Heists Like This by Alexander J. Richardson

A group of petty crooks are just hanging out when their buddy Chad announces that he's pulled off a daring stunt that will change everything for them; by Alexander J. Richardson.

Angel and Warren were playing cards next to a roaring fireplace. Over the fireplace was a modified rifle with an extended magazine. Chad came downstairs in his undershirt and briefs. He rubbed his eyes, and when he pulled his hands away there was a mischievous grin on his face.

"You gonna look at me like that with flag at full mast," Warren said, wagging a thick finger at Chad's underwear, "might be I'll pop you in the kisser."

"I did something last night," Chad said, and despite the cold room he didn't shiver. "Something that'll take us next level."

Warren nodded to himself a few times, his chins bobbing.

"Yep, yep," he said, "now I definitely want to lay you out."

Warren was bundled up in a thick parka that made him look even bigger than he was. Angel wore a peacoat that clung to his thin frame and a watch cap. His jeans were gray and skinny, ending in a pair of black boots. He stubbed out his cigarette in a cluttered ashtray while Warren dealt him a card and lit another cigarette by striking a match against his boot.

Chad was still smirking. "You say that now, and I get it. You ain't informed. Hitting me ain't an informed decision. Lemme tell you, though, lemme put it straight. You knew what I know, you wouldn't talk so rough at me. No, you'd be opening your arms to me as a brother, you knew what I know."

Warren banged his fist against the table, and Chad jumped.

"Goddammit, you fuckin' fairy, put some fuckin' clothes on before I lay your ass out to Fag City, USA. No goddamn stamp required!"

Chad turned around and ran, almost tripping on the first step in his hurry to get upstairs. When he was out of sight, Warren turned to Angel and chuckled. Angel smiled and put his cards out. Two pairs. Warren scowled. Angel pulled the chips over to him and started shuffling the cards.

The front door opened. A tall man in a green knit sweater with a snowman on the chest walked in. He had a thick black beard. Warren stared at him.

"Bill," he said, "you're wearin' a Christmas sweater."

Bill glanced down at his sweater for a quick moment.

"It's the only sweater I got," he said.

"It's fuckin' February, for crissake."

"It's the only sweater I got."

"Whyn't you get yourself another sweater?"

Bill shrugged and started pulling at one of his gloves. "It's a good sweater. What do I need more'n one sweater for?"

Warren rolled his eyes and looked at the cards Angel gave him. He sighed.

"What's with the trailer outside?" Bill said.

Warren looked up. Angel checked his cards and added a couple chips to the table.

"Trailer?" Warren said.

Bill nodded. "Yeah, there's a trailer outside."

"What trailer?"

Bill shrugged. "I don't know. That's what I'm asking you."

Warren looked at Angel.

"You know anythin' about a trailer?"

Angel stubbed out his cigarette and shook his head as he lit another. Chad came back downstairs. He was wearing sneakers and jeans and a gray tee and the same mischievous grin as before. Bill nodded at him.

"Chad," Warren said, "whaddya know about a trailer outside?"

Chad clapped his hands together. "That's what I was tryin' to tell you guys! I did a thing! It's next level!"

Bill looked at Warren and gestured at Chad. "You got any idea what this kid's talking about?"

"No," Warren said, "and I'm about ready to pop him one."

Chad waved his hand at them in a dismissive gesture. He grabbed a chair and flipped it around, sitting down so the back of it was in front of him.

"You guys know that state trooper with the nose been broke a buncha times? O'Neil? Works outta Brighton?"

Bill shook his head. Warren nodded. Angel looked at his cards.

"Right, right. Well, me and him were havin' a few at Packers earlier this week, maybe Wednesday night. The fight was on. O'Neil got real deep in his cups and told me about how Chester Bertoni's runnin' product outta the processing plant in Concord. You guys know Bertoni?"

Bill stared at him. Warren straightened up. Angel looked over.

"'Course we know who Chester Bertoni is, you dumb fuck," Warren said. "Every hood here to Ohio knows who he is."

Chad kept grinning.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, right? Everyone knows O'Neil's dirty, so I figure he knows a thing or two. So I gone up there and start watchin' the plant, right? And -"

Warren stood up.

"What the fuck, Chad? What the fuck did you do?"

Chad put his hands up in a surrendering gesture.

"Calm down and listen to me, huh? This is big time. This is next level. You gotta hear it."

Bill looked at Warren, then Chad, then back at Warren. Warren's lip was shaking. Angel looked at Chad and smoked his cigarette.

