A Queen’s Ransom

“All right, lad. Tell us the whole story.”  Detective Hargrave slid the recorder over to Wally ‘Cupper’ Cupington. Black coffee swayed to and fro in a mug that was recently laid down before him. Scraped and bruised, he was pretty shaken up. Silence seemed a long lost friend.

“Can I smoake?” he looked up with his hand on the pack.

“Depends, boy. Do you have anything to say for the record?” Hargrave looked at the camera in the corner of the room. Hopefully Inspector Brixton wouldn’t have a problem with the violation. The ends justified the means.

“We ‘ad a request in for some jewls from our contact in Mossco. They weren’t very specific, but we assumed they were for some Russian oil magnates trying to tar’up their laydies.”

“If they were oil magnates, then why didn’t they buy their goods over there? They have the money.” Typical bobby logic. He always admitted having a difficult time understanding the criminal mind.

“Because it gets ‘em off. Gifts are nice, but stolen sweets are sweetah, eh mate?” Cupper smiled to a tough crowd. What’s it going to hurt spilling some criminal philosophy all over the case? It’s not like he was going anywhere.

*****

“Wot’s ‘at?” Beany looked at the Smith & Wesson .357 magnum.

“Eet’s a gun, you tit.” Oliver shot back.

“Wot yoo need it foah?”

“Don’t be stewpid! Wot ealse?!”

“I don’t need a gun. I got me knife.”

“Good for yoo, mate. Now git in the car!” Gears pointed to the backseat. The Jaguar XJ Supersport was filled to the brim with criminal veterans. John ‘Beany’ Bell squeezed into the backseat with Oliver Hastings and Jack Irons. Cupper took the front passenger-side seat. Mick ‘Gears’ Gall put the saloon car in drive and headed toward their destination. “You ‘member the plan, mate?” Gears said looking through the rear-view mirror. [1]

Victoria Quarter was the target, or more precisely the jewelry store on Briggate. That seemed as good a place to fill their Muscovite order, and they were a flashy lot. Flaunting their activities in front of the law was half the fun. At their destination, the crew milled about the foot path until the perfect moment. When the time was right, they would all converge on the spot better than any synchronized swimming team. It was a perk of working with the same crew for years.

After waiting for the police carts to run down field, all four put their rubber masks on and rushed into the store. They were four of a kind, all Queens of England: Cupper was Elizabeth II, Beany was Victoria, Hastings was Mary, and Irons was Anne. Gears, as the name would suggest, sat on the Headrow waiting to speed off with the spoils.

In a police car not too far away, Constable Penney was finishing his snack of marmite and biscuits. Licking his fingers he stared wide-eyed at the dispatch of a robbery in progress at Victoria Quarter. He lit up the squad car and sped towards the scene of the crime. This was it! This could get him that promotion he wanted. Salty spread coated the wheel as he turned the streets into a racetrack.

Everything was going according to plan: Elizabeth gave the speech while the other three collected the merchandise. They had ninety seconds before they had to split. They might have actually made it to Hull for export, if it weren’t for the jewelry store attendant having a panic attack. It all started in the pit of her stomach, a knot or two at the realization of it all. Tremors began to creep up her legs and her breathing quickened. By the time Mary got to her with the bag, she yelled out, “I CAN’T DO THIS!”

Mary flinched and pulled the trigger. The slug tagged the attendant and threw her up against the wall with all screams that followed. “Shit! Shit! Shit! I didn’t mean t’do that!” The six-shooter shook in Mary’s hand, and the delay was costly. Finally pulling herself together, she smashed the display case and scooped the jewels into the bag.

“Thirtee Seconds!” Screamed Elizabeth. “Get it all up and go!” Victoria, Mary, and Anne bagged up their trove and signaled to go. With all three running out, Elizabeth backed out slowly. “It has been the utmost pleazuh visiting you all, moy loyal subjects. Give moy regards to thuh MP for me.” A backwards hop, and Elizabeth was out the door.

Bolting for the Jaguar, the four plowed through several shoppers and bystanders. People became pins as the team bowled their way to the Headrow. Constable Penney jumped out of his vehicle and ran full tilt towards the gang. At the very last moment, he caught Victoria by the arm and a searing pain only pepper spray could deliver stopped him from going any further. Victoria wasn’t going to go down Mary’s path.

Royalty packed into the getaway car and became men once again. Tucking the stolen goods under the seat, Mick made a course for the A64 [2], which wouldn’t be easy. He would have to navigate through city streets laid out like spaghetti. As he made his way to a major artery, the familiar sound of sirens could be heard.

“It’s the rozzers! They’re on to us early.” Mick shouted at the top of his lungs. He made a jackrabbit turn onto York Road at the last minute. This threw the police off slightly, and two squad cars went sailing over the concrete island in the middle of the intersection. He looked over his shoulder to smile at his handiwork and then turned his attention back to the road. Unfortunately, he realized too late that he was going to merge with a lorry driver who wasn’t paying attention himself while changing lanes.

