The Heist

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jesse is no ordinary gorgeous blonde. She's tough, cunning and on the run after stealing a rare gemstone. Just when she thinks she's pulled off the perfect heist, things take a dark turn.

The Heist is a short thriller with plenty of heart-pounding twists and turns.

Submitted: November 01, 2019

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Submitted: October 29, 2019

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Jesse’s Jeep Cherokee turned off the two-lane highway onto a dirt road where a pocket of clapboard houses huddled liked little old ladies dressed in white. Beyond that, green pastures bordered a church steeple.

“Damn it,” Jesse muttered when she noticed the cop car trailing her. Just minding my own business, not driving a stolen car, just passing through this redneck town. She glanced at the cloth pouch which held a thirteen-carat loose pink diamond sitting on the passenger seat. She slowed her car to an even thirty-five before the cop car turned off then blew out the breath she’d been holding. Close, but no cigar.

Her stomach growled at the same time her nerves rattled. “I could use something to eat,” Jessed said as the words “Peggy Sue’s Diner” appeared near the end of town surrounded by a parking lot with cracked asphalt and a rusted shell of a 1950 Thunderbird near an old-fashioned gas pump, probably from the same era.

Jesse parked alongside a couple of pick-up trucks, got out and breathed in the warm thick air of Wanicki, California then stuffed the pouch into her glove compartment. 

No one knows me around here. Not a chance anything could go wrong…hopefully.

She halted in the doorway, hesitating before casting a quick glance at the patrons. Common folk and families. A boring run of the mill crowd and fat too. She took a booth farthest from the entrance and near the back exit. Better safe than sorry. The waitress limped her way with something between a smile and a frown.

“Just water. No ice,” Jesse said anticipating the question. The waitress set down a menu and said “sure thing,” then disappeared.

She glanced at the menu and decided on the home-style lasagna and slid the menu to the edge of the table. The waitress returned. “Number eight, hold the side salad and give me an extra slice of garlic bread.” 

“That’ll be an extra seventy-five cents,” the waitress said with a raise of her brow.

“That’s fine.” The waitress nodded and limped toward the kitchen. Jesse followed her with her eyes until she disappeared behind the swinging doors, scanned the patrons once again settling on a man with a black fitted tee and dark eyes staring in her direction. Something about him made her feel uneasy. She considered turning her eyes away but kept on staring until he turned down his gaze. Men. They’re all the same, can’t keep their eyes off a petty blond until you stare them down. Coward.

The lasagna arrived before the garlic bread and Jesse narrowed her eyes at the waitress.

“It’s coming, sweetheart,” the waitress said taking notice.

A minute later, the garlic bread was set in front of her. Jesse didn’t bother to look up or thank the waitress. She had more important things on her mind.

Jesse didn’t wait and shoveled a big chunk of the hot and cheesy lasagna into her mouth thinking about the diamond heist she’d orchestrated all by herself. She’d been clever about it, took every precaution, memorized the code to the safe where the old man had hidden it. A couple of her own prescription sleeping pills inside the man’s meatball sandwich took care of him for a couple of hours. He’d trusted her. A good maid that did what she was told. Good thing Jesse looked like the old man’s deceased wife in her younger days.

She wasn’t totally in the clear, not until she got to the safe house where she’d hide out for a while until she could change her hair color then crossover to Mexico. Goodbye, forever to Jimmy too, her no good boyfriend who’d been a parasite living off Jesse’s hard earned money.

Jesse took one last bite and finished off her lasagna then noticed the dark-eyed man staring at her again. Leaning back, she crossed her arms, stretched out her legs and let out an audible belch as eyes turned her way. She didn’t care for the garnered stares but the damage was already done.

The waitress limped in her direction, cleared the plates then returned to fill her glass with water. Jesse forced out a soft “thank you” and the waitress smiled with teeth as yellow as urine. She left a generous tip, although she didn’t know why. Maybe she felt sorry for the haggard woman then walked out of the joint. Before she got into the car, the man squared off with her.

“What the hell do you want?” She said with fists clenched.

The man smiled with straight white teeth, eyes darker up close.

“Just want to slip you my digits,” the man said holding out a small piece of wrinkled paper then continued. “Not very often you see a cute blonde in these parts.” He spoke easy, his voice a tenor.

“I don’t want your number,” she said pressing the key to unlock her doors.

