Read Never Play Another Man's Game Online

Authors: Mike Knowles

Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense

Never Play Another Man's Game (7 page)

BOOK: Never Play Another Man's Game
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t snowed on the day of the job, not enough to make the roads slick — just enough to see wisps of snow slithering over the pavement like snakes made of confetti. I sat in the passenger seat of the van; Franky was driving.

“Breathe,” I said.

“I am breathing. It's part of being alive. All aerobic organisms require oxygen to release energy.”

“Aerobic organisms? You a college boy, Franky?”

“What? No. I just watch a lot of

“Well, you're panting, Discovery Channel. Take the breaths slow and easy. You need to be able to think. Panting like a dog isn't going to get you there.”

“I can hear you from here, Franky,” Rick said.

It was strange. Franky was the only one breathing hard. Rick was just as new to this as his partner, but he seemed to have everything together. There was no nervous chatter or stupid bravado; he just sat on the floor behind the front seats holding the
D.B. had procured from whatever biker source he had. When D.B. delivered the two rifles, he told us to avoid firing them at all costs.

“It'll be sweet if I can sell them back to the guy clean.”

D.B. bankrolled the firearms. That meant he would get the money he spent back out of the take before we divvied the rest up. If he wanted to make a little extra selling the guns back, no one was going to argue.

The butt of the second
was leaning against the door beside me. I watched out through the window as Ruby knocked on the door. The driver's name was Rob. He lived with a wife and kid in a small house in the suburb of Dundas. Every day, Rob left at six thirty. The wife came out an hour later, with the kid, and waited at the curb. The kid got on the bus at seven thirty-five and then the wife went back inside. She was a stay-at-home mom who pulled in a little extra cash selling cosmetics. Ruby used the side business to work her way into the woman's life. She met Rob's wife, Donna, on the street and faked being new to the neighbourhood. Ruby was a con artist by trade and when put in her element, she could move mountains and steal fortunes with nothing more than words. Ruby power-walked by the house every morning, catching Donna waiting with the kid for the bus. She made a small Avon order in the first week and then a large one the following Thursday. She told Donna she would drop off the cash Friday morning when she came by on her usual morning walk, but Ruby was later than usual and the bus came and went before she got to the house. Ruby had to knock on the door to give Donna her big cheque.

Ruby stood on the porch waiting. In her hand, she held an Avon book. To her left, D.B. stood leaning against the side of the house. He was wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt. He had changed jackets, opting for a plain leather coat without any of his usual gang patches. He needlessly wore a pair of black wraparound sunglasses. Who could argue with the logic of a six-and-a-half-foot giant who told you he liked to look the part?

The door opened after a minute and Ruby and Donna engaged in what looked like a bit of friendly banter. Ruby stayed on the porch and convinced Donna to step outside by accidentally dropping her purse. Donna stepped onto the porch to help Ruby pick up her things and I saw the cold hit her all at once. The below-zero air dug into the old sweats she had on and Donna immediately started hugging her body.

The friendly chit-chat went on, probably about the weather, and I saw D.B. move away from the wall. The big man came out from around the side of the house and grabbed Donna from behind while she was in mid-sentence. D.B.'s martial arts training was solid and he put a textbook rear naked choke on the much smaller woman. Her one-hundred-and-thirty-pound frame, much of the weight in her butt, went rigid with fear and then slack with unconsciousness in about ten seconds. D.B. picked the woman up as Ruby stepped into the house. D.B. started down the driveway and before he got to the curb Ruby was back on the porch with another purse in her hands. Rick had the back doors of the van open for D.B. and Donna went into the chair I had spot-welded to the floor. D.B. zip-tied her hands to the chair while I did her feet. I taped her mouth and put a tote bag Ruby had gotten for free from a bulk food store over her head. The fabric bag was loose and there was no way Donna would suffocate under it.

“You get to carry a tote bag while I have to carry the girl. Tell me how that is fair?”

“I thought doing the heavy lifting would be good for your self-esteem. You spend so much time with the elderly, I didn't want you to feel like you weren't a man anymore,” I said.

