The tape, the CCTV tape, black and white and out of focus on the mini TV in the closet-sized office of strip mall security, shows a middle-aged woman talking with her hands to the young sales clerk behind the counter. He looks like she might as well have her hands crushed around his balls. He nervously rolls on his feet. A transaction takes place. She leaves.
This is the story of my childhood. Except I am still a child.
This is the movie of your life. Roll the tape inside your head. Fade to black and white now, except the tape, the mute closed circuit TV tape of one million security cameras, is already black and white. So fade to color. Cue the soundtrack.
This is the story of my life. But for you, my
life lie just started.
Don’t live a lie is so cliché. Try not to live a lie and see what happens. Lost. Forgotten. Truth escapes the physics of economy: it is in sparse supply, and yet it has no value. The middle-aged woman walks from the store on a million CCTV tapes, out a million doors, into a million cars, where a boy waits for her on a million leather bucket seats.
Micha is 47 years old. She’s got a man’s name, so she thinks. But it’s just as well. She has a man’s profession: she’s a thief. Today she slipped into a gated community behind someone and traded in her Astro van for a nice new Lexus. No one looked twice. She’s got a nice beehive, plenty of the gaudy gold that people her age seem to love so much. She looks like she has two boys in college. Oh, wait; she does have two boys in college.
This job she pulled today, for example, is what Micha calls the “soccer mom.” After her morning routine–CNN, a pot of coffee, masturbation, and an hour in front of the mirror with Cover Girl–she decides what to do with her day. Today it was cars, so she called up her first car guy. We’ll call him Vinnie. She has a system, you see. She has a list of about 20 names–just for cars–and she cycles through that list. One phone call is it and she’s on to the next one. If Vinnie hadn’t been home today, it would have been on to the next guy. We’ll call him Joe. Micha never works with women. Women criminals are all bitches. It would inevitably lead to a fight. Fisticuffs. Why when bitches fight it’s called a catfight she’ll never know.
Names are constantly on and off the list. So-and-so goes to jail. Vinnie knows of so-and-so who’s reliable. Micha has a set of questions for any new contact. She can sniff out a rat or a pig in two minutes flat. It’s like when Dr. Drew and Adam ask a bunch of stupid questions when new callers dial Loveline. Yeah, just like that. Dumbasses fall for it every time. So your baseball coach felt you up, huh? What position do you play?
And this is only the cars list. She only does cars about once a week. Vinnie won’t get another call for five months. Hopefully he’s not in jail by then. He’s a pushover. Micha gave him a blowjob once two years ago and he’s been giving her 10% more than anybody else ever since, hoping for some more head. Truth was, Micha was just in the mood and Vinnie looked like he had a pretty small dick.
Micha doesn’t own a car or a house. She lives in motels or rentals and prefers public transportation. Today’s soccer mom was very standard fare. Take the bus to the poor part of town. Try not to look too out of place as the only white person around. Find an apartment building and find the nicest looking minivan in the parking lot. Pull that damn slim jim out from under the back of her blouse–she used to just carry it on the bus but she got sick of the looks people would give her. Pop the door–four seconds. Jump in the van and throw the slim jim on the passenger seat. McDonalds trash on the floor. Slobs. Smells like black people–that combo of dry skin lotion and that shit they put in their hair to keep it from afroing. Micha is the only person in the world who grew up in an all-black neighborhood and became a racist. Scratch that. Micha hates everyone.
Two more tools come out the pocket–her special screwdriver and a hammer. She puts the screwdriver over the ignition and slams it hard with the hammer. She has a special technique of holding the screwdriver through the steering wheel. That way, if she misses the end of the screwdriver, the handle of the hammer hits the steering wheel before the head slams into her thumb. Nine times out of ten, anyway. This time, however, she’s dead on the first time. Her screwdriver drives deep into the steering column. Now the hard part. She gives it a hard turn and only gets some cracking noise out of the steering column. That could be a good thing. She gives it another hard turn and the engine roars to life. She pumps the pedal a couple of times, knowing if the car stalls out she’s all done.
Fuck that crossing wires shit. That’s for the movies.
Some Brazilian music in the tape deck. That’s nice.
Crank the AC. It’s hot. Real hot. Gotta get out of this godforsaken state.
Micha is greatly relieved as she pulls out of the parking lot. The hard part is over. Not that the chances of getting caught are any better–if anyone would call the cops from here, their response time is four times slower than for a call in the white neighborhood. But those poor people will come running out of their place screaming and kicking, sometimes shooting, and Micha hates that. Especially the screaming.
White people stay where they belong. Inside on the phone.
An eight block drive quite literally over the tracks to the gated community. Conveniently someone is pulling in. Micha comes in right behind–she just forgot her gate pass. One time this guy stopped right after going through the gate and the gate closed on Micha’s “rental.” Paranoid old bastard!
Driving around, it’s slim pickings–all the men drove the good cars to work today. Surely there are some self-respecting women in this place that require a proper vehicle when they go to the hairdresser! There’s a BMW three-series. Who the fuck does that old lady think she is?!
Gonna have to pick a winner soon. A Lexus. Has to be the top of the line model. Yes.
Micha pulls into the empty driveway of the next-door neighbor. These places are all the same–the houses are two feet from each other and there are no windows on the sides of them so the neighbor can’t film you screwing your lover at two in the afternoon. Not that you know your neighbor anyway. Just keep talking on the phone. Micha walks across the perfectly manicured lawn to the Lexus next-door. Same routine and in one minute flat she’s pulling out of the driveway. 15 minutes later she’s at Vinnie’s. He’s got that horny glint in his eye. Dumbass.
You see, Micha’s life is not that much different than anyone else’s. An accountant, a filmmaker, an orthopedic surgeon, a Peace Corps volunteer. We all live in the same world, we all live under the same rules. It’s just how we live by them that makes the difference. You speed and get a 150 dollar ticket, and for what?
Micha gets caught and she gets, tops, two years in jail. But she’s not in jail. And she makes five grand a week.
So you see, Micha’s life is no different that yours, except you work all day and she works from two ‘til four in the afternoon. You steal pens and stickynotes from work.
She steals your car.
You steal music off the Internet.
She steals a 500-count box of the new Britney Spears album off the back of the supply truck sitting out back of Sam Goody.
Kenneth Lay paid off the president and defrauded thousands of normal, struggling people out of large chunks of their life savings.
Micha cannot hold a candle to that.
Micha’s son came to visit in January. Perfect time to visit. Not so fucking hot outside all the time. Actually quite pleasant most of the time. Still humid enough for mold to grow in the bleach, though.
He goes to school at some small but prestigious university in New England. Or is it New York? Pennsylvania maybe? Anyway, it’s not that important. What’s important is that for some reason, after six years of hearing nothing–since he left at 16–he came to find out what’s doing.
Honestly, he was just going to wait until he got a call from the police or some lawyer, and he was shocked that he had not received one yet.
His brother was down in New Jersey. While two years his senior, brother had been going to school only part time for years. He had a job selling women’s shoes at JCPenny. He had a foot fetish and chances are, without serious mental health treatment–which his JCPenny health insurance doesn’t cover–he is going to work in shoes for his whole life. Every night he comes home from work, or you could say he home comes from work. The pressure build-up from seeing the shape of female feet all day is enough that he makes it home in half the time it takes for him to drive to work. During the summer months, when women are buying sandals, he has to make a private trip to the bathroom or an empty fitting room during the day. The sight of all those toes is just too much.
