Short Fiction: Suicide Squeeze (Part I of III)

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‘Suicide Squeeze’ is fun for the whole family.  A blog novella created with one part ‘Point Break’, two parts, ‘The Fan’ and a dash of ‘Corporate Porn.’ A blast from the past from author David S. Grant.

1st Inning

Big Mac had two jobs, the first was to guard the door, and the second was to make sure the guard at the door didn’t try anything foolish.  The Babe had crowd control: everyone faces down, no talking, and if anyone makes one move they will feel the wrath from the Sultan of Swat.  Joe D. was in charge.  Joe D. was in charge of getting the money from the tellers, in charge of making sure everybody in the bank stayed cool, and in charge of making sure his home run kings didn’t do anything foolish.  One large room with a counter separates the customers from the tellers, an ATM machine against the far wall, and a large, almost life size portrait of Abraham Lincoln looking down from the back wall.  Today’s score was an estimated fifty large, all cash, in and out in less time than a Harry Carey drunken rendition of “Take me out to the ball game.”  Just another May in Charm City.

“Behave Prom Queen, no heroes here today just put the money in the bag and hold back your tears.”  Muddled the Yankee Clipper, he was talking to the only bank teller still on her feet named Joyce.  She had just started two weeks ago and was certain she was about to die.  Joe had been there the day before and had noticed the perky blond who moved her lips while counting change.  She was perfect.   Joyce moved from register to register, opening and stuffing the cash into a burlap bag, Joyce wondered how he knew she was once prom queen.

Joe D. liked dealing with only one person, less risky.  Joe had a knack for finding the weakest person in a room.  Today’s lucky winner was Joyce and she didn’t disappoint, she even offered to open the vault, but that wasn’t Joe’s style – get the cash and get out.  He turned his head around to survey the room and thought of a line from a poem he had once read: “This is it, and nothing more.”

Back to the game.

“How we doin fellas!” Screamed Joe.  “We’re cool D!” Yelled Mac.  Big Mac was applying pressure to the guards face with his foot; he could feel his cheekbones through the sole of his shoe.  A small pool of tears was forming on the floor.

“Cool beans Joe D.”  Replied The Babe.

Joe D. grabbed the bag from Joyce.  “Alright party’s over, here’s the rules, anyone tries to stop us will be dead as Marilyn, now slowly start counting backwards from 1000 keeping your head down, we’ll be watching.  First one to lift their head gets a third eye.”  Just as Joe D. reached the door he turned and yelled “Thank you for choosing the First Bank of Baltimore for your banking needs.”

And just like that three men wearing wide smiles hidden under the masks of Babe Ruth, Mark McGuire, and Joe DiMaggio walked briskly out the from door of the bank.  A stolen black BMW with lightly tinted windows and a man wearing a Pete Rose mask waited.  The uniform never changed: masks, black sweatshirts, jeans, and sneakers.  Always wear gloves; never wear jewelry, and when the mask is on, that is who you are.

The Beemer squeals around the corner in front of the neighboring courthouse and turned right onto Baltimore Street flying past the convention center on the left, with Camden Yards in the background, and pulled into an alley next to the River Rat pub.  Pete detonates a device and slips it under the front seat.  The detonator will cause a small enough explosion to ignite twenty pounds of dynamite stored in the trunk of the car.  In five minutes an explosion would occur loud enough to make visitors jump out of their seats on the waterfront, sending chills through the locals enjoying a beer at Fells Point.

This was how they did their first job 13 months ago and how they’ve continued ever since.  So far everything was cool.  A standard score was fifty thousand,  over ten thousand each for an hour of work, not a bad part-time job.  Quickly they hop into the waiting explorer, take a right onto Mulberry Street, that leads into I40 all the way out of Baltimore to Wilmington.

This was their third heist since they started; it was going to be a good season.

2nd Inning

A spring afternoon in May showed off the blue Wilmington skyline over the outfield fence.  This was the final game of a three game series in which the Wilmington Quakers had taken the first two over the Heartbreakers.

