Tag Archive: The Blonde

Jun 04

In the Company of Angels: Episode 14.1 – Smoke and Mirrors



In the Company of Angels, Episode 14.1 – Smoke and Mirrors

The two swarthy men had just reached the top of the fire escape when they heard a loud clanging from the platform below them. It sounded like someone had struck the metal of the fire escape steps with a pipe. They put their gas cans down and flattened against the wall, hoping that if anyone was in the alley below them, they wouldn’t be noticed. After a few moments, they carefully leaned out to look, but there was no one to be seen. The van that had brought them was at the end of the alley, but there was no sign of anyone else. They breathed a sigh of relief and turned back around to see if they could break into one of the windows on the landing.

There were two windows, both of them set with mirrored glass. Neither was very large, but the two men were sure if they could get one of them open, they would be able to slip in and out easily. The smaller man pulled a toolkit out of his coverall pockets, unrolled it on the landing, and began to study the casing.

“Don’t break it unless you have to, Pavel” said the larger man. “We don’t want to attract too much attention until the fire is set.”

Pavel nodded. He was just about to try a chisel on the window frame, when they once more heard the clanging below them.

“What the heck?!” the larger man said. This time he wasn’t cautious. He looked over the railing at the 2nd floor landing below them. He thought he had seen something moving, but couldn’t be sure. “Stay here and get that window open,” he said. “I’m going to go find out who’s down there.” He pulled a Glock from its holster beneath his shirt and threaded a silencer onto its barrel.

“Ahmed, remember, if you have to shoot, try not to break any glass. That sound carries….”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Just get the window open,” said Ahmed. He stealthily stepped down the steps until he was standing on the 2nd floor landing. He looked carefully at the window. There was no sign that it had been opened, and no obvious way for him to pry it open. He put his hand above his eyes to block out the light and put his face up next to the glass, straining to see if he could see anything in the darkness beyond.

“Nothing,” he hissed. He dropped his gun to his side and turned around to survey the other buildings around them.

Pavel had just gotten his chisel set well into the window frame when he heard a short yell and the sounds of struggle below him. Then came the clanging of metal upon metal. He jumped up and leaned over the railing. Ahmed was nowhere to be seen, but Pavel recognized his gun lying on the landing floor. He put his chisel back into the tool kit, swore, and ran down the fire escape. When he reached the 2nd floor landing, the gun had disappeared as well.

Pavel started sweating. He looked wildly around and beneath the landing. Everything was exactly as it had appeared when they had first climbed the fire escape. He looked down the alleyway. The van was still there, thank heavens!

He shook his head. There was nothing to do but keep working on the window and hope that Ahmed would show back up again. He climbed the stairs to the 3rd floor once more and stopped abruptly. His tools were gone! Not only that, but the two gas cans were gone too!

     o o o

The two men in The Gallery’s stairwell had reached the mirrored door leading onto the main floor. One of the men was heavy set with blonde hair. The other was almost as large, but with a great black bushy beard.

“I still think we’d do better spreading this stuff on the first floor. Fires move up, not down,” said the blonde.

“We have to get the jewels first, moron, then we torches the place,” said Blackbeard.

“Whatcha think those jewels are worth, eh Blacky?”

Blacky shook his head and grunted. “Don’t go making plans we’ll regret, comrade. We don’t want to cross Aym. You do that and….” he ran his finger across his throat. “Jewels first; then fire.”

They returned to the door. Blacky reached into his coat pocket and retrieved his lock-picking tools. The blonde stood aside with his arms crossed, watching him.

Suddenly the two men heard the door downstairs open. Someone was below them, whistling a merry tune. The blonde leaned over the railing and saw a tall, bearded man with grey hair shutting the street door behind him.

“Hello?” said the blonde.

“Oh, hello up there! Can I help you? No one else is here at present, I’m afraid.”

“We’re…uh…here to make some repairs. Someone called and said they had a lock that needed fixing. Can you let us in?”

“Oh, my, now, I couldn’t do that, could I? That wouldn’t be sporting! No, I’m sorry, whoever it is that called you, they must have been mistaken. I’ll have to ask you to leave now.”

“Well, we’ll need to be paid before we leave,” said the blonde. He nudged Blacky, who grunted and grinned.

“No, no payment. And, this will be your final warning. Leave now, or I can’t answer for the consequences.”

“Oh yeah? Well, we ain’t leavin’ grandpa, and neither are you!” said the blonde. He pulled a gun out and aimed it at Azarias.

Suddenly the blonde heard a voice in his head say “Blacky is going to double-cross you.” The blonde shook his head, wondering where that idea had come from. “Show me your hands!” he said. Azarias held his hands up.

