A grey ubiquitous hue sets over the city like a puffy cloud getting ready to let go of an effervescent feeling of pent up emotion. Mike Smith, a 24-year-old lower middle class white male, stands overlooking the city of Denver. The city skyline is masked by the snow cloud and the ever increasing wind. He takes a deep breath and the cold air resonates and shows his breath. The layers that he is wearing are cognizant of the current winter weather, and his cherry red nose of the season. He turns his gaze to his phone’s continual ring.
“Hello,” Smith says into the phone in a passive manner.
“Are your friends going to come through for you?” a dark mysterious tone asks.
“I’m going to see them now. You’ll get your money.”
“You have three days,” A dial tone is heard through the phone.
He wipes his eyes, looks at the phone, and places it back in his pocket. He looks up to the sky at the snow that is falling harder and grabs his bag.
Al Harris, a straight-edge clean-cut type, and Jesse Nelson a black, tattooed kind-hearted 24-year-old, sit on a worn leather sofa that has shows the imprints of the owner’s body. The one-bedroom apartment’s white walls are stringent with a grey resonance that colors the decor of the rooms in an almost hazy manner. Behind the television is the only poster in Harris’s apartment of his unit in the military, the EOD, or explosive ordnance disposal. Next to the poster hanging at a slight tilt is the cross of Christ. The rest of the walls are bare.
A blonde woman’s face goes back and forth in a continual motion with only a towel around her mid-section. Her hair is wet from a recent shower. The towel slightly falls, showing her left breast. She stops pushing the plunger into the stopped-up toilet and drops the towel to put her clothes on. She throws the plunger on the ground. “Fuck it…” she says is an exasperated tone.
She dresses and walks out of the bathroom. The hot steam from the bathroom follows her as she walks toward the living room. She is dressed with a plunger in her hand. She hands the plunger to Harris who is sitting on the couch watching television. “I’m out of here. Have a nice day.”
Harris stands up and looks at the plunger and feels the cold breeze hit his face as she walks out the door. “Babe, wait.”
“You’re real bad a keeping a girlfriend… You’re better off, my man.” Nelson says in a joking manner.
On the television, the weatherman is talking about the incoming blizzard. It is the apparent 100-year storm. “If you don’t have to go outside, then I would suggest you stay in a safe place. This is the worst El Nino I’ve seen. There is pretty much no one that is going to be able to get around in this weather,” the weather man says with a brash tone as he continues to describe the weather. Snow is pouring down at an alarming rate followed by the continual blowing of the wind.
The television station shows video of cars getting stuck trying to drive, and various shots of the snow piling up around the city due to the blizzard. In one instance, a plow truck is stuck and the news reporter is stating that it is never good when the plow truck gets stuck.
Harris stands, looks out the window, and is hypnotized by the poetic dance of motion from the beautiful snow falling and being whipped in all directions by the wind. “This guy better get here soon,” Harris says as he walks back to the sofa.
There’s a strong knock at the door and both Harris and Nelson look at each other with a sense of elation. Harris opens the door and is greeted by the prevailing whipping of the blizzard’s wind. Harris’s facial expression turns to delight as he sees Mike Smith bundled up with a large bag slung over his shoulder.
The apartment’s tone raises as all three men’s excitement changes to a sense of being connected and at home. They exchange hugs and Nelson grabs Smith’s bag to walk him into the apartment. Harris grabs three beers and hands one to each of them. “Here’s to Smith and his service. We’re glad you’re a civilian again, man,” Harris says.
“Yeah. I thought you were going to stay in for a minute,” Nelson says.
“How is everything going with you guys?” Smith asks while looking around at the drab apartment coloring. He looks at his phone as it continually rings, but he doesn’t answer.
“Just got a new job away at that damn gas station,” Nelson says, changing the tone of the conversation. He lights up a joint and walks to the front door.
“The problem is, the fag is smoking all his profits.” Harris mutters under his breath to Smith. As soon as Nelson’s hand reaches for the front door, there is a loud knock. Harris looks around at the other men. “Are you expecting anyone?” he asks with concern his voice.
The landlord greets Harris as he opens the door with an exhale of the cold breath from the freezing air that parches through the falling snow. He waves the smell of marijuana smoke from his face as Nelson walks beside him. He is bundled up and almost resembles an Eskimo. He hands him an envelope with an eviction notice. “You’ll have three days,” the landlord says. He turns and walks away as chills from the wind move up his spine.
