Thursday, May 26, 2011


Cycle 32 was The Wrong Song. We were to pick one of these songs that people often make mistakes with the lyrics and use it as the title and inspiration for our story. The genre was open and the max word count was to be 1,000. This one was a lot of fun to write, and I hope it's also a lot of fun to read.


“Ma said you need to take the long view. Of course, she also told me she‘s got a first class seat on the shuttle to the planet Zenon.”

My brother, Jessie, had made his weekly pilgrimage to our mother at the home. I stopped going a year ago since she makes the same speech every time. Following updates on her travel plans, she harps about me. Just because I don’t want to end up a grocery store stock boy like Jessie doesn’t mean I don’t have any ambition. I have some, but it’s not to be promoted to the loading dock. What I want is a penthouse, a Jag and a gorgeous movie star on my arm. I’m not going to get any of those things counting cans of green beans.

“Joey,” Jessie gave me his weekly speech again. “Mr. Hanrahan is looking for another stock boy. It pays minimum, but that’s only at the start. The work’s not that hard, and after awhile, you’d get benefits too. If you don’t take advantage, he’ll pay you for being off sick. Not many will do that these days.

Ma’s book is not always on the same page as the rest of us, but one thing she’s always focused on, Joey, is you. She doesn’t want you to end up like Pop. Pop flew by the seat of his pants she used to say, and you’re living on a prayer. Same thing. You live for the moment and never think of the consequences. For you, it’s like there’s no tomorrow. We both know how Pop’s tomorrows turned out. He screwed up one time too many and his Mr. B arranged for him to take a swim wearing a cement overcoat. She’s worried you’ll end up like that too, and so am I. One of these days, Mr. B isn‘t going to be so forgiving.”

Jessie knew about my little mishaps with jobs, but Mr. B always gave me another chance. This latest gig was going to get me two grand and all I had to do was get Mr. B’s money back. This mope was supposed to pick up a satchel at Point A and drop it off at Point B, only he decided to keep it. Nobody steals from Mr. B.

I wasn’t supposed to bump him off, just scare him and get the money. I checked him out and he’s actually smaller than me, so I told Mr. B okay. The one like this before didn’t turn out too well. Nobody told me the guy was 6 foot 3 and carried a bat. I’m 5 foot 2. He broke my arm, two of my ribs and I was in the hospital for 9 days. Mr. B let it go though. Said he admired my spirit.

Nobody mentioned this sap was armed. I got to his place and he stood at barely 5 feet. I just knew I could scare the bejesus out of him until he pulled his piece. We ended up struggling on the floor and then I heard the bang. Down went the little dude with a bullet between his eyes. Collateral damage. This happened before I got the cash, but I was sure he’d stashed it in his flat. I was wrong.

On my way to Mr. B’s, I tried to work out how I was going to explain why I didn’t have his ten large. Walking past the bank downtown, I dreamed of strolling in and taking what I needed. Thing is, you can’t rob banks so easy anymore what with cameras, time locks and all. Take too long to figure out, and I only had an hour.

As I passed the entrance, a 60-ish woman came out stuffing a roll of bills in her handbag. She acted all la de da, like she could flash all that dough and nobody would take it. Well, think again, old lady, because I’m going to. I followed her across the street to her car, which was parked in front of the alley that ran between the department store and the pharmacy. I knew the alley went right through to Main, and nobody was looking, so I got behind her and grabbed her bag. She started moaning ‘why, huh?’, ‘why, huh?’, ‘why, huh?’… After around the eighth ‘why, huh’, I clocked her and ran down the alley. I mean, come on.

I ran into one of the empty warehouses at Main and Fifth, and counted my take. Ten grand to the penny. I dumped the purse, pocketed the cash and proceeded to Mr. B’s. Today was going to be my lucky day.

Mr. B was so proud. I didn’t see the need to explain the details. We were in his den and he’d just handed me my share when someone came bursting in the front door. I heard a woman crying, and Mr. B told me to wait and went to see what was up. I heard him ask what happened and then a woman moaning ‘why, huh?’, ‘why, huh?’, ‘why, huh?’…

No fucking way.

When Mr. B came back, he told me that was his wife. Somebody had robbed her and he took her upstairs to lie down. Evidently, once a month, she liked to take out ten thousand in cash and go on a shopping spree. She loved to spread all that money around. It didn’t matter because nothing would happen to her. Everybody knew who Mrs. B was. I’m thinking, not EVERYBODY. I could feel my cement overcoat getting snugger by the second.

