It Was Bound to Happen
“How am I going to get to the safe without getting caught?” I asked again.
“Paul, for the last time, I had Ray turn off all the alarms, you’ll be absolutely fine,” Tommy said back to me with a frustrated tone of voice.
“I know, I know, I just got a bad feeling about all of this, you know? I’ve got goosebumps, something ain’t right.”
“Why though Paul? We’ve robbed so many places over the years. Why do you have second thoughts about this one?”
“I’m not so sure, so I better get it done. In 2 minutes and 32 seconds I should be back,” I said to him grabbing my backpack, and getting out of the van.
“Good luck,” he said back to me trying to make me feel better, but I still heard that annoyed and agitated tone after I shut the van door.
I quickly took out my flashlight, it was a little earlier than 2:00 AM, so it was pitch black out. As I walked to the back entrance a cold breeze hit me, along with that discomforting ominous feeling. I tried to shake it off, some of the feeling stayed inside of me.
As I grabbed the key marked #1, trying to be quiet, I unlocked the door. I then ran inside, running on the balls of me feet. When I got to the right office where I was told the money was. Office #9. I used a different key marked #9. Luckily the door creaked open, and I felt fairly better. I walked inside and scanned the room for a safe. Not seeing anything, I walked behind the desk. Bingo! Right underneath was a large safe implanted in the floor. I dropped to my knees, took a quick look at my watch, it had been 1 minute and 33 seconds. I then scrambled in my pockets for the scrap of paper our inside man had given us with the code on it. Finally, I grabbed it, and pressed the numbered code onto the electronic safe. A rush of relief hit me when the safe made an automated noise, and then clicked open. I flung the unlocked door open anticipating piles of cash, because it was a fairly big sized safe. I almost gagged when I took a look inside. I saw was was a folded piece of paper. I opened up the paper, and it was a note that read;
Nice try Paul, but you won’t steal from me again, or someone gets hurt.
-Yours Truly, JJ
I panicked, I knew who JJ was, so I took the paper and started sprinting then I saw a tall dark figure through an office window. Right then everything went into slow-motion. I turned to my right where the figure was, my heart was racing. Then I noticed a small round hole carved into the window of the door, the perfect size for a barrel of a gun! This maniac was trying to shoot me! I slid forward trying to stay alive. Right when I hit the ground and I heard a bang. It was pretty obvious that he shot at me. Luckily, he missed, so I popped back up, went back through the exit, and skidded to a stop at the van. Tommy saw me and swung the door open. I immediately dove in. I saw Ray was now in the car. “Drive Ray! Drive!”
“Why?” he asked
“No time to explain. Now go!”
When we got far enough I told Tommy and Ray what happened. When I got to the end of my story Tommy said, “Oh shoot, we’re screwed.”
“Yes, we are,” said Ray
“I just don’t understand how JJ saw us last week rob his pub,” Tommy commented.
“I know,” I replied, “Last week, when we stole from him, I remembered disconnecting all of the security cameras, and no one was around. Wait...was?...no.”
“What Paul? Did you see someone? Ya gotta tell me Paul.”
“You’re not going to like my answer,” I said uneasily.
“Tommy enough with the suspense, just tell us. Did you see someone or not?” Tommy insisted.
“Oh I didn’t see someone, I saw some people.” Ray had no words, but Tommy said, “Uh oh.”
“Wait a second was that JJ’s place too?” I asked
“Yes it was Paul, but we were not going to tell you. If we did, then you would have not accepted the job,” said Tommy.
“It would have been better if I didn’t take this job. I didn’t get any money, and if you’re forgetting, I almost got shot!”
“Look, we’re sorry, but everything would be better if you finally told us what happened between you and JJ. I mean, we have known you for six and a half years, and you still had never told us,” Ray said.
“Look guys, there's a reason why I never told you, but I guess I have tell you now. You are right, it’s overdue, but you and Tommy have to promise that nothing will change between us,” I said nervously.
“Nothing will change,” they said in sync, awaiting my story.
“Ok, here goes, James Jepson, JJ, and I were crime partners. We robbed every place in Missouri. Literally, we cleaned that state out, and that just took a year and a half. Then came are big break. We then went southwest and went for a bank in Tulsa Oklahoma. We were so successful we thought we could take on more. We went into Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a burglar’s dream, but after robbing one casino there, just one, I was obsessed. As you know, I usually am the one to physically steal the money, so when I reached the safe there, I grabbed the money for myself and took the first train to Santa Barbara. Leaving James still in Vegas wondering why I crossed him. I heard from other friends that James was trying to track me down. I wanted to go back to Jefferson City, Missouri, where I grew up, but I was basically an outlaw, so I stayed here. That’s how I ran into you guys at that coin convention, and I overheard you plotting your little scheme about stealing that old coin, I got interested, and it’s history from there.”
“Well paul,” said Tommy, “thanks for telling us. I’ve known you a while, and I had always trusted you, and I always will. You are a good guy, you’re fine.”
“Yeah,” said Ray, “you’re fine.” Though he said it with a weird look on his face, I’d never seen before.
“Thanks, that means a lot that you all still will work with me. By the way where are you taking us Ray?”
