This Friday treat is brought to you on Thursday as tomorrow I start my weekend🙂

A couple of updates:

  • My short story “April’s Full Day” should soon be available on Amazon for Kindle, as well as a print on demand (more expensive) book.
  • If you’d like to read a nice interview I gave, you can read it here – http://su.pr/1snnWQ

And with that, here, as promised:

Fifth Wheel
by
Gil Shalev

“Get the gear ready” were the last words spoken to me that afternoon. After Joe, if that is his real name, finished delivering his commands we all went our separate ways. I was always one to do my job the best I can and as soon as we were dismissed I went about the business of securing ropes, harnesses, nuts, descenders, quick-draws and whatnot. Money, I was told, was not an issue.
A shopping spree ensued and I took the money comment literally. Buying only the top quality equipment for the first time in my life felt good. How many times have I gone up or down using gear I had to compromise on? This time we would all have the benefit of the best Joe’s money can buy.
I assembled individual sets and packed them in the backpacks Joe handed me at the rendezvous point. I made sure that even the most inexperienced climber, which was a description fitting all 8 men and women, would at the very least be safe using these.
The plan was ambitious. Then again, these plans always are. We would have to work extremely fast to use the distraction the blond chick would provide. In case you were wondering, that woman is an explosive expert and will only use her physique if that bomb won’t go off. We got talking on the first time the team was assembled about a month ago and immediately clicked. She even gave me her name and number. She had a southern accent and she said Joe handpicked her due to their previous jobs together.
There were a couple of tattooed folks who didn’t talk much. I even caught them signaling with hands and fingers to each other. If you ask me, I bet they were some kind of Special Forces or something. Muscles like Schwarzenegger and constant mean looking faces, as if life itself pissed them off.
Then there was the driver. He had one of these cars you see in movies. Customized to the radio antenna and when we all went home, He drove that thing like he was under pursuit.
The driver was hanging out mostly with the two accountant looking women. I can’t blame the guy. They were knock outs. The explosive expert had that rough edge thing going but these two looked so out-of-place among the band of outlaws standing around Joe. Well. Something along these lines could be said about me I guess. When he was done detailing the plan I understood their role. These lovely soccer moms were the best burglars alive. Joe said he saw them break into an unbelievably secure safe in less than fifteen minutes. The folks whistled and wowed and the girls gave a courteous bow and then the dark-haired one told us about the kind of safes we would be looking at. I didn’t understand a word but the bottom line was millions of Dollars in our bank accounts so why worry, right?
Thing is, I worried. I do that all the time. It all sounded so simple as if it was an in-and-out job. We were about to break into the biggest cash pool in North America for god’s sake.
Yet, this was not what kept me awake for so long. Once I went through the plan in my mind another time it dawned on me that while I provide the simplest way in, I do not bring any added value to the team. At around 2:30 AM I came to the realization that my role in this job would be over the moment I handed the back packs to the rest of the folks.
I had to think of the consequences. The option of just “leaving me out of this” was shaken off quickly. No one steals so much money and leaves a guy who could talk to his own device. No. I was a fifth wheel. I had no doubt about Joe’s plans for me. The only unknown was the ‘how’.
I didn’t have much time to work with as I knew that the job will get done the next night. I had to do something to protect myself and the rest of the night was spent on coming up with a way.
When I finally allowed myself to fall asleep, the sun was going up. That didn’t matter though. I could spare about four to rest before I implemented my plan. I knew what to do.
My weapon was perception and I made sure they all underestimated me.

***

The police arrived too late. The seven bodies were bagged and tagged. Seven backpacks stacked with money were recovered. Ambulances wailed and the fire trucks which were dispatched to the bomb site joined them around the big hole in the ground.
They would find out what happened to these dead folks. I’m not worried about that now. No one can trace the poison to me. No one even knows me. Seven people thought they did but they won’t be able to say anything.
I met Randy in his pharmacy just past midnight and together we disposed of the cloths and mask I took from Patty. As tired as I was after only four hours sleep I had to play for keeps. I called her up and worked my magic on her. She even came to my place instead of the other way round. I had nothing against her really. Well. Except for the fact she was a willing participant in the conspiracy to use me. Good thing we’re practically the same dimensions. Fooling the team was easy. Joe was a different story. But I took care of him too. I’m sure he enjoyed the touch of a woman last night when I passed him by and grabbed his package.
Thank god for Randy. Aside from having an immense knowledge of toxicology, he had the means and eventually the motivation to provide what I needed. Seven ropes drenched in a slow acting agent and one rope to take the only survivor back up with enough money to live the way I intend to from now on.

***

As uaual – feel free to let me know what you think.

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