Warning: contains strong language
‘It’s just down this way, lads. Watch your step.’
‘Sam- I mean, eh, Green, where are you taking us?’
‘I’ve got it all set up, Grey-’
‘Oh yeah, sorry, Silver. Yeah, no, it’s just through here-’
‘Mate, it’s bloody freezing,’ says Red, tripping over a rock. ‘And it’s pitch fucking black. And – is that waves?’
‘Yeah – just think of it as a day at the beach, haha’ Green says. ‘And us all with our backpacks, we’re like… uh…’ He realises no-one else is laughing. ‘Plus, you know, it was the best place to, uh, gather materials.’
Silver stops. ‘What… materials?’
‘You know, for the… the thing.’
‘Why would we need materials for the thing?’
‘Because it’s – oh look, we’re here now. Uh, although yeah, no, as Jo- as Red was saying, it is a bit dark. Uh. Has everyone got torches on their phones?’ The angry glare of five white lights immediately shines in in his eyes, blinding him for a second. ‘Ah, great. Good-o. Well, gents, if you just shine your torches over in this direction…’
The group stares. After a moment Silver clears his throat.
‘Oh yeah, sorry. Silver.’
‘Green… what the fuck?’ There’s a shuffling of feet and a murmur of assent behind him. A general air of what-the-fuckness prevails.
‘What’s up buddy?’
‘I asked you to set up a fucking schematic. Not a fucking sandcastle.’
‘It’s not a sandcastle, bud – I mean, very little sand was used in the actual, uh, construction-’
‘Gentlemen,’ says Black. As one, the group stiffens. ‘Time is short. Mr Green has at least provided us with some sort of plan. May I suggest we get to it?’
‘Eh, yeah, right, of course, of course,’ says Silver, muttering.
‘All right, everyone,’ says Green, ‘gather round, gather round. J- uh, Red, can you shine a light over here, bud, right on the tire? Right, and Silver, if you could, uh, illuminate the main drag there-’
‘The main drag?’
‘Yeah, you know, the, uh… the bit between the two rows of stones there. That’s the road. Great. And Purple-’
‘Peach? Is it?’
‘It’s fucking not,’ says Silver. ‘It’s Purple.’
‘It’s fucking Peach,’ says Purple. ‘It’s got more layers to it, innit? Like, life is peachy, or ooh, ain’t she a peach. Whereas Purple’s just knobs and-’
‘It’s Purple,’ says Silver. ‘It’s been decided upon. We can’t go changing it now.’
‘S’alright for you, innit’ says Purple, muttering. ‘You’ve-’
‘And, uh, Mr…’
‘Oh for fuck’s sake, Jer- I mean, eh…’ Silver clicks his fingers impatiently.
‘It’s not fucking Orange. That’s directly from the film. You can’t have one directly from the film.’
‘Because it- it links us back- it can be used as… Ginger! You were Mr Ginger.’
‘S’practic’ly the exact same fucking thing, though. Orange. Ginger. S’practic’ly the exact same fucking thing.’
‘So why did you have to fucking change it then?’
Mr Black clears his throat.
‘Uh, right, yes, Ginger,’ says Green, ‘If you could step over here – watch your foot on the flag there-’
‘Oh Jesus Christ, he’s made flags.’
‘- and if you could just shine your light on the grill there. Right. Can everyone see alright? Silver? Mr Black? Right, here goes then. Mr Silver will be driving the bus – oh bollocks, I forgot the bus. Er, Wil-’
‘Sorry, yeah, no, Silver, could you grab this, er, whadyoucallit… this traffic thingy?’
‘What traffic thingy?’
‘The uh… Christ, I dunno what it’s called, this thing here. The plastic, uh, fencepost. You get it at roadworks for holding the barriers up.’
‘I believe it’s called a watchman post,’ says Mr Black.
‘Ah, yeah, that sounds right, thanks – Silver, then, could you grab this, uh, watchman post?’
Silver, scowling, crosses the main drag and bends down to pick up the watchman post at Green’s feet.
‘Christ, it’s heavy. Get a move on, will you?’
‘Right, right – so, Silver, driving the bus-’ Green pats the watchman post ‘- will proceed up Carlyle Terrace to the target, making his point of ingress here-’
‘What’s point of ingress?’ says Ginger/Orange.
‘Means where we break through the window, innit,’ says Purple/Peach.
‘Ain’t got a window. ’s a tire.’
‘Yeah, no, but the tire is symbolising the bank, isn’t it?’ says Green. ‘So go on then, Silver. Uh. Make ingress.’
Silver huffs and lurches up between the stones, chucking the post through the centre of the tire.
‘Aww no, you’ve gone and knocked over the chimney stack,’ says Green, bending down to fiddle with a vacuum extension on the grill. He catches Silver’s glare and lets it fall. ‘Not important, though, not important – doesn’t affect the outcome at all, was just for verisimil… Anyway, right, then me, Red and Ginger-’
‘- drive up in Jo- uh, Red’s wife’s Megane – that’s this long stick right here – forming part of the roadblock, while Mr Black and Purple-’
‘- will stop the Nissan here marking the other half of the roadblock-’
‘They’ve not even parked across the road, mate,’ says Red. ‘They’ve left that whole lane clear, look.’
