|The Heist Art Trade
Author: Jessica Raisor PM
I wrote this for Peteru on DA, in exchange for a picture of Vorel. A young gang decides to rob a bank.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Crime - Words: 3,656 - Published: 07-01-11 - id: 2928764
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Zaphi struggled her way through the door, juggling three bags of groceries and her keys as she fought to keep her balance. "Gee, thanks for the help," she grumbled in the direction of her brother. He was sprawled on their small couch, snoring quite loudly. The young deer set her bags on the table and locked up behind her. Her eyes traced Alex's sleeping form, and she couldn't help but smile. She went to her bedroom and brought out a blanket, covering him up before she put away what little food she could afford. The doe's ears drank in the relative quiet of the afternoon, a phenomenon they rarely got to experience in their neighborhood. For once, the bass was off, the cars were still and the screams and gunshots were absent. Even though the sky was overcast and laden with storm clouds, she felt relaxed. Zaphi set about putting their food away, humming to herself. Today just felt right. Something good was bound to happen.
Alex groaned and stretched, his neck stiff from sleeping on the couch. He stood up and folded the blanket, smiling to himself. Zaphi was so thoughtful. He tossed it into her room and looked at the clock. Time had flown while he rested, and if he didn't hurry he'd miss his appointment. A sound in the kitchen drew his attention; Zaphi was sitting at their table, eating a sandwich in front of an open paper. The buck walked over and drew up a chair, grinning.
"So, how was work?" She grunted noncommittally in reply.
"It was so-so. Our DJ threw a hissy fit, he's such a drama queen. I got paid, though, and restocked our fridge." She waved a hand at their cabinets nonchalantly.
"Thanks for everything you do, Zaph. I'll make it up to you." Zaphi nodded.
"So what are your plans tonight? I rented a movie I think you'll be into, it's a Troma flick." Alex stood up and glanced at his feet, his shoulders slumping.
"I was actually about to head out... I have things to do, I'm so sorry, Zaph..." His sister sighed, and glanced at him over the edge of her paper.
"Stay out of trouble, for me..." A playful grin snuck across his face as he leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the head.
"Sure thing, mom," he said with a chuckle as he headed out the door.
"Later!" As the latch clicked, he let his false smile fall away. Without focus, tonight would be tough. As much as he hated leaving his sister alone, he knew that this was his chance to take care of all their problems; he would get them out of this neighborhood, out of poverty, for good. As the sun began to sink below the skyline, Alex headed off into the growing twilight to meet up with the rest of the gang.
Dane's Auto was silent, the proprietor's dogs nowhere in sight. Alex glanced around as he approached the large, aluminum gate. This was where he was going to be meeting with the boys, at the shop ran by Darnell's father. The tall lamps scattered throughout the junkyard cast an eerie orange glow over the scene and made Alex's hair stand on end. As he approached the fence, a light flicked on inside and a grinning Kyle appeared at the window. Kyle was an expert locksmith- his fingers were like magic. Alex smiled and waved in response, and the electric gate began sliding open for his entry. The van they were to be using was parked close by, simply waiting to be loaded. The boys began filing out of the house, dressed in black and toting duffle bags slung over their shoulders. Darnell tossed his in back and come up to Alex, his somber expression revealing that he was all set for what they must do. Beneath his arm was a long, slender case that caused a bit of anxiety for the young buck; only one thing could fit in that case.
"Darnell, no rifles. All we need are the pistols, we're not hurting anyone." He forced himself to stand straighter, to lock eyes with the powerful wolf before him.
"Alex, this isn't just some gas station holdup, this is a very large job. We want to look like professionals, not a bunch of ragtag miscreants. I'm just ensuring our success. I'm not planning on shooting anyone. You have my word." Darnell clapped his friend on the shoulder to reinforce his words, and nodded to the van.
"You've got shotgun." Despite his best efforts, a grin found its way onto Alex's features. He tossed his bag in the back and leapt into the front seat, clicking his seat belt and trying to keep his heart from racing. Once the rest of the group was in, Darnell climbed in next to him and started up the silent engine. They pulled away, and Alex watched the base shrink away from sight. They were out to sea, now, there was no going back with what they had set in motion.