"Anyway," Chad said, "I followed one of the trailers. Driver stopped to piss a couple hours out. I parked my car behind the Taco Bell and jacked him."

Bill swallowed. Warren's face had gone pale.

"You jacked a trailer belongs to Chester Bertoni?" Warren took a step around the table and wagged his finger at Chad. "You outta your fuckin' skull?"

"Jesus, Warren, why you gotta be like that?" Chad stood up. "Driver never saw me. Even if he did, I ain't no player." He grinned. "Well, not yet. After this, we'll be next level."

"We'll be in the ground, you stupid sonavabitch!"

Warren rushed forward, fist raised. Bill stepped in front of him.

"Hold on a sec, War, just hold on. Hitting won't do any good."

"Yeah, yeah," Chad said. "You wanna hit me? Hit me! I'm out bustin' my balls while your fat ass is here playin' cards. You wanna hit me for that, Warren?" Chad slapped himself on the cheek. "Hit me, big man. Lay me out for my hard work."

Warren struggled against Bill. Chad kept taunting him. Angel smoked his cigarette.

"Just stop! Just stop!" Bill's face was red. He pushed Warren back. "Let's just see what we've got first, huh? How about we see what it is before we get all worked up?"

Warren stared at Chad.

"You stupid fuck," he said. "You dumb motherfucker."

"Stop it, War," Bill said. He put his hand on Warren's shoulder. "Let's see what we're dealing with. Okay? Keep your top on 'til we see what we're dealing with."

Warren stared at Chad a little longer. His jaw was set.

"I ain't bringin' in shit," he said. "You and the kid wanna do it, knock yourselves out. I ain't liftin' a fuckin' finger on this."

Bill nodded several times.

"Okay," he said. "Okay."

He turned to Chad.

"Come on. Let's get the stuff. You and me can get the stuff."

He walked out. Chad followed him, still smirking at Warren. When they had gone, Warren turned to Angel.

"You believe that motherfucker? Rippin' off Bertoni? How's that not end with all of us dead?"

Angel didn't say anything. He put his cards down. Straight. Warren stared at him.

"You're fuckin' somethin' else, you know that?"

Angel didn't say anything. He pulled Warren's chips over and lit another cigarette.

"Aren't you freezing?" Bill said as Chad opened the back of the trailer. "Even with my sweater, I'm freezing."

Chad shrugged. "I'll only be out here for a minute or two."

There were several boxes in the trailer. Chad walked past them and grabbed a duffel bag. He tossed it out into the snow. Bill shook his head.

"Why're you doing this without talking to the rest of the group, Chad? That's not okay. We're a team, you know? Make plans together, take risks together. You can't go off and take risks on your own that'll come back on all of us. That's not teamwork."

Chad threw another duffel bag out of the trailer. He looked at Bill and pointed at the cabin.

"That fat fuck's always shittin' on me, sayin' I don't got the right stuff. Well, I finally try a little somethin' on my own, and what's he do? Throws a goddamn tantrum, that's what he does." He shook his head. "Fuck that motherfucker. I get my share of this, I'm goin' out to California, maybe, or Portland. I'm doin' my own thing. Enough of this small-time shit. Heists like this'll make me a fuckin' player."

Bill shook his head. He looked down the long, winding driveway, away from the cabin. He shook his head again and turned back to Chad.

"Oh, kid," he said. "It's heists like this that put guys like us in the dirt."

Chad stared at him for a long moment and shook his head and grabbed another duffel bag.

Bill and Chad carried two duffel bags each back into the cabin. Warren was pacing around. Angel counted his chips and smoked his cigarette.

"Here it is," Chad said, unzipping a duffel bag and dumping several packages out of it onto the floor. "Twenty-five keys per bag. A hundred keys total. Pure Colombian powder, and not a goddamn way to pin it on us."

Warren shook his head, his chins wobbling. Bill looked out the window. Angel stubbed his cigarette out and stood. He grabbed one of the duffel bags and opened it.

"You got any idea what you done?" Warren said, looking at Chad. "Any idea what you done, kid? Bertoni'll find out this was you, and he'll put us all through a woodchipper for his trouble. Won't matter that me and Angel and Bill didn't have no clue it was goin' down; we'll get it all the same. Jesus Christ."

He turned away from Chad and put his head in his hands.

"Jesus Christ."

"You got a funny way of sayin' thank you," Chad said, smirking again. "You don't want your share, just say so."

Warren turned around and shook his head. "Oh, I don't want it. I don't want no part of it. You give a shit about the rest of us, kid, you'll get in that trailer and drive it far from here, far away, and you'll never speak our names to nobody ever again."