Needless to say, he’s got toe much on his mind to worry about his criminal mother down in the swamp.
So good brother decided he needed to make sure she was still alive.
Unfortunately, she was.
When Good Son finally showed up at Micha’s place, the front door was wide open, leaving only the swinging screen to prevent GS from seeing, quite clearly, his mother dancing naked in the living room to Ryan Adam’s “Firecracker.”
“Leeeeet me be your baby tonight.”
No rhythm, no pitch. No idea about the lyrics.
Thank God for that screen door, thought GS as he called out for Micha to get dressed before he had a show of Biblical proportions. She yelped with weird delight.
“Oh! Hee hee! Sorry baby just one sec!” as she disappeared around the corner. “Come in! Come in!” she shouted as she ran into her bedroom and closed the door. The music dimmed as the door came shut, the stereo in the bedroom sounding like a gagged prisoner.
Micha called him “baby” and he hated it. Mothers don’t call their 22-year-old sons “baby.” He had the same opinion as a 16-year-old.
GS stepped into the finished Florida room that made up the entry to this little one bedroom job. Things were strewn around this little section, which was separated from the living room by just a two-foot wall on either side of a half step up. The living room made up most of the house, opening up to the kitchen which opened up and stepped down to a little room in the back that housed just about everything Micha ever needed–tools of the trade, clothes, loot. GS could see big boxes stacked in the corner and decided he did not want to know what was in them. Everything else seemed to be in order. The kitchen was clean. The living room almost empty. The old hardwood floors from 1958 were holding up and recently waxed.
Mother must have taken a day off to tidy up when she found out I was coming.
Off to the side of the kitchen and back room was the bedroom. Even though he couldn’t see it right now, GS knew what was behind that closed door: the sanctuary. The room that never needs tidied up because nothing is ever out of place; the floor that never needs waxed because it is always immaculate; the cathedral ceiling with a huge white lace hanging from the four corners, which both equalized the space and made it seem even brighter and more pure than it was.
My mother the thief and swindler has a bedroom fit for angels.
Out the back of the house was a large backyard long-since reclaimed by nature. Micha said that nature deserved a token place to play. Its own park.
Micha came out of the bedroom dressed in a long, light blue summer dress that instantly made her look 10 years younger. Her big hair was up in a huge ball, little bits sticking out here and there in an intentionally random pattern.
“Hi baby!” she said with a huge smile and arms outstretched for a hug.
GS hadn’t seen his mother for six years, and had spoken to her only once on the phone–and that was two weeks ago.
He was instantly 16 years old again.
Check that. Eight.
Micha’s always had a thing about jewelry.
The way it glitters. The way it makes you look larger than life. The way rich people wear it. The way old rich people wear it. The way it’s like carrying your portfolio around on your body.
I’ve had this GE necklace since 1955. This ring is new–Cisco. I had this Enron bracelet but I lost it at the park a couple of weeks ago. It was terribly expensive. I’ve been quite distraught.
There’s just something about it that calls Micha’s name.
Micha. Micha. Micha.
And so it came about that Micha found out about this job involving some jewelry. “I’ve got an idea, baby. A proposition. An opportunity.”
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
Uh-uh. Nuh-uh. No. Nope. No Way.
Because you see, GS is more than just the good son. He’s the Good Citizen.
He pays his rent on the last day of the month before it’s due. He tips 20%. He goes to the porn shop with tall bushes around the parking lot so that people he doesn’t know can’t perchance see his car in the parking lot.
Because he’s the GC.
And no GC would get involved with a jewel heist. “Here’s the deal.”
Micha paused before she continued, as if she was thinking something. Seeing her son there, for the first time in six years, she felt like a mother again. Almost nostalgic. Soft. The warm fuzzies were washing over her like the slowest, longest orgasm ever. She could just start jittering around in the aisles like those revival folks in Brownsville. Holy orgasm.
“Can I tell you a story? Like in the old days? You remember that, how I used to tell you stories when you were a kid?”
GS did not have time or capacity to respond.
No. Not happening. This is not happening.
“There once was this store. A ‘mom and pop’ store, as we used to say. It was owned by this nice old couple. This nice old Jewish couple, not that that means anything.
“And there was this young guy who worked at this store. He worked hard for these people, and they showed him no respect. They were nice to everyone but their only employee. They could respect everyone but the one person they were with all day. All day, they jabbed and nagged him.
“They probably knew that he was an addict.
“And this addict had a friend.
“Less a friend than a mother to a fetus.
“And I happen to know that ‘mother.’” She said moth-er slower and made the quotation marks in the air with her fingers. “His name is John. I call him Johnny. Funny, eh?”
Mother always said, You have to learn how to treat men so they don’t try to screw you. Literally.
“Addict Boy was having his umbilical cord pinched. So AB told Johnny some stuff about the jewelry store. Some important stuff.”
No. This is not happen–
“I’ve already got all the ducks in a row. I’ve never done anything this big before, and it requires two people. I’ve never worked with anyone before. But this one is definitely worth it and definitely worth the risk. There is hardly any risk. You know that is my way. I never take risks. That’s why I’m still alive and free. You probly thought that I’d be in jail by now, didn’t you?
“Well I’m too smart for that. Your mom is too smart for that. And you’re a product of me! That’s why you’re so smart!” Micha’s voice reached new heights, a little squeak entering the end of her words like she was a real mother with real children doing real things like scoring a goal at soccer practice or winning second prize at the science fair. Like this was real life.
“…[blah blah blah]…”
This isn’t real life.
“So in the back of this place is a safe where they put their entire stash of jewels every night.
“Not a new safe. This ancient, rickety thing.
“Definite crowbar potential.
“There’s a alley behind the place and a never-used parking lot around two corners from there.
“Mom, can’t we talk about something normal? For once? Let’s talk about my school, or the weather, or what you had for breakfast for Christ’s sake?!…”
“Oh. Right. Ok! Great!”
“…[blah blah blah]…”
“So then my professor says…”
No. This isn’t happening.
I’m telling the one person I never talk to this stuff?
And she’s not listening to a word.
In fact, Micha seemed to be quite preoccupied by the status of their waitress. Or was it what was on all those TV screens? Or was it the ugly white trash standing in either corner of this joint?
Micha and GS had gone out to continue their discussion over some food. A GS idea. Change of topic, change of environ.
No problem. She knew a place.
He had wondered, though, if his mother had even known where they were going as they walked the short distance to the nearest bus stop. Ever since they left her rental she’d seemed preoccupied and distant.
Six years apart might explain that.
There were a couple false alarms before she finally decided to get off the bus, however once on foot she led GS down around a couple corners until with great conviction she walked into this establishment. A typical bar. GS had been pealing his forearms from the surfaces of the sticky, wooden booth they occupied for the duration of lunch. His tuna fish was definitely made yesterday and the bread bought last week. He managed to choke it down with his Bud. He hated Bud but mother had ordered them both “longnecks” before he had a chance to stop her. The plastic bottles were the final connoisseur’s touch. The only glass in this place was in the windows.
Despite much attempted-coaxing from Micha, GS had decided against dessert, and the waitress said “I’ll be right back with your check then.” This is when mother had started to get a little more anxious and observant of the room.
