Authors: Gene Doucette
“Corrigan Bain, is it?” he asked. Corrigan had gone through the trouble to make himself presentable—he had on a tie, even—and thought he’d done a pretty good job of looking like a normal, non-threatening local citizen, which was important when visiting with the FBI. Certainly his standard biker-chic style wouldn’t fly.
“That’s me,” he said, standing and extending his hand, which agent Hicks neglected to take.
“Interesting name,” he said. Having apparently decided Corrigan was not a serious threat, he nodded toward the door behind him. “Come on back.”
He led Corrigan through a big open space that could have been an office just about anywhere. They ended up at a small cubicle with a large PC and a huge pile of folders covering every inch of surface space, prompting one to wonder, as Corrigan did at that moment, what precisely the computer was there for if not to retain data. Paperweight, perhaps.
Hicks sat at the desk and bade his guest to sit on a folding chair set up for the occasion.
“It’s the last names of my parents by blood,” Corrigan said.
“My name. My mother’s last name is Bain. She met a soldier named Corrigan, and here I am.”
“Oh,” Hicks said, absently placing the files under his arm atop another set of files on the desk. “Why not his first name?”
“She didn’t know his first name. Just the name that was on his uniform: Corrigan.”
“Right.” Hicks looked as if it was a bad idea to have ever brought it up. Corrigan was never all that embarrassed by his mother’s youthful indiscretions—especially not the one that ended up with his being born, which he was somewhat happy about—but he usually neglected to consider that his listener might be embarrassed by the tale. He had first heard the story when he was four and had thus never equated it with anything like shame.
“So,” Hicks continued, “what brought you to see us today?”
“I came in because something pretty bad’s gonna happen,” Corrigan said, getting right to the point, “And I think I’m going to need some help.”
Hicks’s reaction to this news could only have been measured by the most precise of instruments. “Something bad,” he said neutrally. “Like what?”
“I don’t know yet. I usually don’t have a clear idea until right before it happens. But I can tell you it’ll be at 2:47 tomorrow afternoon at twenty-nine State Street.”
Hicks blinked—for him the equivalent of a loud shriek. “That’s awfully precise information. Isn’t that a bank?”
“That’s why I’m here. I mean, I’m gonna be there either way, but I figured if maybe you and few other guys were down there, we could stop whatever it is. You know, before lots of people end up dead.”
Hicks broke eye contact and rubbed his face, a gesture of exasperation Corrigan was about to become very familiar with. “Mr. Bain, do I have this right? Are you threatening to do something in the bank tomorrow afternoon?”
“No!” He laughed. “No, no, I’m going to be there to try and
it from happening.”
“But you don’t know what it is.”
“And you don’t know who’s going to do it.”
“No idea. Might not be anybody. Could be it’s just a natural disaster or a gas main or something. You know, I went to this house one time to save this family, and it took me nearly an hour to figure out the problem was carbon monoxide. New heating system, see—”
“I wonder,” Hicks said loudly. “I wonder if you could go back to the beginning.”
“Sorry. I explained some of it to the woman at reception and figured she’d spoken to you.”
“She said you were a repairman.”
Corrigan smiled. “I told her I was a fixer. I may be the only one, so that’s probably what’s confusing.”
“So you fix things,” Hicks said. “Does this have to do with a numbers racket? Something mob-related?”
All at once the depth and breadth of Corrigan’s naiveté in his handling of this interview struck him like so many anvils.
I sound crazy
He had told people what he did before, but only after he’d already saved them, and they were considerably more likely to believe he could see the future insofar as he’d just proven it to them. Now, here he was talking about it as if everybody knew what a fixer was.
Corrigan Bain is going insane.
“No, that’s not it. I . . . keep people out of trouble. Say somebody is about to have an accident or something, right? What I do is keep them from having that accident.”
“And how do you know when someone’s about to have an ‘accident’?” He made little quotation marks with his fingers to clarify that he felt perhaps they were speaking metaphorically. Corrigan didn’t need to see into the future to recognize that this conversation was not going to be visiting a happy place.
“I just know,” he said.
