Letting Crazy Dave handle the
shotgun was a mistake. Joey and I both knew it, but we needed cover for our
plan to work, so we buried our heads in the sand and tried to pretend things
would be okay.
Spoiler alert: things would not
The plan was audacious: we would
rob our way through the city, knocking over one liquor store after the next,
boom-boom-boom, completing our little spree in less than two hours. The last store
would be located hard by Interstate 95, and after hitting that one we would zip
onto the highway and be gone.
We spent hours developing the
route that would allow us to hit the maximum number of stores in the minimum
amount of time while also avoiding the police, who despite their general sloth
and stupidity would eventually tumble to what we were up to.
Our first few stops seemed
obvious. Washington Street featured a cluster of liquor stores, all catering to
desperate horny men looking to pick up a bottle of liquid courage before
availing themselves of the sex-for-hire trade for which the area was locally renowned.
We figured three stores on
Washington would be about right. Hitting them would take no more than twenty
minutes, and by then the cops would be on their way. They’d be certain we were
going to continue down the street, certain they would stop us in our tracks
before we could finish the fourth job.
So after the third, we would
exit the area via a side street and move across town. Then we would hit three
more stores before changing cars.
After that we would zigzag our
way toward the interstate, taking down three additional stores as we went,
before knocking over the last one on our way out of town.
Would it work?
The plan seemed solid enough,
but as far as we knew, no one had ever tried robbing ten liquor stores in one
afternoon, so who the hell could say? But this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment
thing. The three of us planned for a solid week, debating various routes and
potential law enforcement responses before settling on our final plan.
It seemed solid. We liked our
The day of the heists, we spent
the morning placing our stolen cars. The first we would use to begin the job.
The second we stashed in the
parking lot of a boarded-up dry cleaner’s shop in Chinatown. We knew by the
time we’d completed a half-dozen robberies that our first car—a late-model blue
Buick your grandfather might drive—would have been seen by dozens of witnesses
and be all over the cops’ radar, so we were going to have to ditch it to have
any chance of finishing the job and escaping the city.
Our third stolen car we placed
eight miles up the interstate, in a carpool lot just off the highway. We
figured if we made it that far after robbing ten liquor stores, we’d be home
It was a little after one when
we started. Middle of the day, traffic should be light. People with jobs would
be at work and people without would still be inside their apartments trying to beat
First three jobs went down nice
and smooth, like Jack Daniel’s after a busy day robbing liquor stores. The
sound of sirens in the distance serenaded us as we pulled away from the third place—a
dirty little hole in the wall called Pedro’s—and I knew we had planned the day
But there was a problem.
Of course there was.
Crazy Dave was starting to live
up to his nickname. He looked twitchy, flushed and shaky, and he was moving
with the unnatural jerky motions of someone who’d had way too much coffee.
Or way too much meth.
“You okay, Dave?”
I asked as we
approached the fourth store, located all the way across the city, a couple
miles from where the cops would be looking for us.
he said, even as we
both knew he wasn’t.
Dave’s job was to step out
right rear door while I hit the store. He was to pull the sawed-off Remington
12-gauge out from under his long overcoat, and intimidate the shit out of any
bystanders during the few minutes it would take me to clean the place out.
But his actions were making me
nervous, and even though he hadn’t fired the damned gun yet, I could see by his
increasingly rash behavior he wanted to.
The fourth and the fifth stores
went down easy, but I couldn’t help feeling a sense of anxiety as we moved the
three blocks it would take to get to Number Six.
“Keep it together, Dave,”
said, and his only response was to growl something unintelligible.
After Number Six we swapped cars
in front of the old dry cleaners. We piled out of the now-red-hot stolen Buick
and into the unobtrusive blue Accord, and as Joey pulled out of the lot, fucking
Crazy Dave stuck the 12-gauge out the rear window and blasted the abandoned dry
“The fuck do you think you’re
doing?” I shouted.
“The building’s empty,
“That’s not the point.
changed rides to stay off the cops’ radar, and now, if anyone saw your
brilliant move, they’ll be looking for this
“Fuck you.” Dave was
bouncing in his seat from tension and pent-up aggression and I couldn’t wait
for this job to be over. I swore right then and there this was the last time I
would ever work with Crazy Dave. Fucking guy was a powder keg.
