By Ben Greenman
“Zan,” Jayna said. “I don’t understand interest rates. Not exactly.”
“It’s simple, sis,” Zan said. Gleek screeched happily.
OK, Jim. It’s Andy. I think the coast is clear, that I scared off everyone else with that idiotic title, lame premise, and stilted dialogue. If my calculations are correct, you’re the only one left reading. So here are the final details of the plan. You need to enter the shoe store on 14th Street just before closing time. Dress nondescriptly. Don’t talk to anyone. Turn off your cell phone so there’s no danger of any unexpected noise. The manager on Thursdays and Fridays is an old guy, bit of a drunk, and he’ll never see you slipping down the stairs just beyond the boot rack. The door pulls rather than pushes, but you’ll be mostly obstructed by the rack. Hold on. OK: Mack, who’s here with me, says he has a concern. Though no one’s reading this, someone might be scanning it, he says, so I should add in some nonsense. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.
“That’s right,” Jayna said. “A water pail!”
“Brilliant!” Zan said. Gleek screeched happily.
When you get down to the basement, there’s a pull-chain light. Turn it on. To your left, you’ll see one section of the wall that’s boarded up. That’s where Kelly has dug all the way through to the basement of the insurance office next door. Climb through there. You’ll be in a supply closet. Open the door to exit the closet and you’ll be in the private office of the president of the insurance firm. He’s been embezzling money and keeping it in a safe. Crack the safe. I know you can do it, Jim. It’s what you do. Remember how you busted that honey pot in Reno last May? They said it couldn’t be done, and you had your hand in it within 90 seconds. It was magic to watch. Wait. Mack’s bugging me again. I wonder if he has anything new to say. I’m being sarcastic, obviously. It’s the same thing again.
“Tremendously!” Zayna said.
“Who could have expected a rhino in the White House?” Jan said. Gleek screeched happily.
Take two of the three stacks of money you find in there. Leave one. That will confuse the insurance guy. He’s not going to know whether it was an inside job or not. If it’s a real theft, why not take all the money? Maybe someone’s sending a message. Then get back to the supply closet and back to the basement of the shoe store. By now, the manager will have locked up. Kelly put some food in the basement refrigerator for you. There’s a cot, too. Oh, and beer. Have one to celebrate. You just made us all quite a bit richer. Even Mack, who is now officially the most annoying person I have ever met. He’s telling me that I need to end with cover. “End with cover,” he said, like it’s some kind of freaking golden rule of robbery. Fine, fine. In four days, you and I will be in Key Largo, fishing, and Mack will be back in Detroit turning his cut of the haul into black-tar heroin. We’ll be done with him and his chirpy voice and his pirate earring and his “End with cover” forever, and you and I can finally buy that houseboat we’ve been talking about since ‘98. I’m even willing to consider naming it Jim Dandy, though I still think that kind of buries my name.
“That’s the last time Professor Doom ever tries that again another time,” Jayna said.
“He learned his lesson!” Zan said. Gleek screeched happily.