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Night Job

“Mickey?”

“Yeah.”

“It's Spencer.”

“What do you want?”

In the telephone booth, bathed in the scant light of a single, ceiling bulb, Spencer turned away from the street as a police cruiser rolled past and lit a cigarette. Lowering his fedora, the smoke slithered from his mouth and, through narrowed eyes, he watched the retreating tail-lights of the vehicle through the dark mist of a forlorn and cold rain.

“They're making the drop tonight. It's a white, panel truck what just left Midway.”

“How much?”

“How much what?”

“How much money they carrying?”

“Ain't money. Paintin's.”

“Paintin's? How we gonna unload that?”

Spencer paused, still scanning the street, while an 'L'-train rumbled overhead and squealed to a stop at the nearby station. The rain spattered on the pavement staining the cuffs of his trousers.

“We ain't. We deliver the load and then torch the van. Then we get paid.”

“What's the cut?”

“Ten G's a head for your boys and mine – 20 each for you and me.”

“OK. I'm in.”

Spencer nodded and flicked the cigarette into the street where it drew a red arc through the air before expiring. Feeling the creeping damp and cold, he pulled his long, dark trench-coat around him and leaned into the corner by the black phone box.

“Listen up. Here's how it's going to happen. By ten o'clock, the security detail will be moving into the shipping area at the back of the gallery to receive the truck. The bay door will be open. I'll be at the phone booth on the opposite corner.”

“You want that my guy on the inside should blast 'em?”

“He ain't blasting no one, you mug. This ain't no 2-bit smash and grab – this is the big time.”

“Sorry, Spencer.”

“When my guy in the street spots the truck – at about 10:15 and 5 minutes out – he signals me. I call the security desk with a wrong number. That's your guy's signal to move away – he's gotta get to one of the galleries and trigger the alarm.”

“Why does he wanna do that, Spence?”

“Why are you dumber than a bag of hammers in the rain? The alarm causes an automatic lock-down. The loading bay door will close just when the truck is pulling in. It'll take the head of security about a minute and a half to get to the alarm panel and reset it so that's how long we've got.”

“That ain't much time.”

“That's all there is. You and one of your guys are waitin' behind the trash bins dressed in security uniforms. You wave in the truck and here's the trick: there's three in there; two in the front and one in the back with the load. At this point, I'm comin' across the street, but you mugs have got to get them to open the back to unload.”

“Gotcha.”

“By now, it's 10:21 – within a minute, we need to be out of there before the bay opens again. We take out all three of 'em and dump the corpses. Your guy closes the rear of the truck and disappears. You 'n me take the truck and scram.”

“You sure about this, Spencer?”

“As sure as my Ma is pushin' up daisies. Just make sure you've got a full clip and one in the chamber in case something goes wrong. I gotta go.”

As Spencer left the booth, the police cruiser came idling up the street again and slowed. Spencer hunched his shoulders against the rain and thrust his hands in his pockets.

“Where you goin', Mac?” The constable watched him suspiciously.

“Can't a guy take a walk in the rain no more, flat-foot?” Spencer growled.

“You was on the phone a while. Talkin' to someone important?” The constable's arm lolled from the open window holding the billy-club and wrapping it against the police crest on the door.

“Yeah, I was talkin' to my Ma. You got a problem with that?”

“Just seems you could do that from home.”

“I ain't hurtin' no one.” Spencer kept the brim of his fedora low and his face in shadow.

“See that you don't,” sparred the policeman and Spencer heard laughter from the vehicle as it drove off. He relaxed and removed his finger from the trigger.

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