Continued Low Key Panic

A Body of Thieves


Vinnie – Face, or maybe the Face? He still wasn’t sure – had found the location of the safe. Smile had charmed their way in. Eyes had worked at the safe with obvious skill while Fist had stayed close to the door, keeping lookout. The safe had opened and for a few bright seconds they were able to look upon the fruits of their good work without fear: wallets, jewelry, and purses. The things too precious to just be left in those cheap room safes in the closets. Things owned by people who owned so much else, what was the loss of a single necklace, or a few bills?

“I don’t know how you did it,” Smile said, sounding incredulous this had happened at all, and followed it with a half-hearted, “But good job.”

Eyes patted him on the back, looking far more pleased. “Good job, newbie. You’ll be better than Sem, yet.”

There was, of course, a part of him looking at all of this in total horror. He had just used his ability to steal. He was in a team of people, and that team of people had teamed up to steal things. And now he was a part of that team. That stole things. Three weeks ago he had been on stage doing community theater and had almost broken his phone in half when he found out he hadn’t gotten the hemorrhoid commercial. Now he was in the backroom of some big fancy party, wearing a suit that actually fit, surrounded by people he had teamed up with to steal things. He should be ashamed. He should be shocked. He should be turning himself in right now.

The problem was that, while Vinnie knew all of this objectively, he wasn’t really feeling it. What he was feeling was pride. Comradery. Self-worth. Things he honestly hadn’t felt in years. Maybe ever. They felt weird in him, like it was wrong to be this happy. But he was, and that part of him that was horrified could just shut the fuck up about it, at least for now.

Eyes pulled a leather pouch from her work bag and filled it neatly, trying to make it as small as possible. All of the good things he had been feeling began to break like waves on the rocks as she handed him the small pouch.

I have to get this out of here?” he asked, his voice small.

“Of course not. You just have to get it upstairs, to Spirit.”

Vinnie blinked at her. He had completely forgotten about that part. Completely forgotten about Spirit, actually. He had seen the others before they had found the safe, mingling in the party or hiding in the back. He hadn’t seen Spirit at all.

Smile put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed until he was looking at her.

“Do you remember where you’re going?” she asked in slow words.

Vinnie nodded, and swallowed. “Top floor, men’s bathroom.”

“Good. Can you do this part? You’re starting to look a little pale.”

“I can do it.”

“Because I can’t hide that in my dress.”

“I said, I can do it.”

“Then show me.”

Vinnie took the pouch and slid it into the oversized pocket in his suit jacket. There was a bit of a bulge if you were looking right at him and knew something was there.

“Stop looking at it.”

“I’m not looking at it.”

“You’re looking at it right now.”

Vinnie looked up at Smile and hoped his face wasn’t flushing even as he could feel the heat on his cheeks.

“Top floor, men’s bathroom,” he said again, and then walked past her. He couldn’t look at her anymore, not even at Eyes. That feeling of comradery was gone. It wasn’t over. There was still one thing he could fuck up.

As he walked past Fist there was a moment where Vinnie believed Fist already thought he would fail. Fist wouldn’t even look at him. A few steps later and he remembered he wasn’t supposed to know Fist.

Fine. Everything is fine. They don’t think you’re going to destroy the plan. And no one else here even knows there’s a plan, and that you’re a part of it. Just keep your head up, your mouth closed, and find the elevator.

He glanced up at the right time to see a camera and almost stumbled over the rug. If Eyes had done her job right it shouldn’t be working. Of course Eyes had done her job right. Her job wasn’t the one in question.

One of the security guards was coming up, about to walk by him. He was allowed to be in this hallway, there were doors to the party every so often on his right and a bathroom somewhere. Vinnie should smile at the guard. No, wait, don’t even acknowledge him, he’s supposed to be a rich asshole. Rich assholes don’t acknowledge people. But what if he didn’t and the guard thought he was an asshole and tried something later? Maybe he should look at him. But not for too long. And not too friendly. And he shouldn’t say anything and definitely don’t look down at your jacket.

The guard was already behind him. He’d been so caught up in his anxiety he hadn’t noticed. The elevator was in front of him, he could see it at the end of the hall. He hit the up button and waited. The elevator started clicking and whirring. It would be here soon, he just needed to wait and whatever he did he could not start bouncing back and forth. No, he needed to be relaxed. Cool. Suave.

Where the fuck is this elevator.

It must have been at the top already. It must be coming all the way down. It must be the slowest elevator in the world. How could anything move this slow? Was it stopping at every floor? Every second he stood here, waiting for the world’s slowest elevator, was another second security could discover what they had done. That someone could walk up behind him and pull him around. And then the bag would fall out of his jacket and then it wouldn’t matter what he could discover in someone’s mind. There wasn’t much to read with a gun in someone’s hand.

The elevator chimed and Vinnie almost screamed. He definitely jumped. Keeping his head straight, he got into the elevator and pressed the top floor button. For the few seconds before the door closed he allowed himself to look frantically down the hall and into the party.

No one was looking back at him. No one had even noticed him.

The doors slid shut and he was alone.

He watched the readout about the buttons climb higher and higher, and for the first time wondered how Spirit was going to get the money out from the top floor.


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