Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Warehouse Job (FFF #29)

It's once again time for Friday Flash Fiction.  In case anyone missed it, I posted part 2 of "Band on the Run" last Tuesday.  You can read it here and refresh yourself with part 1 here.  Anyway, this week's prompt started with two simple ideas, and I was able to incorporate both.  Hope you guys enjoy it.

The Warehouse Job

"I said that you don't have to believe me, and I certainly wouldn't if I were in your shoes."  Burkle cradled the Styrofoam cup in his hands and sipped the coffee.  It looked funny, but it was the most efficient way to drink with handcuffs on.

"Listen, Burke..."

"It's Burkle."  He stared at the cop with the crew cut.  He was trim, in a dark blue suit that fitted him like a glove. His partner was a heavy, beaten down veteran.  Burkle figured Crew Cut was the hardass and figured Pops had the better-honed bullshit detector.

"You were apprehended leaving the scene," said Crew Cut.  "There was nobody else around.  You tested positive for gunshot residue.  Do you still stick by the fact that you didn't kill Mel Maltese?"

Burkle looked over at his lawyer.  The lawyer said, "My client has offered to name the man who killed Mr. Maltese in exchange for dropping the larceny and weapons charges against him.  Might I remind you that you have no physical evidence linking him to the crime and doesn't have to offer you anything."

"Yet," said the older cop.  "Nothing physical yet.  The lab still hasn't gotten back to us."

Silence hung heavy in the harshly lit interrogation room.  Crew Cut finally said, "All right.  Tell us your story."

Burkle took a deep breath and said, "It all started a couple days ago.  I stopped off at my neighborhood bar for a quick drink when Maltese came in....."


"Hey, I got this really big score tomorrow night.  You want in?" he said.

I took a sip of my scotch and said, "I'm getting a little old for heists.  Thinking of hooking up with Jimmy O'Flaherty and getting into the numbers game.  Maybe just retire."

Maltese looked shocked. "You're the best in the game.  The best I've ever seen.  Hey, maybe you can become a planner. You know, plan the heists for us and I'll get a couple guys to do all the muscle work.  How's that sound?"

I didn't commit to anything because, truth is, I'm getting a little tired of the game.  I'm not even 40 yet, but this has always been a younger man's racket.  "We'll see."

"Come on," said Maltese, "I'll show you the place and tell you all about it."

We got into his car, a late model Volkswagen of some kind, and drove to the warehouses down by the docks.  We parked across from one next to those big cranes and he pointed to it. "That's the one.  It's an import location for some kind of wholesale distributor.  They sell everything.  Catch it on the wrong day and you get linens and kids toys and shit.  Catch it on the right day and jackpot.  I heard tomorrow night they got a shipment of electronics coming in.  Flat screen TVs, DVD players, iPods, shit like that."

"You got a fence lined up?"

"Yeah, a guy I know outside the city.  Real good.  Discreet."

"What's the plan?"

"They don't have any guards around here at night.  Just lock the front gate.  I figure all we got to do is get a van, get in here early and hide out until they pull the gate shut.  Then we can load the van up and drive right out."

"Security cameras?"

Maltese chewed his lip.  "I didn't think about that.  There aren't any back here, but I didn't check by the gate.  I guess we'll have to check that out.  I got some guys that I can call for muscle."

I said, "I wanna meet them before the job.  I like to know who I'm getting involved with."

Maltese nodded, "Sure, sure.  Makes sense."

The security cameras by the gate were nothing to worry about.  Cheap little jobs.  I would've been surprised if they were even hooked up to anything.  The hitch was they were high up and hard to get to.  Nothing we couldn't handle, though.

I met the two goons the next day.  Bobby Capp and Titus.  I didn't catch if Titus was a first or a last name.  Not too bright, but seemed level-headed.  The best you can hope for with muscle is someone who won't fly off the handle without warning.

I made a couple changes to Maltese's plan, but overall it was sound.  We got in early and hid out until dark.  Since we showed up well before closing time, dock security probably figured they forgot to clock us out.  Exactly what I planned.

Titus used pincers to break the lock on the warehouse.  He slid the door open while Maltese pulled the van up to the loading dock.  We found exactly what we were expecting to find inside.  Capp and Titus loaded the heavy stuff like TVs while Maltese and I stacked the DVD players and PS3s in as tightly as we could.  Everything was going according to plan until Maltese opened his fucking mouth.

