A Story About Two Pricks

He’s a prick, okay? That’s the best way I can describe him. And I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean, it is one, but I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m just being factual. The man is a prick. Total asshat. If he wasn’t so good at what he does I’d have punched him in the face and ditched him years ago.

He always wears these expensive charcoal suits. I don’t know if he always wears the same one, or owns like fifty of them. Probably the second one, because I can’t imagine him ever wearing dirty clothes. And the gloves! He wears these white gloves and they are always spotless. I can’t imagine how, considering the work we do, but they’re never anything less than the most pristine white.

I don’t even know the man’s name. I know what he has me call him, but I’m smart enough to know it’s an alias. He’s always careful to hide any aspect of his personal life or his past from me. Says it’s safer that way.

I do know one thing, though. He’s from the South. Louisiana, probably. You can hear it in his voice. He tries to hide it, but I can tell. As for his past, he’s ex-military. He’d have to be, to do the things he does. He probably grew in some dead-end town with blue-collar folks, joined the army because they couldn’t afford college, got good at what he does, then realized he could make a lot more money doing things the way we do. And after he got some money, he made damn sure no one would ever be able to tell he was born in the mud like I was. But I can tell.

+++

My associate is, for lack of a better term, a barbarian. A violent ape that I work with only out of necessity. He is, admittedly, talented, but that is the only kind thing I shall ever say of him. He shows up to our meetings in a broken-down truck wearing clothes stained by grease and hair that has not been combed once in the entirety of his life.

He has tattoos. Specific, easily identifiable tattoos that cover the entirety of his chest and arms. Even thinking about the hassle it took to convince that man to put on a long-sleeved shirt when we do our business gives me a headache. Still, he has his uses.

His phonebook-length rap sheet comes with hundreds of connections to exploit, to say nothing of the skills gained over a life of violent crime. Prior to meeting me, the man spent a total of fifteen years behind bars, a sentence only so low because of a hung jury on his most heinous acts. In the three years we have worked together, he has not been approached by the police once, in a large part thanks to my babysitting.

+++

You know what really pisses me off about him? He acts like he’s in charge. I mean, yeah, he handles the planning, but we’re still partners. Besides, I do most of the work. I do the nose to the ground, tedious bullshit that he can’t be bothered to do. I’m the one who spent months following the trucks, making sure we knew exactly what route they’d take today.

And he’ll never admit this, but he’d be screwed without me. The truck pulls away from the bank at 5:12, on the dot, just like I knew it would. He wouldn’t be able to do his part without me figuring exactly how long each part of the plan will take.

I stick close to the truck, but not too close, as it drives through the city. I tailgate the car between us and honk my horn when the truck stalls at a red light. My partner would mock me for this shit, say that I’m drawing too much attention to myself. That’s what he doesn’t understand, nothing is more suspicious than something you barely notice.

You don’t wear white gloves when you stake out a bank. You don’t stand in line and try to be unremarkable, because that in and of itself is pretty goddamn remarkable. You go in, half asleep, and bitch about the length of the line. You stare at the teller’s rack, not the floor, because being a jackass to someone who deals with jackasses all day is forgettable. Being polite, that’s what will get you.

+++

He is indignant when I call him to check in. He shouts at me that he has a handle on things. I believe him, admittedly, but he has a history of sloppiness that can not be ignored. The first time we worked together, he showed up five minutes behind schedule and ruined everything. Fortunately, my scolding has ensured he will never make that mistake again.

I, of course, am at my position more than early. I, with no help from my brutish friend, carried all of my equipment to the top of an abandoned apartment building a quarter of a mile away from the freeway. My anemometer sits a foot away from my head, helping me do the mental calculations as I stare down the scope of the rifle. The power lines that cover the section of freeway we’ve chosen provide a troublesome blindspot, but were an unfortunate necessity. They provide natural interference, interference that will only grow stronger as my partner switches on the jammer in the passenger seat of his car. Our communications will cut out right before I take the first shot, but I trust my partner will do his part.

I spot his car on the freeway, closing in on the armored car as it enters the dead zone. I adjust my rifle, honing in on the forehead of the driver, and pull the trigger. The glass on the armored car is supposedly bulletproof, but then again the idea of bulletproof windows is a myth. Nothing is bulletproof, when hit with a strong enough bullet. And the glass windshield of the armored car, designed to stop pistol fire, does little to protect the driver from my shot.

The car swerves as the bullet strikes him directly in the forehead. The man in the passenger seat grabs the steering wheel and tries to correct the course of the vehicle. A single shot to the front tire is enough to make sure the car crashes into the barriers that line the road.

+++

My partner, for all his faults, is a damn good shot. He takes the driver out with ease and the car swerves to the side of the road. I slam on my breaks and jump out, running for the crashed armored car.

I catch a glimpse of the man in the passenger seat as I charge for the armored car. He’s dazed from the crash and covered in his partner’s blood. He desperately tries to call for help over the radio, but our jamming makes sure no one hears him.

I light the lick on the bundle of red sticks I’m carrying and toss it onto the hood of the car. The passenger, seeing the bundle of what looks to be dynamite, panics and jumps out of the car. I pump my shotgun and fire at him as he leaves the armored car.

He’s a wily one, so I miss. He draws his gun. Before he can fire, a bullet travels between his ears, making him drop to the ground. My partner, fortunately, is a much better shot than me.

I walk over to the downed guard and rip the keys from his belt. I pick out the bundle of red sticks and snuff out the wick as I walk around the car; the sticks are just chunks of wood I painted red, but they did the job. Main point was to spook the passenger so he’d get out of the car, bringing the keys with him.

When I pass the driver’s side, I see the driver, barely conscious and crawling out of the car. The windshield slowed the bullet enough for the man to live, if only barely. A miscalculation on my partner’s end that I fix with ease.

+++

He always begs for praise after a successful job, like the dog he is. He stands there, in front of the van, arms crossed, waiting for me to tell him he did a good job. I sigh and congratulate him on a successful heist.

A dozen black duffel bags sit in the back of the van, our prize from the armored car heist. I unzip one, revealing countless bundles of hundred dollar bills. He reaches for one and I smack his hand away. I quickly flip through the bills; marked, we’ll need to launder them first. He says he knows a place to get rid of them and I tell him that I shall begin planning our next job. We exchange no pleasantries before driving off; ours is a working relationship, one built solely on necessity.

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