Get the fuck down to the warehouse — gotta job to do. - Nick
The blueish phone screen seared my freshly woken and still droopy eyes as I forced my body to function normally and get up. That’s how it’s been for me every morning recently; forced, and not always by myself, sometimes Stephen would have to half-drag half-carry me out of my room and force-feed me cereal.
I did use to enjoy mornings, the crisp freshness in the air and the bright start that came along with it, but now, in the back of my mind somewhere, something is telling me to stay in bed because deep down I know that the longer I am awake the longer I have to spend distracting myself form, well, myself.
I drew back my moth-eaten and suspiciously stained curtains.
Wait, was it even morning? The clock in the kitchen, the clock read half past one, so I quickly brushed my teeth, washed my face, got changed, left a note for Stephen on the grimy kitchen counter, and headed for the warehouse through the frozen streets
25 St. Mary’s Pathway.
We designed the warehouse so that it looked completely abandoned years ago. I remember we spent the day smashing windows and spray-painting fake tags allover the grey cement walls outside to make the whole thing convincing. We also put up rusted warning and danger signs along the fences just to add more of an authentic feel to it and scare off any little meandering kiddies or teens, who could either tell their parents who would call the cops, or steal. Either one would be pretty bad.
The inside of the building is different, more homely; better than the shit-hole that me and Stephen live in anyway. We could’a moved in if it wasn’t for the toxic chemicals that we get from cooking meth upstairs, apparently if we were to move in we’d be dead within a week, which is pretty annoying because the downstairs is my favourite place in the whole world.
The downstairs is like a bar, we have a poker table and a mini fridge full of beer and juice and there is a bunch of faded leather couches and coffee tables. It’s really cool, and it also makes things more fun because it means we have other options besides selling and stealing, we also play cards and get drunk.
I stamped my feet on the doormat when I arrived, getting any snow that’s stuck to my shoe to crumble and break off before shutting the heavy metal doors behind me.
“Hello?” I call down the narrow hallway. I pulled off my jacket and gloves, throwing them onto the couch beside another jacket that I’ve never seen before. Ignoring it I wander down the corridor towards the lounge.
“Nick?” I knock on the thick wooden door and push it open, “Hey,”
“Hey, what took you so long? We had to play poker to pass time-” he pulled out the chair beside him and beckoned me over to sit. “-d’you want me to deal you in?”
I scanned the scattered cards and poker-chips on the table “Nah, I’m good. More interested in why I’m here to be honest,” I sank into the seat beside him, it was warm. “was someone sitting here before?”
“Yeah,” Nick frowned and rubbed his chin, “Stephen left about five minutes ago.”
“Oh,” I put my head on the table, “is he avoiding me?”
“Maybe, I dunno, he seemed kinda down when he was here anyway.”
I sighed loudly. “Bit fuckin’ dramatic.”
“Yeah well,… anyway, Lizzie, this is Liam.” Nick nodded at the boy sitting across from me, who’s hair was almost black and who had tattoos covering his arms and most of his neck, “You two are gonna be working with each other today. Tonight we hit a bank, all right?”
“On Christmas Eve?” I stupidly asked.
He laughed it off. “That’s the whole fucking point Lizzie, we hit them when the security guards are felling their shittiest.”
He rested his cards on the table and pulled a thick envelope from his pocket, “That’s two hundred bucks, right, so now I just need you to pick up some boiler suits. Be back here by four, all right? I’ll explain the plan then.”
I took the envelope and folded it into my hoodie pocket, “Is that all?”
“No, you also need to find a getaway car; so that’s why Liam’s going with you.”
“We can take my car,” Liam offered, “I can pick it up tomorrow when I’m not busy.”
“Ok,” Nick concluded, “you guys best be on your way then.”
“See ya,” I called back to Nick when I left the room.
Stepping out into the cold again was hard as hell, the snow had begun to drift down in feathery clumps that made it hard to see five feet in front of you and made you shiver uncontrollably.
“So you’re the Anarchist’s girl, Lizzie right?” Liam asked.
“Hmm?” I was too drained to pay attention to him, but he was persistent on getting an answer.
“You’re the girl who is one of the Anarchists, aren’t I right?”
“Look, I’m really tired and I don’t know what a fucking anarchist is to be honest, so could we talk about this later?”