The man placed both palms on top of his chest. “You know how to hurt a guy’s feelings pretty good.”

Jesse rolled her eyes as the man moved closer towards her blocking her from the door. She thought about the six-inch blade on the side of her door. He took another step toward Jesse. This time close enough so she could knee him in the groin. The man groaned, doubled over then shouted “bitch.”

Jesse slid inside the car, slammed the accelerator, reversed hard enough to send the wheels spinning and pelting the man with dust and gravel. She glanced at her rearview, tilted her head back and laughed in satisfaction. If Jesse had a dollar for every man who propositioned her, she’d be rich. It wasn’t hard. After all, she was a slim five foot seven with long blond hair and eyes like pools the color of aquamarine. Too bad she attracted losers like her boyfriend, Jimmy.

The road merged into a forest, the pine trees towering the air with a heavy acrid scent. A faint curve of steam rose from the asphalt as the sun blanketed the atmosphere with a deep orange hue. Jesse dreamed of the piles of money she’d get for the rare diamond. Several million, at the very least from her scant online research.

She slowed as she passed a sign of another town that read Calixo Heights. She whizzed by a row of ranch-style homes built on sprawling land that seemed to make diminutive anything that sat atop. A firehouse stood across the way and next to that a park dotted with Sycamore trees.

Jesse drove past the town and into the woodlands. Dusk arrived suddenly like a nose bleed. She thought she saw the glint of metal from the corner of her eye. She slowed the car and looked again and though she saw the shape of a car settled deep within the woodlands. Odd. Probably some kids making out in the forest.

The side road curved around the woodland. The darkness forced her to switch on her headlights. She grew cold then shivered a few times. Jesse wasn’t easily spooked. She considered herself brazen and a risk-taker who didn’t fear anything. The darkness around her shouldn’t have had any effect. But it did. Jesse exhaled as she approached the rented cabin. Quaint and typical of a log cabin, made of wood, warm and cozy with a couple of steps leading up to a small porch, it stood solo in between pines and eucalyptus trees.

She turned off the engine and settled in front of the cabin. She sat in silence for a few moments as the engine clicked and cooled. A cricket chirped in the distance and a rustling of leaves followed. Jesse reached for the pouch then the knife and got out of the car. She scanned the area before she reached into the trunk for her backpack filled with a few changes of clothes and some dehydrated soup and granola bars.

A peaceful feeling came over her when she saw the simple yet warm furnishings of the cabin. After she emptied the contents of her backpack onto the bed, she boiled water to reconstitute the soup. She tossed the empty Styrofoam cup into the trash then leaned back into the hard wooden chair to study the perfect diamond. Her sigh of satisfaction was cut short when she heard a knock at the door. No one knew where she was, not even Jimmy. She remembered the six-inch blade and reached for it on the small round table.  

With the knife by her side, she raised her eyes to the peephole in the door. No one was there. Convinced it was her imagination, she returned to the diamond and continued to admire it. The knock came again. She shoved to her feet. Once again, with the knife was by her side, she peered through the peephole. No one. With her heart beating hard and sweat dripping from under her arms, Jesse turned the knob and stepped into the cool night’s air. The pines were like dark giants watching the cabin. She shivered then stepped onto the hard dried dirt. Scanning the area, Jesse saw no movement and heard no sound but for the distant hoot of an owl.  Maybe that guy from the diner had followed her. But she made sure no one was in her rearview the last ten miles up the winding road to the cabin. Convinced it was her imagination, she returned to the cabin, double-locked the door then placed the diamond back inside the pouch and headed for the bedroom. She stretched her arms over her head, let out a yawn then unbuttoned her shirt. Jesse jumped when a pounding came from the living room. She quickly buttoned her shirt, reached for the knife and her keychain which held a small albeit powerful flashlight.

No one was there according to the peephole. She slowly turned the knob then stood at the porch waving the flashlight into the dark woods. A shadow moved within the looming trees.

