Take Another Look











{September 2, 2009}   The Break In

Max sits outside and stretches slowly, feeling as heavy as stone, taking another drag. His system is flooded with excitement even though there are plenty of design glitches in this plan, and he isn’t sure he wants to go through with stealing twenty thousand in electronics, because usually for a job of this size it has to be worth way more, but Steve in security has convinced him that this job is especially easy. Plus he is tired of hearing Steve complain about “the elitist fags that run the techno gadget stuff.” Apparently a red-haired guy who runs a class down there brushed Steve off when all Steve wanted to know was how the camera feed upstairs could be expanded using a certain type of software.

“I don’t know. Not my job, not my area,” the little pisser had the nerve to say. Then he smirked and said “it’s not a video feed, by the way.”

Steve smiled sweetly. Didn’t say a word in return. He just looked across the hallway and waited for him to rush away. That took some serious self-control.

Red doesn’t offer to lift a pinky. Steve needs to nose around, and this punk stonewalls him, refusing to show any interest in helping those less technologically fortunate. Isn’t that the guy’s job- helping other people understand how certain programs work? You’d think the guy would have an invested interest in getting better at explaining, but no. Steve has been watching how obsessive he gets working with his electronics all day long. Or whatever they do on their computers, those blank faces crying out to Steve during his long hours where there isn’t any redeeming camera footage of girls having sex because school hasn’t officially started yet. Christ, it’s an art school, Steve thought the people here would be a little more girls gone wild. Talk about misled. Instead Steve watches the computer geeks walking around, obsessing over meaningless numbers and codes, music notes and concepts about music notes. Red seems to know his way around alright but he also seems oblivious as a bumblebee, which for all intensive purposes fits Steve’s plans to a tee.

He can look up their faces on the computer using facial recognition software. He’s gotten so bored that he’s started files on the ones that come there the most often.

What bothers Steve the most about Red is the way he acts as though not fully understanding computers betrays an ignorance about the process of the cult of a personality as a whole.

After that day he’s began listening in on all their conversation using a bugging device he purchased on his own from a one-eyed Turkish guy. And now Steve’s just about had it up to his eyeballs in all the bitching going on downstairs, the way Red walks around with a little keyboard duster as if he had a ladder up his ass.

Steve really doesn’t like being lied to, underestimated, or ignored. The worst is brush-offs.

Anybody who knows him in his real line of work would count their last breath before doing something like that, and Steve knew without a doubt that Red, the Irish-looking mobster kid who wasn’t a muscle cruncher but a whiz at computers could have stopped in and helped him, probably re-routed the entire system. They could have forged a nice bond. The security working with the technologically advanced. That was part of why he took the job. He didn’t expect to run into guys who acted like their balls were on the line every time you eyed them. These people lived in a different world- they gave Steve the creeps, as if they knew everything that was going on when only Steve could know what was going on- and that they took this for granted and didn’t seem to care about what they knew made Steve irate.

Hell, even now Steve wonders how he could have recruited Red for the job, although that would be unlikely, seeing his loyalty to The Teacher. Plus they hadn’t exactly hit it off. The teacher he should have hit first. The teacher he liked although this wasn’t good because it meant the guy knew his way around.

He suspected the teacher knew more than he let on. Not good. Steve didn’t like it one bit. The teacher watched everything and said nothing, like a spook, and Steve knew that if this whole thing ever went down, he’d have to sit down and have a talk with the teacher. Any damage done to the teacher was a necessary casualty, for he didn’t have anything against the teacher specifically. But since he hadn’t been able to infiltrate their division, get the guys down there trusting him and talking to him, he had to get his bar-cutters out for the windows, make the incident look like a student robbery, or even better, an ex-security guard with an ax to grind, and whack the situation in the way he best knew how.

Steve wonders if the teacher, sitting there with this shitty job, working in his office all day, trying to make unsanitary crap those tech freaks called music, wants to take the equipment home for himself. Maybe he would want in on something like this, maybe he’d even keep quiet if the insurance claim went through and he got better, newer equipment. And as a bonus, maybe he gets to be the detective that “solves” the case, puts the blame on some dumb loser student, and ends up being the hero that saved the day. It’s too late to negotiate with those faggot fuckers, Steve thinks. Both married; probably a cover up, just like that movie that gave him the creeps, Brokeback Mountain. Steve did not like capital hill and would never have accepted this job if he hadn’t been desperate.

Now is payday. Max looks reluctant, but he will do the work.

The best part is that there would only be camera footage of last night, where only the red-haired snot had come in to work.

ii

Oh Steve, why can’t you ever lie low. Max thinks that the red kid is lucky he still is walking around with his arms and legs intact. Steve took this job just as a cover gig so he could do his real work at night but now Steve has become obsessed with his job. Max is beginning to wonder if Steve is completely paranoid, but he thinks the only way to make things the way they used to be is to go along with this psycho plan and steal the fucking equipment, equipment none of them even know how to use. Max wants the computers- those they could sell and use, right? But no, Steve has to take the weird looking machines.

