61: “What the fuck are you doing, numb nuts?”

Joey was helping Vinny break and enter into yet another mansion. This one, he was assured, was occupied and thus full of things that were actually worth stealing. The house belonged to a client of Vinny’s from the jewellery store where he worked. The man’s name was Mortimer Junket and he owned a chain of dry cleaners that had made him immensely wealthy. His money had also attracted the attention of a leggy blonde gold-digging woman named Megan, who was twenty years his junior and significantly taller and more attractive. Vinny had sold Mortimer a grossly expensive diamond tennis bracelet that he had intended to give to Megan for Christmas and Vinny said they could easily steal it in the dead of the night. He had also managed to get Mortimer to disclose his holiday plans to Vinny while he was perusing the store and learned that Mortimer and Megan would be on holiday in Turks and Caicos.

“It’s the perfect opportunity,” Vinny told Joey for the tenth time while trying to convince it was a good idea and would not lead to their incarceration as the last attempt at theft had.

“We’re going to need a driver,” Joey told Vinny after a moment’s thought. He was stealing TVs if he got the chance. In fact, he was going to steal as much as was humanly possible, which meant that they would definitely need a driver. They’d also need someone to hack the security system because, even though Vinny said he could do it, Joey didn’t believe him for a second.

“I know a guy,” Vinny assured Joey. He always knew a guy.

“If you bring me that fucking moron in the fucking yellow Camaro again, I’ll spit in your goddamn eye,” Joey warned him, finger pointed directly in Vinny’s face. Vinny scoffed and adjusted the collar on his red zip-up Adidas track suit top.

“I won’t, I won’t,” he said, acting casual. “I know another guy. Don’t worry. Trust me, trust me.”

Joey rolled his eyes.

The night they were set to break into Mortimer Junket’s mansion, Joey met Vinny at the Best Buy parking lot where they waited for the other two members of their operation to show. In the end, Joey had asked one of his own contacts to help with the security system. His name was Dante and he was pocket-sized. He was short, but also incredibly angry, Joey suspected mostly because he was so short. He had a shaved head and a neck tattoo of a coiled snake, which probably would’ve been threatening on a much larger man, or in fact an average-sized man. On Dante, it was almost cute. Joey didn’t dare say that out loud, though. Dante took great offense to people calling him cute, which was a real shame because he looked like Polly Pocket’s gang member cousin.

Dante arrived first. He emerged into the foreground, not actually getting much bigger the closer he got to them, shaved head covered by a black beanie. His teeth were gritted together and he was frowning menacingly, but he still managed to look adorable in his black winter jacket. Briefly, Joey wondered if Dante could still buy clothes in the children’s section. He tried to imagine what he would look like in a pair of corduroy overalls, but he was interrupted by the arrival of Vinny’s driver.

Joey wasn’t quite sure what he had been expecting when Vinny explicitly told him he would do better than the moron with the yellow Camaro, but a hearse wasn’t it. Upon reflection, Joey decided that a hearse would be much more noticeable then a yellow Camaro. He wondered if it was too late to get Damien the idiot to bring his flashy sports car.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Joey muttered. Vinny was walking over to where the hearse had come to a grinding halt, cigarette in his mouth, hands in the front pockets of his open winter coat. He had exchanged his regular gold chain for the gold cross necklace his mother had given him for Christmas. Joey thought it made him look ridiculous, like some sort of astoundingly disgraced former priest, the corrupt kind that steals from the coffers and beds nuns.

“What the fuck is this?” Dante demanded, looking up at Joey in confusion and outrage. Joey didn’t bother answering, largely because he didn’t even know where to begin answering, and followed Vinny over to the hearse.

“This’ll do,” Vinny was saying to the driver through the open window, one hand resting on top of the vehicle.

“Will it?” Joey asked, coming to stand next to him so that he could see into the driver’s side window as well. He was faced with a young woman who had long blonde hair, which she’d braided into two long ropes down the back of her head. She was looking blankly up at Joey with a lot of intensity. Frankly, it was unnerving.

“This is Ocean,” Vinny introduced them. At first, Joey assumed he was mistaken, because Vinny was notoriously bad at remembering names, but when Ocean didn’t correct him, merely continued to blink up at Joey vapidly, Joey gathered it was correct. Then he didn’t say anything because he still didn’t know what to say. He had meant to protest, to tell Vinny that he thought it was a terrible idea for them to leave the site of a robbery in an enormous black hearse, but he couldn’t find the words. Ocean was still staring at him, like she could see into the heart of his soul, and he was beginning to feel weirdly naked. So instead he tightened the collar of his jacket around his neck and allowed himself to be told to crawl into the back of the hearse, Dante following behind him, grumbling under his breath the entire time.

As it turned out, Mortimer Junket lived in a fairly reclusive part of the city, far on the north end with the rest of the fabulously wealthy. This fortunately meant that there wasn’t such a high chance of being noticed by the neighbours, though Joey still felt the hearse increased those chances quite a bit. He, Vinny, and Ocean hung back in the hearse while Dante rushed up to the side door leading off the three-car garage and set to deactivating the security system. Joey was still in the back of the hearse, but he could still feel Ocean’s eyes on him. It sent shivers down his spine.

When Dante waved to them from the house, Vinny and Joey climbed out of the hearse and rushed toward him. They made their way through the garage into the laundry room at the side of the house and then spread out from there. The next time Joey saw Vinny, the pockets of his track suit jacket were overflowing with jewellery and Joey had pocketed two ivory figurines. Together, they moved out the enormous TV in the living room to the garage. They were about to take it to the hearse when Vinny stopped abruptly in his tracks. Joey, who had continued trying to walk, ended up with the top corner of the TV in his sternum.

“What the fuck are you doing, numb nuts?” He hissed at the back of Vinny’s head.

“There’s someone out there, jack ass,” Vinny hissed back. Joey craned his neck to look around Vinny to see that there was indeed someone out there. They were talking to Ocean, who had exited the hearse. She kept gesturing to the hearse and then to the house and then back to the hearse. The person, presumably a concerned neighbour, was following the gestures, nodding every once in a while. Eventually, after what felt like ages of holding a rather heavy television in his trembling grip, the stranger walked away. Vinny waited a few more minutes before he continued the walk back to the hearse. They slid the TV into the back and walked around to talk to Ocean.

“Who was that?” Joey asked her.

“A neighbour,” Ocean stared back at him.

“What did they want?” Vinny asked.

“To know who’d died,” Ocean answered.

“What did you tell them?” Joey asked.

“That Mr. Junket’s elderly mother, who was visiting for the holidays, had passed away in her sleep from a horrible stroke and that we were here to remove the corpse and take her to the funeral home,” Ocean explained. “I told her we work for Bloomfield-Custance over on Forest Street.”

Joey was impressed despite himself.

“She offered to send over a fruit basket, but I said Mr. Junket just wanted privacy at this time,” Ocean continued. Joey was even more impressed. Ocean blinked at him a few more times, then reached over and plucked one of the ivory figures from his pocket. She slipped in into her own pocket and Joey just let it happen because he couldn’t think of any other way to respond.

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