“As soon as you go downstairs, Blacky’s going to shoot you both,” said the voice in the blonde’s head. He looked nervously behind him at Blacky, but his partner was continuing to try to pick the lock on the door. As soon as he turned back to look down at the first floor landing, Azarias had disappeared.

“Hey!” the blonde cried. “You come back here!” He raced down the stairs, expecting to see Azarias crouching in the corner, but there was no one downstairs at all. And he knew he had not heard either of the downstairs doors open.

He stood there perplexed and looked up. Blacky was standing with his gun pointed at him.

“Go on, say it,” said Blacky.

“Say what?!” asked the blonde.

“Say ‘come on down here, Blacky, and help me with this guy’. I know what you’re up to, comrade. You and the geezer are gonna try to steal the gems. Well, it ain’t happenin’, pal. Put down your gun, then put your hands up and come back up here. I’ll deal with the geezer later….”

The blonde had no choice. He put his gun down and started walking back up the stairs. That was when both men heard the sirens in the distance.

   o o o

Jack was alone in the van, keeping an eye on the alley and on the road at the end of it. He had backed the van into the alley so that they could all leave quickly once the blaze was set. There was additional equipment in the van; more gas cans, some climbing gear, and even masks. They’d decided against the masks.

Jack glanced in the rearview mirror. He had seen Ahmed and Pavel climbing up the fire escape stairs a few minutes back and suspected that, by now, they would likely be inside the warehouse. He glanced at his watch. They’d only been here for ten minutes. The goal was to be gone in twenty. “This should be a piece of cake,” he thought to himself, and lit a cigarette. He rolled down the window to flick out the ashes and noticed the loading dock door was being raised. The door was situated just in front of his parking spot, on the right. It led into the warehouse.

At first, Jack thought that some of the boys had already gotten in and that they were going to get back out to the van by way of the loading dock. “That’s pretty slick,” he thought. “Should get us out of here that much faster.” But then he spotted Azarias.

“Who the heck is this?!!” he grumbled. Jack got out of the van.

Azarias waved at him. “Your friends are all inside. They’re asking for you.”

Jack pretended to look confused. “What friends, pal? I’m just parked out here having a smoke.”

“Ah, well then, you must not be the getaway driver. Just as well. Then you’re not in any hurry to leave, are you?”

“Uh, no. Should I be?”

“Not particularly. But my friend there is going to need to stack a few things up outside the loading dock door, and he’s liable to block your exit route for a bit.” Azarias gestured behind him toward the open door. “Don’t worry, he’ll get them out of your way soon. But if you were hoping to leave immediately, I suspect you’ve already lost your chance.”

While Azarias had been talking, Jack noticed several pallets, loaded with heavy metal barrels, being pushed — he couldn’t see by whom — out into the alleyway. They had soon closed off the street so that there was no hope of his leaving in that direction. He looked back behind the van. There was no exit in that direction, either, because the fire escape and a dumpster narrowed the alleyway too much to get the van through.

“Look, mister,” he said angrily, turning back around to face Azarias. But Azarias was not there. Instead, he found that he was looking at an enormous blue-skinned creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The creature had blazing red eyes, and these were gazing none too kindly at Jack. Azarias was nowhere to be seen.

“Uh…uh….” Jack gurgled. He grabbed the van door and hurled himself inside, rolling up the window behind him. Then he locked the doors and stared in horror at the creature, who was still glaring at him angrily. He then desperately started searching through the bags behind his seat to try to find a gun…a knife…anything that he might be able to use as a weapon.

The minotaur (for that is precisely what the creature was) reached down to the bumper of the van and lifted the front of it into the air. He then slammed his great sledge-hammer fist against the inner side of the van’s right front wheel. It popped off like it was a child’s toy, bounced off of the brick wall of the warehouse, and rolled down the alleyway toward the fire escape. Pavel, who had just fled in a panic down the fire escape, was running toward the van. He was hit and flattened by the wayward wheel.

In the meantime, the minotaur continued to rock the van back and forth, preventing Jack from keeping his balance and slamming him against the sides, floor, and even the roof of the vehicle. Then the beast dropped the front of the van, strode around to the back of it, and ripped both of the rear doors off. Jack was bruised and in a panic, but was still trying to find a weapon to use on the monster.

“Too late again, I’m afraid,” came a voice from the alleyway. Jack looked up. The minotaur was gone. In its place stood Azarias, holding the gun he had taken away from Ahmed. Jack put up his hands and painfully crawled out of the van, wincing, just as he heard the sirens. Police cars had completely surrounded the warehouse.



     [ To read Episode 14.2, click here…. ]