My new .44 caliber handgun was one hell of a sexy thing. The chrome-like color was amazing to look at and the patterns engraved in it were even more impressive. It was a true collector’s item and it was entrusted to me. I could almost see myself in the metal, it was that shiny. Damian had also given me a few magazines full of ammunition and a nice leather pouch to carry the weapon. In exchange I gave him my Glock for him to sell as he distributed a large portion of illegal guns for sale in the entire state of New Jersey and a few parts of New York. The amount of weaponry that came out of a little moldy apartment was incredible. Damian only had a few so-called “employees” but his guns sure got around. That’s how Damian Welker and Connor Peterson rolled. I was part of the team now too, and that’s how I rolled as well. Hell yeah!
“I told you that I can’t pay you until he pays me,” Damian’s tone of voice was boiling with rage as he berated somebody over the phone, “so it’s just going to have to wait!”
Damian eventually just hung up the phone mid-conversation and angrily flopped down on the couch.
“Son of a bitch!”
I cautiously went to sit down next to him and asked him what was wrong.
“You and Connor have four days to come up with half a million dollars,” he finally muttered after an exaggerated deep breath.
“And what’s my cut of that?” I asked him, ready and willing to go on a mission.
“Your cut of that is that you don’t go to prison and the person I owe it to doesn’t come and kill us,” Damian was belligerent, “and maybe I’ll take an huge risk for you and kill Dwayne Jackson.”
As much as I would have liked to get up right then and there and tell him to deal with his own problems and whatever trouble be had landed himself into, I had vowed to work for him and I was not a hypocrite or a pussy. I was a soldier. I did my duty without objection.
“How do you want us to get this money?” I finally asked.
“How the hell would I know?” he was still just as belligerent, “That’s why you and Connor work for me! So figure it out!”
I barged out of the room with my head about to detonate and went to see Connor down in the streets below. He was cleanly dressed and smoking a cigarette, seemingly waiting for something.
“What’s going on?” I asked him as we both started walking.
“It sounds like my uncle is in trouble with debt,” he spoke gently.
“And he’s entrusted the two of us with finding half a million dollars in four days.”
“That’s insanely risky to try to sell that amount of weapons out on the streets. We’ll all have our asses in jail and no money at all.”
“Who says we have to sell weapons?”
“What are you getting at? How the hell else do you want to get half a million dollars?”
“The boys in the gang I used to be part of used to be robbers. We stole stuff for a living. It got messy a couple of times and a few of the guys served some time on the inside but we always managed to keep a low-profile lifestyle.”
“And you guys robbed for half a million dollars in four days?”
“Probably not, I only went to a couple of robberies in my lifetime, but I know how the job is done.”
Connor looked pensive, contemplating my proposition.
“I’m listening,” Connor finally let out a sigh.
“Okay,” I grinned at him, “I’ll teach you the basics. All we’ll need is a car.”
“I’ve got one.”
“And a couple of tools such as a crowbar to open windows and doors”
“I’ve got that also.”
“And I guess I don’t need to tell you that we’ll need a small concealed weapon.”
“No you don’t.”
“When the sun goes down we’ll be headed to the boonies of New York and your uncle Damian will get his half a million dollars.”
Connor wasn’t convinced.
“I really admire your determination,” his voice was just as desperate as it had been before, “but I don’t think it’s as simple as robbing a couple of stores and a couple of houses.”
“I know it’s going to be tricky,” I tried to reassure him, “but if we’re all in this together, we can do it. I have no doubt about that.”
“I’ll take a leap of faith and trust you on this. Let’s just not tell my uncle Damian.”
“Let’s rock and roll!”
Just as the sun was about to go down, Connor and I jumped in a metallic blue 1991 Chevy Cavalier and set out to get some money. To avoid being seen, we avoided the downtown and heavy populated areas of Whitehaven and the surrounding communities. Connor took me on a ride around the Conservation Area of Whitehaven and eventually we ended up on a small dirt road by the Hudson with a big sign that read Old Mill Road. I didn’t see any sort of mill or factory in the area but a little further down the road there was a clearing in the trees by the river and on the other side of the river there was the factory. It was haunting to see it at sunset from the other side of the river, that was my one and only home.
“I had no idea you could see it from here,” I whispered to myself.
“Why do you think they call it Old Mill Road?” Connor’s voice was soft, “Have you ever been to the old part of Cobalt?”
“I live there.”
“That place was the biggest manufacturer of industrial metals in the entire United States! Then the government shut down the plant like sixty years ago and that’s all that’s left of it.”
“That’s where Dwayne Jackson murdered my brother.”
