Hiding: A Body of Thieves

A Body of Thieves


Joey pulled Vinnie into his sleeper car and slammed the door.

“Come on, kid, we’ve got seconds to make this work.”

Over the crushing sound of the wind rushing past the open window, Vinnie heard the guard bang on the door. For such a little man, he was capable of making an awful lot of noise. He had been banging for roughly forty seconds, starting about fifteen seconds after Vinnie had been pulled into the sleeper room by Joey.

With a final glance to make sure everything was right, Joey turned to the door.

“I got my ticket right here, what’s with all this racket?” Joey asked, turning up his eastern accent until he was almost unintelligible.

“Security,” the guard said. “Why did it take you so long to answer?”

In the pause, Vinnie imagined Joey turning to gesture at the unmade bed.

“I like sleeping on trains. The motion is very soothing. You know what’s not soothing? Getting woken up by some railway rent-a-cop at whatever hour it is. You got a name?”

The guard ignored all this. “I’m following a person of interest, and I thought I saw him come into this room.”

There was another pause, and Vinnie was sure Joey was looking around the tiny space. He could imagine the over-exaggerated movements and the way he’d shrug his shoulders.

“Well? Are you done looking? Or do you need another pass by? Where the fuck would I be hiding someone in this closet?”

“I need to look in your bathroom.”

“I don’t got a bathroom, you think a dinky room like this comes with its own bathroom? I don’t got the money for that, I use the car bathroom at the other end like everybody else.”

“Whatever that door is, then, sir. I need to look in it.”

Vinnie tensed and held his breath. The train was going around a bend, taking a turn, and the force of it was making his stomach try to leave his body through his rib cage.

“It’s a closet. And not a big one. Barely big enough for my carry-on, let alone a frigging ‘person of interest,” Joey said with a mocking tone.

“Still, sir, I need to see-”

“You never told me your name. I’m making a complaint about this. You can’t just-”

“I can and I will.”

Vinnie heard some scuffling as the guard pushed himself past Joey into the little room. He squeezed his eyes shut and waited.

The closet door flew open so hard it banged against the wall behind it.

The security guard harrumphed.

“See? Nothing in there but my small bag, because nothing else is fitting,” he said. “Now, I never got your name.”

“No. You didn’t.”

“Aww, no. You don’t leave until you tell me your name. Get back here! You know what, it’s fine! I’ll just tell them I’m looking for the shortest security guard they got!”

Joey slammed the door hard enough that the little room shook. A second later the window was pulled all the way open. Joey stuck his head out.

“Ready to come back in?”

The nod Vinnie gave was stiff and small.

He hadn’t had any time to protest before Joey had opened the window and Maggie had crawled through. The waitress outfit and wig were gone, although her long black hair was still wrapped up and pressed against her skull by a wig cap. She was back in black, wearing a harness with a bungee rope that went out the window and up to the top of the train. Before Vinnie could even get a word out she had strapped him to her with another bit of bungee rope and then they were outside. Hugging the outside of the train, trying to find anything for his fingers to grip on to, while Maggie wrapped herself around him. Eventually he had just pressed his hands flat to the train, as though his leather gloves could grip him to the metal. Behind them the desert night had whipped past, making his ears and nose freeze. He’d looked down only once. Even in the dark he could see how fast they were moving. After that he kept his eyes on the metal in front of him, swallowing over and over to keep from throwing up.

Maggie did all the work getting them back inside. She walked them over the side of the train, the rope dragging over the roof of the train. When they were over the window Vinnie had to relearn how to move his legs before getting them back inside. She released the rope holding them and he crashed inward.

“You okay?” Joey asked.

“Yeah,” Vinnie said into the floor.

“You want to get up?”

“Not yet.”

His forehead was on the floor. It was dirty and sticky but it was under him so he loved it. Behind him Maggie dropped neatly in, and as he managed to look up he found her rolling the rope around her forearm. She didn’t look like she’d just been clinging to the side of a speeding train. She had the look of someone who had been interrupted from a very important nap.

“What now?” Maggie asked.

Joey sat on the bed. He’d gotten a glass of something brown from somewhere and he was holding it to his head. Carefully, Vinnie sat back on the floor and pushed himself up against the wall.

“What I’m thinking,” Joey started, “is that guard is suspicious of you, but still hasn’t really gotten a good look at your face. I don’t think you’re burned.”

Relief, as cold as the air rushing past the window, slid down his back.

“Yet.”

Gone as fast as it came.

“He’ll be looking for you. Monitoring the train, and everyone getting off. He’ll recognize you if he sees you. Eyes?”

“Yeah, boss?”

Vince had forgotten all about the tin ears.

“When you’re done back there I need you to erase the security tapes, anything with Face on it.”

“Easy-peasy.”

“As for you…” Joey said. He took a sip from his glass and put it back to the side of his head. After a while, he looked to Maggie.

“You brought the extra harness?”

“Always.”

“And it can hold him?”

“It can hold Fist.”

Joey nodded. “Hate to do it to you, kid, but you’ll be getting off the train with Spirit.”

Vinnie nodded like he understood. After a few seconds he realized he didn’t, and looked up at Maggie.

“You get the…the goods off the train,” he said. “But I was never told how.”

She tried to hide a grin from him. Poorly. “You ever heard of the Rio Montana?”

Of course he had. Biggest river in the desert, coming down from the mountains before cutting east toward the Gulf. Everybody had heard of the Rio Montana. In fact, if he remembered right, the Southern Line went right over the Montana, right across…

He looked between them, his eyes bouncing faster and faster, as his mouth went dry and he somehow developed instantaneous hiccups.

“No,” was all he said.

They didn’t have to say anything to tell him he was wrong.

The Rio Montana came down from the mountains and cut through the desert. Cut into it deep, creating the Nava Cliffs. A five hundred foot deep gorge with the river below. The Southern Line went right over it, across their Nava Bridge.

Neither Joey nor Maggie had to say anything. Spirit’s way off the train was jumping into the gorge.


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