Good Son was into a discourse about some unusually interesting or entertaining aspect of his education. What do over-aged pre-law undergraduates study again? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’m sure the mother you haven’t seen in six years is fascinated by your stone buildings. Dead Poet’s Society sans Robin Williams, insert David Spade.
GNS. Good Naïve Son.
All he’s thinking is I can’t believe I’m here with my inattentive criminal mother while toe-boy is in some JC Penny dressing room.
mae stEr be shEn The excitation of one’s own or another’s genital organs to cause orgasm, esp. by manual stimulation. Sometimes while sniffing women’s shoes
So it was about this time that Micha turned back towards GS and gave him a furtive look.
fuhr tihv Accomplished with or characterized by stealth; surreptitious; sly, sneaky, stealthy, undercover, clandestine, under-the-table, secretive, backdoor Seemingly underhanded; shifty, deceitful, scheming, devious
Micha grabbed GS by the wrist, firm, her thin fingers making it about two thirds of the way around GS’s small bones, and said, “Let’s go.”
No. No. This isn’t happening.
GS gave a very nervous look towards the kitchen and bussing station but obeyed his mother. The two of them made it out the door and around the corner within a quarter minute.
GS did not need his customary post-lunch coffee anymore.
E dreh nE lin The hormone secreted by the adrenal glands; epinephrine.
Micha dismissed GS’s loud and desperate pleas to be allowed to return and pay for the meal like a Good Citizen.
Mouth: “It’s just one lunch. Come on! It’s no big deal.” Mind: “It’s just one lunch. Come on! It’s no big deal.” Subconscious: “Test number one: Passed.”
Dine and fuckin’ dash.
No. This isn’t happening.
100 W. Ocean Breeze Ave.
Micha and GS stood there behind some Ficus bushes.
Micha convinced GS of the need for a little outing. They again boarded the bus, changing buses at the main terminal downtown, getting on a very sparsely populated bus, which headed towards the ocean.
Micha explained, gracefully:
“There’s this bus stop at the end of this really rich street. It stops at an inlet, so it must be for people who want to fish. Only thing is this is a super plush neighborhood–there are no trespassing signs left, right and center. But this bus stops at the end, and on this street is something I want to show you.”
I own a 14 million dollar house but I take the bus.
So this bus makes its way down this street and stops at the end. Micha and GS disembark and make their way to the Ficus tree wall surrounding the nearest mansion.
The way the Ficus protect these particular mansion-owners, it is not quite complete. While they tower 30-some feet above the road, blocking any direct view from the street, at the corner of the property–which is not that big, considering the size of the dwelling built on it–there is a gap from which one could, if standing right there, see the entirety of the estate.
So Micha has GS stand right there.
“Check out this gooch!” Micha exclaims, making up her own word.
gooch Short for Gucci
Goo chee The world’s perfect, most exotically beautiful and alluring brand
The palace was indeed gucc. Check that. Gaud. There was a stone driveway that matched the stone that made up the façade of the home, although whether or not that façade was real stone or just the fake kind make out of Styrofoam was unclear from such distance. There was a black Rolls and a red Caddie SUV in the drive.
Suddenly, Micha, says, “Hey! Check this out!” and points straight back along the edge of the property. Coming from the same side of the property that they stood on, but the far corner, was a man.
Ok. He was Jewish. A Jewish man.
Gefiltefish and all that.
He looked like the Jewish guy from the Sopranos, but shorter and fatter.
And in his fat left hand, a hand so big and brawny that one could notice such features at such a distance, he held something out in front of him like a prize. There it was–plain and clear as the weather on this sunny morning in January. In the grasp of that hairy Jew’s big freaking paws–oh and now we realize the sick, sick Freudian just committed–was a dog. Presumably dead, by the way it just hung there in front of him. Last time I checked a dog wouldn’t let someone carry them around by the tail without some argument. Please, no Marmaduke letters.
George from St. Paul, MN, writes, “Our little schnauzer loves to be carried around by the tail….”
“Come on,” Micha commanded as she started to sneak down the side of the neighbor’s property. The neighbors did not have a Ficus barrier around the perimeter of their property.
Must not be carrying around dead dogs like this guy.
This bushy barrier, which was intended to give so much privacy, in fact made it easier for the spying pair to look in on the house and the man without drawing attention to themselves. Micha and GS made their way down along the Ficus and crouched down together directly across from Jewish Dog Guy’s backyard area. Micha carefully parted some of the branches so that they could peer through and figure out what the hell he was doing.
Sure enough, he was carrying around a dog by its tail. And the dog was most definitely dead. Stiff already. However it died, it was fast–the legs were still sticking straight out like it was walking. It was a Pomeranian.
The unfortunate thing’s hair just hung straight down as JDG walked over to what amounted to a huge gap between his house and a raised deck and pool. His entire backyard was actually a complex arrangement of embankments. Even though the original lot, indeed the entire state, was flat, this gentleman had both raised a portion of his backyard for the still-higher pool deck, which on the house side was connected via a raised walkway and at the back of the property came up almost right above the sea wall, against which a huge canal lazily lapped its water. The canal was so wide that the homes on the other side looked quite small and distant indeed, although to be on this canal they were surely huge mansions like this one. The rest of the backyard dipped dramatically down into this foxhole of a gap between the house and the pool deck. It was down this short but steep slope that JDG was walking down with the dead Pomeranian.
And it was at this time that GS saw that there were more.
There were a series of hooks coming out of the side wall of the foxhole, and on several of these hooks hung dogs. All with the same stiff, ghostly way about them. Just hanging there, tied to hooks coming out the side of this guy’s personal little foxhole. There was a Beagle, a Bichon Frise, a Jack Russell Terrier and a couple of mutts.
It’s a long story, but GS used to work at a kennel.
A Beagle, a Bichon Frise, a Jack Russell Terrier and a couple of mutts. Just hanging there.
It was just as GS started to realize what exactly was going on here–that JDG was really JD Killing G–when he could hear that JDKG was playing some music over his outdoor stereo system. The wind brought the sound over to the Ficus–Bebel Gilberto. The sick combination made GS nauseous. Literally.
He loved Bebel Gilberto.
He swallowed an acrid wad of gut juice that had autonomically made its way into his mouth.
It was just then that his mother, crouched down just behind his left shoulder, goes, “Pretty sick, huh?”
GS was speechless.
“This guy gets off hunting dogs!”
She knew all along what they were going to see. “Crazy little fuuuuuuuck…”
Micha’s voice changed dramatically from jolly to sheepish as GS began to shoot her a very dirty look. The look did not even extend to her–he just started to turn his head, and her voice trailed off like a daughter who had just direly interrupted her father’s home improvement project.
Turns out this guy makes quite a sport of hunting upper-class dogs. He scopes out a neighbor for days, maybe weeks, before finding the perfect time to go get the dog without getting caught. He has a special serum he brews up in his home chem lab. When it comes time to nab a dog, he loads up a hypodermic and grabs a couple doggie bones. He lures the dog to the edge of its yard with some high talk and the bones, and when it’s close enough, gets it in the neck with the hypodermic full of the super doggie-death concoction. Then he just sneaks back to his little foxhole.
