Second Thoughts

The van quietly idles in the alley.  The darkness camouflages its presence along with the men sitting inside, awaiting the signal to move forward with the plan.  Max sits along the driver’s side wall, staring at his hands.  He’s nervous which frightens him. This isn’t his first time.  He shouldn’t be nervous.  Nerves get you caught.  Nerves get people killed.

He thinks back to his last gigs.  Everything had gone perfect in each of them.  This new one, though, leaves a bad taste in his mouth.  He had thought of calling it off earlier but the reward dangling in front of his face had been too much to pass up.

He looks down at his hands, noticing for the first time that they’re shaking.  He clasps them together and looks up, checking to make sure Joe, his brother, didn’t see.  He can’t let him down.  They are both counting on this payday.  There is no turning back now.

The phone rings and his breath catches in his chest.  Joe answers, nods to no one in particular, and hangs up.

It’s time.  Joe looks him square in the eye.

“You ready?”

Max nods.  They stand together and pull down their masks.  With one final adjustment, the back door of the van swings open and they take off running down the alley.

With a few swift kicks, the back door explodes off its hinges and they rush inside the quaint jewelry store.  Max immediately hears screams and knows it must be the owner’s elderly wife who has helped close up shop for the past thirty-two years. Max hadn’t liked the idea of having witnesses, but they had to get to the safe, and they could only do it when the old man was there.

They find her in the office, screaming like a banshee.  The old man is nowhere to be found.  With a gun to her head, she quiets with ease and Max watches as Joe leads her out into the showroom.

Something feels wrong.  Max’s nerves begin creeping up the back of his spine.  As he checks each corner of the room, he catches movement out of the corner of his left eye. Before he can turn, a shot deafens the room and Max is catapulted to the ground. Pain explodes from his side and he knows the worst has happened.

Only he’s wrong.

Another shot rings out and the screams of the shop owner’s wife come to a horrific stop.  She lands to Max’s left, a gaping hole where the back of her head used to be.  All he can do is stare in shock as Joe moves in on the old man.

This isn’t how it was supposed to happen.

Everything has changed.


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