Crook on the lam Bull Mayday and his new crony Myers have just come up from the network of underground streets below Jaidour into the hornets nest. They're pursued by the mysterious Gaunt from below, surrounded by police vehicles at street level, and fresh out of bright ideas...
This had to be the end, I was thinking. Might as well just walk out with our hands up and turn ourselves in. But I could tell Myers still had some fight left in her, from the look in her eye. She wasn't going to give up easily.
"What are we going to do now?" I asked, hypnotized by the swirling red lights of the police cars going past my face.
"We've gotta get out of here, what do you mean?" Myers asked, like I was being stupid or something. I was scared, sure, but I've never been stupid.
So Myers just strides right out of the utility shed, right into the street. I just stood there watching at first, clutching our two bags of loot as tight as I could. Out that door, there must have been dozens of cops, if not hundreds, all with their quickshots drawn on the airship still hovering up above. I remember thinking that they must have still thought we were up there, though why, I have no clue.
So Myers is strutting her stuff right on past all these cops, all these bystanders, who think that we're still up in the balloon. I thought to myself, now is the time. I couldn't wait in the shed forever. I gulp hard, stand up straight, and head out after her. They say that if you act like you belong somewhere that you won't stick out, that you can get away with anything if you play the part. Well, I could have won an award for my portrayal of awkward, sweaty, obviously guilty passer-by that afternoon. But regular joe? Please. I was just sure that one of the cops was gonna recognize me, see I was obviously flipping my lid or something. But that was ridiculous, where would any of them recognize me from? They couldn't have printed up a wanted poster that fast, right? I swallowed hard and wiped the perspiration off my forehead, and just kept right on walking.
I wasn't too far down the street, past slack-jawed starers who didn't see me pass anyways because their eyes were fixated upwards, when I saw Myers had stopped ahead. She was signalling for me to hurry up and join her, which I did, tripping as I broke into a run and nearly falling onto the sidewalk.
"What is it?" I asked Myers in a low whisper.
"Listen, shhh...," Myers said. She pointed over to a group of three officers who were standing between two police vehicles. One of them was holding a leather bag, and shaking his head at the others.
"This is ridiculous," the officer with the leather bag said. "We don't negotiate like this! We don't negotiate with terrorists!"
"It's not your call how we do things," one of the other men said. "Now, we've got to get the ransom up to him soon, or he's gonna blow the ship out of the sky! It could start a fire as bad as the one back in '88."
"But it's a goldquartz transfer ship, why would they be asking for money?" the officer with the leather bag asked. "That doesn't make sense."
"Listen, pal, what Gaunt says goes," the third officer said, pulling the leather bag away from the first.
"Wait a second," I whispered to Myers, "why would Gaunt request a ransom? He knows full well we aren't on that ship..."
"Well, maybe he wants the ransom and the dough you've got too," Myers said without missing a beat.
Of course. It all made sense! He had rigged the whole thing. Gaunt was playing the cops and the criminals. Whoever he really was, he was a powerful and dangerous presence. The kind of a man Bull Mayday ate for breakfast.
"The bastard," I said, gritting my teeth.
"Watch this," Myers said. "We'll fix him good!" She pulled a tiny radio out of a pouch on her belt. Mind you, this whole time she's been wearing her security guard uniform. So she holds it up to her ear as she spun a dial on the side, listening intently. "There it is," she said, and then she held the tiny machine up to her mouth. "We've got a sighting of the perpetrator on the northeast side, repeat the northeast side," she said in a deep, resonant voice into the radio. The officers nearby all jumped when this news came out of their own radios. They started to move across the street slowly, checking each others reactions for how to proceed. In the confusion, the three officers who had been squabbling over the ransom joined the frenzy of activity. And wouldn't you know it, they left the leather bag in the backseat of an open police vehicle.
"How'd you do that?" I asked. I mean, that was impressive!
"Operates on police frequencies," Myers said, tucking her radio back into her belt.
"I mean, you were a security officer, not a spy," I said.
"And here's my next trick," Myers said with a devious smile. She walked right up to the open police vehicle, right under the noses of the onlookers, and grabbed the leather bag with the ransom in it like she was picking out a bag of lettuce at the grocery store. She closed the door to the vehicle, as any courteous gal would, and sauntered back over to me. "Now let's scram," she said. Scram? Either she liked the same corny pulp mystery novels as me, or she had the best natural way of talking that I had ever come across.
"I tell ya, Myers, you might be my kind of girl," I said as we zipped down a side street with our three bags of loot in tow, away from the spectacle below the airship.
"Well that's good," Myers said with a smile, "because I'm pretty sure you are my kind of fella."
NEXT TIME: NOT SO EASY, or MARV'S BIG MOVE