As always, the disclaimer - it's fiction, all of it, every word of it.
And it starts with part one here.
The small hotel we’d stayed at in Philly didn’t have a parking lot, so we’d left the car a few blocks away. It was funny, the hotel was really only a few rooms above a bar and when we walked in Wednesday afternoon and told the owner – who could have been the brother of the drug dealer in Central Park – that we we’d booked a room he said, “Yeah, look, I don’t want to make any assumptions about your lifestyle or anything,” and I thought, holy shit, he’s going to tell us he doesn’t want any trouble with the law, he doesn’t rent rooms to criminals, but he said, “the thing is, there’s only one bed in the room, and you two don’t look like you’re a couple.”
Behind him the bartender laughed, smirked really and rolled his eyes and I could tell he didn’t think we were well dressed enough to be gay. I was about to tell him we were on the road, you know, give us a chance to clean up and Declan said, “No that room won’t work,” and I realized, yeah, focus, man, focus.
The owner said he’d give us a second room for half price, it’d be ready in a couple hours so we went for lunch at a Mexican place and dropped the car in the lot.
Now we were picking up the car and it was the same guy working the lot, big guy, friendly, he was the one told us about the Mexican place. He saw my car was from Ontario and said he loved Toronto, said he went to a hockey tournament there every year.
I said, “So, you think the Phillies are going to win this thing?” and the guy laughed and said, “Fuck no.” They were playing the Dodgers for the National League Championship.
He said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if they did, but this is the Phillies, right?”
I said you never know and pulled out of the lot.
Declan said, “We paid him cash, right?” and I said, yeah, so what, and Declan said, “Everyone probably does, there’d be a lot of cash in that little booth,” and I said, yeah, “But he wrote down my license plate number.”
Still, Declan didn’t look convinced. Shit. So I told him about the ’93 Series when the Phillies lost to the Jays, what a great time that was in Toronto. I said, “Joe Carter hit a home run in the bottom on the ninth, two on and two out, won the whole thing. A real Hollywood ending, you know, you can’t make that up.”
Declan said, no, I guess not, and he was looking distracted, making me nervous so I did what I always do when I’m nervous, I kept talking, telling him how Joe Carter’s Series winning homer probably didn’t become the mythical event it would’ve – should’ve - because it hadn’t happened in America and how that was the last time the Jays won the Series, but it was a lot more recently than the Phillies. “Or the Cubs, this year makes a hundred years since the Cubs won it.”
Declan said, oh yeah, still not interested. Then he said, “Man, I’m tired, I didn’t sleep at all last night, and I though okay, good, maybe now we can talk about this crime spree we’re on, but he said, “Started reading that Ice Harvest, shit it’s good, isn’t it.”
I said, “Yeah it is.” It’s got an ending I never saw coming but couldn’t have been anything else, so satisfying, made me want to turn back to page one and start reading again right away.
Then Declan said, “Look, I’ve been thinking about these ten rules, these robberies,” and I thought, fuck, finally.
He said, “Yeah. That cheque cashing place was good but otherwise there’s just not much money in it.”
“Right, not really worth it.”
We were pulling up to the toll booth and Declan said, “Right. That’s why so many books, like Elmore’s Fifty-two Pick-Up, they turn to kidnapping.”
I said, “Yeah, and Riding the Rap,” before I realized it and Declan said, “Yeah, that’s right,” finally looking awake.
I handed the money to the guy in the booth, so short and fat he could barely see over the edge of the window and he grunted when he took the money so I got all cheerful and said, “Thanks!” and he grunted again handing me my change and I said, “You have a great day.”
As we drove away Declan said, “Ah, it’s a wonderful thing to see a trade stay in the family, passed on from generation to generation.” He was smiling and rolling a cigarette with those dark brown papers he uses and I didn’t know what he was talking about and he said, “You can see his ancestors scrambling out from under the bridge, demanding passage.”
I started laughing, too, “Good thing we didn’t have to answer him his questions three.”
Must have been the nervous tension but we both started laughing and making jokes about trolls.
Then Declan said, “So yeah, kidnapping. Seems the odds of a big score are better,” and I said, “You want to kidnap someone at Bouchercon?”
Declan said, “Someone there must have had a bestseller, made some money.”
I thought, yeah, but a writer, who’d pay to get them back?