This couldn’t happen in any other neighborhood. In other neighborhoods, people at least vaguely know each other. They pass each other on their way to work in the morning or while mowing the lawn on the weekend. Word would get around the neighborhood dog community and the surviving dogs would start to give Dog Killing Guy a hard time every time they passed by.
But this isn’t just any other neighborhood. This is a neighborhood where the minimum net worth is 100 million. People don’t go outside except in their tinted Benz or Rolls. People don’t see their neighbors. They don’t go for walks but on their treadmills in their exercise rooms with their own AC units, before chillin’ for a bit in their own personal sauna. They sure as fuck don’t mow the lawn.
They don’t even look out their windows at their beautiful view of the water and their perfectly maintained-by-illegal-aliens landscaping.
And so DKG is free to do his thing.
He’s just lucky some Old Rich Ladies still let their toy dogs out into the yard to take a dump every now and again.
He’s just lucky some ORL’s don’t have private rooms for their Pomeranians, complete with a doggie entertainment system, exercise course, and a little piece of Astroturf for them to shit upon.
Some of them do.
But because DKG is lucky, in that even in his neighborhood there are still some dogs that manage to get outside once and a while, he is able to go about his nasty business; and Micha and GS are able to stand outside of his Ficus barrier, peering in on his sick enterprise.
That and because Micha also just happened to be scoping out his place for a while. That and because DKG just happened to be the owner of the jewelry shop that Micha wanted to rob.
“So see? This guy is a real asshole! He deserves to be scored.”
Good Son’s mother had never even used the word score before, certainly not in the form of a future progressive verb.
Micha doesn’t even know what a future progressive verb is.
Micha and GS are back at her rental. GS sits on the small couch tucked up behind the small dividing wall between the front room and the main room. Micha dashes back and forth between the bedroom, off to the right, and the kitchen, directly in front. It’s a small enough house that two people could have a conversation from the far two corners if they wanted to. Hollow enough for it, too.
Micha is trying to appear busy doing whatever it is she’s doing in the bedroom and the kitchen. Making tea and making her face as the case may be. Some mild music plays on the stereo, which is stacked up on the floor next to the bedroom door.
GS is lounging, laying almost all the way back, one leg propped on the other’s knee, a nearly empty glass on his ankle. He’s wearing odd, rust-orange socks that don’t clash or really go with his dark blue jeans. In the glass are three last sips of some mystery liquid, along with the remnants of three ice cubes, their lives almost spent, their yellowish, chlorinated selves slowly integrating with the drink. Like pacific islands as you fly overhead, their clear-water reefs looking like green ooze, disappearing into the sea.
Not that anyone here has ever been to the Pacific. We’ve seen some movies, though.
That sushi one with Tom Hanks.
Which reminds GS of one time Ethan Hawk was on the Regis and Kathy show, before Kathy left, and he quoted Tom Hanks as saying, “You can only eat so well.”
Micha finishes seeping her tea–I’m sorry, infusing–
No. What the hell are we talking about. Brewing.
and comes over and parks it on the floor right in front of GS. She’s looking less mawvelous and more mother. Her tan, slightly wrinkled face is suddenly not so from vanity, it’s from taking the kids to the beach for a lifetime. Her eyes communicate caring not greed.
It’s a moment.
“So the safe.”
“It’s this ancient job. One lock bar through half-inch steel right at the lock, and we’re talking 40-year-old steel here.”
This is not happening.
“Brute force with some simple mechanics. It’s always worked for me. We grab the keys from pissed-off employee boy with some promise of a percentage of our score, which we will renegotiate after we actually get the goods, and we’re in and out of there in minutes. It’s flawless. I’ve mentioned that haven’t I?”
No No No.
That drink? I think there was a little scotch in there. Around the chlorine ice.
Meanwhile toe jam is doing what he loves.
That night, as GS fell asleep curled up on that old couch, he fantasized about going back to DKG’s place with a machete.
As he slipped from consciousness, the fantasy turned into a dream.
GS sneaks back and waits for DKG to disappear into the house one weekend day when he’s out doing his sick habit. GS runs from his cover into the foxhole beside DKG’s house. None of the dogs are hanging there, but there is a secret door in the side of the foxhole that is slightly ajar. GS pulls the door open and peers inside, revealing a room full of taxidermied dogs. There’s even a fresh one on a table in the middle of the room. Filled with rage, GS takes his machete and starts hacking anything nearby–the dead dogs, the table, and the taxidermy equipment. About that time, DKG shows up at the door and yells something. You know how dreams are. People talk without talking, things happen randomly, events change like the wind. This was a case of the foremost. GS turns, just like in a movie, and swings the machete at DKG. It gets DKG right across the chest and a red line begins to grow on his white button-up shirt.
Suddenly DKG and GS aren’t in DKG’s taxidermy room anymore, they’re in Micha’s rental.
You know how dreams are. People talk without talking, things happen randomly, events change like the wind. Well this was a case of the latter.
Both DKG and GS realize they’ve suddenly changed locals and look around, confused.
This is about the time GS wakes up.
And yes, he’s actually in Micha’s rental.
Just no machete.
…No Jewish Dog Killing Guy either, just in case you were wondering.
Stay with me.
The next morning, even though he had slept in, GS was still up and around the house before Micha had appeared from her bedroom. He had a slight hangover.
From one scotch?
Some neck stretches and some fresh coffee got the crinks out, and he settled back on the couch with a good read.
Eventually, after her morning routine, Micha came out of her room, radiant and alive as ever. She was practically skipping around the kitchen as she made herself a cup and tried to mumble some small talk GS’s way.
Morning people. Good grief.
“So today we have to go see Tony.”
Vinnie? Tony? This is starting to sound like a bad HBO original series.
“He’s my contact for how we’re going to unload these jewels after we lift them.”
“Whuut?” GS mumbled back.
Micha quickly realized that GS hadn’t really been listening but with one ear, and rethought her approach.
“We’re going to go visit a friend of mine who lives on the canal.”
“He’s got this beautiful place overlooking the water, and it’s a one block walk to the beach.”
Cool. This time GS thought it. He’d been down here almost three whole days and hadn’t yet even laid eyes on the ocean, except for the approach into the airport. And even then he did not get a real good look because he was in the middle seat and some extra-old-smelling old person was in the window seat. To see at all he had to practically stick his face in her fragile perm. Any exposure longer than two seconds caused him to get light headed.
So the ocean would be good.
When they get off the bus they’re right next to the canal, this huge waterway littered with boats and spanned by numerous drawbridges. All along the canal are either multi-million-dollar homes or old condo buildings. Not hi-rises per say, but enough to block your view.
At any rate, GS can tell immediately that this neighborhood is more condo and less multi-million-dollar home. He would have expected such. Criminals aren’t exactly rich.
This isn’t the movies.
Micha leads the way down the small hill built up for the drawbridge and around a small sidewalk to the front of the building. It’s this tan and brown job that looks like it was built in the 60’s. She buzzes Tony and his voice crackles over the intercom.
Welcome to Taco Bell. Would you like to try our new Club Chalupa?
Charlie Brown’s teacher.
The McDonald’s commercial from when he was in elementary school with the mentally handicapped employee at the counter. Who can’t imitate a retarded person, really? Hi an welcum toe MacDonald’s, hoe may I elp ooo?