Mickey Casanova looked back at the umpire in disgust and walked back to the dugout.  There was no way that slider had caught the corner of the plate.  Despite Mickey’s current ten game hitting streak Mickey had struck out twenty-five times in only seventy at bats this season.  In his thirteenth year Mickey had yet to blossom into the player the Milwaukee Brewers had hoped when they drafted him out of high school.  A solid catcher, who hadn’t hit over .240 since his rookie year when he hit .270, a year later pitchers realized Mickey’s Achilles’ heel, the slider.  After three years playing in Beloit, Wisconsin Mickey was traded to the Red Sox double A team, the Hartford Heartbreakers, where he was now entering his tenth year at the age of 30.  Two types of players play AA ball, the first, is a major league player rehabbing an injury, and the second was a player who was no longer a single A prospect, and also not good to play AAA (one step from the majors).  The good news was that Mickey hadn’t suffered any major injuries.  Initially is was thought he was having difficulty adjusting to wooden bats, better pitching, and the drag of the long season; whatever it was, he had yet to show the potential the Brewers had hoped for when selecting him ten years ago.

Take away the strikeouts and Mickey was off to a decent start this year with ten home runs, twenty runs batted in, and a .275 average through 21 games.  His last ten games had brought Mickey his longest hitting streak ever to ten games.  Ironically due to the hitting streak some of the players had started razzing him with the nickname Joe D.

Mickey was born a block from the State Fair Park, in West Allis, a Western Milwaukee suburb ten minutes away from County Stadium where he grew up watching Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and later the catching prospect B.J. Surhoff, the man whom he patterned his catching style after.  His dad had gone to prison at the age of eight for assault and battery after he nearly beat a man to death in a bar.  It was his third offense.  Rumor has it the fight started over an argument about the designated hitter rule.

As a youth Mickey played baseball at a park down the street where the parking lot was located behind left field.  Playing baseball at fourteen years of age Mickey shattered twenty windshields in ten games, forcing parents to park on the cracked city streets, risking auto theft, and walk through garbage ridden alleys to attend games.  In high school Mickey stood out as an athletic 6’2”, 220 pound defensively minded catcher who was able to knock the ball out of any park in the Midwest.  Mickey led his team to the state championships against Stevens Point, a team from the Northern part of the state loaded with homerun hitting farmhand rednecks, where Mickey hit for the cycle, saving the homerun for the bottom of the ninth to cap his legendary amateur career.  His whole life was baseball; drafted fourth round by the Brewers out of high school he was headed to Beloit with dreams of playing in the majors with a two-comma salary in no time.  His first year was a struggle, hitting .270 with 20 homeruns; two years later Mickey would finish with a .230 average and only 15 homeruns.  Two weeks after the season he heard the Brewers had drafted a catcher from Chicago, one week later Mickey was traded to Hartford.

“Let’s go Mick” was yelled from the bleachers as Mickey stepped up to the plate in the fourth.  The first pitch, a slider missed, followed by another slider just missing.  The next pitch, a hanging fastball, Mickey ripped into leftfield for a single; the streak extended to eleven.

The dream of playing in the majors was almost over, but it still beat working for a living.  Who wouldn’t rather be playing baseball seven months out of the year instead of some crummy job in a cramped cubicle, dreaming about baseball?  Barring a miracle, Mickey was a minor league lifer, he could see the writing on the wall: ten years in double A, and never had a manager insinuated that a move up might come in the future.  At this point Mickey was destined to play the rest of his career playing for meal money.  The way he figured it he would play for another ten years, then coach.  There was no way he was going to be forced to get a normal job.  He had played baseball his whole life with one goal and if he couldn’t do that he didn’t want to do anything.  Also, to be truthful he didn’t have any other employable skills.  What was he supposed to do after baseball?  He went into the system right after high school.  Baseball was all he knew, it was all any of them knew.  Another problem was baseball’s minor league retirement plan promised mostly chronic injuries and was less on cash; this is why Mickey robbed banks.  In just over a year he had saved over 50 grand with little risk, due to help from a friend in the bank security business.  Mickey and his crew had successfully robbed three banks without a trace of heat.  He knew their time would come eventually to be smart and get out, and now was their time.  One more heist, the one that would yield enough to retire on.

Two outs, ninth inning, down by one, Casanova stepped to the plate.  Now pitching is the rat faced lefty John Santino, a wild power, younger Randy Johnson version with a wicked slider.  Mickey steps out of the box and taps his bat on his right foot and then his left, a ritual he’s had since high school.  Very superstitious, when in the field he never stepped on home plate when going to talk to a pitcher, and would never toss a foul ball to a fan (he had heard that was bad karma resulting in an error).  One time during batting practice years ago his shoelace snapped in half so he had to tie his right shoe without the top three loops, he went on to hit three homeruns that night, and has never used the top three loops on his right shoe since.