Maybe it’s like that TV show he was watching, Terminator: The Chronicles of Sarah Connor. Fuck that girl was hot. He wanted to fuck that MILK so badly, the one fighting off soldiers to save her son, the one that was going to lead the future resistance against machines. A woman with a crusade, and a delicate looking one at that- was hot. So maybe this machine will have the power to make more machines that kill off humans, and Max will have been part of earth’s downfall. Now that would be funny.

Max glares at his cigarette stub, which he was finished with five minutes ago. He doesn’t bother to rub it out, he just throws it in the bushes. Like they need to be careful at a school. If only he could come here in the daytime during school and scope things out but Steve said it was too risky. Max doesn’t find it hard to believe that this whole thing is really about how a red-haired boy who does not deserve the nickname Red- only the deserved get nicknames- wouldn’t answer to a simple question about how the video – fuck it- the DVD feed works. The camera feed? The wire feed? Who cared what they called it, what they used. He agreed with Steve about how it was pathetic, really, why were they so snotty about those things.

Steve had spent his youth being married. Then widowed. And then… it was like she found him. She was beautiful. Maybe that was the problem.

Now Steve has been feeling really low these days. His wife doesn’t sleep with him, complains that they don’t have enough money, and refuses to have kids.

So he goes out to pay for sex and even the whores don’t like him very much, Max thinks with a jolt. One of the girls Steve wanted to come back and see again, and she refused to pick up the phone although it was clear from the picture and ad in the back of the weekly that she was still working. Steve must have been a real dick to her for the girl to turn down a regular. Max finds this really funny, but finding it so funny might mean he didn’t like Steve, and Max really doesn’t want to think about what his feelings of recrimination towards Steve mean.

Except for bashing the window in, Max is not happy about tonight. And clearly the window is an afterthought, which is how it’s supposed to be because nobody is breaking the window to get equipment; Steve wants the window broken to make people think that it’s how an “intruder” got in.

“Show time, Max…” Steve said.

“You spooked me, stepping around the corner like that. So this is the school you been working at, huh. One of the few old school art schools left- Cornish College of the Arts. Isn’t this a bit cruel? And you’re gonna have to keep working here after this is done and pretend that you are above any scrutiny. I sure hope everything holds up under closer scrutiny, because shit is gonna hit the fan when they come in and find their treasure trove gone. Vanished. Like something from a mystery movie. An alien came in and abducted it without leaving a trace. Not even the security guard saw anything. Steve, you better not be planning on pinning this on me..”

“No Max, you know I am not pinning this on you, and as to what you first said, yeah, well, we fucking better be prepared. Tonight is the perfect night… everybody has gone home because of that Asian girls violin recital, most of the faculty won’t be by here for a while because they are busy relaxing, thinking about how school is coming way too fast.. Max, do you think I should be doing this in the middle of school year, when it wreaks the most havoc?”

“No way. This way, if they do think it’s an inside job, it will look like somebody who got fired did. You told me what you heard with those bugs. They got left with NOTHING after all those years of loyalty. Also, you won’t have no back up plan if ‘The Teacher’ looks at you funny and you think he’s caught on to you.”

“Man, that guy gives me the creeps. Sometimes I think he’s already caught on to me.”

“Steve, you are getting PA-RA-NOID. You are from the military, and you shouldn’t be smoking any crack… if anything you need a huge stash of Xanax, the kind I have at home. Want one now, before we do this?”

Steve explodes. “Are you kidding? I hope you aren’t taking that mind melting shit. It will have you so relaxed you… ”

“I was just kidding,” Max says, trying to soft-pedal backwards. He can’t have Steve angry tonight.

“Just, just.. fuck. Do me a favor sometime Max. Go online and type in the word ‘Clonazepam’ with ‘shop-lifting.’ You will see a sudden jump in how many people go stealing when they are on benzos.”

“You can’t tell that from no online search engine.”

“Google? Yes you can. Apparently being on that stuff makes people way more prone to stealing. People who have never stolen in their life find themselves walking away with random things because they think they are invisible. Come on, you don’t believe a drug could do something like that?”

“No way.” Max rolls his eyes.

“It makes people think they are invisible and invincible! Isn’t that a beautiful combination? Well, maybe in sex but not in real life. Then boom, suddenly they are openly walking into K-mart, grabbing twenty DVDs, and walking out. The best cover is out in the open, right? Well, that little truth has its limitations.”

“No kidding? You’re serious. Huh. Well, that explains why I tend to go on some wicked bends when I coat my Xanax with more than a few drinks.”

