Danny dropped his hand. Evan gunned the engine quick and hard. With a screechtortured, but barely audible over the trainthe metal latch gave. The gate ripped open, chain still attached, hinges straining from the pull of the car. For a second Danny thought Evan might tear it right off the wall. But brake lights washed red across him, then the white of reverse, and finally the engine fell to silence.
The chain felt warm as Danny detached it and crouched to check the revealed door. Twin Schlages. He slid the Crown Royal bag from his inside pocket. Some guys cut down hacksaw blades, some liked the professional kits. Personally, hed always found the bristles of a street sweeper made the best lock picks, hard but flexible. Hed popped both deadbolts by the time Evan had stowed the chain.
The rattle of the El faded as they stepped into the cramped pawnshop office. Danny generally liked to take a moment inside to listen to the darkness, but Evan already had the flashlight out. As it glared to life, Danny caught a glint off the gun in Evans other hand. Showboating, chasing the thrill. He thought about saying something, decided against it.
There. A battered metal desk winked in the flashlight beam, below a calendar with a swimsuit model cozying up to a carburetor. He could make out a rumpled mattress on the floor beside it. Terry said the bag would be in the managers desk.
Not in a safe?
Owners a gun nut, apparently. Figures no one will mess with him.
Evan nodded, moving over to test the drawer. Locked.
Danny smiled, pulled out the Crown Royal bag again.
Im going to look around. Evan had the door half open already.
Itll take you a minute, Im going to check the front room. See if theres anything in the register.
Relax, Danny-boy. Ill be right back. Not waiting for an answer, he slid into the pawnshop.
Shaking his head, Danny fumbled in the dark to find his own flashlight and set to work. He ran a pick down the inside of the lock, counting clicks. Four. Factory-issue. He eased in the tension wrench and started with the farthest pin.
Twenty seconds later, the lock twisted open. He pulled the top drawer, rifled around, his gloves inky in the flashlights warm glow. Papers, pushpins, day-job junk. The second was crammed with Hustler magazines from the seventies. In the third drawer lay a sleek black automatic pistol, big, with an extra-long clip jutting out the bottom. It looked like it could punch through an engine block, and something about its cold, machined intent sent shivers down the backs of his thighs. Next to the pistol sat a nylon bank bag with a brass lock. The bag was two, maybe three inches thick.
Jackpot. He stood up and slid through the door, his soft-soled gym shoes silent on the concrete. The pawnshop was a forest of dim shapes, electric guitars strung above what looked like power tools, a couple of racks of looming TVs. Danny couldnt see Evan, but a glow behind the counter marked his spot. The cabinet doors on one wall stood open, and there was a thumping sound.
Come on, man. Danny pitched it low but urgent. I found the money.
Give me a hand. Evans voice was muffled.
With what? Lets go.
I was thinking. Evan rose behind the counter, stretching, vertebrae popping as he flexed his broad shoulders. Man sold weight, right? So theres gotta be a pound of dope here, maybe two. Thats another couple grand easy.
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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