THE BIG BASH - J.E. SEYMOUR
“This is embarrassing,” Sally Barnard said to her boss.
“You know you’re perfect for this. You’re the smallest person in the office. Besides, the suit brings out the green in your eyes.”
He grinned at her.
She rolled those green eyes at him. “I’d better get extra pay.”
“If this works, Sally, I’ll make sure it goes in your file. You’re really being a good sport.”
“Now you know what you’re doing, correct?”
“Let’s roll then.”
Sally followed him out of his office and through the open expanse of desks, feeling her face get hot as the whistles and catcalls started. She’d spent six years here, struggling to get past the comments from her male co-workers, trying to get them to take her seriously despite her size and her sex, and this was going to ruin everything. She was sure her face was as red as her hair at this point.
“Hey, Sally, where’s your Lucky Charms?”
She eyed Harry Austin with what she hoped passed for a death glare. “Shut up.”
“Oooh, I’m so scared of the little leprechaun. You got your piece on under that suit, Sally?”
She did. Her Glock nine-millimeter semiautomatic was tucked nicely into the waistband of her green tights at the small of her back, well hidden under the top half of the suit. She didn’t bother to mention that she was also wearing her vest, because that was a given on this kind of job. She offered Harry her middle finger.
“You make a cute elf, Sally.”
She focused her death glare in the direction of that comment, which came from Mark, the youngest member of the team.
“She’s not an elf, you idiot, she’s a leprechaun. You know, for St. Patrick’s Day.”
“Oh. Oh yeah. That’s pretty good.”
“But the accent’s all wrong. Leprechauns come from Ireland, Sally, not Georgia.”
She returned her gaze to the back of her boss’s head as she followed him out the door. “Remind me again why I’m doing this, Dan.”
“Fifty-two outstanding warrants, Sally. Ranging from bail skips to parole violations. Every one of them coming in for a big St. Patrick’s Day bash, complete with green beer and great door prizes.”
“Oh I get it, Sally’s a door prize, right?”
Sally glared again. “Henry, if you don’t shut up, I swear I’ll take you apart.”
Henry, at six feet and 210 pounds, laughed at the thought of Sally, who stood about five foot five and weighed probably 120 pounds soaking wet, taking him apart.
“Let’s get this show on the road, folks.” Dan Lancombe led his team of Deputy United States Marshals toward the event of the day. Invitations had been mailed out the month before to fifty-two select fugitives, none of them considered violent, all of them with outstanding warrants.
“Your name has been selected for our special St. Patrick’s Day party, featuring an all-you-can-eat Irish buffet, green beer, and door prizes for all attending. Some of the great prizes include Bit Screen TVs, VCRs, kitchen appliances and much, much more!”
Sally had her doubts about this sting, because this sort of thing was starting to get old. It’d been done to death by now. The original US Marshals’ sting had been for Superbowl tickets. She wasn’t sure kitchen appliances were going to be enough to entice the skips they were looking for to come out of hiding.
She was to situate herself at the door, greet the felons as they came in, give out green balloons to keep their hands busy, pat them down if she could. From there, the honored guests would be funneled to the ballroom, seated at tables, complete with pitchers of green-colored nonalcoholic beer. Once they were all seated, it would be up to Dan to make the announcement that they were all under arrest, and the big guys would come through the doors with their shotguns and submachine guns and it would be all over. Piece of cake.
They’d rented a restaurant, a big old place up in White Plains with a ballroom and plenty of parking. Sally wasn’t looking forward to the evening’s festivities. Being pawed over by felons was not her idea of fun.
It took several hours to get set up. Dan had come up with lots of creative ideas, including cleaning people with shotguns in their carts, waiters with submachine guns under their coats, greeter in tuxedos with handguns tucked in their fancy pants, and Sally, the little leprechaun, with her handgun, of course.
She was surprised at how many people actually showed up. They had only planned on the fifty-two, and there weren’t that many, but it was a pretty good turnout just the same.
It was just after they had herded the whole bunch into the ballroom, just after the Special Ops guys had burst in there to start taking them down, that all hell broke loose at the entrance to the restaurant.
Three guys in black suits and ski masks came in through the front door with submachine guns in high ready. It rocked her back for a second, because first of all, the SOG guys weren’t in their black suits tonight, and second of all, they were in the ballroom taking down the skips.
“Okay, little miss elf. Get your fucking hands in the air and you won’t get hurt.”
I’m not an elf, she started to say, then thought better of it. She raised her hands, slowly, staring at the guys, trying to memorize the visible features.
“What do you want?” It was the only logical thing she could think of to say.
The ninja at the front, the big one, who seemed to be the leader, answered her. “We want the big screen TVs, the VCRs and the kitchen appliances. Plus any spare cash you might happen to have lying around.”
“You’re kidding, right?” She could see the confusion in his eyes. Maybe he wasn’t used to little ladies in leprechaun suits talking back.
“No, I’m not fucking kidding.”
She wanted to ask him if he kissed his mother with that mouth, but she thought that perhaps discretion might be the better part of valor at this point, and she kept her mouth shut. She did turn her head, just to see if anybody else, the cleaning guys maybe, could see what was going on here. As luck would have it, they were all in the ballroom too, watching the fun. She was alone in this. Well, as alone as she could be with the three big guys in ninja suits. And their SMGs.
