The hold up had been a success. It couldn’t have gone any better than I planned. The courier’s crashing through the ice, into the freezing cold water being an added bonus. Meant we didn’t have to deal with any heroes. Riding hard, the cold wintery night air stabs at my face, through a thick scruffy beard. Hard to feel my face is actually there. It’s like my conscious thoughts are the heaviest part of my head. Cold air starts to bring me back down, grounding my reality. The giddiness of pulling off the heist fades, my mind changes gear. Catching up with Pete before we get into Helena becomes the priority.
He was pushing his horse to the point it was difficult to catch up. Told him he’d need to be careful, I remember he wrecked a horse a few years back after a job. Ended up having to put the horse down for him. Strange thing to witness, Pete never thought twice about drawing his pistol. But that time he couldn’t put the horse out of it’s misery, I had to be the one to do it. “Please can you do it Leviticus, I can’t be the one” he said with a sadness in his voice and face that seemed to stem from somewhere deep inside. Strange that he’d also called me by my full christian name, usually ‘Levi’ was all I got.
As I catch up to him, I yell on him to slow down. ‘What the fuck was all that with the rope?!’ my tone firm but fair. I was conscious he’d still be giddy from the heist, and that people do crazy things when they are questioned. ‘Ahhahahahhaha’ he wailed, ‘whats a’matter you getting soft on your final job??!’ his tone goading and dismissive. ‘You know when I gave you the node to toss them a rope, I expected it would be attached to a tree! Those guys have probably been given a death sentence thanks to you’ I believed that, wouldn’t survive long exposed in this weather, or the wilderness without their horse’s. ‘Fuck’em, maybe if they didn’t rip up the land for money, no one would be robbing them!’ even with his dark logic I can’t argue. But I can’t help myself. ‘Since when did you care about the land?!’ I’m too intrigued to let it go. ‘I don’t, but I thought you did’ he says accusingly at me, as if I’d forgotten myself for a moment. ‘I do, but I don’t care for killing people, no matter what they’ve done morally that’s on them’. You’ve changed something awful Pete, to the point we’re I don’t know.....’ ‘CALM... the ....fuck down you two!!' I hear Rick loudly bellow at us, suddenly I’m jolted back into reality, forgetting he’d even been with us. ‘We’re almost at town, and I don’t want the law hearing us, because you two can’t keep it down.’ Bad day when a 21-year-old is acting more mature than you. ‘Why you little motherfuc....’ I see the hand slide to the holster. ‘ENOUGH Pete, he’s right, I’m not wearing a noose after my last job' he gives me a contemptuous look as the 3 of us quietly stroll into the outskirts of Helena.
I told Rick and Pete I’d meet them at the Flying Fox bar in the north of the town. I’d made plans a week back with a fence, by the name of Waller. He’d take our loot, and wash it for us making it legitimate. I always dealt with Waller, he was more expensive than other fences but he was professional, and always able to arrange anything we need. Pete never liked him, and hated giving him a cut of our take. He thought we should deal with it on our own or just spend it. I never liked that idea, I felt it drew too much attention. Before working with Pete, I’d had times I’d had to run when someone had been too obvious with their cash and brought the law on our tails. First-hand experience taught me, leave it to the greedy idiots, we’d be quiet and professional.
I’d arranged to meet Waller over at the old, abandoned Van Der Mill farm on the east of town at midnight. ‘Levi’ he quietly called out as I pulled up to the old outhouse on the edge of the estate. When I showed him the haul, his eyes light up while pursing his lips and making a high pitched whistle. There was $1000 dollars in cash, and the gold according to Waller worth another $2000. ‘Incredible work son’ he said complimentarily, I suspected he was already thinking of his 20% cut from the loot. ‘Tomorrow outside the central bank in town, at noon. I’ll have everything sorted for you. Here’s the bag with 3 changes of clothes you requested’ I nodded and headed off to the flying fox.
When I got there, all was quiet. Pete and Rick were nestled into a corner of the bar. Approaching the keep I asked for 3 rooms for 2 nights, and asked him to bring a bottle of bourbon over to the table. Pete was his usual intense way, stooped brow, arms folded across his chest way. Rick nervously fiddled with the trim of his hat. ‘We did it boys, we got a decent haul for ourselves. You mean until your fence buddy Walden gets a hold of it!’ Somethings never change. ‘Been over this a million times Pete, we can’t be giving ourselves away, or bringing unwanted attention. You’re bad enough when we knock off small places, never mind a haul, this size.’ Again I was firm but fair, I knew what he was like, so did he. ‘Much we talkin’ about?!’ he spat at me. ‘Listen you know the drill we split….’ Rick kicked me under the table, darting his eyes over my shoulder, at the bar keep. ‘Here mister’ he sat down the tray with the keys and the bourbon. Nodding I give him $12 telling him to keep the change, ‘why thank you sir!’
