Good Books

Wednesday Write-In challenge courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet

The subway jangled to a stop. Trout stared at the humanity crushed together in the car and scratched his cheek. The pneumatic doors jarred open and he slid in sideways. Two stops later most of the kids going to private school on the edge of downtown got off and he had enough room to pull the worn paperback from his rear pocket.

Trout let the stiff, yellowed pages flip past his right thumb until it caught the dog ear. He straightened the corner and leaned back and started to read.

The thief sat in his car in a crowded grocery store parking lot and watched the front door of a low-cost lawyer’s office across the way with binoculars. The building was just as faded and tilting as any of them on block. But the thief knew this one was special.

He knew four guys were working on an armoured car job. High risk. And he knew they would meet in this office to divide the take. The thief reasoned one or two of the other crew might get held up or killed. But even if they didn’t, the four of them would be too flush with excitement or anxiety they wouldn’t be thinking straight and if he worked it out as well as he thought, the thief would be able to walk in there like a cool breeze and take their haul for himself. Low Risk.

The subway stopped abruptly and the heavy-set woman clinging to the upright pole bounced into him, crushing his hands and book between them. She smelled like root beer. He gave her an awkward smile and she turned and ignored him. Trout scowled, picked up his book, found his page and continued reading.

The thief watched a Buick pull in the lot and back into a parking space against the road. He saw two men exit, each grab a duffel bag from the rear seat, cross the street and walk into the office. His fingers tapped the automatic in his right jacket pocket. Twenty deep breaths later, another car nosed up the alley two doors down from the office. A third man stepped out of the car tossed a quick look up and down the street. He turned and started to the office. The thief was already out of his car.

The subway halted and the doors pulled open. Trout looked up and muttered a short curse at the interruption. He walked up the two flights of stairs in unison with all the other former passengers trudging home. Halfway up a brief smile flashed on his face. He’d stop at the liquor store to pick up a small bottle of something and then sit at the kitchen table and sip his drink and finish the book.

Trout hurried up the stairs.

Completely and directly influenced by Richard Stark’s The Outfit. Possibly the best heist story I have read.

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12 thoughts on “Good Books

  1. I really liked the two narratives and wondering how they would meet up, splitting it to and fro makes you anticipate what might go wrong with the thief, it’s like Trout gives you space to worry about the other story, and then the other story gives you space to wonder about Trout.

  2. All of the above – love the jangling of the subway – some really fantastic description and the merging of the two narratives works well. I think I’d like to know more too, think Trout deserves more adventures (and to finish that liquor!).

  3. I love the drama and tension you’ve built and how its eased in the end. Trying to think – if you put the heist parts in italics or vice versa put Trout in italics would we be clued on earlier on? OR would we know these are parallel tales, continue to expect them to merge, and then smile at the end? I liked this!

  4. Hi Craig, although I did enjoy your story I felt a bit cheated by the end and wanted to know what happened next which is really a good thing as it meant you got me gripped by the beginning and I didn’t want to let go at the end!

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