“Let us in!” Micha shrieks in response to Tony’s indistinguishable greeting. She’s all bent over, shouting into the intercom while holding down that little white button that they make dimpled just so; just so it’ll hold more dirt from people’s fingers.
The door buzzes and they enter. They climb the stairs–five flights–Micha says because it’s nice out and the stairs are open air. GS can’t believe she thinks he’s forgotten that she hates elevators.
And the elevators at condo buildings like this one always stink the most.
in kon te nent Not having control over urination and defecation
Not a bad choice after all.
They make it to Tony’s floor and Micha raps three times on his door. He invites them in with a wide swoop of his arm.
He looks like a Tony.
Unless the first Tony that pops into your head is Tony Danza.
He obviously shares Micha’s penchant for jewelry. He’s got enough gaudy gold all over his body to fund a mob payoff. GS tries not to think that this just may be the fact of the matter.
A little bit more small talk.
He leads them from the doorway into the kitchen. It’s laid out strangely, with a kitchen and a very small dining room in behind the entry/living area, and off said kitchen/dining is the tiny screened balcony/porch, overlooking the canal. Micha hits the liquor cabinet and Tony shows GS out to the patio to the sound of ice hitting the bottom of future glasses of scotch.
The patio is this ancient thing of concrete and wire mesh, all of it painted white. GS thinks for a second about what is possibly holding this little slab up, but decides thinking too much about that isn’t a good idea. Both men go right to the mesh and look out over the canal five-some stories below.
One solitary boat was making its way down the canal, south towards the drawbridge, but it was plenty small enough to get under the bridge without any draw. Tony, to GS’s left, gives him an elbow in the arm and hands him a pair of binoculars. GS gives him the one-eyebrow-raised look of inquisition, but autonomically accepts the offering.
Tony says, “Check out the piece on that boat.”
Still unsure of what’s really going on, GS puts the binoculars up to his eyes and peers down at the boat. The binoculars are already perfectly focused, and as GS brings them up to the little boat motoring down the canal, there is a not-unattractive-but-not-really-attractive woman laying on the bow the boat. She’s very tan, wearing just a small bikini, and looks like she’s all greased up and ready to come shooting out of the circus cannon.
If you know what I mean.
Long story short, turns out Tony has quite a system going here.
“Stuff like that is just floatin’ by all the time. On the weekends or during season, it’s just one after another, sometimes five, ten of them at a time.”
And Tony just kneels down on his concrete patio, sometimes he uses a little cushion from the couch, next to his good friend Lubriderm, next to his other good friend Kleenex, and watches–through his high quality binoculars–the girls in their G-strings float by.
Address Congress, Audition the Finger Puppets, Beat the Bald-headed Bandit, Blow the Load, Be Your Own Best Friend, Box the Jesuit, Burp the Baby, Clean your Rifle, Bang the Banjo, Bang yer Wanger, Bash the Bishop, Choke your Chicken, Fire your Wad, Flog the Dolphin, Flog the Log, Frig Off, Gallop the Antelope, Jerk the Gherkin, Keep Down the Census, Make a Milk Shake, Nightclub, Paddle the Pickle, Play Pocket Pool, Play Solitaire, Pull your Wire, Shake Hands with the Wife’s Best Friend, Spank the Bishop, Spank the Monkey, Wave the Wand, Whack Off.
In fact, the paraphernalia is still right there, on the porch, not far from where GS is standing.
In fact, GS must be standing in the exact same spot that
In fact, GS is still holding the binoculars.
In fact, GS is wondering if Tony ever has to switch hands.
No, This Is Definitely Not Happening.
And yet, it is. You’re still holding those binoculars. You’re still frozen in the thought that you are treading on a man’s very personal business. A business, which he just, gave you the tour of. Proudly.
“Here you go.”
GS quickly unloads–no, wait, what are we saying–
hands–no, shit, there is really no good way to say this–
the binoculars back to Tony and jumps back into the apartment. That glass of scotch would be good about now.
On second thought, somebody had to have unloaded–shit!–
“Mom, where’s that bottle?”
So the guy’s a wanker. Aren’t we all wankers in some respect or another? It’s just a question of what we wank and what we produce from said wanking.
As Micha and GS walked to the beach from Tony’s place, Micha let GS know the plans she and Tony had made for the distribution of their take from the jewelry store.
“There’s another store nearby, run by this guy, Ben Cohen. He’s going to be there, in the back, late, waiting for us. He’s going to give us a lump sum for the entire take. Tony said it will take him all of five minutes to appraise it.
“That’s it. We’ll be done when we leave his place. He’ll give Tony his share and take care of distributing the goods, which is how he’ll make his cut–I don’t even want to know how sickenly much that is going to be, but that’s the way these things go.”
The rich get richer and the poor keep stealing.
So with that they arrived at the beach and spent midday sunbathing, letting the salt-filled air strike their face, taking occasional dips in the ocean to cool off. They had a little lunch and a couple of margaritas at a boardwalk café.
By the time they left they both had that pleasant exhaustion from a day at the beach. By then it was the height of the afternoon, and the heat, even at this time of the year, was oppressive.
When they got on the bus, GS assumed they were headed straight home, but Micha had another plan.
“I have something I want to do,” she said as they walked down the aisle and climbed into their seats.
They change buses a couple of times, but before they finally disembark, GS can see where they’ve arrived: DKG’s neighborhood. Micha leads GS to the corner of DKG’s yard, at which point, out of her huge beach bag, she pulls out a large blade.
mah she tE A large heavy knife used for cutting sugarcane and underbrush and as a weapon
dA zha vu The illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time; a feeling that one has seen or heard something before Something overly or unpleasantly familiar
Still in a dazed shock, GS is led by Micha to the same spot where they spied on DKG the day prior. Nothing is there this time. Either all of yesterday was a dream, or the dream GS remembers was accurate in that DKG cleans up after his weekend forays. Micha starts to run across DKG’s yard, towards the foxhole, and before GS can reach out for her and yell his concerns, she’s halfway across the yard and he’s forced after her.
Micha ducks under the walkway overhead of the foxhole and GS isn’t far behind her. Micha’s confidence seems to fade as she looks around for signs of the aforewitnessed serial dog murders.
At this point, GS grabs the machete out of Micha’s hand and goes right for the door. He knows exactly where to look for it. He gives it a side kick in the area of the handle and is amazed when the door jam easily caves in under the weight of his blow and the door swings wide open. What he sees inside is no surprise.
frE kish Markedly strange or abnormal
The dogs, frozen forever in their stiff bliss, staring dead–
ahead, their eyes, head, tail, never to turn again, are lined up along the walls of the room, one after another.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been that pissed before.
GS goes into a screaming–literally–rage, and begins hacking at the nearest mutt, which now just resembles a very hard stuffed animal.
Well, it is a stuffed animal.
Micha sort of shrieks in delight, but also has an honest fear in her voice.
“Baby, be quiet!”
The machete, despite being a, well, machete, isn’t making much progress on the stiff mutt. Despite repeated strikes with his weapon, GS has only succeeded in the annihilation of some black hair and a little bit of the foam now making up the internals of the dog.
Micha steps forward a little bit, towards GS, holding out her hand in The Universal Symbol For “Hold on.”
GS swings the machete around in the direction of his mother, blinded by his rage and unaware of his surroundings, lost in his prophetic dream of the night prior, about to cut the shit out of DKG.