Mr. B told me to give him a call when I wanted more work. I told him thanks, but I would be busy for awhile. I’m going to call Jessie and find out if Hanrahan‘s still hiring. I’m thinking I might join him on Friday’s visit to Ma too. I could tell her how I’m taking the long view, and she can tell me all about what she’ll be doing on Zenon…

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This week's challenge was to create a story about negotiation, and have our character(s) use at least two tactics. Any genre, with a max of 1,000 words. I decided to keep mine Among Friends. Please enjoy.


Tonight has gone straight to hell. I‘m supposed to be off, but a situation has developed that demands my attention. I’m a hostage negotiator, and I’ve been trained to talk people out, avoiding at all costs, any type of collateral damage. So, what is so different about this occurrence that requires my special brand of arbitration? The suspected killer of one of our detectives is my best friend, and his hostage is the vic’s widow. We‘ve all been neighbors and friends for years. How could all our lives suddenly go so terribly wrong?

What I’ve been told is Serena, Detective Edmond Rayston’s wife, hadn’t been well and was resting while her husband prepared a late meal for the two of them. She heard a knock on the door and her husband invited in their next-door neighbor, Richie Bender. She had started to fall back asleep when she heard them arguing. She heard glass breaking and went to see what was happening. As she rounded the corner leading into the kitchen, she saw Richie with blood on his hands and her husband lying on the kitchen floor with a carving knife in his chest. She ran back to the bedroom, called 911, gave them the details, and told the dispatcher she was going to ask Richie to give himself up.

When the units arrived moments later, Richie came to the front door with his hands around Serena’s neck and told the responding officers that this was a set-up, and that he didn‘t kill Eddie. Serena began screaming that Richie threatened to killer her too. Richie begged them to contact me, and if they complied, Serena wouldn‘t get hurt.

I was already in bed when I got the call. It happened so fast, as these situations always do, but I never believed friends would be involved. I’ve known Richie since grade school and I was best man at Eddie and Serena’s wedding. This is what I do for a living, but this time, where do I begin?

On my arrival, they had communication set up with Richie via the Rayston’s phone. Training and experience aside, I decided to just go with my gut.

“Richie,” I began, “this is Jer. I‘m here for you, my friend. Why don’t you come out and tell me what happened.”

“No, Jer.” Richie’s icy tone was one I’ve never heard before. “I know you‘ll listen to me. I’ve been set up, and I don’t know why. Serena called me and said something’s wrong with Eddie and asked me to come over. When I came in, I found Eddie on the floor with a knife in his chest and what’s Serena doing? Laughing. She said the cops were already on their way and that she told them she overheard me fighting with Eddie and that she was sure I stabbed him.

It’s a lie, Jer. I don’t know why she’s doing this. I came in and saw Eddie lying there and got down on my knees to see if I could help him. I touched the knife and got blood on me. I know this looks bad, but I didn’t do this. Tell me what to do, Jer.”

I wasn’t sure whether Richie understood the magnitude of the trouble he was in. His story was shaky, his prints were on the knife, he was covered with Eddie’s blood, and there was a witness who overheard the confrontation between him and the victim. He was reaching out to me, and I knew if I remained his friend, I could end this peacefully.

“Richie, listen. I don’t believe you realize just how bad this is. Eddie was a cop, and all the cops out here believe you killed him and you’re holding his wife hostage and threatening to kill her too. If you don’t let Serena come out now and then come out yourself with your hands up, they’re going to set up a shooter to take you out. That house is full of windows, Richie, and they’ll find you. If that happens, we’ll never find out the whole truth of what happened tonight. Is that what you want? Please. Let her walk out of there, then you come out and lie down on the grass. I’ll come along and we’ll straighten this out together, my friend. I’m going to help you any way I can. I promise. Okay, Richie?”

Serena came running out the front door, with Richie right behind her, and he was taken without any fuss. As they put him in the squad, he looked in my direction, and I gave him the thumbs up. He smiled and sat back, believing I wouldn’t be far behind.

Thing is, the moron hadn’t been set up only by Serena. I was actually the one who came up with the plan. I knew the dumb-ass would touch the knife--human instinct and all. Besides, who were the cops going to believe anyhow? Some weird used car salesman who lived alone or the wife of a slain detective who had been held against her will and terrorized? I know Richie, and he’s not all that stable. I could recount so many instances… Naturally, they’d have to take my word for it, but of course, they would. After all, I’m one of the brothers in blue, aren’t I?