‘We finish this bottle, then head to our rooms and turn in for the night, no point bringing suspicion on ourselves by not drinking’. An hour later we head to our rooms, I handed them each a change of clothes, and instructed them to meet at the barbers just around the corner the following morning for 10, wearing them.
The following day was bright and clear, the air crisp. I wondered about the couriers and the chilly water, a shiver running down my spin, I really wished they’d managed to get out of that frozen pond. Outside the barbers I see Rick, ‘Good sleep?’ I asked Rick. ‘Took me a while to get off, and I couldn’t get off the crapper for ages’ I chuckled quietly ‘Yeah runny guts can be common kid. C’mon lets get ourselves tidied up’ My routine was always the same after a job, dump the old clothes, and have a shave and a haircut. I always thought it helped to distance yourself from any crime, and anyone being able to confidently identify you. Pete eventually made an appearance, half an hour later. After I was cleaned up, I instructed them I’d meet them later back at the Flying fox.
I decide to cut through the public park on the way to Waller. Usually full of lush green trees, now they were bald. Most notably the parks famous Pear tree, stripped of all its leaves, a glistening lustre of frost clung to its bark. Perched drunkingly against its fence I see a familiar face, swollen and haggard, the years unkind to it. Locking eyes, it instantly recognises me. ‘Hellllooooo Leviiii’ I nod back curtly and promptly attempt to keep walking. ‘Not going to give me some of your precious time ???’ I stop, lock my gaze on the figure but move no closer. ‘Thought I seen you last night at the flying fox??’ his voice inquisitive but sure at the same time. ‘What do you want?’ I offer in cold response. ‘C’mon no time for old da….’ In a heartbeat I’m pushing him to the ground before he can finish. ‘You ain’t NO dad of mine’ anger present in my voice, he looks back at me offended, the AUDASCITY. ‘Nice to see my two boys working together’ his scabby lips form a wry grin. ‘SHUT YOUR MOUTH’ I turn away tossing a couple of dollar bills at his feet, I hear him scuffling to his knees grabbing at the money and giving me a verbal parting shoot, ‘see you around, SON!’. Waller outside the bank hands me three books, for three separate bank accounts. Mine contained $1000, the other two $700 each. A brilliant take, even after Wallers $400 handling fee. ‘Thanks for sorting that out’ I try hiding my glee. ‘When will I see you again?’ he asks, like a lover does as you leave in the morning. ‘That was it for me, I saved this gig till last. But don’t worry though, I’ll have need of your services again soon’.
When I get back to the Flying Fox, Pete was playing cards, badly from the looks of it. Rick was chatting to one of the show girls, laughing and giggling, it was good to see him relaxed. Part of me felt guilty inviting him into this world, suggesting to him to go on with Pete in my place. But he’d been nagging me to take him under my wing. I felt if I didn’t he’d end up with some rag tag bunch, and get himself in trouble. I give each of them a nod and head to my room.
Eventually they both appear, first Rick. Then a sore from losing at cards Pete. I give them each an account book and explain they use these to take money from the Bank in the middle of town. ‘What the fuck’s this?? I wanted cash! Not some chicken shit card full of paper and number’s!’ Rick’s anxious, and clearly wants to leave the room. I figure he’s keen to distance himself from Pete’s bullshit. ‘Pete this score was different, lot of cash, can’t afford for someone to draw attention’ He gives me an intense stare, his green eyes cutting through me to my soul ‘I want my money in cash now’ He says quietly and coldly. ‘Guys I’m not wanting any part of this, I’m heading back downstairs' Rick says politely but nervously ‘Thanks for sorting this out Levi’ no quicker he’s out the door and it’s shut behind him. ‘Look what you’ve done, kids spooked' I shift the light back onto Pete’s actions, but he’s having none of it. ‘Fuck that little weasel. How’d I even know it’s worth anything, you could be screwing me over!’ I understood his apprehension, we’d always dealt in hard cash, but this amount was too large for anyone to be caught with. ‘You think I’d do that?! After a decade, now I’d screw you over?’ I reason with him. ‘Maybe it’s all a big long con, you and your new buddy Rick planned. Maybe you’ve stashed the real money, so you two can split it yourselves!’ Now he was clutching. ‘Look stupid I’ve one too!. Waller got one for each of us, $700 each for you’s, $1000 for me!’ I hold up the account book for him to see. Nervous laughter erupts from him, ‘You might wanna check that!’ Turning it around, I scan to the balance, $700.00. it reads in bold. I mixed up the books when I handed them out and must have given Rick mines with the $1000! Maybe thats why he was so desperate to leave the room. ‘C’mon!’ I shout bursting out the door and downstairs to the bar, but Rick’s gone. Pete looks at me ‘One last ride together then??!’ and with that the two of us exit the bar into the cold winter evening air.