Except it’s Micha.
The machete comes up short, and GS’s face shows a very strange combination of rage and confusion.
The Universal Symbol For “I am crazy.”
Micha can only manage an “Oh, shiiit…”
GS drops, no, throws, the machete down, and it clangs loudly on the floor. Micha’s first instinct is to pick it up, evidence and all, but then she realizes that DKG isn’t going to call the cops about the break in at his little evil lair.
How do you explain twenty taxidermied dogs?
Besides, you know those neighbors registered their lost dogs with the police.
It’s a small town after all. A small town of loony millionaires, at that.
GS says “Let’s go” and heads for the door, but Micha hesitates, her spirits back in full effect. Affect? Effect? Yes.
“Hang on, baby!”
She spies a lighter on the worktable in the middle of the room, and grabs it along with a small tin of some clearish mystery liquid. She heads to the back and quickly pulls one of the dogs off the rack. She pours the liquid over the dog haphazardly and flicks the lighter to life. She drops the lighter on the wet part of the dog.
ig nIt To catch fire To begin to glow
In taxidermy, the skin and hair of the animal are dried and preserved using particular chemicals. Then the skin is applied to a mold of the animal created, sculpted, really, out of hard foam, epoxy, clay, or some other such substance. It is glued on using strong adhesives specially made to allow the taxidermist to initially move the skin around, perfectly positioning it on the model, but afterward it hardens and fuses with both the skin and the mold, creating the lifelike end result.
When burned, these chemicals, the epoxy, the foam, and the carbon of the preserved skin and hair combine to create a black smoke that, just for comparisons’ sake, makes the plastic you threw in the fire as a kid smell like cherry wood.
So basically, GS doesn’t need any more reasons to convince Micha to get out of that little room full of nasty, toxic smoke.
However, on their way out the door, Micha grabs two more small tins from the table and quickly overhands one, then the other, toward the smoldering German Shepard on the ground.
The first canister lands a few feet from the burning dog and spills its contents harmlessly on the ground. The second, from Micha’s left hand, looks like it’s almost not even going to make it across the room. It’s a lame duck, which wobbles, in a sideways direction, across the room.
- In reality, though, it ends up landing surprisingly close to the dog, although just a hair farther away than the first. In fact, there were two facts in this little can’s favor:
- Its manner of flying through the air, and thus landing on the ground, was such that it landed on its edge with great force–as opposed to evenly on one side or the other, top or bottom, entirely. It still had its lid on, a lid that violently ejected itself from the can upon impact, thanks to aforementioned fact number one.
Along with the rest of the contents.
The highly flammable contents.
Which flew in an amazing and beautiful arc over the burning dog and lit up in a brilliant sword of flame no less than six feet tall and three feet wide.
The heat from this explosion was enough to light the up-until-now dormant chemicals from the first can, which had covered about eight square feet on the floor for the few seconds it was dormant.
Now it was a burning fishpond from hell.
The warm pool. The very, very warm pool.
The initial sword of flame came to rest on about three dogs altogether, immediately transforming them into black burning balls of sickening smoke. Above the pool of flames on the ground were another three dogs, which were a little more slowly, paws and legs first, doing the same. The flames also were making their way up the back wall and onto the ceiling in a very rapid manner. They were in fact licking right across the ceiling, coming across the room like a hand of red, yellow, and orange.
But by this time GS and Micha were out the door and around the corner.
“I just figured he needed to be punished.”
Micha broke the long silence back at the house.
There hadn’t been a word the whole trip home.
She and GS escaped around the other side of the house, to the edge of a connecting canal, which they made their way down, walking on top of the seawall, until they were a few blocks away. Behind them night-black clouds of smoke were rising up from behind DKG’s palace. His sick den of serial animal murder was definitely gone already, and the Broyhill in the living room was going to stink like it’d been at a huge fucking campfire.
Well, it had been, really.
By the time they started towards the nearest bus station they could hear the fire engine sirens approaching. A bus came soon enough and ended up going the other direction; there were some passengers who had just witnessed the fire and there was some buzz going around about it, but otherwise it was a normal bus ride back home.
“Plus this way he’s got some insurance money coming to him.
“Will make the whole store thing go over better.
“He will want a new house anyway.
“Maybe an entire new start.
“Really, I’m saving him. Saving him from his pathetic existence of greed and murder.”
My mom, Jesus Christ with a vagina.
“Plus he’s going to be worried about that whole thing and not worrying about his shop or stopping by there at inconvenient times. Quite convenient for us.”
After a short afternoon respite back at the house, Micha began rapidly packing up the contents of her rental. GS was in a daze on the couch, for the most part in his own world, however at one point he did read a small piece in the Arts & Leisure section of the paper about some play about a play where the cast are killed every night. Finally, late in the afternoon/early in the evening, he took notice of what his mom was doing–namely moving quickly all over the house throwing things into large open boxes she had staged throughout.
And he asked himself, whatthefuckisshedoing?
- No clue.
- Getting ready to get out of Dodge.
- Following a plan.
- A plan GS had no idea was even in existence.
- A plan he had no idea he had been a part of since day one.
So he asked himself, “What is she doing?” and fell back into his dazed little world on the couch. He managed to pull on his socks and shoes at some point, immediately after which Micha announced that it was time to go.
Micha led GS down the street with a bravado he had never before experienced. He was compelled to follow, but even so her quick pace kept her four feet ahead as they made their way down the street to the main connecting road. Normally, they would have made a left to go down to the bus stop, but this time Micha walked right across the four-lane “highway” (as they called it–even though it clearly was not) and into the parking lot of a small, old strip mall across the street. She had it going on, from the summer dress to the beehive to the gold all over her wrists, neck, and ears to the oversized purse/beach bag under her arm.
Before GS even had a chance to make it across the road, Micha had her slim jim out from under her dress and jammed between the window and door of a nondescript navy blue sedan in the remotest part of the parking lot. The door was open before he got up to the car. The engine was roaring to life as he got into the passenger seat. They were pulling out of the parking lot before he even managed his first words.
“What the fuck are we doing?”
- No Clue.
- Obtaining transportation
- Going on a little spree
- Following a plan
Micha was totally stoic, unusually silent, her usually comic, light, beautiful manner replaced by a serious, dark, and equally beautiful one. GS’s face became a picture of contorted confusion and terror. One would think you were forcing him to perform some meaningless task over and over. One would think he was stuck at some major mind fuck of a job. Bending over to worship at the feet of the Gods he was forced prostrate in front of. But no. Here he was, forced into this terrible excitement by a mother that had abandoned him–or had he abandoned her?–six years ago, and now acted like it was last week and all was forgiven. Here he was, in a stolen car going over the speed limit through a small town with a large police force, on a hot evening with the windows down and the hair-dryer air coming in full force over his sopping wet pits.
This was definitely not happening.
No. No. No.
There was going to be no good ending. Everything was not going to be fine. His mother was doing to drive him, quite literally, over the edge, into the bright light at the end of the tunnel which was actually an Amtrak train coming at them full speed, into the arms of the law, a law that would never let them go and certainly not allow him to take the bar exam ever in his life, yet alone dream of passing it and working in a courtroom as Matlock’s noble assistant, screwing the secretary and living happily ever after.
This wasn’t the movies. This wasn’t even TV.