“I love how you're always thinking of me, bro.”

I blew D.B. a kiss and closed the doors. Franky started the engine and had the van away from the curb before I was even back in my seat.

“Wilson, what did you mean when you said D.B. hung out with the elderly? He got a fetish or something?” Franky asked as he rolled through a stop sign.

“No names, dummy,” Rick said. “And watch the traffic signs. We don't want to get pulled over with Donna here tied up in back.”

Rick had gotten the rebuke out before I could. The kid wasn't only cooler than he looked, he was smarter too.

“Sorry . . . uh, dude.”

We drove to the grocery store parking lot with D.B. and Ruby trailing behind in a Jeep Wrangler we boosted. By five after eight, we were parked in the far corner of the lot. Donna had woken up and she was making muffled sounds through the tape on her mouth. She had started out in a panic, but when no one spoke to her or touched her, her hysteria reduced to silent terror.

Franky couldn't stop looking at the struggling woman. He had never pulled a job like this before, so a little fear was common. Rick, on the other hand, was as cool as last night's leftovers. He alternated looks at his watch and the entrance and he kept his mouth shut unless he had something important to say. There had been no whining or bullshit behaviour all morning. I was starting to wonder if the kid had more of my uncle's blood in him than I thought.

I nudged Franky to get his attention off the woman when I saw the truck coming into the lot.

I looked over at the black Jeep just in time to see Ruby getting out. She had changed outfits and was now dressed in a windbreaker and tapered cotton pants. The pants were a light blue stretchy fabric that ended just above the ankles. Ruby's white socks introduced even whiter orthopaedic running shoes. She looked ten years older than she was, especially with the grey wig I had found for her. She pushed a metal cart that she had brought with her into the store. She was just another senior citizen going into the store for a little early morning shopping. And like most seniors, Ruby would be absolutely shit at using an

Ruby walked into the store just as the guard riding shotgun stepped out of the cab. The guard opened the back door, pulled the cash out, and waited for the guard in back to get onto the pavement. I couldn't be sure that the driver up front would have keys for the back of the truck so it was up to Ruby to pick them off the guard. I wasn't worried about her end; there was a better chance of lightning striking me than of Ruby screwing up a simple pick.

The guards moved like they always did and as soon as they were inside, I tapped Franky on the shoulder. We all pulled ski masks on and Franky gunned the engine. The van bucked ahead and Donna screamed as loud as she could under the tape. I clicked my watch as we moved across the lot and I heard a beep from behind me that came from Rick starting his own stopwatch. Rick Junior was picking things up fast.

The van pulled to the curb in front of the armoured truck. Franky threw it in reverse and pulled within six feet of the truck. Rick opened the rear doors and pulled the tote bag off Donna's face while I climbed into the rear of the van. He held up the sign we made the night before next to Donna's face; I put a gun to her head. The armoured car guard's face was a mix of confusion and horror as he read the sign and realized its implications.


It took ten seconds for the phone in my hand to ring. I pressed talk and heard the driver.

“You son of a bitch!”

I ignored the curse and laid out the deal. “Rob, put your right hand on the windshield and keep the phone to your ear with the left or we shoot her in the knee.”

Rick heard me and put the sign down. He picked up the
and pointed it at Donna's leg. The movement was smooth and the gun didn't waver. He pressed the muzzle against her knee and looked at the driver. I wasn't worried about anyone seeing us — the lot was still pretty empty and we had pulled back close enough for the open van doors to block the view of anyone who might drive by. The heavy tinting D.B. had applied to the van windows made the ski mask on Franky impossible to see up front. The driver, Rob, had a lone front-row seat for our show. He nodded to us, switched the phone to the other hand, and then put a shaky right hand against the windshield.

“Good,” I said. “Now, hold the phone against your shoulder and open the door with your left. Then, put your other hand against the windshield.”

“No fucking way,” he said.

“Shoot her in the knee,” I said to Rick.

