“Let’s do this. I’m so tired of waiting for Bailey to give us the sign. He’s so freakin’ slow,” said Cassie as she loaded her six-shot and looked over the side of the car for anyone coming out of the building near the target point.
“No. We have to wait. There’s a reason you and I are here and a reason why Bailey and Jacks are doing what they’re doing. And watch your mouth; you talk like a sailor for Pete’s sake. Do you talk like that around the baby?? Besides, has it ever gone wrong before? No. Have we ever been busted when we follow their orders? No. Just… just wait,” said Sam.
Cassie sighed. “Sometimes the risk outweighs the reward, Sam. It’s hot, I’m antsy, I didn’t get much sleep last night; the baby was screaming until dawn. I think his teeth are coming in and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I think I passed out around four in the morning. It was insane. I heard the newspaper hit the porch.”
The midday sun hid behind thick August clouds but the humidity was oppressive. Just sitting outside, anywhere even in the shade under the big maple tree and behind the souped-up Monte Carlo SS was enough to make anyone heat up and perspire, more so for anyone with scheming on their mind.
“You know, if you look in the reflection of these hubcaps, you can see what’s going on out there without having to risk being discovered,” Cassie said. “We don’t need them to tell us when…” Cassie was the wild hair; she had no patience, no insight and no respect for authority, law-abiding or not.
“I was born on the wrong side of the tracks,” she liked to say in a gravelly voice when she’d take a swig from a sweaty long neck and peer over her shoulder waiting for someone to appear out of nowhere; paranoid that her prestige and rank she’d worked so hard to attain within the organization was at risk. “Mom always said she never knew when I’d blow…”
She checked her gun again; counting the rounds in the cylinder. It was a nervous habit and it made Sam more twitchy every time she did it.
“Keep the safety on, will ya? It’s loaded, I can see the slugs from here. Just sit still, will ya? He said he’d be here and he’ll be here. Just wait for the call and then we’ll know it’s time,” said Sam.
Cassie and Sam, Sam and Cassie; it had been the two of them for years, ever since they met in third grade back at St. Bart’s in Hyde Park on the South Side Chicago neighborhood. Kids, even those in the upper grades, cleared out of their way when they saw them coming. “Make a hole!” Cassie would shout, pointing at the pretty girls all in a row in their shiny Mary Janes, blue plaid jumpers and Peter Pan collared shirts. It was like good cop, bad cop or good twerp, bad twerp. Sam was the cool-headed and calculated one and Cassie was the time bomb.
They met when Cassie’s family had to move from their flat in Pullman. Her father got a new job, with a big salary and a weird title. No one knew what he actually did for a living; he was reported to be in “waste management” but no one ever saw him drive a trash truck. It was all very suspicious; Cassie liked it that way. She used the mysterious story to her advantage and told everyone her father was a truck driver for the mob; a cigarette importer from Canada. She told people he’d whacked a couple guys who gave him some static.
Truth be told, he was an accountant for the City of Chicago. He worked in the Department of Public Works and managed the contracts for the various sanitation vendors. It was all very much on the up and up; Cassie is the one who decided it was nefarious and dubious work. It gave her an edge in all things from trading a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for a mallomar at lunch to getting the seat closest to the door in Sister Marie’s somnolent and pedantic weekly lectures on feminine modesty. Her wavy, blazing red hair cut in a bob, and vivid green eyes, contrasting points on the color wheel, were physical metaphors of her inner fury. Her mother called her “the raging pimento.” She was athletic, graceful even, and would relive the glory days of her 11-second / 100-yard dash in saddle shoes: a City record on the sun-faded macadam at St. Bart’s.
Sam was the more aquiline of the pair; she had long blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes contrasted by a masculine gait and deep voice. She sang alto in the church choir. Her parents befriended the Mickeljohns at the Christmas bazaar when they moved into the neighborhood. Sam’s mom was the chairlady of St. Bart’s Welcome and Glad Tidings Committee and she brought her daughter to meet Cassie, the new girl in the school, with an apple pie and a commemorative school Christmas ornament for her parents that year.
