“Would you two stop already with the Bonnie and Clyde shit already?” Phryne spat out to her teammates. “Roleplaying on the job ain’t ain’t gonna save your marriage!”

Sure, Pumpkin and Honey were annoyingly saccharine in their displays of affection and sure, maybe they were so overt about it because they had something to prove. Nonetheless, Cleo thought Phryne was more the problem here. Phryne had been so focused on her disgust for the two lovebirds’ behavior that the civilians she was meant to be subduing were testing their boundaries. Cleo saw one inching away, trying to sneak out of sight when Phryne was busy sneering at the other two, who were winking and blowing kisses to each other but otherwise had their civilians under control. Another of Phryne’s civilian’s eyes kept darting around, looking for an opening to cause trouble no doubt.

“Why do you think their marriage is in trouble?,” Cleo said as she zipped up the duffel bag. “It’s rather presumptuous.”

“Yeah, we just got back from our honeymoon, for fuck’s sake,” Honey said.

Phryne glowered.

“I almost wonder if you’re not projecting a bit,” Cleo said. “Maybe you have some baggage that’s distracting you?” Cleo lobbed the duffel bag to Phryne, whose expression went even more sour, but who was grateful for an excuse to extricate herself from this call-out. She was quick to take the bag out to their waiting van.

The Tour

“There’s one more stop on the tour. If you’ll follow me back into the elevator,” the tour guide said as he pressed the call button.

“This place is pretty cool,” Summer said to fill the time while they waited for the elevator to come up. “I didn’t think we’d ever see stuff like this after the dotcom bubble. And y’all’re making actual money this time around?”

“Heh, yes, we’re doing quite well,” the tour guide said. The elevator arrived and they both got on. The doors slid shut and the elevator descended.

“So Summer,” he broached, “I’m afraid there was an ulterior motive in offering you a tour of our headquarters.”

“Aw fuck, this isn’t like that thing where the police say you won a drawing for a boat and then they arrest you when you come to get it, is it?” Summer asked. She was making a joke, but the fact that she was stuck – trapped – in an elevator rose a few ranks of importance in the back of her mind.

“Well, to be honest, it is a little like that,” the tour guide said. “except instead of arresting you, we’d like to offer you a job.”

Nitriles, Part 2

“They’re still nitriles, what’s the fuckin’ difference?” Banshee complained. He crossed his arms obstinately.

“It creates a Mr. Black situation, Banshee,” Wintour explained with steely patience. “If you show up to a job wearing black nitriles when everyone else is wearing blue like they’re supposed to, then your crewmates get jealous of you and resentful of the uniform. Then all of three of those crewmates are going to show up to their next jobs wearing the wrong color gloves, which perpetuates the disruption in team morale. It creates a ripple effect that could lead to people trying to disregard the uniform entirely, which would in turn create problems with crews being recognizable as such to civilians. And if civilians cannot immediately recognize you as a Syndicate agent, they’re more likely to resist and interfere with your work which could lead to casualties.”

“Besides, the pattern on the tie was designed specifically to embrace the blue in the nitriles,” Wintour added. “Without that blue for it to draw on, you look like you can’t dress yourself. You may as well be out there wearing black shoes and a brown belt.”

Political Theatre

Just as they had the score secured and everyone was seated on the escape boat, they heard someone call out to them from the end of the dock.

“Wait! Wait!” a man’s voice shouted to them. He ran towards them and everyone pointed their guns at him. He either didn’t see or didn’t care. He approached anyway, stopping at the edge of the dock. He doubled over, hands on his knees, and panted. After he caught his breath, he stood upright again.

His tie, mask, and gloves marked him as Syndicate agent too.

“Please,” he huffed, putting his hands up to show he was not planning to pull anything, “let me come with you. My crew’s all been arrested. I’ve been running from cops since 9:00.” It was now 11:35.

They had room on the boat; it wouldn’t have been a problem to let him board. Yet none of them lowered their weapons. Cleo, Dixie, and Melrose all looked to Dauphin. He was lead on this job so it was up to him if he wanted to take the risk.

“How do we know you’re not an undercover cop trying to get us all arrested too?” he asked.


“I don’t know, man. I feel a little iffy about this job,” Savoy said. “But I can’t tell if it’s a gut feeling or if it’s just because working in places decorated for Christmas feels like a bad omen.”

