Chapter 5: Shock of it All
Sam’s mind slipped into a flashback from twenty-four hours earlier.
He stood on the roof of a building he had been looking at for weeks. He was studying it with special attention to the proximity of its neighbor. He was trying to size up the distance from one rooftop to the other. From the ground, it looked like ten feet. Also, it appeared that this building was about a five or six-foot height difference. Sam kept telling himself that this would be a piece of cake. He could totally make the distance. All he would need is about a twenty foot run up, and he could easily make the jump to the next building. At least, that is what he had been telling himself for weeks.
Standing on top of the monstrous building and looking at the gap from this perspective changed his tune. The reality of it all was that the gap was about fifteen feet across and almost twelve feet higher than the roof on which he would land. He knew that he could technically make the gap. Sam’s training in parkour was at the four-year mark, and he held a firm grip on what needed to happen. If everything went according to plan, he would just make it beyond the edge and roll out. That was if everything went according to plan.
Sam’s mind was racing faster than his heart.
“This should be a simple jump,” he thought.
However, when there is risk involved, the mind starts to wander off track. What if his jump was weak or his foot slipped? Heaven forbid he fell short by only a few inches. After all, he was ten stories up. You do not get back up from a fall like that.
To make matters worse, he was here with his best friend, Frank, who was ranting the entire way about how famous they would be for jumping this gap. All of their friends would envy them and try to copy it. For just a brief second the thought of backing out crossed his mind. His gut told him to listen to that thought, but his pride simply would not allow it. Besides, Frank was already on the other side. He successfully made the jump, and Sam could not risk appearing like that much of a bitch.
This was it. Do or die. The decisive moment. Sam sucked in all the bravery and breath his lungs could handle. With a powerful exhale, he darted toward the edge of the building. As he reached full sprint, he realized that there was no turning back. He was running way too fast to stop before the edge. The only option now was a full commitment. He poured on the steam and mustered up all his power. Sam reached the edge and planted his foot on the lip. The grip of the brick below his shoe was solid; the power in his quads and calf muscles was explosive as he launched himself confidently towards the adjacent roof.
“I got this!” he thought.
Time seemed to slow down for Sam. The first half of the jump was breathtaking. To be so high, in such a vulnerable position with no way out…this is where the rush came from. The second half of the jump was not as dreamy and prolific. Right around the halfway point, Sam realized that he did not jump out far enough. He jumped high instead of long. But when you are floating in mid-air, there is nothing you can do.
With a ferocious scream at the top of his lungs, Sam stretched his arms out in a last-ditch effort to save himself. He needed to get his hands on that ledge. He couldn't be the guy all splattered at the bottom of this building. How would it look if the news was there showing his body all spattered on the ground? How would he ever get laid if he was dead? He must grab the ledge.
Sam never was a lucky person. He never won any bet. He never got the girl or saved the day. In fact, if it were not for bad luck he would not have any luck at all. But today was different. Somehow, Sam managed to grab the ledge. As he came screaming out of the sky from the edge of the other building he so daringly leaped from, he managed to put his hands on the ledge and hang on. Keeping his grip was no easy task. The sheer force of his weight falling from that far felt as though it were going to rip his arms from their sockets. His chest and knees slammed into the side of the building so hard that it knocked the wind from his lungs and felt as though it broke both kneecaps.
But he grabbed the ledge. He was going to live. For how long was yet to be determined. His grip was fading fast and smashing into the wall didn’t help. He could feel the damage done to the skin on his hands even though he couldn't see it and he knew that climbing was going to be beyond difficult. He felt the powerful grip of Frank’s hand wrap around his wrist and then the other one.
“I got you.” Frank’s voice never sounded so good.
Sam looked up and saw the face of his friend. His only real friend. His partner in crime. Frank was a young-looking man in his early twenties. His hair was medium length, brown, gelled up in the perfect emo style. Sweeping from the back of his head and spiky in the front. Intentionally messy, almost boy band-ish. Like Sam, his eyes were soft brown, and it appeared as though there was a bit of Latino in him, visibly diluted by a few generations. His skin was dark from a long summer of training shirtless in the sun, and his body was devoid of any hair.
Even his face was smooth. He could go for a week without shaving, and it would look like he shaved that morning. He was strong. A medium-sized tattoo stretched across the top portion of his chest just below the collarbone. It was a word written in old English style lettering done in black with gray shading. It said, “Benjamin$.” The “s” was made out to look like a dollar sign. There was no doubt about it, Frank’s number one focus in life was money.
With a look of strain on his face, Frank began to hoist Sam up onto the rooftop. Sam’s face shared a similar look of strain. He struggled to get traction to assist Frank in the climbing effort. Once he reached the top, Sam laid flat on his back and stared at the sky for a second trying to process what just happened. He cheated death. He knew it. Without saying a single word, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a soft pack of cigarettes. Slapping his hands together, he tapped one out and placed it between his lips. Dropped the pack on the rooftop and fished a lighter out of his pocket, struck it, lit his smoke and breathed in deeply.