Connor didn’t speak. Both of us were beyond words as we looked at the factory in the distance. Seeing it like that just gave me one more reason to kill the son of a bitch that murdered the last person I had left on earth. It was just one more reason why I wanted to get Damian his money so he could help me get the job done.
“Tell me where you want it.” Connor spoke in a dry voice as we crossed the bridge into New York from New Jersey.
I gave him directions to a neighborhood just east of Yonkers where the boys and I had once ripped off a bakery and a house. The following day Cap’n Crunch had seen some security footage of four of us during the robbery on national television so we stayed away but we never got caught. I knew how to do it right the second time around and I was going to show Connor how we did it in New York.
“We’re going to park a few blocks away from the places we are going to rip off,” I told him sternly, “and we’ll do the rest of the magic on foot.”
“I didn’t know Yonkers was such a beautiful city,” he spoke in an absent-minded tone of voice, completely ignoring my instructions, “it’s almost paradise.”
“It’s a twisted paradise.” I muttered as I pointed towards an alley behind an old building.
Connor parked the car behind the building in a position that made it easy for us to make a run for it if we ever landed ourselves in hot water.
“Survey carefully your surroundings,” I commanded, “this is the kind of occasion where it’s good to be paranoid.”
“Oh don’t worry,” he replied blandly, “I figured that much.”
“Go around all the nearby buildings, seemingly minding your own business or looking for something, and spot any cameras or other junk that isn’t too good for us.”
“And what will you be doing during that time?”
“I’ll go rip off the apartment with the open basement window over there.”
Connor shook his head but I simply grinned back at him. I walked over to the basement apartment on the adjacent street and looked for any signs of life in the area. Things were quiet. It was pretty late, the sunlight was almost completely gone, so there was a good chance I was going to get away with what I was doing. So I stepped in through the basement window into a dark room and looked around again. There was nobody. I walked around and eventually found a small bedroom. I checked around for valuables and found two pairs of cheap golden earrings so I shoved them in my pockets and left the premises without incident. I knew it was going to be a long night if the only things we were going to get our hands on were old junk to be recycled like broken earrings.
Connor was patiently waiting for me on a park bench when I returned to the site I had designated to be the meet-up area after the jobs were done. I quickly flashed him the earrings under a dim streetlight but he didn’t look impressed. He knew that it was going to be a long night too and a very long four days and that at the end of the line we probably wouldn’t have all the money Damian needed. I didn’t know what was going to happen then, but that was something I didn’t want to think about. I wanted to focus on getting as much stuff and money I could get my hands on so maybe I could skip town if whoever Damian owed money to came after us. Or maybe I’d just have enough to kill Dwayne Jackson and whatever happened to me afterwards was just going to happen.
“This is one of the quietest neighborhoods I have ever been in at this time of the night!” Connor chuckled softly.
“So I take it that you didn’t see anything,” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Nope. There’s nothing here. What’s next?”
“That little corner store at the end of the street. It closes in just a few minutes. Let’s sneak in.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Just come! Worst case scenario, they will see us and tell us to get out because the store is closed.”
“Unbelievable. Just freaking unbelievable.”
But it worked. We opened the door just a bit, and very slowly, so nobody would notice and slipped inside. Connor hid behind the enormous potato chips rack while I creeped behind the counter as the hispanic woman was closing up the front doors and left through the back. When I heard the back door close, I signaled for Connor to come out. At the same time I got up on the counter and disconnected the sole security camera that was videotaping the entrance.
“Pretty impressive,” Connor spoke in partial satisfaction, “so now what?”
“Look around for cash or valuables,” I told him as I examined the cash, “go in the back room and I’ll join you. Oh, and snatch some food while you’re at it.”
Three thousand dollars later, we left through the backdoor into the night.
“That was pretty sweet,” Connor spoke softly to me as we walked around the block, “but we’ll never get enough money.”
“Let’s try a fancier neighborhood,” I spoke after a moment of silence, “because this won’t be enough.”
As we drove around the boondocks of Yonkers with the car lights off, a man from my past named Robin Crowley came back to mind.
“I know someone whom we could rip off,” I spoke in an upbeat voice.
“For another three thousand dollars?” Connor wasn’t impressed.
“Nah, maybe ten or fifteen and a couple of prized possessions.”
“Okay, try me.”
I told him my plan regarding Robin Crowley. I had come up with a scenario where I would call him and tell him that I was in trouble and I needed him to come and pick me up right away at the corner of so and so street, but during that time Connor and I would break into his house and take whatever we wanted and leave by the time he came back. Connor sighed loudly, still having his doubts about my plan, but he didn’t have any better ideas so he handed me his cellphone and told me to dial his number.
