calling you?"
"Every time there's an Amber Alert, I get a call."
"I signed up for it."
"You know most of those are, like, family disputes and stuff. It's not like there are random sickos running around kidnapping children."
"So you're pro-kidnapping if it's a family thing? Not me. I'm opposed to all kidnapping, which is why I signed up to get Amber Alerts."
"Hey, your car is a light blue Honda civic."
"Naw, it's more of a metallic blue. Plus, I'm not Hispanic."
"And you don't have an eight-year-old boy in the car. How old are you, Donny?" I twisted around in the seat to talk to Trevor's nephew, who was in the back playing Spectrobes on his DS.
"Fourteen. Which is too old for this stupid game. Spectrobes is gay."
"You're the one who said you were too old for Pokemon," Trevor said into the rear view mirror. "So I got you that instead."
"That's great. Maybe you can get me some Bratz next time, too." Donny rubbed furiously at the screen, which seemed to be how you play Spectrobes.
Trying to be polite, I asked Donny to show me how it works, but I could tell he wasn't interested. He explained it in that surly kid way. It was something about fossils and a space ship and incubators. While I was twisted around in the seat, I saw the cop car come up behind us and hit his lights.
To be continued...
Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club will be appearing in this space every Thursday.