They drove for the better part of that night and the next day, making sure there was plenty of distance between their home and their mark. At around nine in the morning, Darnell finally veered off the highway and found a place to stop and get something to eat. Everyone piled out, and Alex took a quick headcount: Kyle, Darnell, Steve, Jason, and Clive. They were all here, exhausted and hungry but otherwise up to bar with the task that would come soon enough. Once the group as a whole was full and ready to move on, they packed up and headed farther into town. Alex drank in the scenery as the van rolled past, admiring the quaint old-timey town square shop fronts, the lovely parks, and the people bustling about as they went through their day; If he had the money, he knew he'd love to move his sister here. It was the sort of two Zaphi had always wanted to be a part of, but it had always remained out of their wallet's reach. Today, he would fix that. Their transportation turned left and pulled into a moderately full parking lot- the lot of the Revenant First National bank. With a deep breath, Alex let himself out and circled to the back of their van and unlatched the doors. One by one the others jumped out and grabbed bags and strapped their pistols to their legs. All eyes turned to Darnell, their fearless leader, as though he was their anchor to calm. He surveyed them, deemed they were ready, and made a motion with his hand. All hands drew masks down over their faces and began walking toward the building. They went single file, heads down, all with one hand on the strap of their bag and one hanging near their firearms. Once they all had crossed the threshold, Alex dropped to his knees and whipped out his pistol, using his skulls to pop of nine shots in succession, each aimed at a different camera and each hitting their mark. As he dropped, the others rushed the counters with their firearms out, getting the employees to raise their hands away from the alarm. Darnell demanded the key to the safe, his black eyes burning beneath his mask.
"No..." Alex's ears pricked, catching the whisper.
"Oh? You'll have to speak up, I can't hear you." Darnell replied, smirking.
"I'm not giving up the key."
"Are you ready to be a martyr, sir? I see you wear a ring; do you want your wife and offspring to be without you?" Still, the badger at the counter refused, showing immense courage in the face of the robbery. As he realized he was getting nowhere fast, Darnell holstered his pistol and instead set the long case in front of the glass, still grinning cruelly.
"Do you know what this is?" The badger man shook his spectacled head, sweat beading in his fur. The wolf opened the case, revealing a glossy black gun nestled inside.
"This is a bushmaster M-17. I think we both know what would happen if it went off." He slipped a magazine in and lifted it gingerly. With a sculpted arm, he cocked the rifle and aimed it right at the teller.
"I-I'-I'm n-n-n-n-no-no-not giving you the k-k-k-ke-" The gentleman stuttered, obviously terrified. Alex rose and moved forward, sensing what was happening next but not moving fast enough. Darnell's finger curled around the trigger and fired off three blasts, tearing into the man's chest and sending blood flying. Screams erpted as Darnell smashed the butt of the gun against the plastic, shattering the partition and leaping over the counter. His ducked down and disappeared for a moment, and resurfaced with a key in his hand. He tossed it to Alex and shouted at him to go get into the safe. The rest of the boys were blocking the door, guns on the crowd of people. Alex raced to the back, dragging the bags with him as he went, stopping only to force the combination fro ma terrified woman in the back.
"The combination to the safe! NOW!"
"Eight-Three-Eight-Five-," she sobbed, clutching at his loose-fitting pants as she sunk to her knees,
"Please, please, I told you, don't hurt me, don't..." With disgust, he shook her loose and went to work opening the vault. The mechanism was a strange one, requiring three keys and a combination to be entered before the door would open. Realizing he only had one, he screamed in frustration.
"K! Get the hell back here, I need you!" He entered the combination while he waited and listened to the ensuing chaos from the front of the establishment. Kyle came running back, his feet pounding on the carpet as he rounded the corner panting.
"It takes TWO MORE FUCKING KEYS. Can you crack it? We don't have much longer before someone will show up. I knew that gun was bad fucking news."
