Phillip – Part Four
I suppose I owe you an apology. I haven’t been entirely honest with you. I didn’t lie to you earlier when I told you about how I wanted to leave a life of crime behind. I really do, but I needed to set the record straight first. I needed to do this one last job.
Here’s how everything really happened.
You remember when I told you that I was set-up? That was true. I was on a job with a team from the syndicate. They told me it was a safe cracking job, which is why they brought me along.
It wasn’t a safe cracking.
It was about seizing a high value target and holding him for ransom. I didn’t like doing ransom jobs because they usually got bloody, so the syndicate lied and brought me along. They just pointed me toward a safe near the entryway while they “covered me,” which meant they went and seized the target. The police showed up before I had the safe cracked, and took me in. There was no one covering me and no one spotting for them on my behalf. I didn’t even know they were here until they stormed the room and told me to freeze. On the way out, my hands tied behind my back, I saw my team leaving out the back of the building with a man who was blindfolded and tied; the target.
That’s when I knew it was a set up and I was the fall guy.
I tried to explain what happened at the station, but I said too much. They brought me in on charges of breaking and entering, but quickly added abduction. When I tried to point the police in the right direction to help myself or shorten my sentence, they didn’t turn anything up. I told you those men were more like ghosts. The police assumed I was feeding them false information to lead them on a goose chase, so they stopped giving me opportunities to help.
So that was it. I was stuck for the next 10 years. At least, it looked that way.
One night, I’m trying to fall asleep on my bed when I hear someone whispering my name from just outside my cell window. It was someone from the syndicate. He was there with a team. They were on the roof and he had rappelled down to my window. He was there the night I was caught. He said that the syndicate had a new job for me. In exchange for pulling this job and a few others, they would work to bust me out of prison early.
I said I wasn’t interested.
The man replied that if I didn’t accept, they would ensure my sentence would be lengthened to life. I reluctantly accepted their offer, but under the condition that instead of busting me out, they would let me stay, finish my sentence, and then leave me alone forever. I asked them to erase me from their records.
A strange request for a recently incarcerated thief, I know, but I had a plan. Like I said, 10 years is a lot of time to think, a lot of time to forget, but most importantly, a lot of time to plan your revenge. I worked with the syndicate on their special jobs for the next 10 years, but they didn’t come to me often. I would only pull jobs with them about once every year or so. That gave me a lot of free time to plan.
One night they tell me about a new job: they want to pull a heist at the San Marco casino and they want me to lend them my safe cracking advice and run point on the heist. I had only about a year left in prison before my sentence was complete. That last year in prison was the most dangerous for me. I had spent nine years planning my revenge and this heist, this one last job, would be my ticket out, but not simply out of prison. It would be my ticket out of a life a crime forever.
I spent a year working closely with the syndicate to plan the heist. We got an inside man hired at the casino early in the planning stages on their security detail. Initially our plan was for him to let us in late one night and then have me crack the safe while they covered me from the security response. I decided that was a little dangerous and a little dumb. Aside from having to hold off a private army, It didn’t leave me much room to make my move.
I decided to change the plan in the interest of everyone’s safety and not getting caught. I proposed that rather than crack the safe at the San Marco, we just steal the whole thing and crack it later when we have more time and less pressure. I didn’t have a clue of how to do this though. Lucky for me, our inside man felt confident that enough black powder, focused backwards into the wall surrounding the safe, might just pry it loose and he knew just the man for the job. Enter our demo man. I also proposed that we replace the stolen safe with a copy to throw the police off our trail. There was my opportunity.
The syndicate began sneaking me out of the prison one or two nights a week. The guards were in our pockets and kept my coming and going off record. The syndicate set me up with a nice workshop to work on building them an exact duplicate of the San Marco safe. I asked to be left alone while I worked. They compromised and left me under watch of one of their muscle guys. He didn’t know anything. Our inside man would send me precise details of the safe as he got them and I would go to work. Only, I didn’t build a copy of the safe. I built two.