On the way back to my house, I passed the ambulance where they were checking Serena out in the back. I glanced in her direction and she winked at me. Stupid broad. I told her not to act friendly toward me, at least not for awhile. Our affair had been going strong for some time and Eddie was suspicious, which is why he had to be removed. But I told her after a suitable mourning period, we could begin to date publicly and take it from there. It will all work out if she doesn’t fuck it up. It would be a shame if she was taken hostage again and negotiations failed…

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Our challenge this week was to construct a story around this picture, any genre and a limit of 1234 words. I always enjoy pictures as prompts, since if one really looks, it's amazing what one can see. Please enjoy.


“Thanks, you senile old bastard, for a worthless house and an even more worthless painting. ‘You always look, but never see.’ You and your mindless sayings and asinine riddles.”

Daniel Vander, Jr. had torn the house up from top to bottom looking for some hint as to where to find the bulk of his father’s fortune. Even as his son was threatening to inject the morphine into his IV line, the old man just kept telling him to look at the painting he had done of his ‘treasure’ and to really see it. Daniel had learned that the ‘treasure’ he was referring to was Marta. God. The help. He beds that slut, paints a dirty picture and wants his son to look at it. He really enjoyed watching the old man gasp for breath when the morphine hit home. Maybe the whore knew where the money was kept. He’d deal with her later.

“Marta? Marta?”

Junior was shouting again. His father not in the ground even a week and already he was disrupting the household and completely disrespecting his father’s memory. He had learned by way of some underground grapevine that his father was dying and had appeared out of nowhere.

Marta Wilbur had been Mr. Vander, Sr.’s housekeeper since long before the boy was born. She had been hired right after he had married that woman. That weak and simple-minded creature that barely survived the birth of her child, only to take her own life not even a month later. Doctors had said she had been depressed. Life is depressing, Marta thought, but we all have work to do and others to care for. Selfish bitch, that one was. Leaving the mister alone with a newborn baby. Thank God Marta had been there to save them both.

“Marta, where the fuck are you? I’m hungry.” Daniel’s voice echoed through the house.

“Coming, sir,” Marta announced from the kitchen. “Just finishing placing your lunch on the cart. Sir.” The vile little beast is hungry. Well, enjoy this fine meal I’ve prepared for you. Once you’ve finished, hunger will trouble you no more.

Marta already had Daniel’s ‘suicide’ note typed and ready to place on the desk in the den. Consumed with guilt over murdering his father, the boy just couldn’t go on. A hefty dose of cyanide in his cooler was his chosen remedy to alleviate his suffering. She had included his confession, stating how he had increased the mister’s morphine dose to a lethal level, with no one suspecting foul play since his father’s illness had been terminal and his time was short. She had vowed her beloved employer’s murder would be avenged.

After the police had finished their inquiries and the ambulance had taken the dead boy away, Marta sat down with a glass of wine and admired her painting. No one would ever know the painting Mr. Vander, Sr., had done was of her. He had loved her in his own dignified way, but for fear of scandal damaging the reputation of his business and of the potential damage to her reputation as well, he could not allow their affair to be known so soon after his wife’s untimely death. As time passed, it somehow seemed less and less advisable to reveal their union to outsiders, so she remained his housekeeper and nanny to his son.

He promised to make sure she was cared for in the event of his death, but his son did come first. He did, however, make his son’s inheriting his millions conditional on the boy being able to figure out how to access the accounts. An important and valuable lesson he wanted to teach the young man. The boy was distant, vulgar and full of hatred for all around him. His father wanted him to take the time to see and appreciate the world around him and listen to and follow the counsel given him. He had hope for his child, but Marta knew better. The boy would never decipher the code. He was too consumed by love of self to even attempt to see any sign of beauty and grace elsewhere.

They had both delighted at the prospect of leaving such intriguing clues that he had placed in the painting on the bedcover beneath her. The letters ‘I’ and ‘N’--not subtle to be sure, but that had been part of their lovers’ joke. Then, going across further, the numbers ‘1’ and ‘5’, that signified the 15th step on the way to their home’s entry. The mister had taken the boy out often, to museums and galleries to try to help him to form a bond with others, but to no avail. Daniel would create a scene and necessitate the return home. Still, each time, his father would count the steps with his son, particularly noting the 15th step, hoping in the future on seeing the clues provided in the painting, the boy would make the connection.