We crisscrossed the city as
planned, me certain Dave was going to do something to get us all thirty-to-life,
Dave getting more and more jittery and unpredictable.
The next three jobs went off okay.
One more to go, a little mom and
pop liquor store next to the I-95 on-ramp called, ironically, Pop’s.
And that was where everything
went to shit.
I cleaned out the register while
holding my gun on the old guy standing behind it, just like I’d done nine times
already today. It was obvious he was pissed off, but equally obvious he knew
there was nothing he could do to stop me.
Twenty seconds later I hit the
door at a dead run and sprinted to the car, sliding into the back seat and
yelling, “Go, go, go,” as if it needed to be said.
The car stayed put.
“Dude, go!” I said
Joey nodded in the direction of the sidewalk.
Where Crazy Dave stood,
sawed-off leveled at the old bastard from the store. The dumbass had wandered
out the door and stood staring wide-eyed at Dave’s Remington, looking exactly
like a guy about to meet his maker.
Which he was, because Dave
pulled the trigger.
The Remington boomed and the old
guy went down and Dave slipped into the Honda. Joey was screaming and I was
screaming and the car still wasn’t moving.
And Dave said, “We need
Joey hit the gas and we squealed
into traffic and hit the on-ramp at seventy per and climbing, Joey and me still
screaming in shock and horror and fear.
I grabbed Dave and forced him
look at me.
“Why?” I shouted in
“Why? Why would you do that? We were about to get away clean!”
“Fuck him,” was Dave’s
My heart was slamming in my
chest as we hauled ass up 95.
Accessory to murder.
Life in prison or maybe even the
Joey and I were now stuck with
Crazy Dave forever, because if he were to be caught or we were to cut him
loose, the first thing he would do, and I mean the very first fucking thing,
would be to give us up.
Life in prison or the death
penalty, or being stuck with that crazy murdering fucker Dave for the rest of
I leaned forward and whispered
to Joey, “Unlock the doors.”
He was still screaming so I had
to slap him before repeating myself.
“What the fuck are you talking—”
“JUST DO IT!” I shouted.
I didn’t think Dave could
I’d whispered to Joey, but he was watching us with what looked like increasing
suspicion. I would have to move fast or risk getting ripped to shreds by that
goddamned sawed-off, which Dave had already reloaded.
Joey shook his head in confusion
but did as he was told.
The second I heard the click of the locks releasing, I acted. I
reached across the back seat and slammed Dave’s head against the window as hard
as I could. It wouldn’t knock him out but might stun him long enough for me to
finish him off.
He gasped and moaned but I was
too busy trying to save my ass to congratulate myself on making it this far. I
wrapped my right fist around his shirt, grabbing as much material as I could
hold, and then opened the rear door with my left.
Behind the wheel, Joey was
screaming again, but he hadn’t taken his foot off the gas and the wind tried to
force the door closed. We must have been doing ninety, zigzagging up 95 as cars
in all three lanes scrambled to get the hell out of the way.
I shoved Dave hard with my
shoulder while pushing with my fist, and although he’d been stunned, Dave must
have figured out what I had in mind because he grabbed me and held on for dear
So I let go of his shirt and
slugged him in the face.
And Crazy Dave tumbled out the
Behind us, brakes screeched as
cars tried to avoid running over the poor soul who’d just fallen out of a
moving car on the highway.
I didn’t bother to look
rear window because it didn’t matter whether anyone had run Dave over or not.
There was no way he could have
survived the fall. Not at that speed.
And I sure as hell didn’t
guilty. All I felt was angry.
we never should have let Crazy Dave
handle the shotgun.
is the New
York Times- and USA Today- bestselling author of nearly two dozen
novels and five novellas. His short fiction has been featured in dozens of
anthologies and magazines, and he is a past winner of the Derringer Award,
given annually for excellence in short mystery fiction. Learn more at AllanLeverone.com.
Kevin D. Duncan was born 1958
in Alton, Illinois where he still
resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design.
He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for
over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons
and editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including
the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press
zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books.