Sam and Cassie hit it off immediately that afternoon back in the day and the pair was thick as thieves, eluding capture caper after caper. They started out small-time: Cassie taught Sam how to steal glue and glitter from the art room and stuff it in her jumper, Sam’s association with the neighborhood and good reputation kept her above suspicion.
“That’s it! There’s the money truck, pulling up and right on time, just like Jacks promised,” said Sam. “His casing out this joint for weeks certainly helped us get this gig nailed down. He’s been one tough cookie for most of this planning, but I have to say he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to hitting this truck hard. Do you have your gear? Are you ready? There’s the sign, Jacks just gave the sign. Cass, it’s time. Cassie, c’mon!”
Cassie was gone.
Screaming came from the truck, a cache of rounds went flying through the air. Panic, mayhem and pandemonium ensued and Cassie stormed the unsuspecting and completely unprepared driver and his assistant. She had packed her semi-automatic and had gone rogue. Her weapons ejected shells all over the scene. She was relentless: ammo spraying everywhere, until she stabilized herself and fired directly into the cockpit at the driver.
“Abort Mission! Abort! Abort!” Bailey was screaming from behind the getaway vehicle, a modified crotch rocket with extra-fat tires. “Cassie’s gone rogue, she’s ruined the mission! Save yourselves! Abort!”
It was no use; Cassie had been waiting for this opportunity to take control and she executed her plan, whatever it was, flawlessly. The driver of the truck gave it all up, begging for reprieve. Out of the back of the truck, his assistant was handing out everything he could, as fast as he could get it out. Sam noticed the opportunity and capitalized on it, yelling into her walkie-talkie, “Re-engage! Re-engage! Cassie has prevailed! I repeat: Cassie! Has! Prevailed!”
Sam fired her weapon into the air in an irresponsible celebratory blast. Soon the street was littered with more shells. Coins and a flurry of bills cascaded like the Vatican snow-globe on Father Reilly’s desk. The driver and his assistant were begging for mercy and explaining they didn’t have any more to give; Cassie and Sam had taken it all.
“Please! Stop! We have nothing left! Spare me! My children and wife are all I have! You can have what you can find… There are no more Nutty Buddies! No more! All I have are Tropical Rocket Pops and Lemon Push-Ups! Please! You have to believe me! Put down the Nerf guns! My truck is a mess in here. You win! You win … This time!” and the truck peeled away.
“Hey! I need a Lemon Push-Up for my baby brother!” yelled Cassie, just before the Good Humor man lost his good humor. “I have a dollar for it…” she begged and he stopped.
“This is for the baby. NOT for YOU,” he said loudly, looking over her shoulder and nodding his chin toward her big brother.
“For baby Charlie, got it. Give it to me, Cass,” said her brother.
“You bet. Here Bailes… Catch!” and she whipped it at him, laughing and pointing at the day-glo yellow goopy mark it left on his shirt before she turned tail and sped off into the hazy afternoon.
“Just three more weeks ’til middle school starts Cass, then there’s no more running and hiding y’know!” Bailey shouted after her.
The citrine ice soaked through his shirt chilling his belly button; he was fuming. That was not a stain mom could get out.
Well, that was fun. It was a little hard for me too, actually. Thanks for toughing it out with me. (yuk yuk.) After last month’s story, I had to go for something lighter plus my son asked me if I would write something he could enjoy, so I did. i think he enjoyed it.
Here is this week’s prompt: Going for It. Your character (new or old) has been stuck in a rut of inaction or stinkin’ thinkin’, encumbered by doubt or memories s/he has been unable to shake. In a moment of whim and unbridled mirth, who knows: faith? s/he decides to throw caution to the wind and just go for it, do what s/he has been avoiding out of fear, or just sheer bad timing or dumb luck. The stars have aligned: this is the moment. S/he goes for it… you decide if the venture is successful or not. 1,500 words max. 50% Dialogue optional, but suggested.
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