Donna heard the command. She screamed under the tape and bucked in her chair, but the zip ties held her in place. Rick took a hand off the
and used it to shield his eyes so that the contents of her knee wouldn't blind him when they splashed all over the van. I had shown Rick the exact stance when we prepped the job. It was a bad way to stand in terms of accuracy — the gun would jump when he pulled the trigger and the one-handed grip might mean a miss, but I didn't really want him to shoot Donna. One shot in the parking lot would put the whole job out the window. If the guards didn't hear it, a pedestrian would and they'd run for cover inside the store. After that, there would be nothing to do but run. The threat of the shot was more valuable than actually doing it. Rick turned his head away from the knee and I nodded. I saw Rick's finger tense and for a second I worried he might do it. The driver's scream stopped him. “Okay, okay, I'm opening it. Look!”

I watched Rob put the phone between his ear and shoulder and then twist his body so that his left hand could reach the door. He jerked the door handle and then put his left palm next to his right against the windshield.

“Let me talk to my wife.”

“No.” I watched as the door to the truck swung open and Rob suddenly looked to his left hard enough to give himself whiplash. I couldn't see D.B. yet, but I knew the ski-masked biker was taking the guard's gun. Rob was roughly shoved to the other side of the cab and then D.B. got in behind the wheel. Rick and I reached out and closed the van doors and Franky stomped on the gas harder than he needed to. I climbed back into the front seat and told Franky to take it easy. The van went from driving erratically to just dangerously. After I punched him in the arm, he slowed down and did things just like we practised. I checked the side mirror and saw D.B. behind us in the truck. My watch told me that two minutes had elapsed. We left the lot and got onto the busy road running behind the store. Forty seconds later, we were in front of the garage. Rick opened the back door and ran around the van to the garage doors. He yanked up the door on the right and D.B. slipped the truck in like Cinderella stepping into her glass slipper. Rick lowered the door and opened the second. To his credit, Franky moved in without screeching the tires.

Everyone but Donna was out of the vehicles in a heartbeat. D.B. had Rob out with a hand around his neck. Rob didn't try to fight; he just screamed his wife's name. D.B. didn't waste time fucking him up; he just shoved him back into a support beam running from the floor to the ceiling and zip-tied his hands around the pole.

“Donna, baby, I'm here. Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine, baby. Donna, you hear me? I love you, baby.”

D.B. forced Rob to his knees while I tried to open the truck using the keys we pulled off Rob's belt. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me while I turned the key. If it didn't work, we had to call Ruby and wait for her to show up with the keys she lifted, and that meant spending more time with the truck than anyone wanted to. The mechanism turned, the lock disengaged, and everyone got back to work. D.B. took the tape from the back of the van and put a strip over Rob's mouth before he started securing the guard's ankles to the beam. When he finished with the guard's legs, D.B. put a strip of tape over his eyes. Rick cut Donna out of the chair and gave her the same treatment her husband had gotten. We all took off our masks and D.B. joined Franky behind the truck. I started passing the money out of the back into Franky's waiting hands. The money was in tight, shrink-wrapped bundles meant for the
and Franky grunted each time he took one from me. Somehow he looked even more nervous than before. He was sweating like a sinner at the Inquisition and he couldn't stop looking at Rick. I threw one of the bricks at him hard enough to get his attention and when he looked at me, I showed him I had another one ready to throw. Franky understood the message and got to work. He quickly passed his load to D.B., who took each brick in one hand and tossed it into the van.

We got the van loaded in five minutes without any help from Rick. He stayed by the doors watching the street. The kid was probably worried about the cops; he didn't realize that the longer it took to load the money, the longer we had to stay near the crime scene. I closed the van doors and slapped D.B. on the back.

“I gotta admit, bro. It was a good plan,” he said.

I nodded. “Let's go.”

Franky got behind the wheel of the van. We had planned to let D.B. drive, but Franky must have been too jazzed up to keep his head straight.

I opened the driver side door and said, “Move over, Franky. We need to stick with the plan.”

BOOK: Never Play Another Man's Game
6.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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