Harris closes the door and looks at Smith and Nelson with the eviction notice in his hands. “I thought you were doing okay?” Smith says.
“I haven’t worked in almost two months, man,” Harris says and he looks to Nelson. His expression says that he needs help. “Can I borrow some money for a bit, man? I will pay you back as soon as possible.”
Smith’s phone continues to ring. Nelson pauses and looks at both of the men. They have blank looks on their faces. “I am actually going to be behind because of the weather. I mean, people are asking me for weed, but I just won’t be able to deliver it in my car,” Nelson says and looks them both in the eyes.
“Now if either of you motherfuckers can find me a big ass 4×4 we can make some drops tonight and should be able to make some money.”
“I have an idea… No we can’t…” Smith says and then pauses.
“What the hell is it?” Nelson says, looking for answers.
Smith clears his throat. “My parents’ neighbors actually have some snowmobiles that they aren’t using and we could probably borrow those.”
The room is quiet as Smith looks to them for an answer. “I mean, it’s literally the only way anyone is going to be able to get around in this city for the next couple of days,” Smith says, pointing at the television, which is still playing footage of the blizzard as it wrecks havoc on the city.
“Do you think your parents’ neighbors will let us borrow them?” Harris asks.
“Yeah, of course, man. They love me. They used to send me cigarettes when I was deployed to Afghanistan. I will call them here in a bit and ask to make sure.”
The wind blows harder pushing in on the small apartment’s windowpanes, seeming to rattle the entire apartment. The men can feel the harsh cold chill their cores.
Harris walks to the window and looks at the wind whipping around the apartment and creating drifts around the cars in the distance. “You guys need to move your cars into the apartment complex, or you won’t be able to here shortly.”
To fight his anxiety, Nelson lights another joint and opens the door. He looks at Smith and offers him a puff.
“Nah, I don’t smoke, man, but aren’t you suppose to be selling that?”
Nelson takes another puff and shrugs his shoulders. “More for me,” he says in an excited tone.
Nelson walks to his car and is greeted by a large gangster looking Russian mobster with tattoos covering his body in an abstract biker fashion. He places his hand on Nelson’s car. The warmth from his hand leaves an imprint on the exterior of the car, melting the fallen snow. Nelson quickly turns to look at him in shock.
“Oh, Vlad! How are you doing? It’s… aaah… good to see you,” Nelson says in an apprehensive tone of voice. Vlad reciprocates with a smile of condescension.
“You got my paper, Jesse? Or you going to get it right now?” Vlad says with a thick Russian accent.
“I didn’t know that you were out of prison, man, but yeah I’ll get that money for you. No problem.”
Vlad loses his temper a bit and hits the car with his knuckles and points in Jesse’s face. In the distance, Smith is talking on the phone, and he turns to look at Vlad talking to Nelson by his car. A tear drops from Smith’s eye as he continues to talk. He hangs up the phone and runs to Nelson’s side. He pushes Vlad from Nelson’s car.
“What going on here?” Smith asks. Vlad smiles at the smaller Smith and pulls out a cinnamon toothpick from his pocket, sticks it in the middle of the gap in his teeth, and rolls it with his tongue.
“Hey, tough stuff. Your friend here and I were just having a friendly conversation,” Vlad says as he pats Nelson vigorously on the shoulder.
Smith looks at Nelson and then back at Vlad. “How much does he owe? I’m sure that we can clear this up,” Smith says.
“He owns me $5 G’s…”
Nelson lets out a deep breath and looks at the ground in embarrassment. “We can figure this out. Can you just give us until the snow clears? You’ll get your money,” Smith says.
Vlad opens the door for Nelson and gestures for him to get into his car. “I am a reasonable person. How about I give you three days and then I will come back for the paper, okay?” Both Smith and Nelson shake their heads in adherence and watch as Vlad walks across the street to his large lifted 4×4 truck. Vlad opens his door and looks back at the two men. “If I don’t get my money in three days, I am coming back here to break both of your legs,” he says with a devilish grin and a laugh.
Walking back to the apartment, Smith puts his arm around his friend Nelson, knowing that words are sometimes best left unsaid. They both share a moment of silence and Smith’s phone continues to ring uncontrollably. Nelson looks at him as he continues to silence the phone to stay present with his friend.
“I got caught up, man, and when Vlad got arrested I thought I ‘d be okay, but I owe $5000. It was a front to me. It was better than working as a gas station attendant,” Nelson says as Smith listens above the tune of his phone’s ringing.