“I just do. Usually I get a heads up the day before. Sometimes if it’s something really big I might get an extra day or two. That’s what this is; something big.”
“Somebody calls you?” Hicks suggested.
“No, it’s not like that.”
“You’re a psychic.”
“No, goddammit, I’m not a psychic. I told you. I’m a fixer.”
Hicks was rubbing his face so hard Corrigan thought there was a chance he’d draw blood. “O-kay,” he said. “Why don’t . . . why don’t you give me everything you know about what’s going to happen tomorrow?”
“Not much more than I already told you. Something bad and I think a lot of people are going to die as a result.”
“Like a bank robbery?”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Corrigan said, glad they were finally moving ahead with this. “Except it’s probably something more than that.”
“This’ll sound weird . . .”
“Thing is, I’m not so good with out-and-out homicide. Someone robs a bank and starts shooting up the place, it’s usually as big a surprise to me as to anybody else. I’m really more of an expert on accidental death and dismemberment. It could be a bank robbery, sure, but it could be something else.”
“Something with a high body count.”
“You’ve got it.”
“Right.” Hicks fell silent for a moment, as if he was deciding on something. Then he asked, “Can you excuse me for a minute?”
Corrigan imagined Hicks was leaving to grab a superior, but that was just wishful thinking as the agent returned a few minutes later with three other coworkers and a deck of cards.
“All right, let’s try something,” he said. He plopped the deck down on top of a file on his desk.
“What is this?” Corrigan asked.
“Just bear with me,” Hicks said. He gestured to the others. “Don’t mind them; they’re just curious.” He drew a card. “Can you tell me what card I’m holding?”
Corrigan sighed heavily. It was going to be like that, then. “No, I can’t, wise ass.”
“Because you’re not going to show it to me after I guess, that’s why. Look, do we really have time for this?”
Hicks frowned. “I have to show it to you for you to guess?” Behind him, Corrigan could practically hear the smirks on the faces of the other agents.
“After. After I’ve . . .”
“I’m just trying to establish your bona fides here. You can’t expect me to take you seriously without—”
“All right, you want to play this for real?”
“There’s no need to get hostile, Mr. Bain.”
of reasons to be hostile right now. But if you want to do this, fine, we’ll do this. I’ll guess your card, and then you count to three and show it to me. Got it?”
Hicks looked around at the others, wondering if maybe he was going a little crazy. “Strange rules,” he said.
“That’s the only way it’s gonna work.”
Hicks appeared to be deeply disappointed that Corrigan wasn’t going to end up being a more entertaining whacko. Uncertain as to how to proceed from there, he elected to hold up a card.
“Three of spades,” Corrigan said. Hicks turned it over and showed it, then tried another one. “Ten of diamonds.”
“That’s impressive,” Hick admitted, turning the card over.
“It’s a trick,” said someone behind Corrigan.
“Yeah, a reflection or something,” said someone else.
“Yeah, yeah,” Hicks agreed. “Must be some kind of trick.”
The third agent—a cute redhead—piped up. “You’re the one who pulled out the cards, Randy.”
“Look,” Corrigan said to Hicks, “I think I’ve been very patient with you. This isn’t a parlor trick, this isn’t a game, and I’m not kidding. I gave you the time and the place. I’m going to be there to try and save who I can, but I could really use the help, so maybe once you’ve stopped playing with cards you can do something good with your time. Now do I need one of you to escort me out or can I do it on my own?”
There was a long and uncomfortable silence until the redhead spoke up. “I’ll walk you out, Mr. Bain.”
“Thank you,” he said. He got to his feet and shoved his way out of the cubicle, hard on the heels of the most attractive fed he’d ever expect to see. And he was almost angry enough not to appreciate that fact.
“It’s this way,” she said, pointing him in a direction other than the lobby, which he found odd. She stopped them in a small vestibule.
“So . . .
it a trick?” she asked.
“Do I look like the kind of guy who pops into the FBI to play magic tricks?”
“No. No, you don’t. A little angry, maybe.”
“I get that way. Don’t much like it when people assume I’m nuts. It’s kind of a sore spot.” This was an understatement.