Well, sort of not.
This was real life.
Well, sort of.
This was it.
This was definitely the end.
It was at least really not good.
They drove an alarmingly short distance before stopping, pulling over in an alarmingly populated portion of said small town with large police department. In fact, right in front of the jewelry store Micha had scoped. Planned. Arranged might be the best word for it. She left the car on, parked the wrong way I might add.
Me still in it.
And got out. She walked up to the door, swung it open, popped her head in, and said something.
Something I couldn’t hear from where I was sitting.
“Hey, don’t worry about the key, just leave the back door open when you leave.”
“What are you doing here?!” came the agitated response from the only person she could have been talking to, the only person in the shop, a young guy with black wavy hair and clothes definitely not befitting a jewelry store clerk. “There are cameras right on you! All over!”
“That doesn’t matter,” Micha said and proceeded to enter the store, running her hand across the top of the display case, looking longingly at the content stored within. When she got to where the man was standing, dumbfounded, she leaned over, her elbows now on the case, and asked very plainly, “Can you show me this one?” She pointed to a bracelet in the display case below her.
The tape, the CCTV tape, black and white and out of focus on the mini TV in the closet-sized office of strip mall security, shows Micha talking with her hands to the young sales clerk behind the counter. He looks like she might as well have her hands crushed around his balls.
“Sure,” came the hesitant and worried response.
“Don’t worry. There’s no audio. It’s just a super-eight. I’m here shopping. Now just leave the back door open tonight.”
“But there are three locks.”
“So leave them open.”
“Now sell this to me for three bucks,” Micha says, pointing to the silver now on her wrist along with the mass of gold.
“That’s a three hundred dollar bracelet. I can’t do that. You’re on camera.”
“I’m going to hand you three bills. Ones. Hundreds. It doesn’t make any difference. I am going to remove them from the safe tonight anyway. Just write in your little ledger book at the end of the day that I gave you three hundreds. Ok?”
A cop car slowly drives by outside, inches from GS’s elbow sticking out the window of the stolen car.
GS can only keep from throwing up by remembering that that would definitely draw the attention of those cops.
The police hate drunks.
Micha walks from the store on a million CCTV tapes, out a million doors, into a million cars, where GS waits for her on a million leather bucket seats. New purchase on her body, the police cruiser is still not even getting smaller in the distance. She starts the car and pulls out into the road.
The sun is that annoyingly dim but bright way it gets right before it dips below the horizon. If you’re facing away from it, it’s dark. If you’re facing towards it, it’s blinding. Micha makes a left down a side street and GS is blinded.
A couple more blocks down and Micha pulls a quick right into a small dirt parking lot/driveway. There is a ragged and out-of-place tree climbing sideways across an old building that is one story in the back and two in the front. The tree half-obscures a car port that Micha practically flies into. The branches first scare, then scrape GS, right across the arm, leaving a good-sized gash across his forearm. Micha stops the car on a dime–albeit a dirt dime–and GS practically flies into the dash, having to awkwardly hold out his other elbow–the one that’s not bleeding–to keep him from sprawling out all over the passenger-side leg-area. Or whatever you call that part of the car. The floor.
Micha and GS both climb out of the car, GS having to negotiate the killer tree to make it out of the car port, and they meet behind the car in the cloud of dust left by Micha’s Dukes of Hazard move. GS is holding his bleeding arm with the fall-breaking arm.
“Oh, goodness, Johnny! What are we going to do with you? We are going to have to do something about that!”
Didn’t she mean “baby?”
Micha proceeds to pull a screwdriver out of her little sundress pocket and hold it up like it was of some importance.
She meant she was going to stab me?
Micha proceeds to crouch down behind the sedan and remove it’s license plate with the screwdriver.
Micha proceeds to throw the license plate to the back of the carport, where it lands out of sight in front of the car.
Micha proceeds to lead GS, quite literally by the arm, down the alley, around to the main street, and into an ice-cream parlor. But not the latter before getting the cast away tree leaves out from under GS’s sleeve.
Apparently, this ice-cream parlor has a carport.
“My boy fell and cut himself just outside here, do you mind if we use your bathroom real quick?”
Of course they don’t mind.
“Of course we don’t mind. Help yourself. It’s right there around the corner. Here. Take some napkins.”
Micha proceeds to stick GS’s bloody arm under the faucet and runs cool water over it for a few minutes, lightly rubbing the cut with her fingers every so often. Then she pulls his arm out from the sink, popped the lot of napkins right on the cut and says “hold that there.” Micha proceeds to go back out into the store and order herself an ice cream cone.
One small scoop banana, one small scoop chocolate. Oh and can you put the banana scoop on top? Thanks.
Micha and Johnny spend the late afternoon and early evening window shopping, sitting in the park, and of course eating, all around the area where the jewelry store is. They talk all about Johnny’s problems with girls:
“Fuck ‘em, you don’t need ‘em.”
…and all about Micha’s problems with paying for things:
“At places like Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx, you can literally just walk right out the front door with stuff, alarm ringing, and as long as you’re white, middle aged, and just bought some little shitty thing for five bucks, those nice Haitian ladies at the checkout will barely even look over their shoulder to make sure ‘Oh it’s just you’ setting off the alarm with the $100 worth of merch in yer oversized handbag and shoved into your crotch and butt crack.”
About the time the sun was going down, Micha and Johnny were sitting at a sidewalk café just across and up from the jewelry store. Their black-haired accomplice came out the front doors, looked up and down the street for Micha and Johnny but not seeing them, and locked them. He walked in their direction but still did not see them, ducking down an ally near the shop that headed in the opposite direction from where they were sitting. Micha pretended not to see him and continued to sip a double skim latte, in china, please, dear. Johnny new she had, though. The tension level in their auric sphere had just gone up a notch.
About a half hour later, Micha finished her coffee, said it was time to go, and stood up.
Johnny was on a roller coaster, at the top of the first hill, at his local theme park. Robber’s World. He wanted so badly to get off that coaster. He wished so much he hadn’t begged and begged to ride it. He wished so much he had been shorter, too short to ride it. He wished so much that he had just climbed straight through the coaster-car when it was his turn, just jumped right across to the exit platform instead of sitting down and letting that yellow-padded steel restraining bar come down over his shoulders. But he hadn’t. He was here. Along for the ride. And the first cars were starting to head over the crest of that hill.
Micha led the way away from the jewelry shop, much to Johnny’s surprise.
Hey, it’s barely dark out. What were you thinking?
Micha walked around the area, down a couple residential streets nearby, seemingly looking for something. Finally she found it.
Parked on the street in front of a house in said nearby residential area was one of those Home Depot pickup trucks that you can rent by the hour or day.
Let’s hope they’ve rented it for the day. Let’s hope they won’t notice/mind its disappearance until…would tomorrow morning be ok with you?
There was a lot of commotion coming from the back of the house it was parked in front of.
i.e. They just finished moving/installing Jacuzzi/picking up entertainment center/repairing old rotted fascia board/putting in brick-paved walkway down the side of the house and were now enjoying some cold ones out back.
And let’s hope they don’t have guns.
Micha walks up to the truck, opens the unlocked door, and says to Johnny, still standing in the road at this point, “Get in.” By the time Johnny is getting into the truck, Micha’s already got it started. The keys were in the ignition. The truck starts up rather loudly, much to Johnny’s anxiety’s loathing, and they rumble down the street.