“C’mon Mick, bring’em home” yelled Raul from the dugout.

The next pitch from the rat was an 80-mph slider that had Mickey fooled before it left his hand.

****

“We need to stop off at a friends place downtown.”  Said Raul.  “He lives on the South End.”

Five minutes pass and then the Cleveland Circle trolley pulls up and they get on.  The Heartbreakers were now in Boston, playing in a charity game against the team from Worcester.  They get off at Copley Square where Mickey, Rick, and Paully stopped off at a pizza parlor to catch a slice while Raul went off to see his “friend”, a.k.a. his cocaine dealer.

It has been a monthly ritual for Raul for nearly two years to score coke in Boston.  Raul started using three years ago with then teammate Alan Samonis.  Although Raul always claimed it was recreational, it was obviously more.  The road can be dark mysterious lonely place, even for a ballplayer, and Raul, like most ball players, enjoyed his vices: drinking, women, and cocaine.  Raul never offered an apology for these shortcomings.  After all it wasn’t like he was shooting heroin, just snorting a little coke.

After Raul scores his coke they go to a bar named the Green Dragon Bar.  They seat themselves at an isolated table in the far corner near the jukebox, and ordered four Guinness beers.  The bar itself was eerily dark due in part to the tar stained coating on the walls from years of smoke.  There was a sign over the bar that said Established in 1774, Mickey thought about this for a second and wondered if Paul Revere had once enjoyed a beer there.  A waitress brings over their drinks and Mickey hands her a twenty, telling her to keep the change.  All eyes turn to Mickey.

“So what’s this big score?”  Asked Paully.

Paul Jauron, a fifteen-year veteran for the Heartbreakers was the backup catcher to Mickey.  He’d only played in two games during the last year, when Mickey took a three-day leave to attend a funeral.

Raul leaned in, “Big one, eh?”

They stopped and watched a lady in red walk up to the jukebox.  Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was playing on the jukebox.

Load up your guns and bring your friends.

“I heard from Jimmy today, and this one is the one.  Large enough for none of us to have worry about money after baseball.”  Said Mickey.

“Where is it at?”  Asked Paully.

“Nashville.  We’ll be there in two weeks.”

Paully nods, “No problem.”

Raul speaks up, “How much?”’

Everyone leaned in when Mickey said “One Million Dollars.”

Ricky rocked back in his chair and raised his hand in disgust, “In the cashier drawers?  No way man, this is a vault job, that isn’t our game, we’ll get pinched for sure.”

Mickey stroked his goatee and moved his hand in a downward motion.  “Don’t worry about it, I’ve got it covered.  Leave the planning to Jimmy.”

“Why this one, why will they have that much cash on hand.”

“That’s easy.  Because it has been recommended by their Federal Reserve security analyst.”  Mickey received approving nods around the table.

“Cool.”  Everyone says.

They finished their beers and walked up to the bar.  Raul dropped two fresh twenties on the bar, ordered another round, and bought the lady in red a drink.

Raul’s dark features always got the girl.  Once they found out he was a ballplayer it was over.  Sometimes he would introduce the coke after he went back to the hotel, other times he would keep it to himself.  Raul rarely slept alone, having many nights of passion followed up by many breakfasts without eye contact.

****

Two hundred feet away from the Green Dragon Jack Malloy was working late in his office located in the dilapidated Boston FBI building headquarters.  On his desk sat a still shot security photos from the First Bank of Baltimore bank robbery.  A small television only turned on during Red Sox games was sitting on top of one of the stacks of closed cases.  Known around the Bureau simply as the “Silent Hammer”, for his cool interviews, Jack was baffled by his latest case.  He had just gotten off a conference call with members of the Bureau from Baltimore and New Jersey to discuss the robberies and discuss leads.  They had nothing and were looking for a break.

A New York cop for fifteen years Jack decided he wanted a change.  Three years ago he joined the FBI, working car thefts, and then promoted to bank robberies.  During the past year he’d solved every bank robbery case brought to him, except one.  Eleven months ago, a Fall River bank had been robbed by four guys wearing masks of famous baseball players, at the time little attention was paid because they only hit the cash drawers and never went for the vault.  The case had been losing steam until another bank was hit the same way, this time in Baltimore.

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The Writing of David S. Grant View all posts by Pulp Scribbler

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