"Sure thing, Alex, just step back." Alex backed away as the young fox bent down to go to work, his tools spread before him as he manipulated the lock with his deft finger. Time slowed to a crawl as Alex watched him work, glancing over his shoulder every so often to make sure the situation was under control in the other half of the bank. After what seemed like ages Kyle stood up and shot Alex a grin, spreading his arms with a "Ta-da!".
"Showoff," Alex joked as he opened the vault door and stepped inside. His friend followed, bringing their containers with them. The pair began loading bags with money, working as fast as they could in case someone had reported the gunshots. When all six were filled, they each grabbed three and headed out to the front. Two more people lay in pools of blood on the floor, a triumphant look on Darnell's face as he turned to them.
"Well boys, let's pack up and head out. We're done here." He kicked one of the corpses as they left, cackling madly. As Alex and Kyle loaded up the bags, Jason slipped around back and cut the phone lines. In theory, they'd have a little bit more room to escape by doing so, but it was impossible to know the outcome ahead of time. They all got in the van and Darnell floored the gas pedal, heading back toward their city. Alex glared at him as he drove, rage building up inside him. They'd never taken a life, let alone three, and with a gun that traceable it was only a matter of time before they narrowed it down to who had committed the crimes. Darnell would get life, possibly death, and they'd all be accomplices- not to mention the money missing from the bank vault. His little spree could have gotten them all killed, and yet he was indifferent; hell, he seemed HAPPY he had taken lives. That knowledge disturbed Alex; he wasn't a caring person, except where his sister was involved, but this? The was wanton cruelty. Unadulterated malice, and he had no idea why. Cold-blooded murder was even beyond his emotional capability. He knew that, he knew the others weren't like it either. Were they as worried as him? Were their thoughts as tumultuous?
Four hours of driving, of riding alone with his thoughts, the movement of the van almost soothing, and then they stopped. Darnell had driven them into the lot of what was once a strip mall, though all the shops were long since void of customers. The empty windows made Alex uneasy, for reasons he could not place his finger on. What remained of the man he looked up top hopped out and went around back, a look of determination on his face. Alex hadn't noticed when Darnell had lost of sick sense of pleasure, but he was glad to have missed the transition. From the gun case, the large wolf pulled a second license plate and a screwdriver.
"Hold these," he said, handing the screws to Alex as he removed them. Once he was finished switching the plates, he dropped the other one into the case and climbed back in. The buck followed suit, his eyes never leaving Darnell.
"It had to be done, Alex. Sometimes, in this line of work, there must be casualties. You have to make an impression, you have to send a message- today, ours was 'We hold nothing back. We do not take no for an answer. We are professional's."
"You said that there would be no attacks, that everyone would remain unharmed and that THAT would make us look more professional than just a brutal street gang." Before answering Darnell lit a cigarette with a steady hand, taking a drag and exhaling the smoke slowly through his nose. When he turned to address Alex, it was with an ominous look through a cloud of silver smoke.
"I lied." He turned his attention back to the road, smoking and driving in silence. The long ride back was excruciating, boring and silent while the group wondered just how clean their getaway would be. They drove until three in the morning, their van finally pulling into the auto shop. Darnell lined them up and began to address them, his fatigue showing in his gait. He paced back and forth as he spoke, occasionally lifting his eyes to scan the horizon.
"Alright. This money is going to be hot for a while, so I'm going to hide it. You can all tag along- we're gonna bury it in my old mini fridge out by the junkyard. In a few months, we'll come back for it. Deal?" The boys nodded.
"We never speak of this to anyone. Not a soul. If the police come sniffing, we feign innocence. We cannot crack on this. If one of us goes in, the others go down with him. Understand?" Heads bobbed.
"Good. C'mon, let's get rid of this." He tossed each of the boys a shovel and they got to work, digging a hole deep enough to hide the spoils of their robbery. Alex watched as they piled the dirt up, wondering if the others would be able to hold their tongues. They parted ways then, only to call each other once every few months to check in.
Alex's gang activity dwindled, and he spent his days assisting his sister in caring for the neighborhood children. Nearly a year passed without incident, until there was a knock at his door. Zaphi answered it, balancing a small lion cub on her hip as she laughed and joked with the bigger kids. On her porch were three police offers, armed to the teeth and looking grim.