The impact at 130 KmH sent the Jaguar into the side wall and over on its top. By the time the police regrouped, there was little that could be done. The job was ruined and the authorities were stuck with the gruesome task of clean up.

*****

“It was only heist. It was straightfo’ward and simple. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.” Cupper sat the mug down on the interviewing table and pinched his brow. He missed his crew all ready. They were the closest thing to a family he had. Now they were all in the morgue. Hargrave pushed the button on the recorder. “Yeah, a heist that went all wrong. ‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.’” [3]

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

——–

Soundtrack:

[1] – “Gansters” by The Specials. Track 1, The Singles Collection, 2 Tone/Chrysalis. 9 January 1991.

[2] – “Song 2” by Blur. Tracks 2, Blur, Food. 10 February 1997.

[3] – “What Do I Get?” by Buzzcocks. Track 2, Singles Going Steady, EMI. November 1981. 

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13 thoughts on “A Queen’s Ransom

  1. OK, I’m exhausted from editing. This is piece I talked about earlier. Feel free to add in feedback!

  2. Folio and Ink says:

    I’ll be back to finish this.

  3. Folio and Ink says:

    Think you did a great job with the dialect, and I love the Queens of England concept! Even though there is death by the carloads, there is still charm to the story. Charm might seem an odd word for it, but that is what I feel. I did experience a kind of enthrall while reading. It has great atmosphere. My only less than adoring thought, is to get rid of the “dull boy” sentence/ quote because it is a cliché, and the song reference at the end. But that is only my opinion, and you the writer, and other readers, may love those two things, so don’t listen to me.

    • Thank you for your help and feedback! There were a lot of influences going into this story, and I found the 1,000(ish)-word requirement more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I’d describe it as Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie’s love child being courted by Jack Webb and chased by Heath Ledger’s Joker. I’m a Cesar Romero guy myself, but this was all Heath.

      The whole point was to take an outsider’s view of an area and do my best to mimic it. What I’ve created here was something unmistakably American, but trying to use words, phrases, and dialect that I _think_ they would be using in that part of England. It’s not a slap, or an attempt to mock, but an homage with less than perfect records. It reminds me of this video:

      I adore that video to pieces. The reason I didn’t choose London was it’s too much of a catch all, and this was slightly more challenging. There would be much reason for people to say, “it wouldn’t sound like that.”

      While I’m not afraid of using cliché in my work, I think the fact that it caught your attention was more telling. The cliché itself isn’t supposed to stick out that much. I use two other clichés in the piece, but was attempting to make them more conversational than anything. I decided to remove it, because it doesn’t read well now that I look at it again.

      My presentation would be altered if I took out the Buzzcocks. The discography’s also there, if I get a nastygram from a music publisher. I wouldn’t put it past them. There were two reasons I punctuated the last sentence with it. First off, I like doing things in three. It’s a compulsion. Having two songs would feel like the microwave was stuck on 5 seconds (display the clock! ARGH!). The other reason was to play in the space of the piece, quite like we talked about yesterday. The phrase “What Do I Get?” and even the style of music gives off a bratty, selfish, self-centered feel. That’s the attitude Cupper takes by the end of the story.

      Again, thank you for reading it! I certainly enjoyed writing it.

      • Folio and Ink says:

        I’m glad you left the last one/ song. What was the second one? Did I miss it?

      • That would be “Song 2” by Blur. It’s right after the job and before they head for the A64. I so wanted to put Queens of the Stone Age in there, but tried to keep it as English as possible.

      • Folio and Ink says:

        I think I am wrong saying they are all cliché. The first one was, but the songs, readers would say that is using “mixed media” in your story. Again, not my personal preference, but not cliché either. I should have phrased my comment more thoughtfully. I think people would strongly disagree with me on my opinion about the songs. The cliché comment, maybe most would agree, but I didn’t identify the song element correctly. Sorry about that.

      • No worries. I enjoy the discussion, and it’s all about taking in different points of view. 🙂

  4. I think you did a great job with dialect. It wasn’t distracting. I could hear the characters in my head.

    • Thank you very much! I was saying the lines out loud, myself.

      In addition, I almost went out and bought a jar of marmite to gross out my house guests. I get why people don’t like it, but it always rubs me the wrong way when I have to explain to people why I don’t mind it. I end up telling them I used to be the kid that sucked on bouillon cubes as a child (true story).

  5. eutektosmag says:

    Sweet story, definitely a fun exploration of dialect in dialogue. As a reader, I appreciated the nuances in spellings to indicate said dialects. The plot was fun, quick, and effective. Well written, my friend. Keep penning.
    -C.F.

  6. […] A Queen’s Ransom. […]

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