“Let’s go, lady. You’re going to show us where the stuff is.”
Big guy again. Maybe the others were mutes. Maybe the three of them were sharing a brain and it was Big Guy’s turn to use it.
“Well, uh...” She thought about what she was going to say. No loot, boys, just twenty Deputy United States Marshals in there with about thirty-five wanted felons.
Big Guy seemed to realize there was a problem. “Where is everybody?”
“They must be in the ballroom,” said a smaller ninja with a squeaky voice.
Big Guy narrowed his eyes. She thought they might be brown. The skin around the eyes was white. She couldn’t see any hair.
“Come on, elf lady. Where is everybody?”
“They’re in the ballroom.”
“So where’s the loot?”
Where would the loot be? There was a bus in the parking lot, a big green bus with Federal plates and mesh over the windows. Would the loot be there? Would they believe her if she said it was? If she could convince them to get into the bus, could she lock them in there? She wasn’t sure there was any way to get out this by herself. Any minute now, her buddies in the ballroom would be escorting the felons out in handcuffs and loading them into the bus. But they wouldn’t be coming this way. They’d parked the bus by the back door for accessibility and to hide it from the arriving guests. Nobody would even notice she was missing.
Her arms were getting tired. She lowered them slightly, still keeping them away from her green lycra-clad body. “You know, uh, what should I call you, Mr., um?”
“Smith,” growled the big guy.
“Let me guess, he’s Mr. Jones?” She pointed at the smaller guy, who she thought might be black. “Anyway, Mr. Uh, Smith, see, I wasn’t involved with the stuff. I can’t carry any of that. We have, uh, you know, workers, laborers, for that sort of thing.”
“Yeah, but you must know where it is.” His voice was taking on a bit of an edge now.
The last thing she needed was for these idiots to get mad at her. If she led them into the ballroom, there’d be bloodshed, and it wouldn’t be just from these guys. She had friends in there, and she wasn’t going to spring this gang on them.
“The kitchen?” Mr. Smith sounded skeptical.
“Well, we have to go through the kitchen, to get out back, out to the truck.”
“Oh, that sounds perfect, we won’t even need to use our truck.” This came from the third ninja, who was somewhere in the middle of the pack, slightly shorter than Mr. Smith, slightly taller than Mr. Jones. His voice was muffled, because for some reason, he had chosen a ski mask that covered his entire face except for two small slits for his eyes. He seemed to be wearing glasses under his mask. This had to be the biggest gang of idiots she had ever seen.
“Uh, right,” she said. “I can get you the keys.”
“Good.” Mr. Smith lowered his weapon slightly and aimed it right at her chest. “You go first.”
When she pushed open the door to the kitchen, she realized that she wasn’t the only one not in the ballroom. Mark, dressed as a busboy, was actually washing dishes, or at least he had his hands in the sink.
“Mark? Are you insane?”
He turned to look at her. He must have seen Mr. Smith behind her, because he turned completely white. Mark O’Brien was a pale guy to start with, but every bit of color he had drained right out of his face. He licked his lips.
“What the hell is this?” asked Mr. Smith, forcing his way into the narrow aisle of the kitchen and stopping dead.
Sally turned on him and tripped him, bringing her foot into his ankles and her hands on the back of his neck at the same time. His submachine gun went skittering across the floor. Mr. Jones, distracted by Mark, fell over Mr. Smith, leaving the guy in the glasses to lower his weapon and pull the trigger. Fortunately, it appeared that the guy in the glasses had forgotten to take the safety off his weapon.
“US Marshals, get your hands up.” That was what Mark was yelling, and he didn’t actually have soapsuds on his hands. What he had was his weapon, hidden out of sight until he saw a chance to use it.
The guy with the glasses dropped his weapon on Mr. Jones, who was just trying to get up when the gun hit him on the head.
Sally had her weapon out now, but it looked like she wasn’t even going to need it. She looked over at Mark, who was actually shaking. Then she kicked the guns away from the three guys.
“Y’all got cuffs on you, Mark?”
“Uh, yeah, I got one set.”
“Hand ’em over. You have a radio?”
“Call some backup on in here, would you?” She leaned over toward Mr. Smith, her green-slippered foot planted on the back of his neck. “By the way, asshole, I’m not an elf. I’m a fucking leprechaun.”
By the time they sorted it all out, it was after midnight. Sally was sitting in Dan’s office, finally wearing a pair of jeans instead of green tights.
“I tell you, Sally, that was nice work you did.”
“It wasn’t just me, Dan. Mark spotted them and hid in the kitchen.”
“How’d you like to move up in the world?”
“I’m looking for someone to work fugitives full time. You want it?”
She didn’t have to answer him. Her grin told him how she felt about his offer. She got to her feet and shook his hand. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re very welcome, Deputy Barnard.”
BIO: J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH and has had short stories published in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - “Windchill,” “Deadfall,” and “Quarry,” in Thriller UK Magazine, and in numerous ezines, including Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Beat to a Pulp and Shred of Evidence. J.E.’s first novel, “Lead Poisoning” is coming from Mainly Murder Press in November of 2010. You can learn more at J.E. Seymour.