"Ma'am? Is Alex home?" The young doe nodded, her mirth fading as she faced the severity of the situation.
"Alex... door!" She ushered the children back towards the kitchen and out of the officers' way. Her groggy brother came to the front, yawning and stretching as he moved. When he eyes settled on the uniforms, his heart raced in his chest. Why were they here? Did they know about the robbery? Forcing himself to appear calm, he beamed at the gentleman standing in their foyer.
"What can I do for you, officers?" They shared a glance, and the taller of the pair, a badger, stepped forward.
"We heard you ran around with a group of men for a while, led by one Darnell Dane?" Alex nodded.
"I hate to be the bearer of this news, son, but... we have him in custody. We think- We think he may have shot your friends. There was a struggle down at his family's shop, and... Well. It was messy. I'm so sorry. Would you mind coming down to the station with us? We'd like to ask you a few questions, just to be sure." Alex balked at the wave of emotions crashing over him. The guys had been a part of his life since he was a child; they were his closest friends, and the only people he trusted apart from his sister. His head dropped and he allowed himself to be led to the squad car, silent tears falling down his face. The meager attempts of the police officers to spark a conversation fell on deaf ears- Alex was wrapped in his mind, trying to make sense of it all.
At the station he was let out of the car and led to an interrogation room.
"Where were you last night around nine in the evening, Alex?"
"I was with my sister, Zaphi, and we were watching television with the Jackson's baby girl. They're out of town, and we're taking care of her for a few more days." The officer opposite the buck nodded, looking over a few papers in his hands.
"Had you spoken to any of your friends that night? He shook his head.
"I haven't spoken to them in a few months. We just grew distant." The patronizing look on the cop's face stung Alex, and he couldn't quite place his finger on why. Silence stretched on for what seemed like forever, the buzz of the overhead halogen lamp growing cacophonous in the otherwise complete lack of noise. Only a few minutes had passed, but to Alex it felt like he had been in there for days. Finally the officer rose and moved to the door.
"I'm sorry for your loss, Alex, and you're free to go unless you feel like watching us question Darnell. He keeps shouting about "his due", but he isn't making any sense. We think he may not be all there anymore, but we'd need a psychologist for that..." He trailed off with a sigh and ushered the young man out into the bustling halls. Alex followed the policeman to another interrogation room and slipped in behind the tow-way mirror. In the room before him sat Darnell, his fur matted with dirt and disheveled, a madness burning in his eyes reminiscent of what had been there the day of the robbery so many months ago. He was drooling. Alex went pale, terrified of the man who had once been the one person he aspired to mirror. Nonsense flew from the mouth of the ragged brown wolf, who snarled and spat and howled as he struggled against his handcuffs. There was no doubt about it- anything he said would be cast aside as lies and fiction. There was a hurt in Alex's heart, knowing his friends were gone, but the silver lining lurked in the back of his mind all the same. Somewhere at Dane's Auto was a treasure that would be his for the taking. With a last mournful look at Darnell, Alex grabbed his coat and left the police station behind him.
Once he was out of sight he began to ran, his muscular legs propelling him forward at an alarming rate as he pushed his body to the insane speed he was known for. His breathing was steady though his heart was racing, and in less than half an hour he had arrived. The television in the house was on, and Alex could see Darnell's father inside, weeping into his hands as the screen flashed commercials at him in vain. His pace slowed to a walk as he rounded the bend to where they had buried their stolen money, a shovel sitting not too far away. He grabbed it and began to dig, reciting silent eulogies in his mind as he worked. "I'm sorry, guys, but none of you need this anymore. I didn't think it would come to this, but for what it's worth, thank you." The metal head of the shovel struck durable plastic, and Alex dropped to his knees and began to wipe mud away with his hands. Yes, it was the fridge. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the latch and lifted the lid. Inside were six black bags, all heavy, the weight of the money a welcome feel to his arms. He carefully closed the container and lugged it out of the hole, and planned his speech to his sister. She would never know of the fatal heist, if he choose his words carefully enough, and that was what he endeavored to do as he began carrying the burden home.