“Bad omens? We got fuckin’ Rudolph up here guiding the sleigh tonight. There isn’t a better omen than that,” Nero smartassed.

“Wow, that’s an original fuckin’ joke,” their driver, the aforementioned Rudolph grumped. “Why don’t you tell one I ain’t heard a million times before?”

“Damn, Scrooge, who pissed in your porridge?” Nero asked. “I was just trying to lighten the mood.”

Welcome to Idaho

“How long do you think it’ll be before they start lookin’ for us?” Sable asked. Cairo was driving, so Sable had her feet up on the dashboard and was eating Sour Punch Straws.

“I don’t expect that they will,” Cairo said. “As long as they never find out we’re working outside of the app, they should have no reason to think we haven’t merely retired.”

They drove along for a while in relative silence, save for Sable’s gooey chewing, the radio, and a beep every so often from the police radar detector, until Cairo’s face shifted into a pensive frown.

“Frenchy could be a problem,” she said.

“How?” Sable asked. She didn’t look up from the candy straw she was peeling apart from the rest in their plastic tray.

“It depends on what she knows. We don’t know when she disappeared or where she fucked off to.” Cairo considered the angles. “If she knows we took the money, she could report that it should be incoming.”

“Wouldn’ be in her interests though,” Sable said. “That was her job. Means she’d be responsible for making sure the money came in.”

The Indie Assumption

Things were going quite well, if Dixie said so herself. This was the first time she had applied to be lead on a job. It earned one a ten percent bonus for taking the responsibility of seeing that the score was delivered to the local Syndicate depot. The rest of her crew were out front sweeping loose diamonds off tables and displays and into duffel bags. The diamonds were small and of mediocre quality, but the sheer quantity of them would net a decent profit. Because things were going so well, Dixie was in the back office, cracking their wall safe. She didn’t expect to find anything worthwhile, but she had the time and cracking safes was what she did.

At the last tumbler falling into place, she turned the handle and yanked open the door. A stack of bills sat on top of some official looking papers. She snatched the bills out and put them in her jacket pocket: a tip on top of her lead bonus! This job was turning out real well.

Until the gunshots sounded out front.

Small World

“All right,” Sable said. “Moment of truth.”

Cairo picked up the hotel phone, flipped the yellowed calling card over, and dialed the number she’d jotted down ten years ago. Sable leaned in close to hear since they weren’t going to risk putting the call on speaker and being overheard.

The phone rang once. Then again. Then the click of connection.

“Good morning, Miss Laurendeau’s residence,” a woman’s voice answered. Cairo knew this woman was definitely not Bijou. Bijou had a comically affected transatlantic accent. There was still a remote possibility that Bijou still lived there, if this woman was just answering her phone.

“Hello. May I speak to Bijou please?” Cairo chanced.

The woman on the other end was silent for a moment, then said, “May I ask who’s calling?”

“Oh, my apologies,” Cairo said, having forgotten to introduce herself before . “This is Cleo.”

“Cleo…?” the woman trailed, prompting for a last name.

“Just Cleo.”

“I see. May I put you on hold?” the woman asked.

“Yes, of course.”

They waited. A moment later, an older woman’s voice asked, “Hello? Bijou speaking.”

Sable nearly choked in surprise at how this woman just answered so readily to her codename, not knowing who was on the other end of the line.

Laser Locks

“Okay, you’re good. Go!”

Summer pulled the plastic cap off the bottom of her boot heel and let her pocket knife fall out of the hollow into her hand. Pulling out the Phillips screwdriver bit, she set to work unscrewing the battery panel of the Laser Lock on some hapless kid’s locker.

In this post Columbine world, being caught with a weapon on school property – even one as dull and useless as the blade in her pocket knife – had ridiculous consequences. So Desi, her best friend, was keeping guard at the door to the outdoor halls. They weren’t supposed to be in the hall this early either, but getting caught in the building before the first bell was an infraction they – especially Desi, as a straight A student – could talk their way out of.

Summer had a good thing going with these Laser Locks. The infomercial for them started airing earlier that year. In it, kids pointed their little color-coordinated remote controls at the Laser Locks on their lockers and the locks popped open instantly, no combinations or keys needed. Having a Laser Lock shaved valuable seconds off a mid-day locker trip that might otherwise make it impossible to get across campus in the five minutes given before the bell rang, earning one an inordinately high punishment for tardiness. Or it would, if Summer didn’t steal the batteries from these locks.