“Yeah,” he replied, “my car’s over here.” He grabbed my wrist and led me to his car. His hands were surprisingly warm considering what the weather was like. His car was a Cadillac, a retro Cadillac with it’s paint beginning to peel around the bumper and headlights. Liam took the driver’s wheel and drove off cautiously down the road.
Twenty minutes later we were in a hardware store, riffling through different colours and sizes of boiler suit. We went for a stereotypical black, as most criminals wear in cartoons. The extra small size was still too big for me, Liam found this pretty laughable
I let Liam go off and play with some tools whilst I went up to the till with four black full-body suits bundled in my arms. We bought two large ones for Stephen and Nick and Liam got a medium one, and I got the smallest size that the store sold.
“Is that all?” The employee asked, he looked around eighteen and wore an NYU sweatshirt tucked under his work apron. I nodded and he began to scan the boiler suits.
“So you go to uni in New York?” I asked, filling the silence for my own benefit. I hate silences, they make me feel vulnerable, exposed. I’m not too sure why.
He smiled gratefully and answered; “Yeah, I’m taking journalism at New York University. I start back in a few weeks, this is just a holiday job for some extra cash.”
“Oh my friend is doing that exact same course, maybe you’ll meet each other.”
“What’s her name and I’ll look out for her?” He asked.
“Erin something, I can’t remember her second name. It’s strange, you’ll know her when you hear it.”
“All right, I’ll look out for an Erin something when I go back to New York.” He laughed sweetly “That’ll be one fifty.” He added, almost business like.
I handed him the money and scooped the four suits into a bag, just as I was about to walk away he stopped me, “I get off of work at four,” he burst out “I mean, if you wanna hang out or something tonight…” his face scrunched up slightly at the embarrassment, some people had stopped their shopping to observe the situation.
“Oh, shit,” I looked around the store, Liam had overheard and was now staring, “I can’t. I’m busy tonight. Sorry.” I turned to leave the shop but I crashed right into Liam’s solid chest and fell backwards.
Liam laughed and grabbed my arm to stop me, “Are you ok?” He asked, with only hint of concern in his voice. I nodded and walked out the shop, Liam was still at the cashier’s desk when I was out the doors, talking to the NYU student. I was too far away to hear what they were saying but when Liam turned around to leave he had a mixture of amusement and irritation on his face.
“What did that guy want from you? Was he bothering you? Because if he was I could-“
“Nah he was ok, wasn’t bothering anyone. What did you say to him anyway, after I walked away?” I asked.
“I just told him to back off, nothing too threatening. I think my tattoos scared him though.”
“Oh really?” I smiled.
“Yeah, he looked at me as if I was some sort of thug or delinquent.”
“He wasn’t too far off, though.”
“I am not a delinquent or a thug, and neither are you. We are professionals. We don’t mug random people on the streets for whatever’s in their wallet or on their wrist, we rob banks and deal grade A drugs to other professionals. We are not thugs, we are criminals.”
I was trying not to laugh at his speech, I mean it doesn’t matter what you do, whether it be robbing banks or illegally downloading movies into your computer, it’s all against the law and they both make you a criminal, just different types of criminal. “Ok, go and steal a car then if you’re such a good thief.” I raised my eyebrows.
“With fuckin’ pleasure,” He smiled at me, “you stay right here and I’ll come pick you up with something good.”
I waited under a bus shelter just outside the hardware store for about twenty minutes. A lost cat meowed beside me and I spent the entire time petting it on the ground until Liam pulled up in a black Range Rover with tinted windows.
“Is that the one?” I asked, picking myself up from the floor.
“Yeah, get in the car. We’re on a tight schedule.” He rolled down the window and leaned out. “Move your ass, we’re late.”
“Already?” I yawned and waved goodbye to ‘Mittens’ the cat, as it said on his collar’s name-tag.
“Your uncle called me saying to come over now.”
“What the fuck? Why didn’t he call me?” I jumped into the passenger side.
“Didn’t you mess up a deal or something? That’s what Nicholas told me anyway.” He pulled onto the road and headed towards the warehouse.
“That wasn’t my fau-” I bit my tongue, “ugh just shut the fuck up and drive. Faster, we’re late, as you’ve already heard; from my uncle. Fuckin’ Stephen,”
“Damn, you’re kinda sensitive.”
