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Money is Thicker Than Blood

Brotherly love? Thick as thieves? These terms are of no use in the Gutter.

Down here, the only thing that matters is looking out for number one.

Money is Thicker Than Blood by Garrett Box



“You’ve got a job lined up, don't you?” Charlie said over breakfast at a local diner. PJ's. It was his brother's favorite spot. His lucky spot. Hell, he did half his business behind a chipped Formica table near the back. “Of course you do." Charlie smiled at him over the rim of his mug. "You’re my brother.”

“I’m having breakfast.”

“I want in. I can drive. Seriously. I need the money.”

“From what I hear, you need a lot more money than this job'll pay.”

Charlie looked miserably down at his cup of coffee. “It isn't about the money; it’s about my clean slate.”

“Sounds like you've got bigger problems,” said Trevor. “Take a contract or two. Do what you’re good at and leave the grunt work to people like me.”


“I picked up a contract. More than one, in fact. The organization wants them dead, but they love money more than blood. Money means one of them gets to walk, and that’s where I come in. I invite you to this café," He waved his hand to the diner behind him. "I pay for your breakfast, and then I ask to be your driver.”

Charlie placed a photograph face-up in front of Trevor and spun it around with his finger. It was taken from a high-powered lens. Grainy, but it was clear who it was: Trevor alongside the two other men in his crew.

 Trevor set down his utensils and squinted at the picture. “What the fuck is this?”

“A picture of two dead men if you play your cards right.”

"Why?"

"Banks, Trevor. They've got diminishing odds. You can't do 'em forever and they know it. They think someone's gonna flip." Charlie held up a finger. "Remember what happened with Tony." 

Trevor and his partners depended on the organization for more than just inside information on banks, they had their hands in everything. Grunt work. Anytime there was a card game to burn or a drug dealer to punish or a slow payer on a loan, Trevor and the boys got the nod. A weak link among them would lead all the way up the food chain. A liability. 

“Jesus, Chuck, what have you agreed to?”

Charlie took a flask of whiskey out of his pocket and poured it into his coffee and stirred it with a spoon. “Way I see it, we do this thing right, drop the extra baggage in the street, and buy our lives back.”

“We’re a tight crew.”

“You’re a dead crew.”

Trevor pushed his plate away in defiance.

“You going to collect on us all, Chuck? I known these guys my whole life.”

Charlie took a moment to collect his thoughts and said, “When the Titanic was sinking, two men happened to come across the same lifeboat while treading water; but the kicker was that it could only carry one of them. While they sat freezing to death, one of them said three words, drowned the other and took the lifeboat.”

“How profound, Chuck, except that they didn't have lifeboats like that on the Titanic.”

“It’s a fucking story and you’re missing the point.”

“And what’s the point?”

“Be the one on the lifeboat; otherwise they’re both dead men in a story that never happened.”

Trevor looked down at the rest of his scrambled eggs and said in a low, defeated voice, “Why are you telling me this?”

“There's a non-negotiable favor you need to do for me. This next job, you walk in the front door and you leave out the front door. The side or back door is not an option.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s the way they want it done. It has to look like you didn't see it coming.”

“That’s how Tony died.”

“Don’t think about Tony, think about you.”

“I suppose I should thank you. Not every day your brother offers your life back,” said Trevor sarcastically.

“You shouldn’t. Just do this for me and I’ll be forever in your debt.”

****

The other two men didn’t suspect Trevor in the slightest as he went over the plan in preparation for the job that evening. They would be the bank's final customers of the day and the rest was just rote execution. 

Charlie and Trevor sat in the car, waiting for the last few straggling patrons to exit while Trevor's two-man crew milled inside and stalled, writing deposit slips and studying loan pamphlets. Once the bank was empty and the two were in place, Trevor would walk in with the heavy artillery

The last of the civilians stepped out of the entrance and Trevor opened his door. Charlie stopped Trevor before he stepped out of the car.

“After this and that’s it for me. I just wanted you to know that I’m not going to waste this. I mean it.” He took a long swig from his flask. “Shit, Trevor, I…I… see you when you come out.”

Trevor smiled, pulled his mask on and said, “Who are you kiddin’? We’ll always be in the game.” He stopped and smiled back at his brother. “You never told me what those three words were.”

"What three words?"

"The lifeboat. The Titanic, remember?"

“When you get back,” Charlie said with a forced smile.



Trevor walked into the bank while Charlie waited in his car. From out of the dashboard he pulled a picture of the three men inside and a pistol equipped with a silencer. He looked at Trevor in the photo and said to himself, “Who are you kiddin’?”

Charlie placed the photograph down and readied his gun. The three men burst out of the bank and made their way towards the car. The first man dropped like a rag doll and then the second. Head-shots, easy targets. Trevor kept walking and then stopped when he saw that Charlie’s aim was fixed on him.

“So long, brother.”

Trevor held out his hand, but it did no good, and Trevor collapsed into a pool of his own blood just like the others.

Charlie drove away, leaving the money behind. The investigation would end with three dead bank robbers with nothing to show for it.

He cracked the window and the cool afternoon air filled the car. On the passenger’s seat, the photograph flipped upside-down, driven by the current, and on the back was written; “Three hits – one clean slate. Do them like they did Tony.” 

Garret Box has B.A. in English and a Theatre minor from the University of Utah. He started out writing screenplays and then turned to the master race of novels. He is married with two kids and always striving for that double-dipped goal: publication and a root beer float.