Sitting on a motorcycle in the rain, in Detroit, in June had to be one of the most tiring things Winter had ever done. The lights of the city were haloed in dull yellow. Winter was reminded of a story he was told by his parents about having colic as a child. Winter shivered under his leathers and tried to keep up some excitement for the work ahead.
He had trouble.
Leaning comfortably and smugly against a wall in the garage of Gabriel’s apartment building this had almost begun to sound like a good idea. Knocking off an armored car was daring. There might even be some profit. Winter wasn’t sure that even Gabriel could keep this under wraps though. It was bound to piss somebody off more than it was worth.
What the hell though. Gabriel was more worked up about this than anything other than his casino schemes. Winter nursed a grudge about that. Ash was a big part of that dream. Winter and Berlin probably would have to visit through the servant’s entrance or some similar crap.
Gabriel had rushed his three lieutenants down to the garage from his conference room with little detail. All he’d said was:
“You’re going to steal five locked steel boxes from an armored car tonight. You’re going to bring them to me and you’re not going to open them.”
Winter could tell that Ash was nervous about it. Most likely because Ash didn’t know if he could fence one of the boxes himself to Botswana or some crap. Slimy bastard. Berlin didn’t seem to care. Berlin was just happy to be active and to get to mess around with the cars.
So many cars.
Gabriel had awesome taste; Winter had to give him that. Winter giggled in the garage at the thought of Gabriel having to fork over cash for the broken down early eighties land yacht Berlin was going to be driving on this job. Well that was one reason he giggled. The other was that he was lit like a Christmas tree. He was on the edge of losing the thread of the plan. Green roots kept twitching up his spine and under the heels of his feet the whole time. That was why he hadn’t taken a seat anywhere while Gabriel discussed the plan and put Berlin to work on the yacht.
“Simple and quick Berlin. Simple and quick. When they pull up to the building and open any door of that car, you just slam into it as hard as you can from whichever direction you’re coming from. Make a hellish noise and shoot one of them. Then Ash will take care of things from the street side, you’ll bag the boxes and Winter will scoot with them.”
“I can’t run with five lockboxes boss.”
“You won’t be running. You’ll be on your new bike.”
Gabriel smirked that damn know-it-all grin and whipped a tarp off a Yamaha V Max. Christmas had come early. Ash decided to get interested at that point. Berlin just cracked a Schlitz from the mini-fridge and kept looking over the yacht.
“I’m not entirely comfortable Gabriel. How exactly am I supposed to neutralize an armored car with at least three guards from a dark alley? I am not signally intimidating.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll be in the shadows, Ash.” Gabriel smirked again, reached into a green bag and tossed an odd looking rectangle to Ash. Ash caught it. His eyes bulged. He set it carefully on a workbench and shook his head in bewilderment.
“Maybe you mistook me for a grenadier. Is there no one else you have available for this sort of… field… work.”
Gabriel’s gaze went abstract for a second and Winter shivered. “They all use names.”
That one set the meeting silent for a good twenty count. Berlin’s rough baritone shattered in and made Winter hop a bit.
“’Front.’ ‘Towards.’ ‘Enemy.’”
Christ. Winter thought to himself “who made this guy a crime boss?” Aloud, he tactfully said:
“You're going to blow us all to hell with that kind of crap. Do we look like the fuckin’ 101st recon seals?”
“I agree with Winter.”
“Shut the fuck up. All you have to do is squeeze a plastic trigger. I’d have Berlin do it, but he’s the only one dumb enough to drive a car into the kill zone at full tilt before you pull the trigger.”
Berlin was still rolling that one around in his head when Ash pulled the redirect Winter had been waiting for.
“What is worth this kind of idiocy, Gabriel? We do have a good thing going here. I do not see a requirement to piss on it.”
Winter noticed pins of sweat on Gabriel’s forehead all of a sudden. His high was starting to get ruined. All this talk of explosives, ramming cars and maybe blowing Berlin to Flint was harshing the room up pretty seriously. Still, Winter had the presence of mind not to twitch or fidget or draw a knife.
Gabriel pinched the bridge of his nose. The room stayed quiet. Berlin set the Claymore down and went back to tapping the land yacht with a sort of morose calm that Winter was really very fond of.
“Okay. Ash already has part of this, so I may as well come clean with you guys. O’Brian is a fake name. Never mind the real one now, but the important part for you to know is that some international authorities would be pleased as punch to tie me in to some nastiness back in the eighties.”
Winter twitched a bit. He slid to another wall and tried leaning on his right shoulder for a minute. Ash was staring at Gabriel like he was going to tear a piece off of him and eat it. This was too intense.
“In one of those five steel boxes is a load of documents and photos that I want to burn. In the other four are bearer bonds, jewels and some sort of circuit things that will pay you lot well enough for your troubles.”
Winter wanted to say something now, but his mouth was dry and his hair felt like it was about to shoot off of his scalp. He really needed to cut out this baking before serious meetings. Ash dropped his shoulders and put out an opinion:
“Who here cares Gabriel? It is not like we are looking to retire or anything. Let us proceed and return to business that matters. I am in.”
Winter nodded vigorously and paced over to the Yamaha eager to look like he was doing something other than freaking out.
Berlin just kept tapping on the land yacht. Berlin looked around at Gabriel:
“So is this windshield at least shatterproof or something?”
Gabriel rolled his eyes, whipped a hand under his jacket and made some crazy loud noise that caused Winter to fall over the Yamaha and claw at his ears. Somebody yelled in a shrill voice:
“Can’t we just do all this with chalkboards and shit?”
Winter realized he’d said it.
The windshield had a solid star over the passenger sun visor. Gabriel put his revolver away.
“You boys know I’d never send you out naked.”
Winter helped Ash stash claymore mines in a trash can and in gutters. Now Winter was sitting on his new motorcycle in the rain. He thought to himself in a reflective way:
“I need a vacation.”
Winter dug around under his leathers, pulled out a mashed up joint and smoked the whole thing in four draws as the rain pattered around him. But the way Gabriel had seemed to snicker and mumble "Eighties indeed" as he headed back up to his apartment gave Winter a deeper chill than the wet.
Twenty Three (sorry about the hiatus)
8 years ago