“Did I ask?”
He shrugged his shoulders handmade a face. “No, you did not.”
“Ok, sorry, but I’m not sensitive, I’m just pissed off. Ok? I’m not delicate, I’m not fragile, I’m not tender, ok? I’m just annoyed at somebody.” I folded my arms and looked out the window on my side. Erin was probably out shopping or drinking with her friends whilst I cleaned up the mess she made.
“Can I ask who?”
“Nobody you know of.”
I looked sullenly out of the window, crossing my arm tightly over my chest. I bet Erin was out there somewhere, enjoying the arctic weather and the lead up to Christmas whilst I had to clean up the mess she made.
I hadn’t spoken in a while, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to think. What if I got the money back from that guy Daniel? The one in the pink suit. I could do more than get the money back, I could go to his house, yeah. Sylvester would give me locations, then I could-
“We’re here,” Liam nudged my arm. “you ok?”
“Hmm? Yeah, S’go,” I climbed out of the car and dragged the bag of boiler suits with me, Liam walked just ahead of me, holding the front door open for me.
“I’m starting to get that nervous feeling in my stomach.” He flashed an unsure smile back to me. I asked him what he was scared of. He said my uncle. I pushed my back up against the door into the main room and opened it. Liam waited for me to walk in first before him. There was some old record from the 80’s playing in the back of the room. Stephen sitting on the edge of a couch, his elbow on his knees, resting his head on his hands.
“Hey, she’s here!” He shouted over. “How’s things?”
“Fuck you, Stephen. Where’s Nick?” I dropped the bags on the ground. Stephen dropped his hands limply between his legs.
“Well, fuck you too.” He laughed, got up off of his seat and walked slowly towards me.
“No,you don’t get to say that to me, I haven’t been avoiding you for two days and then act as if it’s not awkward by asking ‘How’s things?’” I imitated his voice badly.
“When did I avoid you?” He sat down cross legged beside the bag of boiler suits and began to pull the contents out. “And I don’t sound like that.” He looked up at me.
“Like earlier today when you left here just before I arrived.” I sat beside him and looked for my suit in the pile of black.
“Oh, that wasn’t me avoiding you. I left my phone in the cafe I went to this morning. Is there any other times you thought I was avoiding you?” He asked cooly, knowing that he was right and I was wrong but not wanting to advertise it on his face.
“I don’t know. I just, like, haven’t seen you around since the deal.” I paused to tug my costume out of the knot of clothes. “Maybe I’m just paranoid.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it, kid.” Stephen only ever called me ‘kid’ when he was trying to console me, so I smiled at him gratefully. He was trying his hardest to bring me up so I wasn’t gonna make things any harder on him by acting pissed for any longer. “So, who’s your friend?” Stephen asked, staring at the boy with tattoos who stood with a phoney casualness about him.
“I’m Liam… You met me this morning, Sir.” The boy answered Stephen.
“I did?” Stephen got up.
“Yeah, you called me a ‘fuckin’ punk wannabe.’” Liam reminded him. Stephen laughed.
“I remember now,” he walked over to Liam. Liam took a cautious step back and looked surprised when all Stephen wanted was a handshake. “You look scared, why?”
Liam laughed nervously, “Just things I’ve heard.”
“Ah,” Stephen shook his head jokily, “the rumours?”
“Not rumours,” I called over, untangling the second suit from the bunch, “I guarantee that I have witnessed whatever you are thinking of.”
“Don’t listen to Lizzie, she likes to scare people.” Stephen told Liam.
“Some people find the truth scary.” I shrugged and winked at Liam, who laughed and sat down on the floor to help me with the rest of the costumes. Stephen was on his phone to Sylvester and a few minutes later we heard a toilet flush and Nick walked into the room. He waved at me and Liam before going over to Stephen.
Liam scooted over closer to me, put his and over mine and clutched it, hiding it from Nick and Stephen who were at the opposed side of the room. “I like it here,” he whispered to me, “you’re all so tight, it’s like a family.”
I leaned in closer to him, “They are my family,”
He frowned, “I wish my family was as close as yours,”
I shifted my hand so that my fingers fit in between his and I squeezed him reassuringly.
“All right!” Nick called over to us, grinning, “We just got off the phone with Sylvester and we’re all set to gear up. Let’s get this fucking started.”