Of course, Daniel had refused to look and therefore, had failed to see. Marta knew the key beneath the stone that was the 15th step was now hers to use to access the box at the local bank. With the boy out of the way, as secondary beneficiary, once she retrieved the account numbers, locations, and passwords, she could begin amassing her new fortune. She decided the first thing she would do with her new-found wealth would be to have her painting re-framed in honor of its painter. It had been his tribute to his love for her and she would hang it in a prominent place in the new home his will provided for her. Then, she decided she would hire a housekeeper. The place could really use a good cleaning.

Friday, May 6, 2011


This story was written for Dan O’Shea’s Tornado Relief Flash Fiction Challenge: Have you ever seen the rain? Rain is supposed to play a role in the story. For every story submitted, Dan is donating $5.00 to the Red Cross to help out those people who were victims of the recent tornados. It was a pleasure to write for this terrific cause.


Willie was pissed. It wasn’t bad enough that Danny had given him half-assed directions to the rooming house where he was laying low after he’d botched that liquor store robbery, bitchy Mother Nature had joined in the plot against him. In his whole miserable life, Willie had never seen so much rain. He could barely see five feet in front of him and setting the wipers on high was nothing more than a joke. It was like there was a solid wall of water moving right along with him--like he was trying to drive along the bottom of a swimming pool that was full. The water was already covering the road. How long before the brakes gave out and he and the car just floated away?

The storm had hit with full force just as he had pulled into Nowhere, USA. Power was still on because the traffic lights were working, but all the businesses in town were closed and shuttered. There had been one service station open, but as Willie pulled in, he saw the attendant locking up.

“Hey,” Willie yelled, the rain hitting him like a fire hose in the face through his open window. “Any way out of this town back to the highway?”

“Not in this mess,” the attendant shouted. “All the roads in and out of town will be flooded soon. Follow the road you’re on to the end and you’ll find Mrs. Carmody’s place. She’s an elderly widow and a nice old gal and she’ll feed you and I’m sure let you keep your car in her garage next to hers, and maybe a cot where you could sleep till this is over. Good luck, buddy.”

With that, the man finished locking up and ran to a small house behind the station. ‘Good luck, buddy’ indeed. An elderly widow with a garage? I’m sure the nice old gal wouldn’t mind if I traded this heap I’m driving for whatever she’s got. She’ll feed me alright, and I’m hungry for coffee, some roast beef, new wheels, and valuables.

Mrs. Carmody loved the rain. Her home could withstand dire weather and since the storms were soothing to her, she’d fill this evening with her favorite past-time: baking blueberry muffins for her Ladies Club meeting day after tomorrow. The rain would be gone by then, and there would be plenty for the meeting, as well as a generous portion of these delicious treats for her lady friends to take home to their families. She made pies and cookies for the Church bake sale and other events, but for her Ladies Club, only these muffins would do. Such a dark and nasty night, she thought, and was very surprised when she heard the knock on her front door.

Willie knew he had found nirvana. The old bag was alone and loaded. She gave him a tour of the house and told him about her late husband’s BMW in the garage that she used only to drive to town once a month for groceries. He caught himself salivating when he saw all the artwork, furs and jewelry. How trusting these small-town rubes were, he smiled. ‘Look at this pretty diamond pin my husband gave me.’ ‘Look at this shiny gold watch he surprised me with.’ There was only one thing that was strictly forbidden, and that was her muffins. ‘Don’t touch them,’ she had told him, a spark of fire in her eyes. Crazy old bat, he thought. I wouldn’t touch your muffins with a stick.

Coffee cup empty, roast beef sandwich eaten, time to help the old lady ‘accidentally’ tumble down the stairs, load up his new ride and take off. With the rainstorm providing great cover, he’d be long gone before she was found. Where was the old biddy anyway? Maybe changing her Depends…

He got up to grab her car keys from the rack by the back door when he caught a whiff of the muffins. Damn, he thought, like catnip for people. Screw her. I’ve got to have one of these.

“Young man?”

The voice Willie heard behind him grated on him like his mother’s had when he was six and she had caught him in the alley removing the neighbor’s dog’s teeth with his dad’s pliers.

“What the fuck you want, you old…”

As Willie turned to face the soon-to-be-dead bitch, Mrs. Carmody drove the carving knife into his abdomen right up to the handle.

“I told you, no muffins!” she shouted. “Those are for my Ladies Club.”

Before Willie’s world went permanently black, he reached up with bloody hands to plead for help and understanding he knew would not be given.

