I watch my contacts facial expression change from shock to disgust as he drinks his first mouthful of beer. For a moment it looks like he is going to spit it out but he manages to swallow and then pushing the glass a little further from himself, he turns to me.
“So, how’s your end going to come?”
This is it, the question which has replaced nice to meet you or how are you. One of the many questions in this world of paranoia and fear which I hate to hear. I will answer that I don’t know, he will call me crazy for not finding out, start shouting that it could happen at any minute and say that he doesn’t want to hang around to find out. But I need this job so I think back to something the barman said earlier turn to him and say.
“Rabid Elephants. How about you?”
“Shit, what’s the chance of meeting a rabid elephant. Still I’d stay away from the peanuts if I was you. Mine is ‘Birds’. Can you believe that shit, at any time a fuckin blue tit could fly into my eye and that’s it game over. I’m Bob by the way John said you were alright but the real test was how you were going to die. Looks like you’re in.”
John was the mutual friend who had set up this meeting, he was a good guy but spent a bit too much time hanging around with the wrong people. He had shown me a picture of my contact and given me the name of the bar in which I was now sitting.
“What do you mean ‘the real test was how you were going to die’?” I ask relieved that it seem like I had the job but not sure why.
“Well your part of the job is mainly lookout which means almost anyone can do it but we want to make sure the way you died is not some thing which is too closely linked to someone else’s or with the job. Like if you had said ‘shiny objects’ then me and you could have been killed by magpies. Or because some of the job is under ground if you had said ‘cave in’ there’s no way you were coming.”
“Ok so what’s the job?” I ask, feeling a little guilty that for all I know ‘talking to Bob’ is how it will end for me.
“You’ll be filled in later. Here is the address, be there at 12 midnight tomorrow and make sure your on time.”
“Relax,” I say “I’m never late.”
12.15, I arrive at the address given to me. I had stopped at a bar on the way over for some Dutch courage but unfortunately they only served Russian courage. So 8 vodka’s later I was a little unsteady on my feet but ready for what ever job I was about to get. I had heard an odd story while drinking my vodka apparently the owner of the bar I was in yesterday had died in a fire.
‘Well,’ I thought, ‘I guess the machine is not always right. And I guess my new friend Bob can stop worrying that some day he will be walking down a dark alley when big bird and his mates will appear and beat him to death.’
I walk through the open door of the abandoned building and immediately saw Bob standing beside a table in the middle of the room. He was looking into the corner rafters of the warehouse. No doubt searching for the birds which would one day be the death of him.
“Your late!” he said without taking his eyes off the rafters.
“Traffic” I said.
I noticed a second man who had entered the building from another door.
“What traffic?” said the second man, “The reason we picked this place was to be as far from other people as possible.”
“Ya well I expected there would be traffic and over compensated.”
The second man just stood there staring at me.
“R-I-G-H-T. Anyway I’m here now so let’s get this over with.” I said a little unnerved by the fact that a complete stranger was standing in front of me staring at me without saying anything.
“Bob, what the fuck is this? What were you thinking bringing this jack ass in on this job?” said the second man to Bob.
“Rabid Elephants, Steve, Rabid elephants. He is just another insurance policy.” Said Bob turning his attention from the corner and on to me for the first time.
“I’d rather act like a jack ass than look like one Steve.” I said looking at the man who Bob had referred to as Steve.
Steve ignored this and turned back to Bob.
“How many of these clowns do we need? Isn’t Alan enough? Do I really need to put up with this shit too?”
“When you’re doing a bank job and the way you die is ‘dynamite’ you need all the help you can get.” Said Bob who picked something up from the table and walked towards me.
“So…. We’re doing a bank job then?” I asked still feeling the effects of the vodka.
“‘WE,’ aren’t doing shit. Bob and I are doing a bank Job you and that other shit are just watching. Where the hell is he anyway.”
“He’ll meet us there with the plastic explosive, don’t worry.” Said Bob who was now standing in front of me.
“Did you hear that bar man from last night died in a fire?”
“Ya” I said “I guess the machine can get it wrong sometimes.”
“What are you talking about he was pissed off his skull and fell asleep with a lit cigarette in his hand. Its amazing how that idiot stayed alive as long as he did. Imagine owning a bar when alcohol was how you die. Here.” He said handing me a hand gun.
“I thought I was on look out?” I said checking if the gun was real.
“You are” Bob said with a smile on his face, “and if you see anyone while you are looking out, shoot them in the head. Now get in the car we are ready to go.”
“As long as he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot first.” Said Steve as he got into the drivers seat.