“Tell him you need some money or whatever,” Connor joked.
“I’ll do my best to improvise,” I grinned as I punched in Robin Crowley’s number.
“Best of luck, and this better be worth the drive!”
“I promise this will work.”
I had to promise it more to myself than to Connor, but I knew that Robin wouldn’t let me down.
“Hello?” Robin’s tired voice answered the phone.
“Robin!” I shouted in a distraught voice, “I need you help!”
“Where are you darling? What can I do for you?!”
“I’m on Palisade Avenue in Yonkers and I need you to come pick me up and take me back to your place and hide me there until morning!”
“I’m coming right away! Just hold on baby, I’m on my way!”
“I’ll need enough money to fly out of New York first thing in the morning. Please prepare that before you leave. I promise I’ll get you the money back as soon as things get settled!”
I gave him some fake address to come and pick me up at and kept him on the line for nearly ten minutes, which gave Connor and I plenty of lead time to get to his place while he was coming for me. We calculated that we’d have about an hour and a half to rummage through his property and maybe some surrounding properties as well. And so we went on our way.
“Amazing!” Connor laughed his head off as he drove down the empty streets, “I’ve gotta give it to you Drifter, you’re quite the little criminal.”
“Maybe my guys could help you out too for a small cut of what they get,” I proposed as I looked at the clock and saw that our days were quickly counting down.
“I have no doubt that you’re guys are good crooks, but I do not want anyone other than the two of us in on this. My uncle Damian doesn’t do business with anyone that he hasn’t done business with before.”
“But he’s doing business with me, and these are my guys.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but the man feels sorry for you. You really got him somewhere it hurts.”
“But that wasn’t any of my own doing.”
“I know. But just keep things the way they are right now and I have no doubt that my uncle Damian will come to have tremendous respect for you.”
The rest of the drive to Robin Crowley’s place was as smooth as ice. When we got there we easily got in and right there on the kitchen table we found the bag he had prepared for me. In it there was five thousand dollars and some clothes. I rummaged through his room and found a few pieces of gold and silver so I shoved them in the bag and went searching through another room.
“Too bad we can’t steal that stove of his,” Connor joked as he looked through the kitchen, “and how the hell did you get under this guy’s skin like that?”
“That also wasn’t any of my doing,” I laughed, “the guy just completely pitied me. I reckon maybe I hit the same soft spot with him that I hit your uncle Damian with.”
“You’re either amazing or just really freaking lucky!”
“Maybe this is just the universe telling me that I’m doing the right thing!”
We both did our best to not disturb too many things as we searched Robin’s place high and low. Connor swiped two laptops and some computer accessories in the living room while I managed to find a portable safe under a bed.
“Connor!” I shouted, “I just found a safe but it’s too heavy for me to carry by myself!”
Connor immediately came over and the two of us brought the safe to the car and shoved it in the trunk. We also both agreed that it was probably time to leave so we packed what we had into the car and drove out of there in a jiffy. Connor and I both cheered as we drove back into some of nastier neighborhoods of New York.
“How much do you think we have now?” Connor asked me in a joyous tone.
“About ten thousand now,” I admitted, “but it’s unknown what’s in the huge safe.”
Connor decided that before we should report back to his uncle Damian, we should still try to rip off some of the nice houses in the south of Yonkers just like I had told him I wanted to do. So we drove back down there and roamed around like complete creepers until we found a neighborhood that was to our liking. Nice houses with nice toys outside meant nice things and valuables inside as well. All we needed to find was a house with absent tenants, manage to get inside unnoticed, take what we wanted, and leave. It just happened that Connor had packed some break-in tools in the trunk of the car before we left so busting open a patio door or a basement window would be too easy.
“This is almost like a movie!” Connor laughed again as he parked the car down the street from the house we had picked.
“Actual break-ins are so much easier than what they want you to believe from watching movies.” I added, “People all want to feel safe, and when they do, they let their guard down. And when they let their guard down, it’s people like us who profit.”
“I’ll give it to you again Drifter, you’re pretty good.”
“Now let’s get going!”
Breaking into that house was a lit trickier than I had originally thought. Most of the basement windows were very securely locked with pieces of wood jammed from one side of the window to the other to prevent them from opening unless someone inside removed the pieces. The windows on the main floor were too high to reach without climbing onto something and there wasn’t anything to stand on without having to move a large trash can and the last thing we wanted to do was make any kind of noise. Eventually Connor and I just decided to use the sliding door in the back, and it was easy enough to open, but the moment we opened it an alarm system went off that sent us running for the hills. We drove out of that place in a hurry unlike anything else and just decided to go back to New Jersey and look at what we had collected.