Micha drives around for a while. “Figured I’d do some advertising for Home Depot since they were nice enough to loan us this here truck”. After what seems like hours, 25 minutes, she drives a careful route back to the jewelry shop area and parks in a nondescript parking lot around the corner from the back ally of the shop. At first, Johnny doesn’t even realize where they are.
Micha has traded in her beach bag for a real canvas gym bag. It’s filled with heavy tools she figures she’ll need for the job. She leads Johnny down a side street and then into the ally behind the jewelry shop. Every move she makes seem purposed, destined, full of intention, drive, and confidence.
Two quick looks for any potential onlookers and Micha tries the back door to the shop. It’s unlocked. Good boy.
They both sneak quickly into the back room of the shop. It is a small room, gray mostly, and there are no windows at all. There is one gray, solid looking door into the main showroom. There are some filing cabinets and drawers along the right side of the room and a table with a medium-sized safe on it along the left side of the room.
Micha closes the door behind them and takes a big breath. She’s still unusually quiet and focused. She heads for the safe and puts her bag on the ground near the table. She unzips its long zipper slow and calculated like. Out of the bag she pulls an extra-sized crowbar, and she proceeds to get the tip of that crowbar right between the door and the body of that safe. Wow.
But then she starts to crow. Pry. Whatever you call it.
I’ll tell you what, this woman has some strength in her. That safe is jostling all around on top of that table, crowbar sticking out from between its door and its body. You’d hate to be a man in her hands.
After about five long minutes without any luck–she can get the door pried open just a little bit, but can’t get the mechanism to pop–Micha wakes Johnny out of his shock/sleep: “Get over here and help me!”
Johnny, woken from his shock, jumps to Micha’s aide. Except he’s not as strong as she is. He grips the crowbar and gives it a weird tug, a twist, and manages to get the tip of the crowbar inside the safe, the door open just the width of the crowbar body now.
In other words, stuck.
Micha grabs the tool back from him and tries this new angle, but it is no use. The safe has essentially swallowed the useful part of the crowbar.
Johnny returns to his near-catatonic state while Micha returns to her bag for more useful, plan B tools. She pulls out a cordless power drill with a not-small metal bit.
She proceeds to place the drill on the side of the body of the safe, close to the door. This is supposedly where the locking mechanism is. This is supposedly just like the car ignition, but on steroids.
Oh, and by the way, that tension level in the auric air now filling this small gray back room of some jewelry store with bad security? Yeah.
“Ree-ree” Micha drills into the side of the safe, quite successfully in fact. Little metal filing come spinning out of the ever-deepening hole she’s making in the side of this thing. By the time she’s done there’s quite a little pile on the table under her hole.
Oh, and by the way, “by the time she’s done?” Yeah.
You know how when you’ve drilled all the way through something the “ree-ree” gets higher pitched because the drill is spinning without any resistance anymore? Yeah.
No. That ain’t happening here.
You know that “ruh-ruh” when the electric motor of the drill can’t turn the bit anymore because it’s come up against something stronger than it is? Yeah.
That’s what’s happening here.
The drill stops turning somewhere in there. “Ruh-ruh.”
Micha leaves the drill sticking out of the side of the safe and tries the crowbar one more time for completeness sake. Just in case.
Nuh-uh. Nope. No joy. Not this time.
That tension level? How many notches do we have before we top out here?
Micha’s calm/cool/confident side that had been predominant up until this point? Yeah.
She kicks the table, shoves the safe, kicks the wall, etc., etc.
“Shit! Shit shit shit shit shit!
“Johnny, go get the car!”
”What?” Johnny’s near-catatonic state? Yeah.
“Get that fucking truck!”
Gone. Replaced by: adrenaline. Replaced by: immediate response to authoritative command. Replaced by: compliance.
Johnny is out the door before everything begins to register again, running down the ally and out into the side street. He gets to the Home Depot truck, starts it up, and drives it back to the narrow ally. It barely fits. For some reason, by instinct maybe, he backs it down the ally to the door of the jewelry shop. By the time he’s coming up to the door, Micha is coming out of it with a metal cable with a big metal hook attached to it. She’s struggling to get the hook onto the bumper of the truck, and Johnny gets out of the truck to see what’s happening, assist maybe.
Micha’s somehow got that cable attached to four points on the door of that safe. The body of the safe is being held by another cable, connected to a portable winch, which is also somehow already attached to the floor/wall behind the safe.
“What the…? How did you…? …?”
‘…?’, by the way, is the Universal Literary Symbol for Jaw-Open Confused Look.
Micha gets the hook onto the bumper of the rolling Home Depot advert.
“Get inside and be careful.” Micha tells Johnny in a stressed-out mother’s voice.
Johnny goes back inside the shop through the half-propped-open-by-the-cable door and Micha gets into the truck.
Johnny can hear the engine rev up.
Except really loud.
The carbon monoxide fumes shoot straight into the room.
It’s practically poetic.
It’s practically a civil war narrative.
It’s practically a World War II documentary.
It’s practically nowhere near Tom Hanks eating really good at the catering table after shooting a major death-and-suffering scene on his way to making however many millions of dollars saving some Private Ryan.
What about private Johnny?
Micha peels that pickup down that narrow ally as fast as it will go from zero and that tiny bit of slack in that metal cable connecting that truck to that safe gets taken up that fast. That safe gets yanked off that table in a sideways direction towards the door. It doesn’t even hit the floor, although it grazes Johnny standing just almost in the very wrong place, on it’s way to slamming against the doorframe at the back of this little jewelry shop.
That winch holding the body of that safe to that wall? Yeah.
No possible way.
The impact is so violent that some of the drywall turns back into dust and fills the air with gray powder. This combines nicely with the carbon monoxide fumes.
However the desired result is reached. Sort of. The doorframe holds up against the body of the safe, but the door of the safe is just right to be pried off the body by the force of the Home Depot. That safe door just comes flying off, drug behind the truck now, and the contents of the safe go sprawling out all over the ally.
Contents of safe: cash, paperwork, gold, silver, and diamonds.
Contents of safe: floating around in the air, bouncing on the ground, pinging off the wall opposite the store.
It’s a war movie meets one of those movies where tons of cash ends up floating down from some tall building where the bad guy and the good guy both had one hand on the briefcase and then the briefcase opens up and the money all flies out towards the crowd waiting below to grab at it aimlessly.
Johnny’s standing there in his gassy dust cloud, watching the money float around in the air, watching the diamonds bounce off the brick wall across the ally.
Then watching the brick wall across the ally flash. Flash red. Flash blue. Red. Blue. Red. Blue.
Then hearing a voice over a public address system, not the good kind used at concerts, the kind attached to the grills of cars.
Welcome to Taco Bell. Would you like to try our new Club Chalupa? Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Ma’m, step away from the vehicle.
Red. Blue. Ma’m, step away from the vehicle. Cash floating. Diamonds bouncing. Jewelry store documents falling into puddles on the ally road, their records being erased by the effect of water on ink.
Red. Blue. Ma’m, step away from the vehicle.
Micha and Johnny were last seen somewhere in south central Texas, moving west on a million CCTV tapes, walking out a million doors, into a million cars, where a boy waits on a million leather bucket seats.