The Heist

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Two men are talking together at the back of a small, local art gallery. Interestingly, they are not looking at each other. Let’s listen in.

***

“What do you think, Stan? Worth our while, or not?”

“It’s only been open for a couple of hours, Lex. I haven’t seen many pictures moving yet.”

“Word on the street was that there are a few paintings here that could be worth big money.”

“Which ones?”

“I don’t know, do I? I ain’t no art critic.”

“So, how are we supposed to know which ones to nick?”

“Stanley Aiden Conway—”

“Don’t use my full name in public! People will hear.”

“So, what if they do? We ain’t done nothing yet so no harm’s done.”

“But if we do do something, they’ll know.”

“Calm down, Stan. If, and I mean if, we find something of value here, we won’t make our move until much later, by which time it’ll be different people in here, won’t it? And they won’t have heard me call you Stanley Aiden Conway—”

“Shut up, Lex! The helpers’ll be the same. And if any of the people here are artists or their mates or relations they’ll probably be here all day, too.”

“Fair point. So, Stan.”

“What?”

“Forgot what I was going to say, now. Oh yeah!  You asked how we’re supposed to know which ones to nick.”

“And?”

“And we don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t nick any paintings.”

“Why not?”

“Simply because we don’t have the means to dispose of them.”

“You mean we can’t fence ’em.”

“Precisely.”

“So, remind me. What’s the point in being here?”

“You aren’t thinking, are you, Stan?”

“Go on, then. Enlighten me.”

“People come here to look at paintings, right?”

“Right.”

“And if they see one they really like, what do they do?”

“I dunno. Buy it?”

“Precisely, mon petit bijou, they buy it.”

“Don’t call me that. You know I don’t like it.”

“That’s why I call you it. Anyway, they buy it and, at the end of the day, we lift the cash. Genius, n’est-ce pas?”

“I get that, but why all the French all of a sudden? It’s just showing off.”

“It is indeed showing off, mon frère. And do you know why I show off?”

“Because you can?”

“Because I can. Can you?”

“Not in French, bImon ‘e’ vIchaw’chugh, vaj bImonta’.”

“What the hell was that supposed to be?”

“Klingon.”

“What did you say?”

“If I speak to you in Klingon, you won’t understand a word.”

“Now who’s showing off?”

“And do you know why I’m showing off, Lex?”

“Yeah, whatever. Do you get the plan?”

“I do, except for one possible minor snag.”

“That being?”

“What if they pay by cheque or by card? We don’t have any contacts for that and the nearest you’ve been to the dark web was screaming when there was a spider in your bath.”

“Be that as it may, old son… Ey up! Who are those two?”

“That tall man and that short woman?”

“No, that piebald stallion and the flying pig! Of course that tall man and that short woman. Quick. Follow my lead. Act nonchalant…”

***

At the other end of the gallery, a tall man is speaking to a short woman.

“These two?” he asks.

“Yes. They’ve been hanging around since we opened. They looked at one of my pieces for a long time then moved to the back. And the strangest thing? They haven’t had a glass of wine or a piece of cake all day.”

“Why is that strange?”

“That’s what most people come in for.”

“Not to buy art?”

“Not so many, sadly. And another thing. I overheard them talking earlier. I think they’re planning a heist.”

“A heist? You’ve been watching too many American cop shows, Madam. What else did you hear?”

“Well, the one with the green shirt, pale trousers and pigeon toes is called Lex and the other one, the one who actually looks shifty, his name is Stanley Aiden Conway.”

” Stanley Aiden Conway, you say?”

“I do.”

“Hang on a sec…”

The tall man raises his hand and speaks to his cuff (well, it takes all kinds). He turns to the short woman. “Stay here,” he says and approaches Stan and Lex.

“Are you Stanley Aiden Conway?” he asks.

“Who’s asking?”

“Detective Sergeant Greenhalgh, City Police.”

“Greenhalgh – is that how you spell it?”

“No, but I never was any good at spelling. Failed the first year at Hogwarts which is how I ended up in this job. Anyway, I assume you are Stanley’s brother Alexander Oliver Conway.”

“So, what if I am?”

“I have reason to believe that the pair of you are engaging or attempting to engage in what I call a criminal endeavour, namely the theft of works of art. Am I right, or am I wrong?”

“You are wrong, Sergeant.”

“Oh?”

“Shut up, Stan!”

“We were planning to wait until some punter bought one of these things then we’d relieve them of the cash.”

“I said shut up, Stan!”

“Too late, Alex—”

“It’s Lex, not Alex.”

“Either way, I have your confession on tape.”

“Ah, but we ain’t done naff all yet, have we? So, what are you going to arrest us for, eh? Eh? Eh?”

“I hadn’t thought of arresting you; I was just going to write you up. However, since you insist—”

“We haven’t insisted on anything.”

“Well, I do insist, and I have the powers to make it stick. So. How does conspiracy to commit a felony sound?”

“Good luck pinning that on us, Copper!”

“Oh, grow up, Stanley. You’ve got to learn when to give up.”

“Stanley Aiden Conway, Alexander Oliver Conway: I am arresting you on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a felony. You know the rest, don’t you?”

“Nope. Let’s hear you say it and woe betide you if you don’t get it right.”

“That’s it. Tell him, Lex.”

“You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

“That’ll do. Okay. Ahem. It’s a fair cop, Guvnor, you got us banged to rights.”

“Do you know, no-one has ever said that to me before. Properly made my day, it has. Now, be off with you, both of you, and I don’t want to see your ugly mugs on my patch again!”

As the two men ran off, the Detective Sergeant turned to the short woman and said, “That should put the value of your paintings up a notch. It was worth putting that word out, wasn’t it? Now, about that wine…”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 330 published on this site.