“No, no, no,” Mrs. Carmody said. “I already gave you coffee, a nice roast beef sandwich, shelter from all this rain, but no more. Look what you did. Now, I can’t continue baking my muffins because I’ll have to go out in this awful storm to put your car in my garage. I can roll it down the boat ramp tomorrow night into the river when the weather clears. And then, I’m still going to have to clean up this mess you’re making on my floor, and take you down to the basement where you can share my deep freeze with the late Mr. Carmody. I had told him too that my muffins were only for my Ladies Club members, but he didn’t listen either.

Oh well. Best hurry. Now I have to bake an extra batch to even out the count since you took a bite out of one. Honestly. You men. You sure do love Mrs. Carmody’s muffins, don’t you…”

Thursday, May 5, 2011


When you write crime fiction and your plot includes a murder, what kind of murder do you use in your story? Now, I’m not referring to how your character gets bumped off (i.e., shot, stabbed, etc.). I’m talking about the various ’categories’, if you will, of murder Let me explain.

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. What it really comes down to is intent. Was the original intent to kill and then death achieved? Was it a premeditated, willful, and deliberate act?

A lot of plots are geared around this type of killing, but you know, there are many different ways to kill off your character that would perhaps add an extra layer or two to your story.

Why always use murder in the first degree. How about sticking in a second degree. The definition of second degree murder is pretty close to the one for first degree, but again, it comes down to original intent. Second degree murder is non-premeditated and can result from an assault. What makes it second degree vs. manslaughter for instance though, is that while the individual committing the assault did not set out to kill the victim, he or she is aware during the assault that death is a real possibility, but continues just the same. I know it’s a fine line, but under the law, the line is there.

Then we have manslaughter (sometimes termed as third degree murder), and actually, there are two types there. Voluntary manslaughter lacks a prior intent to actually kill, but does involve the intent to cause serious harm with total disregard for human life, and death results. Involuntary manslaughter is unlawful killing without intent. This would involve justified or accidental killings, which by the way, are still considered homicides, though depending on the circumstances, they may or may not be criminal offenses.

Self-defense, of course, is not included in any of the various categories of murder. That could create an interesting situation in a story since your character killing in self-defense would only be witnessed by the one who did the killing and the one who was killed. Tough perhaps to prove self-defense to the authorities, especially if the ’killer’ flees the scene. Possibilities? Definitely.

Lastly, let’s not forget suicide. Yes, I did say suicide. I have read actual cases where an individual made their suicide (or at least attempted) appear as if a particular person murdered them. It worked too, at least at the beginning. With the advancement in the various fields of forensics, however, that kind of plan would hopefully be easier to see through. One case involved a man who had a terminal illness and despised his neighbor. The reasons were ridiculous to any rational person, but not to him. He came up with this elaborate scheme to actually kill himself, but set up his neighbor as his killer. Almost got away with it too. The neighbor was arrested, which made it difficult to act in his own defense. But he had very supportive friends and a devoted family, and together, they were able to bring out the truth. In the meantime however, the man sat in jail just waiting. Scary, huh?

All these different twists and turns with what your characters are thinking, what they may or may not be planning, how they react when certain events occur, do they run and try to clear their name from behind the scenes, do they stand their ground and hope that really being innocent is enough?

If your guy wakes up one morning and decides to add another notch to his belt just because he enjoys it, so be it. Nothing wrong with a down and dirty serial murderer now and then. But take a chance. Get inside your character’s head and put different kinds of intent in there, or pull out any that’s already lurking, and then send him on his way to meet somebody, and the somebody dies. How? Why? Accident? Was he lying in wait to punch out the jerk who cut him off on the freeway, but the poor sap croaks on the sidewalk?

The possibilities are endless. There’s so many different paths your story can take, so many different situations your character can find himself or herself in when a death occurs. Be creative, be clever, use one type, use all of them, deceive your readers without mercy, make it impossible for them to put your story down until you decide to reveal how things really happened.

First degree, second degree, third degree, manslaughter, suicide… Decisions, decisions…


The prompt this time was to find the title for our story. We were to find one beginning with the letter “s” at Brewer’s Phrase and Fable online at “Sixes and sevens” stood out for me, and the definition given was when it was used concerning people, it referred to disagreement or hostility. Between the brothers in my story, I do believe it’s safe to say there’s more than a little of both. The genre was open, and the word count was to be 1,000 or less. Please enjoy.