“Right. Then, let’s imagine you getting caught, and you try to explain that the drugs made you steal. Try that defense on a judge. it will just make them give you a longer sentence, because in their eyes you will become not just a thief but an addict, too, which to the cops is worse than a thief. Cops are thieves too, you know that, but most of them don’t sniff the evidence. The ones that don’t steal some extra bling now and again from the robbers are at least stealing our dignity.”

Their talk is beginning to feel too long. Max wants the job to be over with so he can go unwind and fantasize about Sarah Connor.

“Let’s do it, let’s go. Just you and me, this will be a cake. If we had involved anybody else, the risk would have gone up. So let’s just keep it at you and me. No involving the Teacher with the funny grey hat. He may put on a poker face, but he’d have us locked up faster than you can ask him if he wants in.”

Steve frowns. He is the mastermind, and it’s best if everybody knows it. But he needs Max, and he knows this job is unconventional and that Max is doing him a favor.

“Alright, let’s go.”

The rest is hard labor work. They wish they knew more about what plugged in where and how because they don’t want to break anything. Who knows what valuable information could be saved on here?

“What the hell is this weird looking record-player thing here, Steve?”

“Fuck if I know. Just take it. Gently, okay?”

“I thought you could care less if the stuff still worked, just that we got it out of here.”

“No, I care.”

Max is beginning to get suspicious. He wonders if Steve has been holding out on him. After all, Steve seemed to suddenly know all about google searches, and how could he know anything about computers, he doesn’t own a computer, and he never spends time around computers.

Max looks over at Steve. Steve is the one who gave him the place to live when he left the halfway house. Steve is the one who procured him a new identity, new papers, and got him working again. But now it’s a double-edged sword because if somebody takes the fall for this, it’s not going to be Steve because Max has never been a snitch, and he’s not about to become one.

Paranoia is contagious, Max thinks, and he realizes it’s probably his amateurism that is holding him back, keeping him from trusting Steve on this one, because he spent the last ten years in prison, and they didn’t have what they have now. Tiny phones that can hook up to the net? That shit still blows his mind. He prefers to think about Sarah Connor, those delicate cheekbones, those piercing brown eyes, that dark choppy hair. The way she seems oblivious to the way she looks…

“Hey, fuckface. What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m trying to be careful,” Max says, embarrassed, caught in the middle of a daydream, feeling like Steve walked in on him with his pants down. Really, this job smells of desperation. If either of them had a real girl to go back to, would they really be out risking jailtime on stupid jobs like this? That’s when he remembers he doesn’t fully understand why Steve is doing this, and for his own protection it’s probably better that he doesn’t understand. Max doesn’t think it all has to do with the red-haired kid pissing him off in the hallway, thinks it has more to do with conversations he overheard, but whatever.

“Steve… you got rid of the bug right?”

“That is why I have you around. Thanks for reminding me. Keep unloading this into the back van and we should be done soon. We got to hurry. Can’t have any college students that live in that apartment house across the street saying they saw me going from here to the van. That’s what I have the glasses and mustache for. They aren’t going to recognize me in this darkness, and if they are up, it’s because they are drunk and stoned.”

“You never know. Some of those students, daddy paid their tuition and suddenly they think they are a real artist so they stay up stringing the same three notes on their sitar all night.”

Max thinks about Sarah Connor again. “Steve, why don’t we ever have hot chicks in on our cons? It’s not fair. We need a hot chick to distract people from thinking there is anything going on.”

“Maybe next time Max.”

“Aw, that’s what you always say.” Max tries to downplay the squeal of desperation in his voice, but he really just wants a girlfriend. A nice girl that has sex with him every morning. That’s all she’d have to do and he’d let her live with him, eat his food, watch movies, cuddle on the couch… It had been way too long, he felt like he no longer knew how to interact with the female population, but he wasn’t about to go and pay for it like Steve. That was absolutely gross. Think about all the shit Steve must pick up from those skanks.

“Well, it looks like we have the last of it. This has been boring. Let’s go.”

“Boring is good. You go start the car up and I’ll reset the security cameras.”

“Are you sure you know how to do that right? And won’t the red-haired squealer think it’s suspicious that you were asking about rewiring the cameras after all this happens?”

“I doubt a kid like that even remembers talking to me. He didn’t look too smart to me; he looked like a thug.”

“That would be us, pal.” Max feels a twinge. Just once, he’d like to be one of the good guys.
To be continued…

Advertisements


Dennis says:

Interesting. Mostly this reads okay, but there are a few glitches here and there. I’m not sure about the present tense. It’s tricky to write in because characters can’t really introspect or reflect on their actions except in the moment, so all internal states have to be contingent. I’m not sure you pulled that off throughout. In general, it reads like Pynchon or maybe Dick. Obviously unfinished, but interesting enough for me to be curious where it goes from here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: