Transitional Period

“It’ll take us about three days,” Cleo said into the hotel room phone. Her shoulder pinned the headset to her ear as she organized her things in her suitcase. “Eleven o’clock on Saturday? Yeah. We’ll be there.”

Still listening to the voice on the phone, she leaned to dodge Dixie, who was darting around the room, tossing her things into her own suitcase. Cleo put her hand over the receiver and said, “Unload that gun if you’re just going to toss your shit in there with it.” Dixie stopped in her tracks and returned to her case. She dug the her revolver out from under her clothes, popped the cylinder, let the bullets fall into her suitcase, and then dropped the gun back on top of the pile. Satisfied, Cleo returned her full attention to the phone.

“Great! Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing you again too,” she said. “Thank you again… Goodbye.” She hung up the phone. “All right, she’s invited us to her house in New York for brunch to talk crew setups. We could be there in two days, but I asked for three so we wouldn’t have to rush,” she explained in a raised voice so Dixie, who was in the bathroom, could hear her.

Dixie came back with a zipper lock bag of her toiletries in one hand and her makeup bag in the other. She tossed both on top of the pile in her suitcase and began smoothing and smooshing the mountain of personal effects down so the lid would shut.

“Seems weird to invite us to her actual house,” Dixie commented as she struggled with her suitcase.

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“Hot damn. D’you know nitriles come in black now?”

Cleo froze, holding her wrapping scarf up by both ends, and leaned to the left so she could see Dixie in the hotel bathroom mirror. Dixie was lying on her stomach, flicking through her burner phone.

“For real?” Cleo asked.

“Yeah! Look!” Dixie said, rolling off the bed and meeting Cleo at the sink. She held her phone up so Cleo could see while she finished tying her hair up. “They come in purple too, but black, am I right? A hundred of ’em for thirty bucks.”

Cleo pulled the knot in her scarf tight.

“I wonder why the Syndicate doesn’t jump on that,” Cleo wondered. “It’d go with the uniforms better than the blue ones.”

“Fuck their uniforms. We just called dibs,” Dixie said. “We can wear them with whatever we want and they’ll still match.”

“Well, don’t order them yet,” Cleo said. “We got a lot of other shit to sort out before we worry about gloves.”

Jumping Ship

“Man, used to be, if a driver didn’ show up to a Syndicate job,” Dixie said, “they’d track his ass down’n break his legs for us.”

“Seriously,” Cleo agreed. “What are we even paying them for anymore? We shouldn’t have to pull this fucking night-at-the-improv shit.”

The job was technically successful, but it had been a logistical disaster. The driver assigned to their crew had never shown. They had tried to hold out, and their lookout had been shot and killed in the street. Once the two of them realized they were on their own, they’d had to improvise. They fought their way to the parking lot of the bank, a pitiful two bags of cash between them. Dixie held off the cops while Cleo hot-wired a car, and they made a sloppy escape. Not being getaway drivers themselves, and therefore not having a git prepared, it was a miracle they managed to lose the cops. They’d made a lot of handbrake U-turns and finally stashed themselves in an alleyway while the cops flew by.

“We need to get out of this car. It’s hot as hell now,” Cleo said, getting out. She pulled her nitrile gloves off and stuffed them on her pants pocket. She then began peeling her regulation domino mask off, the eyelash glue holding it on tugging at her skin and leaving little rubber cement-like blobs in the mask’s wake. Dixie yanked the bags of cash out of the backseat, tossed them out, and then followed her example.

“Lose the jackets too,” Cleo said, shrugging out of hers. “The less Syndicate we look, the better.”

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