Danny shifted in the passenger seat in the cargo van. Ahead, the dock area lay in darkness. His heart was pounding, and he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking as he held his gun.
“I don’t like this at all.”
Carlos let the van roll to a stop outside the dimly lit warehouse. He’d turned the headlights off as soon as they entered the dock area.
“I got it covered, just calm your ass down.”
“What if he got a good look at me?”
Danny hated the whiny way he sounded but there was no way he was going back to prison.
“I’m on probation.”
Carlos motioned him to be quiet.
“It happened too fast. He didn’t see a thing, I swear.”
He swears, yeah, thought Danny. It wasn’t his ass on the line. Literally.
“Let’s just get in there and get paid.”
He’d leave the state afterwards. Go visit some of his old cell mates up in New Hampshire.
“That’s the idea. I just need to think this through. Something’s not right.”
He held out his hand.
“Give it to me.”
Danny gripped the gun harder.
“Thought you didn’t like guns.”
“I don’t like the idea of being shot. There’s a big difference. Now. Give. The gun. To me.”
Danny exhaled and handed it to him.
“What about me?”
Carlos racked the slide on the gun and was ready to go.
“I’m sure you don’t like being shot either. So try to avoid it.”
He winked at Danny and opened his door.
Danny lagged behind as Carlos strode toward the warehouse door. The smell of dried fish and diesel made him want to throw up. He accidentally kicked a rock and it banged against the corrugated exterior of the warehouse.
Carlos reached the door and knocked twice, then opened it. When Danny caught up Carlos was standing just inside. Harsh lights blinded his night adjusted vision, and he shielded his eyes against the glare.
When his eyes had oriented enough that he could see, he stepped inside. The room was clean enough for surgery. Spotlights reflected off a white floor, and along each wall crates sat stacked to the ceiling. He caught the movement of a sniper on the catwalk above. Something wasn’t right, that was for sure.
In the middle of the room a man in a dark Italian suit sat in an overstuffed red leather chair. The lighting glinted off his dark glasses so that Danny couldn’t help but think he looked like a character from a bad B-movie.
“Come in gentlemen.”
He motioned with his hand.
“Namara,” said Carlos. “I’d like to see the money now.”
“Yes, of course, the money.”
Namara drew out his words slowly.
“First, the items. I need to validate them.”
“They’re in a safe place.”
“You don’t change the rules,” snapped Namara as he stood. “We were very clear on how this was to happen.”
Danny didn’t like the way Carlos was beginning to twitch, it always meant trouble. It began with the muscle beneath his eye, then traveled down both arms so his hands made little clenching movements. It was best to back out of here as quickly as possible until Carlos settled down and got his head straight. But if Carlos didn’t tell the blood sucker in the suit everything, he looked like the type of person to hunt you down and tear it out of you later.
“There was someone at home,” Danny blurted, surprising even himself.
Namara didn’t take his eyes off Carlos.
“That was the point. Someone didn’t get the memo.”
“Listen,” said Danny, he raised both palms and took a step forward. “This is getting out of--”
“We had to take precautions to insure our safety,” said Carlos as he shot Danny an angry glance.
“Then gentlemen, we’re at an impasse.”
With long white fingers, Namara opened his jacket to reveal a semi-automatic tucked into his belt.
“I would reconsider, if I were a smarter version of you.”
Carlos’s twitches had moved down to his legs which caused him to shift his feet quickly and quietly. His eyes darted between Namara and the sniper on the catwalk.
“Everyone calm down.”
His voice came out higher than usual.
”This is why we need to protect ourselves.”
“Don't do anything stupid. You have a chance to make a great deal of money. You can still get out of here in one piece. Now, where is Ethan's collection?”
Carlos’s hand inched toward the gun in the back of his jeans. A sharp crack sounded and Carlos dropped to the floor.
Danny saw the sniper’s rifle move smoothly several degrees toward him and jumped back just before the second shot rang out. A thump hit him in the shoulder, and fire raged through his body as he collapsed on the cement floor. He scrambled behind a stack of crates as splinters sprayed and bullets slammed into the wall behind.
Deafened by the gun fire he touched his shoulder and pulled away a blood soaked hand. He felt sick as he crawled to the edge of the crate and peered around. Carlos shifted on the floor, then his hand found the gun and he fired twice in Namara’s direction before the sniper took aim at him again. The back of Carlos’s head exploded with the next shot.
The sniper raised the barrel and ejected the clip. In the instant of that pause Danny was on his feet and scurrying to the gun. He grabbed it, swung his aim up toward the sniper and fired until the only sound in the cavernous room was the click of the empty chamber. The sniper slumped against the catwalk railing and his rifle clattered to the ground.
Namara sat with his head back in his posh chair as if he’d decided to take a nap in the middle of all the chaos. The hole in the side of his face was the only sign that he would never wake up.
Danny dropped the gun and from the warehouse.