Short story Part 9: The Caper
And thus spoke Pearl: “Alright kids, this is the prototype, okay? That means there is only ONE of these babies, (plus plans). It’s like a kindle only this one actually reads to you and with you, if you hear a word that you don’t understand all you have to do is repeat the word and the machine will stop and explain the word; if you say the word and then say “thesaurus”, the machine will give you a lexicon. The machine is thin and the size of a folded newspaper and it is back-lighted, you sort of read along with it, you know?”
“Now”, she continued “the business section of The New York Times printed an article recently about a wireless router+ home backup hard drive+ digital picture frame. It (D-link DIR-683) will broadcast your internet connection wirelessly and will, with it’s strong Wi-Fi signal, turn your entire house into a Wi-Fi hotspot and give you port forwarding, Application Rules. Individual website blocking, a sophisticated firewall, UpnP, Multicast Streams, Wake on LAN, users and groups, network access lists, scheduled lockouts, log security formats like WPA and WEP and much more including the ability to inspect your router’s settings and the display of dozens of internet informational widgets; weather, headlines, sports, stocks, Twitter posts and- delightfully- photos from your Flickr or Facebook accounts. This baby kicks that one to the curb and spits on it”. She glanced around at suspicious faces: “ And guys, it’ll make a 6G network look like a field mouse in a Kansas wheat field! AND,” here she beamed a rare beam “ --wait for it”—“It comes with the option of background music!”
“It, also,” she continued “is ‘hand imprint’ operated; meaning that it is not opened by anyone but the owner who has been micro-chipped in perfect symbiosis with the thing. The machine can be kept as a diary, confidant, older sibling and shrink. It will tell you when not to drink and dial, correct you if you decide to text while tipsy and warn you if you’re about to facebook while you’re fucked up.
“A professor will be demonstrating the device as part of a panel at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival called… ‘Book Reading; Dead or Alive’”. She paused for a breath; “And that’s when we steal it… and him.”
She eyed the skeptical room. “My Chinese contacts will give me a hundred million dollars for it, no questions asked. Every kid in the world is gonna want one”
What she was describing was a system called ‘TUTOR’ it would make schools and learning institutions obsolete and the rest of the world irrelevant; you could be taught anything you wanted to learn by a patient teacher who would talk to you and not down to you and one that would explain again and again until you got your information in your own time; in you own language. You could learn to paint from the masters, read the sheet music of the maestros, fix your lawnmower or your love life and no, not every kid in the world would want one…. EVERYONE IN THE WORLD WOULD DEMAND ONE!
“Wait, wait, wait” interrupted Billy “before you go any futher, I got a few questions that you might want to answer.”
“Whoa, hold on Billy boy, let me finish.” Here she raised her hands and arms for silence and composure before she continued: “We can do this as a team or I can form another group but I really think that knowing eachother is important and we all have history together that I believe will act as grease for the gears that we’ll be spinning to pull this off. Of course, some of you will have to change your names.”
After a collective groan was heard she said: “just joking! But you see how you all act as a team already? How does two mil sound as a down payment for starters?” And she waved a small piece of paper.
There was a loud sound at this point that came from the bar area; it sounded like a POP (!) it sounded like a POW (!) it sounded like a BANG (!). Pearl hit the floor, Billy hugged the wall, Mo had a gun out and was at a crouch, Hinch had fainted and the girls, Anne and Brandi had their hands to their mouths in horror. Pearl went into a fit of Saint Elmo’s. It sounded like --and it was—the sound of Petey opening a bottle of champagne to make Pearl her favorite drink, a Kir Royale.
Petey jumped over the bar and yelled: “quick…Hinch!” and I sprang from my perch; together we pinned him down just as he went into spasms. Petey got some smelling salts under his nose and within seconds he was as right as rain, and everything settled back down.
Billy piped up again: “ that don’t look like no two million bucks to me!”
Pearl called for silence again “Okay, I’m gonna ‘splain it slow and don’t make me use no flash cards. We’ve got—assuming that we all agree to this—three months to pull this off. What we do is, we buy a house in the French Quarter and move in together and rehearse and train and plan our asses off until we can do this thing slicker than snot on a doorknob. We split ninety eight million dollars and fade to black, back to our lives or any other lives that we may wish. Now, c’mon guys, we’ll be perfect together, have some fun, some laughs and be rich by this time in April. Whaddya say?”
Billy piped up again: “ I don’t know where the big bucks are for starters and I don’t think that piece of paper that you’re waving looks like two million bucks; that looks to me like a lottery ticket, do you mean to tell me that the Chinese control the winning numbers on the American lottery?”
“Bingo! No flies on you Bill” said Pearl “This particular ticket will win the four mil pot on Wednesday and we cash it out for two and buy us a house, like I said, move in and work out the kinks for the heist. Perfect, eh?”’
“And who, exactly who, do all of us trust to cash in that ticket and not do a Houdini on us? Which one of us can be trusted enough to get the two big ones and not take a powder?” Asked Anne. “I’ll tell you right now, it’s not me!”
The company started eyeing eachother like curs surrounding a bone and with each second that pregnantly passed we all knew that none of us could be trusted.
Just at the time that the gang reached a unanimous stalemate, our eyes started focusing on the one person that we all could put our faith in; the one person that we knew would not double cross us. And then we all came to the same unanimous conclusion and our stares turned to the chump/champ that we could pick for our champ/chump; the one person that we could all agree upon. Hinch.
“Wha wha wha wha?” Hinch started to say
Brandi spoke up first and said it the best: “Of course! Hinch is the only one of us that has the capacity to put love before money.”