“Who’s out there?” Jesse called into the black night. No sound returned except for her own echo. She moved toward the edge of the porch then to the top of the stairs. Stalling for a moment to gather her courage, she made her way to solid ground. The light pointed down and Jesse noticed footprints, big ones, probably a man’s hiking boot. She followed it into the darkness. The pine needles flitted as a soft cool breeze brushed against her skin. The shadow passed through the trees and Jesse called out to it once again. No answer returned. Someone was out there, Jesse bet. A frigid uneasiness crept through her as she ventured deeper into the dense forest. Suddenly, all sound disappeared around her except for the pounding of her heart in her ears. She reminded herself that nobody, including Jimmy could possibly know her location. Jesse had rented the cabin online using a credit card she’d stolen from the old man.

Jesse shone the light around and swallowed hard at the dark emptiness before her. The back of her throat felt like sandpaper and her mouth was dry as cotton. Jesse saw the shadow again. This time it was headed her way. She ran in between the trees, her shirt catching on the branch of a tree. She struggled to free herself causing a tear in the fabric. Swatting the branches, she headed deeper into the forest realizing she had lost her way. Beads of sweat emerged from her forehead and pools of sweat bloomed from underneath her arms.

She swung the light ahead and it jumped in her unsteady hand. The ground was covered with pine needles and dampened dead leaves. She turned her head and slowed her pace but saw no one. Trembling, she walked into the dark depths hoping she would see the light of her cabin. Steps crunched against the pine needles and Jesse froze. She turned around and saw a silhouette in the shape of a man. “Who’s there?” She said with a quiver in her tone. Instead of answering, the silhouette drew closer. “Stay back. I have a knife,” she threatened. It didn’t heed. The light fluttered and bounced. She turned it off to conceal herself and walked away from the shadow. The sound of her steps crunched against the pine needles making it difficult to hide her movement. It came from behind and covered her mouth stopping her scream midway. She slid the knife into her back pocket.

“It’s all over, Jesse,” said the voice in a familiar cadence. Jesse wriggled from beneath the strong man’s grip but she couldn’t free herself. Then a hard object pressed into her back. She knew he held a gun. 

Her voice came in muffles and the man released his hand. “You son of a bitch. How’d you find me?” Jimmy wasn’t so dumb after all. He almost impressed her.

“Your computer. You never deleted the cookies. Then the old man called for you saying his diamond was gone. It wasn’t hard to put two and two together.”

Jesse silently cursed herself. “If you think you’re getting a slice of the pie, think again.”

“Maybe you should’ve been nicer to me?”

“I supported your sorry ass for years and this is the thanks I get? Let me go.” His grip remained firm and she gathered the saliva and spit onto his arm.

“You shouldn’t have done that. I have a gun,” he said not bothering to wipe it away.

“You’re too much of a wimp to pull that trigger.”

“You underestimate me. But then that’s all you’ve ever done is consider me a lowly, dumb ass.”

“I was never far off.”

Jimmy jammed the gun harder.

“Ouch. You’re hurting me.”

“Give me the diamond.”

“I don’t have it.”

He jammed the gun into the boney part of her spine this time. “Damn it. It’s in the cabin but I’ve lost my way.”

Jimmy loosened his grip keeping the gun pointed at her. “I’ll get you back. Listen carefully and no monkey business. The gun’s loaded.”

He directed Jesse through the still night and back towards the cabin. Once inside, he demanded the diamond.

“Let’s go fifty-fifty,” she tried.

“Not a chance. Now give it to me.”

Jesse stalled. “I still love you, Jimmy.”

Jimmy tilted his head back in laughter. “I don’t believe you. The only person you’ve ever loved is yourself.”

Jesse stepped toward the menacing man. “Please, Jimmy.” Her eyes grew wide with thought and her breath quickened. “We could sell the diamond and take the cash. Imagine what it will buy us.”

Jimmy considered her words, lowered the gun for a moment then returned it to the level of her chest. “It’s over. There is no ‘us’ anymore.”

“Don’t do this. Please. I love you,” she said with a crack in her tone. She moved toward him. If she  missed, she would end up dead. Her leg swung beneath her knocking the gun from his hands. Reaching into her pocket for the knife, she charged at him with fury stabbing him in the neck. A gurgling noise sounded as blood flowed from his neck. Jimmy crumpled to his knees then fell forward. Jesse tried to catch her breath hardly believing what she’d done. A few steps in and she noticed Jimmy’s eyes were fixed wide in astonishment and his mouth fixed in a grin. Sirens wailed in the distance as she exhaled and closed her eyes. He’d got her back in the end.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2020 F.P. Fontaine. All rights reserved.

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