He looks dangerous. Dont forget the pistola. Evan held it out, a mocking smile on his lips.
Fuck you. Danny stepped out of the car.
At the sound of the door, the bum scrambled to his feet, holding his hands in front of him. The sleeves of his suit jacket were three inches too short. Beneath it he wore several sweatshirts. I got nothing. Drink rounded the edges of his words, and he reeked of urine and panic. Dont hurt me.
Danny shook his head. But for the grace. Relax, old man.
The man peered at him suspiciously, ready to run. You got a cigarette?
Dont smoke. My friend, jerking a thumb toward the car, he smokes. But he will hurt you.
The man stiffened, yellowed eyes darting. Listen, mister
Shut up. Danny reached in his pocket, took out his wallet. See this? Twenty bucks.
The bum froze, eyes locked on the bill. II dont do that stuff, the faggot stuff . . .
Danny couldnt help chuckling. The guy clearly had no idea what he smelled like. Take this money and go up to Grand and LaSalle. Theres a liquor store there. Buy a bottle, take a seat in the parking lot. Danny stepped closer, his voice conspiratorial. In about half an hour, a friend of mine will come by. I need to tell him something, but I dont want to say it on the phone, know what I mean? My friend, hell be wearing a tan raincoat. You tell himyou listening?you tell him the birds have flown the cage. You do that, hell give you another twenty.
Easiest money you ever made. He proffered the bill, trying to keep the laugh from his eyes. The bum reached, hesitated, took it. Good man. Dont let me down.
The guy turned, started east down the alley, the wrong direction. Danny almost called him back, figured what the hell, stood in the shadows until he was out of sight. The car door opened. How much you give him?
Evan snorted, shook his head. Lets work. He popped the trunk, light flooding across his black T-shirt, dug around and came up with a fistful of thick chain. Danny took one end and walked to the door, playing it out slow, the rattle loud in the close confines of the alley. The bum had gotten his blood up, and he let the rush take him, everything clear and sharp, his movements precise. A heavy steel cage sealed the rear door of the pawnshop, the metal discolored with age. Danny hooked the chain to the bars, thinking of the movies, the way thieves always tunneled up through the streets with plastic explosives or cracked safes with diamond-tipped drills. Eight bucks at Home Depot had bought them all the supplies they needed.
Robbing pawnshops was generally a dicey proposition. Because they kept cash on hand, security could be a hassle. According to Terry, this guy sold more than old TVs and secondhand bling. He also dealt weed in weight. That meant extra cashmore than enough to make up for the trouble.
Sure. Easy money. Same line you just sold the bum.
No time. Danny double-checked the chain, then turned and nodded. Evan inched the Mustang forward, headlights off, the car a black shark. As the links grew taut, Danny stepped behind the shelter of the rust-stained Dumpster. He cocked his head to listen, one hand up.
A long minute passed before he heard it. Slow at first, just a distant rattle, but it swiftly grew to a full clattering roar. From the elevated tracks, sparks blew sideways into the night, heralding the passing of the Orange Line El.
Copyright © 2007 by Marcus Sakey. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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