Thursday, February 7, 2019
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 6 - Head Start
The prompt this week was to pick a starting line. I picked the very first one. As soon as I read it, the story started forming. I love when that happens. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
‘Do you ever think we should just stop doing this?’
“Norb, you worry too much. You’ve always been a worrier, even when we were kids. Mom always used to say that her sons were like night and day. Me, I was the go-getter and you were the worry wart. Nothing has gone wrong so far, and nothing will go wrong in the future. I’m always extra careful.”
“But, Connie, you keep wanting more and more money. Don’t we have enough yet to just go off somewhere? I can’t get over this feeling that sometime soon, our luck’s going to run out. If you don’t want to quit, can’t we at least cut back and lie low for awhile? Folks talk, and sooner or later, somebody’s going to talk about what we did and we’re going to walk right into a…”
“Relax, brother. Yeah, people talk. Think about it though, how many players involved in private Poker games want to admit they got scammed by a couple of unknowns like Conrad and Norbert Finkle. But, maybe you’re right. We do have a lot of cash, but if we want to live the good life, we need one more really big score. I’ve got my eye on this game tomorrow night in the warehouse district by the docks where you open with $100. After a few hands, there’s going to be so much cash on the table, there’s no telling where we can end up. We would probably be able to buy our own island. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”
“Yeah, Connie, a hoot. But, we’ve always worked this with games in small towns. You make an excuse to go to the car to get a head start, then, after a couple of minutes, you beep the horn twice, I grab what’s on the table and make a beeline for the door. We zig and zag through the streets, and before they’ve got their car keys out of their pockets, we’re long gone. Okay, so this has worked every time, but this one is so different. Out by the docks? That whole area is deserted, except for the hoods who stash all their stolen cigarettes, guns, and…”
“I know about all that, Norb, but we’re not getting involved with any stolen property. This is a game that some guys set up, and word on the streets is that there’s big money to be had. We’ll bet whatever the rest do to start, but we’ll fold a few times and let the rest of them drop that cash into the pot. I’ve already scoped the place out. We’ll get there right before it starts, and I’ll leave the car out in front of the building with the keys in it. It’ll be okay because there’s no one around to take it. Everyone will be inside playing.”
“If you say so, Connie, but I still don’t like it much. How’d you get us into this game anyway?”
“You know me, Norb. I can talk my way into Fort Knox.”
“I wish you had, Connie. I’d feel a lot better about walking in there tomorrow night.”
“Stop worrying. I’ve got it all covered. Let’s eat now. Did you get me some chili fries?”
“Good evening, gentlemen. Please make yourselves comfortable.”
The large man in the dark suit who opened the door, pointed to the room on the right. Norbert nudged his brother, and nodded at the gun the man was wearing in a clearly visible shoulder holster. Conrad shrugged his shoulders and pushed Norbert into the room. The other players were already seated around the table. Each had several stacks of $100 bills in front of them. Norbert put the gym bag on the table, and pulled two stacks of $100s out – one for him and one for Conrad – and they sat down.
“Couple hands only, Norb,” Conrad whispered. “It’s all on the table. Just grab it all.”
Norbert swallowed hard, and nodded. He was worried. Really. Worried.
The game began shortly after their arrival, and $100 bills filled the center of the table. Conrad and Norbert folded and let the others continue betting. It impressed Conrad how trusting they all were. No one held their winnings close. All that cash placed loosely all over the table, ripe for the taking. Easy peasy. Time to make his move. The guy in the suit probably wouldn’t let him go outside for smokes, so a trip to the bathroom it would be.
“Down that hallway on the left, sir,” the man in the dark suit said. “Don’t worry about the open window though. Lock’s broken, but no one will brother you.”
You’ve got that right, Conrad thought. I won’t be in there long enough to be bothered.
The window was shoulder height and not too large, but Conrad knew he could get out quickly. He found a crate in the corner to stand on and began climbing through the window. He could feel something catch on his belt, and when he was about halfway though, he could go no further. He tried to back out, but that wasn’t possible either.
I can’t be stuck, he thought. I can’t be…
Voices. Outside the bathroom door. The large man in the dark suit and some other man.
“You’re right on time. Willie will be here any time now with those auto parts.” Dark suit man said. “I told him to park out front.”
“Those crates are heavy, Bruno.”
“Yeah, and Willie’s got a big haul tonight. Two of our players left their car out front with the keys in it, so I moved it around back so Willie could pull right up to the door.”
“I hear Willie’s car now. He’s got to get that heap fixed. Do we need to go out now or is there time for me to take a leak?”
“Go ahead. We’ve got a minute. Willie will beep his horn twice when he pulls up.”