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Pointing Fingers

June 3, 2015

“One ally with power is worth a hundred poor friends.”

I was stunned.

“That’s a very sad way to look at the world,” I chided.

Butler looked at me with a tired expression.

“Of course, I don’t mean that I don’t value my friends.” He had a hollow smile. “Quite the contrary.” And then again like he’s convincing himself. “Quite the contrary.”

I tried to ignore him while I looked over the engine of the van but he was surprisingly chatty for a cynic. They can’t all be Wednesday Addams. He smoked and paced and philosophized like a child of divorce. I was anxious to hear from Dominic, if only just to get a break from Butler’s self- importance.

Dominic arrived with Beagle and Soliloquy and I longed for the relative peace of Butler’s smoky monologue. Beagle and Butler greeted each other like soldiers separated by civilian life. Karen Soliloquy greeted me with a nasal screech.

“There he is. Good to see you, dullsville.”

Dominic ignored my pleading look and got right down to business.

“We all know each other. We’ve all worked together at one point or another. We all know what we’re doing.”

“Some of us more than others,” Beagle said.

I ignored him and so did Dominic.

“This is a simple job,” he continued. “Smash, grab and GTFO. No time for playing around. Got it, Beagle? Soliloquy?”

Beagle grunted and Soliloquy rolled her eyes.

“When do we get paid?” Butler demanded.

“Payment on delivery. Same as always.”

I looked at Soliloquy. She was studying me with a queer expression.

“Why don’t you find somewhere else to look?” I said.

“You’re always such a grump, dullsville.” She chewed the end of her thumb and stared at me intensely.

“Let’s pay attention,” Dominic said. “I don’t want any screw ups. There shouldn’t be any. We’ve done this a thousand times before.”

“Let’s just get it over with,” Beagle growled.

“Does everybody know what they’re doing?”

Dominic reviewed the plan. I felt like teacher’s pet. Beagle and Butler we’re playing with their guns. Soliloquy was leaning on Dominic’s shoulder with a dreamy expression.

“The Boss is watching this one so keep it clean.”

I got behind the wheel of the van. Butler slid open the garage door while everyone got into the van.

“Seatbelts, people,” I said when Butler closed the door behind him.

“Sure thing, dad,” Beagle called from the back seat.

“He’s right,” Dominic said. “I don’t want this thing going south because we were stupid enough to get caught without our seatbelts on.”

“I see why she calls you ‘dullsville’,” said Butler.

We pulled up outside the building. It was a jewelry store.

“No one said this was gonna be in a fucking jewelry store.” Beagle was mad.

“It’s a simple job,” Dominic insisted. “Get in, get out.”

“These places are magnets for mistakes,” Beagle whined.

“Get out of the van,” Butler said. Everyone checked their guns and got out of the van.

“Keep the engine running,” Dominic said.

I gripped the wheel nervously. I watched Karen Soliloquy enter the building. Butler, Beagle, and Dominic hung around casually outside waiting for a signal. I checked my mirrors and the fuel levels. Dominic checked his watch and looked anxiously in the windows of the jewelry store. There was a loud pop and all hell broke loose. They all rushed into the store just as an alarm began to sound.

“C’ mon, c’ mon,” I muttered. I put the van in drive.

A man came out of a shop across the street and stared at me and stared at the jewelry store.

“Hurry the fuck up,” I said.

There were several more shots and the front window of the jewelry store shattered into a thousand pieces. Beagle was carrying Soliloquy, literally dragging her to the van. She was sobbing and bleeding everywhere. Dominic and Butler weren’t far behind them. Butler had pieces jewelry hanging out of his pockets.

“Fuck!” Dominic shouted. “We are fucking fucked! Get us out of here!”

I was already halfway down the block. I stuck to back roads and alleys, being careful to drive within the speed limit.

“I hope you all have your seatbelts on,” I said.

“Oh, can it, dullsville!” Karen shouted from the back.

“What the hell happened in there?”

“It was a jewelry store, that’s what,” Beagle said with bittersweet triumph in his voice.

“Where’s the target?”

There was silence. I could hear sirens in the distance.

“Where’s the fucking target?” I screamed.

No target meant no payment. Soliloquy was bleeding out in the backseat of my favorite van for nothing and she might die before I could give her what she has coming.

“The target is dead,” Dominic said quietly. “And so are we.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Didn’t I tell you that the Boss is watching?”

“We did our best,” said Beagle.

“I don’t think you idiots seem to get it,” Dominic said. “Do you think the Boss will be pleased? Do you think Wattkins is going to give me comforting pat on the head when I tell him that not only did we not get the girl but we also ended up killing her, the daughter of his most powerful business rival, who also happens to be his ex-wife? He is going to smash my face in with a paperweight.”

A tense silence settled over the van. Soliloquy whimpered from the back seat. I could see the blond, bloody, matted mess of the top of her head in the review mirror. I pulled into the garage and cut the engine. Dominic twisted in the passenger seat to address the company.

“You have until sunrise tomorrow. That’s when I’m telling Wattkins what happened. I will do everything in my power to save my own life but I am giving you this heads up. You have—” he looked at his watch “—fourteen hours to get as far away as you can. Make the most of it.” He jumped out of the van and disappeared into the shadows of the warehouse. Beagle was doting on Soliloquy in the backseat. They both acted as if they had not heard Dominic. I looked at Butler and we locked eyes for a brief moment.

“Be seeing you, dullsville,” he said. He checked his gun and disappeared.

I left the warehouse and went back to my apartment. I stared at the empty walls and reflected, the reflection shining through a shimmering pool of whiskey.

It was one a.m. when I realized Butler was right.

Wattkins was sitting in front of his fireplace when I was shown in.

“I’m sorry to disturb you so late, Mister Wattkins, sir,” I said.

 …

Soliloquy died within the week. And one by one, my poor friends have disappeared. Beagle’s body floated ashore; Dominic’s remains were charred beyond recognition in a car accident; Butler was killed in a hit and run; and I have been Mister Wattkins’ personal driver ever since.

 

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