This story has been bouncing around my head for the better part of fifteen years.
I finally got around to outlining it, and tried unsuccessfully to fit it into one story.
Sorry readers, you’re going to have to tune in for multiple chapters.
See you tomorrow 🙂
“Someone in this room is Proteus,” Flippy said quietly. He put his phone down, and stared impassively at the men around him.
Four faces stared back, stunned by this odd revelation. They were seated at a a round table, having sandwiches and beer to celebrate their successful job.
Sunny, usually the quiet one, took a sip of his beer, and placed the bottle carefully in front of him. Then he broke the silence. “What are you talking about?”
“Someone, in this room, is Proteus,” Flippy repeated. His real name was Jimmy De Fillipis. He was the best getaway driver in the business.
People knew if you wanted to make it out of a heist alive, you hired Flippy to get you away. He’d never done time, which was a rarity for someone who made a career of helping robbers escape, and didn’t plan on doing any soon. While most getaway drivers relied on their skills behind the wheel to escape, Flippy relied on his planning.
He was always mindful of the routes he chose, making several backup routes available. If his initial plan didn’t work, he could switch to any one of his other plans at the drop of a hat. In fact, they were in one of his backup warehouses right now, having ditched his first car at their previous location.
“Yea, you said that already.” Bats was not happy. Tall and imposing, he was the muscle, hired to deal with any stray security guards that crossed their path. Today that had been unnecessary, and it irked him. He had stood by as the others all did their part, and by the end he even hoped for something to go wrong just to prove he was useful.
He stood up and walked over to Flippy, towering over him. He poked him angrily in the chest. “The job went off without a hitch. We got the diamond sceptre. We’re all gonna get paid. Why you gotta be an asshole now when everything’s going well?”
Flippy picked up his phone and showed it to Bats, who snatched it from him and examined the screen.
It was a news article, posted ten minutes ago, barely two hours after their theft. The headline read “Proteus Steals $40M Sceptre From National Museum”.
Bats quickly scanned the article for more details. His expression went from angry to puzzled, and he handed the phone back to Flippy. “I don’t get it. He didn’t steal shit. We did.”
“Exactly.” Flippy stood up and took a step forward, until he was nearly chest to chest with Bats. He was still the shorter man, but his eyes were unwavering. “Think about it for a second: we get to the museum, we steal the gear, we escape. No problems, no complications, no cops. That never happens.” He frowned. “It was too easy. Almost like someone had gone in ahead of time and taken care of everything for us.”
He waved his phone and looked at the other men present. “Then the press gets a message from Proteus, the god of thieves, who takes credit for the job. What does that tell you?”
He looked patiently at each man, watching them carefully as their minds worked out the same conclusion as him.
“Proteus is going to steal it from us,” said Handsome Dave. He was a short, squat man, heavily muscled around his arms and neck. With his big blue eyes and chiseled jaw, he would be considered handsome, except for a ghastly scar that went from his right eyebrow down to his left chin. It deformed his nose, and sliced across his mouth, giving his lips a permanently puckered appearance.
“Right,” said Flippy. “And there are only five people who know the plan, and only five who know our location right now. Those five people are in this room.”
He narrowed his eyes and looked at each of them in turn. One of them was obviously lying, and pretending to be someone they’re not. But who?
“So… what do we do now?” Daniel was the last person to join their crew. He was their tech guy, able to procure the gear they needed to bypass the museum security. He was also relatively new to their world, this being only his second job.
Bats pulled out his gun and slammed it on the table.
“Easy. No one leaves this room until we figure out who it is. If any of you fuckers try to escape, I’ll shoot you in the back and spit on your corpse.”
He gave them a grim smile, and leaned back in his chair. He was going to shoot someone today after all.
I am strangely calm, despite the circumstances. My idiot contact wasn’t supposed to alert the press for another few hours, and by then I was to be long gone.
That’s what comes of working with uncultured amateurs: they don’t understand timezones.
Still, might as well make the best of it. I haven’t been in this much danger since my last heist with Handsome Dave, when he held a gun to my head and threatened to blow me to hell because I told him he was pretty. I confess I miss the spice of it.
Might as well enjoy this game while it lasts. I wonder who I’m going to accuse first?
TO BE CONTINUED…
Intrigued yet? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for part dos!