‘Yeah, no, but that’s fine, cos it’s just the demonstration,’ says Green. ‘When we do it with the cars we’ll make sure they go right across. Anyway, we, uh, make ingress into the bank via the ruddy big hole Silver’s made with the bus, we stick up the tellers and raid the vault like Silver covered in his interior briefing last night-’
‘Which I might add was fully accomplished with marker pens and a whiteboard. Indoors,’ says Silver.
‘Look, we don’t all have girlfriends in the Council and unlimited access to stationery supplies, do we? I had to make do with what I had-’
‘Mr Green, please focus on the matter at hand.’
‘Yeah, no, of course, uh, sorry Mr Black, you’re quite right – and after we’re done in the bank, we’ll make, uh, egress-’
‘Means leave,’ says Purple/Peach.
‘I got that,’ says Ginger/Orange.
‘- back through the hole and scarper off down this side alley to Venter’s Street-’
‘Hang on, what side alley?’
‘Down here, with the blue – Red, come on, shine the light over a bit, would you? – where this blue bottle-top is.’
‘That’s not an alleyway – s’blocked off. There’s buildings in the way.’
‘Nooonononono, they were meant to be the terrace café tables up here, but Wi- uh, Grey-’
‘- knocked them off when he ingressed the bus into the bank.’
‘You sure mate?’
‘Yeah, I watched him.’
Red sighs. ‘No, I mean you’re sure there’s an alleyway there?’
‘Yeah. Cycled round there today.’
‘Oh, for Christ- you were told not to go anywhere near the bank for a week beforehand,’ says Silver.
‘Well I had to scope it out, didn’t I? Besides, I made sure no-one noticed me. I took care of it.’
‘Had me helmet on.’
Silver presses the heel of his hand against one eye. ‘Right, and after the alleyway?’
‘Well, there’s a bin down there where we can dump the balaclavas and what-have-you-’
‘Ski masks,’ says Silver.
‘Right, yeah, ski masks, and then we all hop into different taxis at the taxi rank on Venter’s Street and take off to our various locations until it’s time for the rendezvous.’
‘Means where we all meet-’
‘I fucking know what rendezvous means.’
‘Well, gentlemen,’ says Mr Black. They all turn to him. ‘This is all looking quite excellent. And especial thanks to Mr Green for setting up the display – the demonstration was most effective.’ Mr Green beams. ‘I feel we are quite ready for Thursday now – the final step is for me to secure the passports for our onward journeys. I take it you’ve all brought the required funds?’
One by one the men shrug off their backpacks and hand them to Mr Black. Except one.
‘Is there a problem Mr Green?’
The group turns to stare at him.
‘Uh, no, not as such – not with the money in any respect,’ he says. ‘It’s just – well, the backpack, it’s actually my boy’s, and he’s got school tomorrow-’
‘Jesus H – here,’ says Silver, snatching the backpack from Green’s hands and emptying its contents into his own, taking care to snatch the handful of notes that slip out the side. He thrusts the empty schoolbag back at Green and, somewhat more deferentially, hands his now bulging backpack to Mr Black.
‘If it’s short you can put that down to me, not him,’ says Silver.
‘I’m sure I’ll find everything as it should be,’ says Mr Black. ‘In which case, I’ll go secure the passports now, and I’ll see you gentlemen at the café on Thursday morning as planned, yes?’
There’s a murmur of assent.
‘Very good. Get some rest gentlemen. The day after tomorrow you’ll all be very rich men.’
The group stay at attention until Mr Black has fully faded into the night. Silver turns to Green.
‘Well, all things considered I suppose that worked out alright.’
‘Yeah, no, he seemed happy enough with it though, didn’t he?’
Silver nods. ‘Although you fucking pair,’ he says, turning on Ginger and Purple, ‘what the fuck are you playing at with all the name bullshit? We’re trying to act like fucking professionals here. I don’t need you showing us up in front of him.’
‘Don’t see why we’re botherin’ with all the colouring-in bullshit anyway, innit,’ says Purple. ‘We all know who we are.’
‘Yeah, but he doesn’t.’
‘So, who the fuck’s he anyway?’ says Red.
‘I told you, he’s someone with experience. With expertise. Gary recommended him to me.’
‘Fucking Gary?’ says Ginger.
‘Yes, fucking Gary,’ says Silver. ‘And he’s as solid a POC as-’
‘Wait, what do you mean POC?’ says Green.
‘Of all the fucking people, Sam, I though you at least would know what point-of-contact-’
‘Yeah, no, I mean I know what it means, but I mean, uh – you haven’t been in touch with this, uh, Mr Black directly? To arrange meetings and that?’
‘He’s a professional, Sam,’ says Silver with a sigh. ‘He does everything through a liaison. He doesn’t want anyone directly associated with the job knowing his own phone number. I call Gary, he calls Black, and that’s how it all gets arranged.’
‘So we’ve each just given him five grand, and he’s gone off into the night, and now we’ve got no way of getting in touch with him?’
‘It’s- he’s- look, it’s not nearly as suspicious as you make it sound,’ says Silver. He sighs in response to the blank expressions around him. ‘I’ll even call Gary right now, and you can all speak to him and get some reassurance.’
Silver puts the phone on speaker and the group gathers round to hear it ring. And ring. And ring.
A short drizzle begins to fall.
#TheObjects is a weekly short story project, each edition inspired by something or other I find in the street. If you’ve found something interesting (or own an object you’d like to see immortalised in fiction), send a pic to firstname.lastname@example.org along with any info you feel is relevant and I’ll see what I can do.