I got out of prison on a Saturday. I pulled the heist at the San Marco on a Friday, the day before. Everything went according to plan at the start. We used a small team of four. We had our inside man, our demo man, me, and one piece of muscle. Our inside man snuck us in through a side door and down to the basement. Security was light at the basement level, so our muscle handled it quickly and quietly. We reached the safe room and our inside man opened the combination lock and released the lever that opened the wall concealing the safe.
Our demo man sized up the wall and the placement of the safe and went to work. He pulled some small, metal beams from his bag and began putting them together into a large, square bracket. He then began to pack the bracket with black powder all the way around. Next, he wrapped it and tried to pull all as much air out as possible. He then picked the bracket up and bolted it on the wall surrounding the safe. He ran a copper fuse wired to a detonator some distance from the safe and behind the table and chairs that we had flipped over for cover. Once he was done, I called everyone together.
“Listen,” I said, “the moment we blow that powder, everyone in the whole casino will know something is going wrong. It won’t be long until the rest of security arrives to check everything out. The first thing they’re going to do is call the cops. Once we blow the powder, we are on a time crunch.” I look at our muscle, “Keys to the getaway cars?”
“Yeah,” he replied and handed me one, “They’re just outside that fire escape door. Two of us can fit in each car.”
I look at the demo man, “Once you blow it, you and I pull safe out of the wall, put the copy in place, and put the real safe in our car. Then we’ll head back to our safehouse.” I look back at the other two. “You guys cover us until we’re gone and then get out yourselves. We’ll lay on the horn just before we’re away. Nobody try any hero stuff. This take isn’t worth your lives.”
“Let’s go to work,” I say.
We all run behind the flipped furniture. The demo man counts down and sets off his device. The powder explodes and I’m sure it rattles the entire casino. A could of dirt and dust erupts from the wall and fills the whole room. The demo man and I move in, dragging the copy of the safe as close as possible. We reach the wall. It looks like a clean cut. He and I put our gloves on and reach in to the crack around the safe. It’s tight, but we can each get our entire hands in on the sides and the top. We pull and begin to work the safe out from the wall. It’s much heavier than my empty copy, which will be good for our take, but I’m not a amused at the moment.
We can hear the casino security on their way down to our level. Our muscle and our inside man take up positions on either side of the hallway leading to the door. One guard makes it through the door. The muscle gives him a bullet in the leg. He falls and begins to crawl back through the door. With this being the only entryway into the safe room, we can hold for a short while.
The security smashes the door open and places an overturned table in the entryway, affording them some make shift cover. They have three or four guys behind the table firing at our two. They had opened fire and between the concrete walls, the sound was almost as deafening as the blast earlier. Bullets shredded the air and ricochets bounced and buried themselves all over the room. We were outmanned and outgunned even worse than I predicted. I didn’t love the math, but it would have to do.
The demo man and I are just about done getting the safe out of the wall. I look at him and shout over the gunfire. “One! Two! Three! Lift!” He and I both wrap our hands under the safe. It’s heavy, but we can hold it. We make it over to the fire escape door and push it open. There are two cars parked. Carefully, the demo man and I load the safe into the back of one of the cars. We crank it up and I lay on the horn or a few moments. We see the muscle and the inside man making their retreat.
I wait and watch in my rearview mirror. It’s critical to my plan that they survive.
“What are you doing?” the demo man says, “Let’s go!”
“I want to make sure they get out!” I respond.
They do and the muscle makes it to the car and starts it. The inside man is about to get in when he’s tackled by one of the security guards. The muscle sees it and is about to abandon him. He cranks up his car and makes to leave, but I’m blocking his way.
“Dammit!” I say and get out of the car. The demo man says something to me, but I don’t listen. The muscle is laying on his horn, but I ignore him too. I pull the revolver from my vest and look down the barrel.
Let me be clear: I don’t like shooting people, but when it came to my nine year plan for vengeance, there was no line. I would take this man’s life if he meant to take this last job and the rest of my life from me.
The bullet explodes from my revolver with a bone jarring crack. The security officer’s body goes limp. The inside man stands up, gives me a nod, and jumps in his getaway car. I quickly run over to the security officer’s body, rip his badge from his shirt, jump in my getaway car, and we leave.