“You’re an idiot, Mikey.” George Studarsky was anxious to get away from the prison and to the rooming house where the Warden had arranged for them to stay so he could start planning their next score. This was going to get him and his dumb-ass brother into the big-time. He hated these penny-ante gigs that netted them nothing and got them busted. That was all Mikey’s fault though.

Mikey was family, and George had promised their mom on her deathbed that he would look after him since he was slower in the head than most, but that promise was getting harder to keep with each passing day. George was never able to find out where Mikey got his tips, but they had all sounded pretty doable. Problem was, they’d get in, and it would all go to Hell in a quick minute because there was always one detail Mikey forgot to mention. They’d get nabbed, do a short stretch in the joint, get out early since they’re weren’t real badasses, Mikey would get another tip, and the cycle would continue.

George decided to get off that merry-go-round and do it right for once. This time, he got the tip from a couple of guards. They were both stupid as the day is long, and hadn’t known George was going to be released soon, so what difference did it make if he heard them talking. They were planning to sign-on to make a few extra bucks when a large amount of cash was going to be moved. George paid close attention to where the money was being moved to, and when. Details. Important ones.

George’s feet hurt. You’d think the fucking prison could supply a bus ticket to get them into town. Pointing him and Mikey to which road to start walking on wasn’t his idea of rehabilitation. Mikey had been so quiet and George knew why. He always got that way when he was trying to figure out how to present one of his mysterious tips. Mikey always wanted to make sure he remembered everything so he and his brother wouldn’t end up behind bars. Mikey hoped this time he’d get it right.

They got to the town called Anderton and decided they’d grab a bite. Sally’s Sandwich Haven sounded about right, and over their burgers, Mikey decided it was time.

“Georgie, I heard these guys talking in the yard about a gas station here that keeps cartons of smokes in the back and doesn’t put their money in the bank every day. We could take the cigs and cash and steal a car and leave. I’m not sure of the name, but if I look in the phone book…”

George couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Mikey’s tip pool had hit rock bottom.

“Mikey,” George began, “ a job like that would be a waste of time and get us busted for sure. Everybody knows how stupid you are and that you’ll believe anything, and they’re right. Forget gas stations. I’ve got something bigger.

Some bank needs repair and the money’s being moved to another on First Street temporarily. It’s all hush-hush since the move is to one that doesn’t normally hold much. It’s scheduled for 2:00 am and at 2:15, we’ll be in there helping ourselves.

You get the address. Joints like that have nickel and dime alarms and cheap locks on their safes. We’ll already have a car out there and be in and out in fifteen tops. You just do what I tell you , and nothing will go wrong. ‘kay?”

“Got it, Georgie,” Mikey felt better. He wasn’t sure he’d remembered everything about the gas station thing. He didn’t want to make another boo-boo.

* * * * *

As George and Mikey were being booked into the Anderton County Jail at 2:45 am, all the cops were still laughing.

“Great job, guys,” one of them said. “breaking into an empty bank. What were you going to steal? Pencils from the teller stations?” He doubled over with laughter as he escorted the brothers to a holding cell. They’d go before the judge at 9:00.

“Georgie?” Mikey said.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Mikey.” George was pissed. “Who knew some jerk was going to be out walking his damn dog at 2:20 in the morning by the bank in the mini-mall. I told you not to wave your flashlight around. We may as well have been shooting off fireworks in there.”

“Yeah, but Georgie,” Mikey continued, “the safe was wide open and there was no money in it. I wonder why.”

“I’ll tell you why,” George said. “Those guards were playing me and I’ll get them for it. We’re going to be locked up at Stilton again and I’ll take care of all of them. Saying there was going to be a ton of cash in the First Street Bank and it would be easy pickings and…”

“What?” Mikey asked. “Georgie, did you say the guards said the money would be in the First Street Bank?”

“Yeah,” Georgie pulled the blanket around him. Why did they always keep the thermostat down so low in these small town jails. “Some bank on First Street, the First Street bank, what the fuck difference does it make? We got suckered. That’s what matters.”

“You know what, Georgie,” Mikey felt bad. “It kind of does make a difference. When we were in the room, I was looking in the phone book to get the address of the one on First Street.”

“So?” George wished he had a smoke. Should have just gone with Mikey’s gas station job.

“Well,” Mikey hesitated. “maybe I should have told you about this at the room. Before I found Star National on First Street and Cooper, I saw there was a First Street Bank on the corner of 18th and Green. Do you think maybe that’s the one where they put all that money, Georgie? Did I make another boo-boo?”