“Just our apartment, we need some rest, or at least I do.”
“Yeah, I think we all do,” I said yawning.
I woke up in the apartment that we all shared. I put on my slippers, and left my room. I looked around. I was alone. I was going for our coffee maker when I noticed the morning paper on the table. ‘Shooting in Local Santa Barbara-Press offices’. I completely forgot that the place I was supposed to rob, was the Santa Barbara-Press office, and now I guess JJ owned it? They literally wrote the paper each morning, but how could they call this a shooting. 1 shot was fired and then I fled the scene. I didn’t know how much the paper knew about the incident, so I made my coffee and decided to read the article.
‘Last night, at approximately 2:00 AM, an unknown male about 5’ 10” snuck into the SB Press office, looking to rob the building. The man was caught on security cameras, though he was wearing a ski mask. He somehow was seen to crack the code of the safe. It shows the man grabbing one slip of paper in the safe and running. After going down one hallway, another unknown male around 6’ 1” took a shot at the running man. It shows that the bullet missed, as the smaller man hit the ground. He got back to his feet, and burst out the back entrance. The taller man then raced out the front door, and that is all the cameras had shown.
“Right now our number one priority in the department is to catch these 2 men or anyone else behind this mystery case. That’s all we would like to discuss at this point,” says Chief of Police, Ed Layne.’
Great, I thought. How the hell did this happen?
“Hey Paul, we need to talk,” Tommy said as he walked in, and I noticed how sweaty he was, and a purple mark under his left eye.
“Okay,” I said, “Where is Ray?”
“This is about Ray.”
“Something really bad happened, like really bad.”
“Well spit it out Tommy, what happened?!”
“Okay so Ray asked me to go get coffee with him. I said yes, and he said he would drive. Except he took me to an alley. Got me out of the car, walked me into a small doorway, and someone else was there.”
“JJ,” I said
“Yep, and Ray has betrayed us, he’s now with JJ. They were also hatching a plan to rob the Cosmopolitan.”
“This is insane. Wait, hold on, this actually makes sense. That night we robbed the pub. Was Ray in the van before I went out to steal the money?”
“No, he wasn’t. Darnit! How did we not realize?!”
“So that means the two people in the pub must have been JJ and Ray, right?”
“Yeah I guess,” said Tommy, “but why would he wait until last night to take the shot at you?”
“I’m not totally sure, maybe he was giving me another chance to do the right thing. Why did I even rob him. It’s like I robbed him all over again. What was I thinking?”
“Paul! Are you kidding! That madman tried to kill you, and he might do it again. Don’t feel all guilty now, because it’s too late.”
“Yeah, fine, you’re right, but what are we going to do?”
“Hold on, I have to finish my story.”
“Okay,” I said “you still have to explain what happened to your eye.”
“I will. Now don’t interrupt. Ray and JJ tried to get me to be on their side. After I said no, they offered me 110 grand. I’ll say that again, 110 grand. Even though I’m already a crook, I had to do the semi-right thing, stick with the good crook, so I said no. Ray looked absolutely shocked. Then, he punched me. I was so stunned about what happened, that I just ran all the way back here.”
“You did the right thing Tommy, and just for the record, I am also stunned about what Ray did. He was probably the reason that the press found out. I’m guessing he just watched the whole thing go down in security office. If a press office even has one. By the way, what did you say the before about the Cosmopolitan?”
“Oh yeah, All I heard is that they were going to try to rob that place. Isn’t it in Las Vegas?” Tommy Asked.
“Yeah it is, and it’s the place where I took the money for myself, and left JJ in my dust. Actually though, this might be good, if JJ is going back to Nevada, I won’t have to see him.”
“Yeah but if he doesn’t see you again, that doesn’t explain why he tried to shoot you.”
“Maybe he just was so mad at me over the years, he finally tried to kill me, and when it didn’t work, he just let it go.”
“That seems a bit far fetched, don’t you think Paul?”
“Maybe, or maybe not.”
6 years later:
I was working at my new job, and just hung up the phone with Tommy. He totally turned his life around with a beautiful wife and two kids, and now living in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was still working on turning my life around, but I was getting there. I quickly got out of Santa Barbara, and moved to Parkville, Missouri. The only town in Missouri where no one recognizes me. There aren't even 5,000 people living here, and that’s great for me. I also got a job at a small accounting firm, because in college, I actually got my degree in economics. This job seemed good for me, ever since I moved here, I kept switching jobs, but this place felt right. I thought I’d be here for a long time.
“Paul! Get in here,” Brian Hanson, my boss, yelled. I walked in and shut the door. He offered me a seat, I sat down slowly, he had an abnormal look on his face.
“What is it Mr. Hanson?” I asked.
“You know Paul, I grew up in Jefferson City.” I gulped, already thinking I might have to find another small town.
“Since you’ve started working here, I realized that I vaguely remember you. If I’m not mistaken, you and your little friend, James I think it was, were quite the robbers back in the day, weren’t you?”
He didn’t know the half of it, but without saying a word, I got up, slammed the door and ran. I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was doing. I just knew I couldn’t stay here, and I also knew that I couldn’t tell anyone, the real story.