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Up and Over

suspense by Stephen D. Rogers

The chain link fence at the end of the alley was six-feet high but the milk crate was still there.

I’d cleared the fence before; I’d clear it again. All I had to do was plant my foot on the milk crate, straighten my leg and I would be up and over. Mike would toss me the money, be on his way over the fence and we would be out of here.

I glanced over my shoulder.

No Mike.

I slid to a stop, pebbles rattling towards the fence.

When did I lose Mike? He’d been right behind me.

I took a step back towards the bank. No one gets left behind. Not when he can talk and possibly cut a deal. Not when he’s a known associate. Not when he’s carrying the cash.

The plan was simple. I went into the bank and passed the money to Mike when I came out. Cross the street and go left. Go right. Go down this alley and over the fence. Then we split up in case one of us was caught.

That was the plan.

As hard as it was, I took another step towards the bank.

Cops would be arriving at the scene of the crime, getting my description and broadcasting the information to cops still on the way.

Mike wouldn’t double-cross me, not after all the jobs we’d done together over the years. So where was he?

I took another two steps forward, listening to the sirens, gauging their distance.

If Mike did want to double-cross me, after we went over the fence and split would be the time. Not now, not when he was between me and the law.

Mike had been less than six feet behind me when I cleared the first corner. I’d seen him peripherally before I straightened out and bolted.

I just didn’t understand why Mike wasn’t here.

I slammed a fist against my thigh.

It was his knee. He swore he had recovered from the fall, but maybe it had gone out again. Maybe he’d really messed it up that day we practiced jumping the fence. Maybe right now Mike was curled in a fetal position around this corner or the next, writhing in pain.

That made more sense than a double-cross. Plain dumb bad luck. Mike’s bad luck.

My bad luck.

I glanced at the fence. Turned to face the mouth of the alley.

And where were the cops? They should be canvassing the area by now, searching for us. We’d robbed a bank!

Unless they were fanning out, closing off all the points of escape first. Box us in place and then hunt us down.

Out of here, that’s where I should be, but Mike, Mike had the money.

I stepped to the side of the alley, pressed myself against the wall and sidestepped towards the mouth, towards the bank, towards the cops.

If the cops got Mike, they got the money and eventually they got me. I was in no mood to start over somewhere else, some city where I didn’t know who to trust.

Maybe Mike he’d waited until I turned the first corner and then he’d doubled-back, jumped into some car he’d parked nearby and took off with the money. My money.

Everybody was trustworthy until they weren’t.

People walked past the end of the alley without looking in. Cars went this way and that. I paused. Took a deep breath. Listened to the sounds of the city.

Listened to my heart pound.

Mike had cleared that first corner, which put him on the street between that corner and the one I was edging towards. If the police hadn’t scooped him up. If he hadn’t bailed on me.

But if he was there, betrayed by his knee, he might be what was keeping the cops from coming down this alley.

Mike would have dropped the bag of money when he grabbed his knee. Too lost in pain to claim or deny ownership, his silence on the matter would give the cops whatever probable cause they needed to examine the contents.

We weren’t twins, or even brothers, but we looked enough alike to give the cops reason to stop him. After all, eyewitnesses were notoriously unreliable on the bank employees would be no different.

We had counted on that. It’s why I didn’t leave the scene with the money, so I could say I wasn’t at the bank and then watch the cops just shrug and mumble about witnesses.

This time, Mike’s knee had brought down more than my partner; it had brought down the whole job. If the cops got Mike, they got the money. And if later they decided he had a partner, eventually they’d get me.

I might turn this corner and find Mike lying on the ground, surrounded by cops, guns drawn, looking for action. Then what? Dodge between them to grab the money? Hoist Mike over my shoulder before running away?

I jogged almost to the mouth of the alley, turned and ran flat out towards the fence. I planted my foot on the milk crate, straightened my leg and went up and over.

Copyright October 2009 by Stephen D. Rogers

Stephen D. Rogers lives in Massachussetts. He blogs about writing at Stephen D. Rogers.

[Return to the October 2009 stories]

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