 

Authenticity

Stand there and wait, they said. Wait for what? Noone would say. Just wait. I imagined they’d let me know at some stage, but no. According to the head man – producer or director or whatever – they want an authentic reaction when whatever it is I’m supposed to be waiting for eventually happens.

So I suppose I’ll just have to stand here in front of you nice people and try to entertain you until then. What would you like me to do for you? I can’t sing – not in a way you’d like to hear, anyway, and my dancing … I’m sure most of you will have seen the video from last year’s staff and volunteers’ party that went viral. And no, I won’t give you a quick rendition of that. Why not? Because there’s no music. HA. What’s that? No, Sir, I don’t want you to put your ghetto blaster on full strength. Who still uses those things anyway? No, Madam, I’d rather you didn’t sing something for me to dance to. Mostly because I’ve heard your singing before and I don’t think it’s something I’d like to inflict on these poor people who paid to come here to be entertained, not tortured. You’d like me to tell you a story? Okay. Somebody throw out a subject and I’ll see what I can do.

One at a time, please. What’s that? The photographer and the nude model? I think we could all make up stories about that, but there are children present… yes, Madam, and ladies of a sensitive nature. Give me another. I think the actress and the bishop would fall into the same category, Miss, and I’d be careful if I were you, your father doesn’t seem to be too impressed by your suggestion. Haunted car park? That sounds interesting. Give me a minute, will you?

Right.

The date is the twenty-eighth of November. Three hundred yards away, the church clock strikes eleven. The sky is covered in clouds and there’s a power cut, so it’s pitch black everywhere. Our hero; let’s call him George… no: John. Why not George? I don’t think it’s heroic sounding enough. Yes, I do think John is. Yes, I’ve heard about Saint George – he’s the guy who allegedly slew a mythical monster. All right, if you insist, we’ll call him David.

So, Davey-boy walks through the car park. Look, it’s a story about a haunted car park, isn’t it? So where would you expect him to be? THAT’S WHAT YOU ASKED FOR!

Thank you.

So, Davey-boy walks through the car park. As he reaches the corner where his car is parked. Why else would he be in a car park at eleven o’clock? Yes, I suppose he could be a miscreant bent on stealing a car or robbing stuff from one, but let’s just assume he’s going to his car, okay?

Thank you.

So, he reaches the corner where his car is parked, raises his eyes from the ground — he was looking at the ground because it’s pitch dark, and he doesn’t want to trip over anything or step in something disgusting. Yes, like doggy-do. No, not like an IED. We’re not in a war zone. Honestly. I thought you people wanted a story, not a…

OH MY GOD! WHAT THE DEVIL IS THAT?


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 329 published on this site.

 

The Mist

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Donna Kelly gingerly inched a toe over the line and into the mist. Beside her on one side was her young sister, Marie and on the other side, as ever with camera in hand, her brother-in-law.

“Are you sure this was where it was, Tim?” she asked.

“As sure as I am of anything,” he replied.

“What exactly happened with Tommy?”

“I’m not absolutely certain, Donna.”

“Why not? You were with him. So were you, Marie.”

Marie looked a little sheepishly at her husband, then back at her sister. “We weren’t totally concentrating on Tommy.”

“Why not?”

“In fairness, we’d only been married for a few weeks,” Tim offered, “We were more intent on each other.”

“So when you said you’d bring my boy along to free me up for the day…”

“There was a half-price entry offer for families yesterday. It was cheaper to have him with us than to pay for two adults. There’s no way they’d know Tommy wasn’t ours.”

“Except, dear sister, he was only three years younger than you and looked older from some angles!”

“We said he was my son,” Tim said, “and Marie’s stepson.”

“So you have no idea what happened?”

“No,” the two chorused.

“He could well have been abducted; sold into slavery; sex-trafficked; anything!”

“You’re jumping to conclusions a bit, Don,” Marie said, using the pet name that their parents used for her sister.

“Am I?” Donna said then, more loudly, “AM I? How long was he out of your sight for?”

“Eighteen hours now, give or take.”

“Don’t be flippant, Timothy Timothy!”

“Please don’t call me that. You know I don’t like it.”

“Why not? It is your name, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but I hate that my parents gave me the same first name as my last name.”

“Be that as it may. When you were here with Tommy yesterday, how much time elapsed between you seeing him approach this mist and you realising he was gone? EXACTLY!”

“I’d say no more than thirty seconds… maybe a minute, tops.”

“And did you hear anything?”

“Marie and I are newly-weds, Donna. There are moments when we’re oblivious to anything but each other.”

“Oblivious to the passage of time, too, by the sound of it.”

“No. Marie broke off after, like I said, about half a minute and screamed.”

“Why?”

“She said—”

“I’M ASKING MY SISTER!”

“I noticed he’d gone,” Marie mumbled.

“Speak up; I can’t hear you. Why did you break off whatever it is you were doing?”

“Kissing—”

“Don’t care. WHY?”

“I noticed that he was no longer there. I was kind of aware of him stepping over the grid and into the mist, then poof. Gone.”

“That’s a different story to the one you told me earlier.”

“We knew you’d be angry if you got the impression we weren’t taking our responsibility to your son seriously,” Tim said defiantly.

“It’s not an impression, Tim. More the recognition of a fact. Well. Only one way to find out.”

“What are you going to do?” Marie asked.

“I’m going to step over the grille and see what happens.”

“Okay, Donna. I’ve got you in frame. When you step over the line, I’ll record in ultra slo-mo. That way we’ll be able to see exactly what happens.”

Marie looked concerned. “Be careful, Don…” she said, “Donna? DONNA?”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 328 published on this site.