Chad stared at him. He rolled his eyes and snorted.

"I can't believe you, Warren. I can't believe you at all. Are you fuckin' yellow? Is that what it is? I bust my balls in the middle of the night, gettin' away without so much as a scratch while your fat ass is stinkin' up the cabin with your farts, and you act like this? For real? You yellow-bellied sack of shit. I put it all together, all on my own, the heist of a lifetime, and there's no way fuckin' Bertoni's ever gonna find out who -"

Angel took his hand out of the second duffel bag he had rifled through and placed a small object on the table. Chad and Warren looked at it. It was about the size of a billfold, made of plastic and metal, and it had a blinking green light in its center. Chad looked at the device for a second before turning to Angel.

"What, uh, what is that?" Chad said.

Warren's face was as pale as the snow.

"Trackin' device," he said, his voice barely a whisper. "Oh, Jesus."

"Hey," Bill said, high and sharp. "Hey, there's a couple cars coming up the driveway."

Chad and Warren hurried over to him and looked out the window. Two SUVs parked twenty feet from the trailer. Five men got out of each, wearing thick coats and carrying guns.

"Oh, Jesus," Warren said. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph."

Chad stared out the window. Bill grabbed Warren by the shoulder.

"We can get out the back," he said. "We have a head start. They don't know the area."

"It's nothin' but snow," Warren said. "They'll track us right to our deaths. Oh, Jesus."

He sat down hard on the floor.

"Oh, Jesus," he said. "Oh, Jesus."

Bill grabbed Chad's arm.

"Come on. We've got to now. Come on."

He turned around.

"Angel, can you -"

Bill stopped talking. Angel had a cigarette clamped between his teeth and was holding the modified rifle from the mantle. He walked over to the window and, without opening it, started shooting at the men outside. Glass flew in every direction as the chug! - chug! - chug! of the rifle consumed the cabin. Bill pushed Chad down as gunfire erupted from outside. The two of them army-crawled across the floor to the back door. Chad looked back. Warren was rocking back and forth on his ass. A stray bullet missed Angel and nailed Warren between his eyes, and he slumped onto his side. Chad screamed. Angel kept shooting. Bill pushed the back door open and grabbed at Chad until the two of them were crawling out.

"Stand up," Bill said. "We gotta run. It's our only chance."

The wilderness was thick with trees and snow, and they made it about thirty feet before Bill's foot snagged a loose rock and he tripped, stumbling face-first into a protruding branch that stuck through his right eye and out the back of his head, pinning him in place. Chad screamed. Bill gurgled twice and was silent, twitching in place. Chad looked at him and turned back to the cabin. Angel's rifle filled his ears and then it stopped and then there was more shooting from smaller arms and then that stopped, too. Chad stared for another moment and turned and ran away into the woods.


  1. Yes, this definitely was "next level". Not unrealistically, the idiot who caused ecerybody's demise, survived for the next adventure.;)

  2. Someone's been channeling 'The Sopranos' Having Bill wear a snowman sweater was cool. I kept thinking 'what would Jimmy Cagney do?' he'd play Warren.

  3. That was crazy and fun to read. Good job.

  4. Great dialogue. I might have saved finding the tracker for the very last scene. But well done. As they say, crime doesn't pay. Especially against criminals.

  5. To me, it’s got a bit of Fargo to it. That’s about the highest compliment.

  6. Pulled me in with the opening, and the dialogue, to the ominous feeling things wouldn't end well.

  7. Not so sure Chad actually got away...as Warren said, "nothin' but snow" out there with Chad's easily-trackable footprints. If he did get away, this is a great backstory for a more paranoid and vindictive future version of Chad...

  8. Great read and definitely pulls you in for more, if there is more. As someone said earlier it's got a little bit of the Sopranos in it and just like the Sopranos, it ends without you really knowing if he died or not.e

  9. Great story, very graphic. Surprise ending.

  10. What I most like is you capture the improvisational and ad-hoc nature of opportunistic crime here. Bleak as the ending is, that's entirely appropriate. Dumb wannabes are always going to walk right into the abattoir without any prompting. It felt kind like a scene from a script though, I wished for a little more context about how they'd gotten to the place, maintained it, come together, that kind of thing. I did think though that Chad would have been a little more careful to check the duffel bags (cocaine? of course they'd be bugged), and that the tracker was an obvious thing to find. What leads the killers to them might have been a little more fleshed out. Would love to know if Chad survived on his devious instincts...