"What did I tell ya?" he said.  "Great score.  These HDTVs will go for a bundle.  I think I saw some 52" ones around.  The bigger the better."

"Shut up," said Capp.

"All I'm saying is...."

"Keep your mouth shut."  Capp put down the TV he was carrying.  "Why you gotta talk so much?"

"Take it easy," I said.  "That's just the way he is.  He doesn't mean anything by it."

"Yeah," said Capp.  "Who's asking you?  I thought we were all here to make some fucking money.  Not to chit-chat and share beauty secrets."

Maltese said, "I'll shut up, OK.  Will that make you happy?"

Capp said, "I don't know why you wanna talk so damn much.  You wearing a wire or something?"

At this point Titus had stopped moving and started watching us.  Capp grabbed Maltese and shoved him deeper into the warehouse.  He said, "I think this guy's wearing a wire."

Maltese put his hands up. "No, no.  Come on, guys.  I'm not wearing a wire.  This is my score.  Why would I be wearing...."

Capp pulled a gun from out of nowhere and shot Maltese through the forehead.

"Shit."  I looked down at Maltese's body as it twitched and then went still.  "Shit.  Why'd you do that?"

Capp turned the gun on me and said, "Be quiet or you're gonna be next."

It was at that point we heard the sirens.  Titus said "We gotta go" and jumped in the van.  Capp followed him, keeping the gun trained on me the whole time.  He slammed the back door of the van closed and they sped off, leaving me alone in a warehouse empty except for Maltese's cooling body.  So I ran.


"And that's where you guys came in," said Burkle.  "I guess I'm not as fast as I used to be."

Crew Cut gave Burkle a hard look while his partner sat there like a sack of potatoes.  Burkle's lawyer said, "Now if there isn't anything further, you need to release my client."

Pops uncuffed Burkle, who rubbed his wrists to get some warmth back into them.  He said, "You wouldn't happen to know where we could find Bobby Capp or Titus would you, Mr. Burkle?"

Burkle shook his head.  "The only time I saw them was at a pool hall on 53rd.  I don't know if they were regulars.  I'm afraid I can't help you much."

Burkle took a copy of his immunity agreement and signed his release papers.  He and the lawyer walked though the cop bullpen and pressed the "down" button to call for the elevator.  Once inside, the lawyer said, "Was that really wise, Mr. Burkle?  You might get a reputation of helping the cops.  Don't you think Capp and Titus will come looking for revenge?"

Burkle laughed. "There is no Capp.  I put the bullet in Maltese myself.  He was a no good dirty snitch who needed to be dealt with."

"But you just told the cops..."

"I know what I told the cops."  The elevator dinged for the lobby and Burkle stepped out.  He turned to look at his lawyer and said, "The first thing I told them was they shouldn't believe a word I said."


Flannery Alden said...

Very well done. I really liked this story. Awesome as usual!

I do have one question: Why didn't the gunshot residue factor in at all? Did it not link him to the shooting? Burkle doesn't explain how the gunshot residue got on him.

[editing notes: "I stopped off at my neighborhood bar for a quick drink when Maltese game in....." Should probably be "came in"

"You wouldn't happen to know here we could find Bobby Capp or Titus would you, Mr. Burkle?" Should probably be "know where"]

WellesFan said...


Made those editing changes. My typing has been horrible recently, so I'm not surprised I missed some mistakes.

Gunshot residue? That was sloppy on my part. I might have caught it with another pass through.

Flannery Alden said...

Still, it's a fine story. Just a couple of loose ends. :-)

Crybbe666 said...

A fine job combining the two tales. The part where Maltese gets "Capp-ed" is really good. A like a sudden death!!

WellesFan said...

Paul - gotta keep you guys on your toes, right?

Idea #1 = unreliable narrator.
Idea #2 = interrogation room.

I thought, "Why not combine the two?"

chad rohrbacher said...

Alright! Great story! I could see the characters, and the way he shared the story, very nice -- I did wonder how he got gun residue on his hands though -- reminded me a little The Usual Suspects one of my favorite films

PipeTobacco said...

Wonderful@ The flow of the entire piece was very smooth, very readable. In my own imagination, it felt like I was seeing a scene from LA Law as I read your work.

Thank you!


David Barber said...

Apologies for lateness! Another inspired piece of writing Welles. A couple of 'glithces' but never took the attention away from the story. Well done, dude.

Paul D. Brazill said...

I knew I'd missed something. beaut of a story. Will catch up with your other stories over the week.