“See? And there they are.” Larry claimed as he leaned against the window frame, pointing at how right he always was.
Five silent figures in the dark surveyed the front yard, eagerly stalking a man and a woman that walked off a black SUV parked outside the wide open gate. They looked young. A thin curtain of rain softened the view.
Benny and Vinny stood in the back, quiet. Low level grunts, they had no say in anything. What did they had to gain here today? Nothing. Their minds were spinning the upcoming events, weighing options, sweating.
Everything was going to hell tonight.
The five men have been hiding in the attic of that house for three hours. Bored as cockroaches. Benny needed a drink. All Vinny could think of was peeing; too scared to ask permission for a break. At this point, their allegiances extended as far as their own skin. And shrinking by the minute.
Larry called the shots. The boss wanted to close this “deal” personally instead of relying on the other fifty or so ruthless men and women he had at his disposal. He had some kind of score to settle. He wanted those newcomers dead. And whatever Larry said was the law.
He was just as harsh toward his own men. He knew how to cultivate fear. No one dared cross Larry, unless they didn’t have a brain.
“Wait until they get inside the house. This time, we’re not gonna miss them.” Larry said. As if he needed a baritone voice. His size alone was enough to express his authority. The curtains hid his imposing figure to the outside. No light was entering the room. Larry was careful.
The other two guys were his shadows. Eddie, commonly a second in command, and Gary. This one did everything Larry asked. He was the favorite. Everyone called him “The Weasel”. You’d be careful how you spoke around Gary; everything you said was recorded in The Weasel’s brain and faithfully played back to the boss. If Larry didn’t like the playback, he would unleash his frustration on you publicly.
So many fell. Examples. Everyone learned. So whatever Larry said was the law.
Essentially, the prevailing atmosphere around this gang was every man for himself. Your future depended on the size and thickness of the wall protecting you. Including protecting you from lies others might tell to cover their own butt and save themselves from Larry’s wrath.
Benny still had hope. Vinny followed his every move. Benny’s been whispering about getting out for three months. Vinny shared his concerns and aspirations. It was not fun living in Larry’s shadow, with The Weasel hovering around you like a camera drone.
Up until now, Benny thought they would see the sunrise tomorrow. But at that moment, he realized unless something was done, the chances would dwindle as fast as those two strangers walking to their doom on the ground floor.
Uncharacteristically, Vinny spoke. He was scared out of his mind. His bladder did not agree with the plan.
“I don’t wanna die, Boss.”
“That’s why you’re a nobody, Vinny.” Larry chuckled casually. “That’s why you shut your trap and you do as I say. Capisce?” He didn’t even turn around.
The Weasel did, with a smile. “Capisce?” He repeated. He would always repeat something.
Fortunately, The Faithful Three immediately forgot about The Insignificant Duo, cowering in the back of the room.
“The explosives will take out the ground floor. We’re fine here.” Larry continued to himself. The other two nodded obediently. Perfectly trained dogs.
They hated each other however. None ever missed an opportunity to screw the other. A word of appreciation from Larry was worth its weight in gold.
The Insignificant Duo saw the small figures of the intruders walk off the window frame, approaching the front of the house. They seemed cautious, they walked slowly, they kept looking about. At this rate, within a minute they would reach the front door.
He couldn’t wait anymore. That was it. Benny made up his mind. Vinny would probably follow like a shadow. He was terrified. That could be a problem. Benny’s punishment for blabbing about his plan.
Those two seemed to be the only one concerned that the house was too old to withstand the blast, that Eddie, the demolition guy, was an idiot, not as good with explosives as he bragged.
Benny had to put some distance between him and that house right now. Between him and that team he had no attachment to. Vinny followed, but it’s not like Benny was attached to him either.
Every man for himself.
Benny carefully went down the stairs toward the second floor. Lucky for him, they didn’t creak. As he hurried toward the staircase leading to the ground floor, he caught a glimpse of Vinny hard on his tail.
“If you think you’re gonna get me caught…” He started in a low voice.
Benny was holding his collar. Vinny just held his arms open, palms forward, submissive. A pathetic limp.
Benny pushed him back.
Vinny kept his arms open, a silent prayer for his life.
Benny flew down the stairs to the first floor, three steps at a time. He could hear Vinny still behind him.
He reached the back door as they could now hear footsteps coming up the porch. The strangers were at the front door already.
No time for caution. He had to go.
The heavy back door was locked. Larry’s plan was to force the intruders to use the front door. The dynamite was concentrated in the living room.
Benny turned the deadbolt’s knob. In the silence of the night, the old thing made a loud metallic snap.
“Damn it.” He whispered.
The footsteps on the porch stopped. Benny didn’t care. The charge could go off any second. Larry’s discretion.
He flung the door open and leaped out. Vinny trailed. They had fire up their butt.
Freedom and safety were behind the wooden fence fifty feet away. It seems so far.
But Vinny tripped. The landing was pretty hard; seems he twisted something.
“Benny!” He shouted carelessly as he held his ankle. Each of them could only think about himself at this point. Nothing else existed.
Benny didn’t stop. He didn’t look back. Benny couldn’t hear a thing. Benny just kept running.
The fence was coming closer. His heart opened. He might make it.
Vinny got up. It seems like he sprained his ankle when he jumped off the two-foot high deck. Vinny was a scrawny, prematurely bald man in his late twenties. He appeared older. Too many cigarettes.
Vinny screamed and then covered his mouth. Putting his weight on the left ankle hurt.
Who’s Vinny? Benny couldn’t hear a thing. He didn’t stop.
The growing distance between them gave Vinny the strength to bypass the pain and limp his way after Benny.
“Help me, please!” He complained, but he didn’t have any hope.
Vinny kept trying, his pace was a bit low.
Benny already disappeared behind the fence in a quick jump. Vinny started feeling tunnel vision. The fence was the only thing that mattered.
Benny was gone. “Screw the bastard.”
The cops cautiously walked around the house. Each now held a gun. They reached the back of the house in time to see Vinny awkwardly failing to haul himself up the back wall.
“Trap!” She exclaimed.
He grabbed her arm and they rushed toward the side fence, guns holstered.
They were able to both reach the other side, helping, pushing, grabbing each other, before thunder followed by a strong gust of wind tipped the wall down to the ground. They did their best to hold on to something.
The night turned silent.
Pinned under the wooden fence, they slowly came back to consciousness, while the house they were going to investigate came crashing down around them. In very small pieces.
Finally the man pushed himself up when some kind of ball, covered in dark hair and blood, vaguely round, bounced off the flattened fence and rolled along the lawn, before coming to a stop in front of them.
Larry. The mob boss.
They silently made eye contact, then painfully rose up while supporting the fence with their hands. They turned around. There was a vacant lot littered with smoking debris where previously stood the 2-story house.
Nothing was left upright, not even the foundations.
Somewhere, zipping through a neighbor’s backyard, Benny couldn’t think about anything other than saving himself.
He kept running.