“Yeah . . .” she said, trailing off. She was looking him over, sizing him up, trying to make a decision. “Twenty-nine State Street. 2:47. Right?”
“That’s right,” he said, surprised. Either she was in the next cubicle over from Hicks or sound traveled well in that office.
“I can’t offer you full backup,” she said, smiling. “But I’ll be there.”
Corrigan smiled back and enjoyed, for a moment, the whole smiling-at-each-other thing. “What’s your name?”
“Maggie Trent,” she said, extending her hand. “At your service.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon, Agent Maggie Trent,” he answered, shaking her hand. “Don’t be late. Because whatever’s going down, it won’t wait for either of us.”
* * *
It was mostly Dickie’s plan from the start.
Sure, Mikey and Rob had some input on the whole thing, but it was Dickie who chose the target and got the stuff and Dickie who would run the show once they got inside.
This was an awful lot of responsibility for Dickie.
He got the idea the previous summer, back when he was working construction for his Uncle Ray, doing the kind of crap work you were lucky to get after two years with early release on good behavior.
Dickie’s big problem was that he was not all that bright. This caused him to make foolish decisions when it came to matters such as career choices. His mom had wanted him to finish up school and do something respectable, like . . . well, like construction. Foreman or some such. Dickie thought bank robbing was a much better choice.
One day he walked into the Chelsea office of Bank of America and handed the teller a note that instructed her to give him all the money she had in her drawer and further, to not do anything funny. Because that’s what you’re supposed to say when you rob a bank. It was highly doubtful that anybody in the history of bank robberies was even aware of what “funny” constituted, but that was a discussion for another time.
So he passed the note and waited for the teller to provide him with what he hoped was a lot of cash. Enough, say, to go buy an island somewhere where islands are inexpensive and plentiful. This was to be the high point of his criminal career.
Dickie had made many mistakes that day. He learned this while in prison as a direct consequence of those very same mistakes. Number one, he signed the note. Didn’t even think about it at the time. This error dated back to some bygone childhood scholastic trauma, which Dickie unfortunately had never fully explored—it had to do with passing in homework without putting his name at the top of the page—and which tragically came back to haunt him at exactly the wrong time. Number two, he robbed a bank in Chelsea. Chelsea was a veritable nursery for past and future bank robbers. It was essentially impossible to walk into a bank in the town and obtain more than a couple thousand dollars from any one teller. The moment a teller discovered himself or herself with a sum of cash exceeding that, he or she was trained to close and carry the money in back. There it was put into a large and heavy safe, to be opened again only at the end of the day under the purview of two tellers, the bank manager, three security guards, and at least one irritable guard dog. This was why bank service in Chelsea was so slow, which inspired more than a few of the residents, in a fit of pique, to rob the bank just to make their withdrawal more quickly.
His third mistake was that the teller he attempted to rob was none other than Trina Mahoney, who had passed out at a high school kegger the previous spring and woken up to discover Dickie’s hand on her left breast. She was therefore inclined to both positively identify him—loudly—and to be less than inclined to give him much of anything, whether he had a gun or not.
His fourth mistake? He didn’t actually have a gun.
That was the difference between two years and ten to fifteen, but Dickie didn’t think of it that way. Next time, he was definitely going to have a gun, and he was going to have partners, which was where Mikey and Rob ultimately came into the picture.
Dickie was determined to get everything right the second go-around. He picked a bank downtown where he was damn near guaranteed nobody would recognize him. He skipped the note part entirely, because there was no point in passing any notes if he was just going to have Rob jump the counter and clean out the drawers himself. And as for the possibility that the drawers might not have enough money for that island he was looking to purchase . . . well, that was part of his big idea, the idea that was going to make him a legend.
Working for Uncle Ray, Dickie found exactly one thing about the construction job that he thoroughly enjoyed; sometimes, you had to blow shit up. And in the short time he spent under Ray’s employ, Dickie earned a master’s degree in Blowing Up Shit. Ray himself said he had a gift for it, which any other man might construe as a dubious compliment, but which Dickie took to heart. And then he took twenty sticks of dynamite from Ray’s storage box.