“You know those things are gonna kill you right?” Frank scolded. Sam exhaled his lung full of smoke, sat up and gave Frank the eat-shit-and-die look.
“I almost died right there, dude,” Sam said as he pointed at the edge of death from which he just returned, “I'm not stressing a fucking cigarette.”
“But you've got to admit that was fucking EPIC, yo. I thought you were done for dude,” Frank said with the most glorious grin on his face. “You should have seen the look on your face bro. Are you sure you didn't shit yourself? Cause I would've,” He proclaimed.
Sam calmly replied, “I would rather we just not talk about that for a bit, my hands are shaking. I just need to cool out for a moment.”
Frank frowned and raised his eyebrows while shaking his head in agreement, “I can respect that. If I just shit my pants, I wouldn't want to talk about it either.”
Sam gracefully raised his middle finger to shoot Frank the bird.
Laughing slightly, Frank questioned, “You think about that gig I was telling you about yesterday? That shit’s tonight man and I need a partner.”
Sam raised himself off the ground and walked back over to the edge. He looked down and said, “Nah bro, I've got to work tonight.”
Sam could almost see himself splattered on the ground. He imagined people just walking around him as if he didn't matter.
“Work?!?” Frank snapped back in disgust, “Do this job with me tonight and you make almost as much as you do all year at that shitty restaurant!” Franks' hands flew out in front of his body in a defiant and dismissive fashion.
“Besides, your boss is a fucking dick. You should give him the finger and make some real cheddar with me.”
“Look, man, I got no problem with you doing this cat burglar shit...” Sam shook his head in a disapproving fashion slightly, “...but that's not my style.”
“Not your Style? So being broke and sleeping on a couch in your tiny ass apartment is some fashion statement?” Retaliated Frank. “I’ve seen your refrigerator man; you got ketchup, beer, and leftover Ramen noodles. Your job barely pays enough for the rent on your place. I am talking about making twenty grand in a single night.”
Sam’s' head snapped up, and his eyes drilled into Franks. He could barely believe what he heard, “Twenty grand...? No fucking way. What are you robbing? A bank?”
There is no way that anybody Sam knew was making that kind of cash. Especially, not in a single day. Frank was right. It was more than Sam was making for an entire year’s worth of work. He was only pulling in $18,000 a year washing dishes. Frank was also spot on about his boss. He was a dick. Nevertheless, Sam was always one to play devil’s advocate.
“Who is going to pay us ten grand a piece to steal some shit when they could just do it themselves? What’s the catch?” Sam questioned.
Frank grinned because he knew how Sam worked. He could tell that Sam was considering it and just needed a little push in the right direction. He loved his friend to death, but he knew Sam was a bit sheepish and just needed a good shepherd for tough decisions like these.
That is when Frank pulled out the ace stashed up his sleeve, “Try 20 grand… a piece. The job pays $40,000 and there ain’t no catch. This place doesn’t even have a security system.”
The smile on Frank’s face grew from ear to ear. Tickled about the details of it, Frank could have sold it to anybody. He went on to talk about it a bit more, “Look bro we slip in and slip out. Only a couple of people even knows this thing is there. It will be weeks before they even know its missing. Piece-o-cake.”
“What thing?” Sam asked with intrigue. “What are we stealing some old ass car or something?”
“Listen to this...it’s a flower,” Frank said with a look on his face expressing how lame and ridiculous the concept of stealing a flower was.
It didn't matter to him what they would be stealing; money was money. “I guess my boss is some flower nut or something. He is old; maybe flowers are his thing.”
Too good to be true was the first thought that crossed Sam's mind. Nothing in life is ever that easy. However, the thought of easy money tends to wash out the reality of that saying. Especially when you are talking about easy money to a person who is broke and eating leftover ramen. No matter how hard he worked at his job, there was no way he was going to make that kind of money. Also, this was nontaxable and untraceable. Sam heard multiple stories from Frank about how easy it all was. He would slip in and swipe something, and that was that.
Frank never made mention about any encounters with the police or even security guards for that matter. He always dressed nice, drove a nice car and lived in a great apartment uptown. His parents were dirt poor, and there was no way Frank was getting this kind of cash from them. He couldn't be selling drugs. Frank detested the thought of drugs. All his money he had must have been coming from his rather questionable “night job.”
The thought of getting caught never left Sam’s mind. He never knew anyone that went to prison, but he heard enough folklore and urban legends about prison life to want to avoid going there. He did not intend to become a career thief, but he was tired of his dietary options and shitty boss. This heist needed to be a one-time thing. Slip in and slip out. Get paid and hang it up forever.
“I'm in. But just this once. When and where?” He said, feeling like he just sold his soul to the devil.
The feeling of uneasiness came over him as soon as the words left his mouth. What did he get himself into? Stealing was the last thing he thought he would be doing with his evening. He was on the schedule to work tonight. What was he going to tell his boss? How was he going to get that asshole to let him off this evening on such short notice? What was he supposed to wear? Did he need special tools? So many questions and so many details. It was going to be a long evening.