They open the door to Harris’s apartment and Smith’s phone rings again. “I am going to take this. I will catch up with you,” Smith says as he answers the phone and closes the front door to Harris’s apartment.
Nelson looks at Harris in the eyes, and Harris hands him a cold beer. Nelson shakes his head. “We’re going to have to work tonight, man.”
Harris shakes his head. “Man, I really only want to see if I can borrow some money from you at this point.”
“I have no money, my man, and that’s why we’re going to have to make these runs tonight.” Nelson says in a soft tone.
Smith continues to talk on the phone to a bookie. He states that his friends have no money, apparently, and that they are broke. The phone is silent and he can only hear the wind blow in the receiver, making him lose the connection. A new text message beeps in and he gets a message from the bookie.
Outside of the apartment they both can hear a loud “NO” from Smith, who is shivering in the snow. Harris and Nelson hurry to see him holding a picture of his mother’s house with a text reading “Uou have 48 hours or else…” Harris grabs the phone and looks at it closely.
“What the hell is going on bro?” Harris says in a confused manner. Everyone is quiet as they walk into the apartment. “Fuck,” Smith says loudly. “I wasn’t a 100% honest with my reasons for coming over here, but I want you to know that I do love you.”
Both Nelson and Harris turn and look at him concerned. “So what the hell is going on?” Nelson says. Pacing back and forth, Smith grabs the remote to the television and turns it down. “Apparently, we all can relate okay? But I got out of the service and I had no money, probably a lot like you guys, and I can’t put it off any longer, but I found out my mother has cancer and we can’t afford to pay for the insurance. They want their money now, or they won’t help her…” Smith says, running his hands through his hair in an exasperated effort to conceal his emotion, but a tear starts to fall from his eyes. “Now it’s either I get the money somehow or my mother dies.” Smith’s eyes widen and he looks at both of them intently. “The insurance companies don’t play, either…”
Nelson and Harris pace back and forth in the living area of the apartment. “That’s heavy, brother, and I’m here for you, but I don’t have any money,” Harris says.
“I thought I had a problem,” Nelson mutters.
Harris grabs the remote and turns up the volume on the television as the news focus changes to the weatherman showing different parts of store fronts that are now closing around the city.
Nelson opens the fridge and looks at the bare shelves that hold a single water bottle, clearly in a reusable state, showing the slight indentation from the fingerprints on the sides. There are only a few beers left on the bottom shelf. Nelson grabs one and slams the door. “We don’t even have any food here to survive, fellas, and I got the fucking munchies now.”
Harris and Smith both look at the television as the news shows a picture of a bank that has snow drifts over the front entrance and the surrounding parking lot. Both of their eyes grow in excitement.
“You better get your money now. The bank is going to be snowed in,” the weatherman announces enthusiastically.
Nelson lowers his beer from his mouth and looks at the others as they look at the snow around the bank. There is also an advisory running on the bottom of the screen that states there’s a severe weather alert in the Denver area, and to stay inside.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Smith says with a smile, looking at his friends.
“Yeah, that we can go to federal prison if we get caught for this one,” Harris says in a worried tone. “I mean it’s just too risky, bro.”
“It’s possible, man. I mean, the snowplows won’t even be able to run because of the snow, so how will the cops be able to chase us? I mean, do you want to see if we can ask your parents for some money?” Smith says. Harris shakes his head in disagreement, scoffing at the idea of asking his parents for anything. Nelson finishes his beer and places it on the countertop loudly.
“Fuck it. What do we have to lose?” Nelson asks as the others turn and look at him. Smith points with a smile and puts his arm around Nelson.
“That’s the spirit! We can do this, and we will be back in a couple hours at most.”
“I mean, as long as it’s cool for us to use the snowmobiles, then it really is fool proof,” Nelson states.
“You’re both being fools,” Harris says, turning away from them.
“Well, I have no choice at this point. I have to, guys. My back is against the wall, and I would love to share the money with you,” Smith says.
“Look, my man. We need your military experience to help us with the safe, or whatever we come across. We need you, man, and you need this to…” Nelson says.
“Okay, I’m listening, but we need a solid plan,” Harris says. Nelson immediately gets excited like a kid in the candy store. “We’re planning to rob a bank, not eat an ice cream sundae. Calm down,” Harris says.
End of First Book Part I
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