My second round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest was the weekend of October 3rd. My prompt this round was Crime Caper / Hunting Lodge / Notebook. I’d never written a crime caper! I had to go look up what differentiated a “caper” from a traditional crime story. Wikipedia to the rescue!
“The caper story is a sub-genre of crime fiction. The typical caper story involves one or more crimes (especially thefts, swindles, or occasionally kidnappings) perpetrated by the main characters in full view of the reader. The actions of police or detectives attempting to prevent or solve the crimes may also be chronicled, but are not the main focus of the story.”
Whew! So glad for Wikipedia! I read my prompt at 9:00 PM (benefit of living in Arizona – NYC Midnight is AZ Much-More-Reasonable-Time) and then I went to bed. I wrote about 6 stories in my dreams overnight. When I got up in the morning, I honestly didn’t know where I was going with my story. It just kind of fell out.
I actually love where it landed. And the plot twists even caught me by surprise. This is my first, but probably not my last, crime caper. I really enjoyed writing it, and so far, it’s getting good feedback on the forums. Hope you like it!
Sometimes, your safe place isn’t so safe after all.
Word Count: 984
The door of the abandoned hunting lodge always stuck, making it tough to get inside. But Ma and Pop were at each other again, and this was my best secret hiding place, so I yanked real hard. I climbed up the ladder to the loft, where I had a bag with some cookies, soda and a notebook stashed in the rafters. I folded up the ladder behind me, settled into my corner, opened a can of Coke and started to draw a picture. I sketch wolves. Pop says I’m a sissy boy because I like art, so I do it here where no one can see.
Crunching leaves under footsteps and low voices made me stop drawing. I laid flat on the floor and looked over the edge of the loft. Two men came walking into the lodge like they owned it. No one owned this place; not since Uncle Jim died.
The first guy was in all black to the tips of his fingers, and he carried a fully-stuffed, green duffle over his shoulder. His brown hair was sticking out like wet straw from under a stocking hat. He threw the bag onto the floor and shouted, “Woo heeee! Man we did it! Told ya’ we’d pull it off, Nate.”
Nate was shorter. He was in all black too, but his tattooed arms were bare. He pulled a ball cap off his bald head and wringed it like a towel while looking around the cabin. I froze and held my breath. His nose was all scarred, like he’d been in a fight with a bobcat and lost. His eyes were ice blue and angry. “We’re not out of this yet, Marco. We still gotta hook up with Nina. We still gotta make it to the train.”
Marco tore the bag open. My eyes went wide, and my heart beat so hard I thought they’d hear it. There was enough money in that sack to keep Ma and Pop from hollering at each other for the rest of our lives.
“Fuck that bitch!” Marco held up a handful of cash. “We bolt now. We split this fifty-fifty.”
Nate eyed the money in Marco’s hand for a second, and then shook his head. “Then that crazy-ass bitch hunts us down and slits our throats in our sleep.” Nate snatched the money and crammed it back in the bag. “Look, we fuck this up, she’ll fuck us up. That’s her deal.”
“You kiss-ass,” Marco spat, and yanked a knife out of his belt, “Maybe I’ll slit your throat right now. Take your share, too!”
I flinched, and the floor board under me creaked. A bead of sweat dripped down the side of my face.
“Someone’s in here,” Nate said. He didn’t seem to notice Marco’s knife.
“That’s stupid,” Marco tossed the knife on the bag of money, “We scoped this place good. No one’s here. Not never. I’m takin’ half this money now, and I’m gonna split.”
Nate paced to the door and pulled back the old lace curtain to look out the window, “You do that, I’ll hunt you down with Nina.” He turned and looked up toward the loft.
“I knew you were the smart one, Nate.” The men jumped, and I did too. Nate spun around to face the woman coming from the far corner of the cabin. I hadn’t even seen her there, crouched in the shadows behind what used to be Uncle Jim’s kitchen table. She was dressed in black, just like the guys. Her blonde hair was in a long plait that brushed her back as she walked. She scared me even more than the nuns at church, the way she moved through the cabin without making a sound.
Nate picked up the duffle, and the knife slid to the floor with a thud. He clutched the straps in both hands and held the bag out to Nina. “It’s all here. We couldn’t have pulled it off without you.” He flipped his thumb at Marco. “This asshat was gonna take your share and split.”
“You know I was fuckin’ with ya!” Marco shifted his eyes from Nina to Nate and grinned. He was missing one of his front teeth, and the rest were yellow and black like Grandpa’s.
“I’m very aware you couldn’t have done this heist without me.” She studied each of the men slowly. “We’ll cut the money like we agreed. I’ll do the counting, and you gents can verify it once I’m done.”
The men silently nodded, and crouched down next to Nina. I tried to move backward as slow as I could possibly go, but gave that up quickly. I felt like every tiny sound echoed and clattered. There was nowhere I could go anyway. The only way out of the cabin was down the ladder that was folded up next to me. The vent window in the peak was too small for even me to fit through.
“Here we go, gentlemen,” Nina said, standing before three huge stacks of cash.
I wished I could grab just one of those stacks and run! One was bigger than the other two.
“Hey!” Marco protested, “Why is yours bigger?”
“Because, boys, I told you that my cut would be larger if you screwed up even a single detail of your part of the plan.”
Nate squared off with Nina and crossed his arms, “But it all went off without a hitch! All we gotta do now is make the train.”
“You did well, but we do have a problem.” She picked up the knife from the floor and looked directly at me, her green eyes piercing me. Her lip curled into something between snarl and smile. My notebook slipped from my hands and fell from the loft. She picked it up and flashed it at the men. “Gentlemen, we have a little wolf in our den.”