A Stray Boxcar: part three

In case you missed it: Part One & Part Two

Spots scampered near the boxcar as he helped heave crates onto dollies. Micky stood back by the tree line and observed. His black suit blended in with the night, making him near invisible. He was on edge. This heist was too easy for him to feel comfortable. It was planned on short notice and he didn’t have an adequate amount of information. Who were they robbing? He had no idea. Would there be backlash if it was traced back to them? Most likely. The sky let out a rumble and the heavens opened to release a steady downpour. Icy, cold autumn rain splashed on the back of Micky’s neck and sent shivers to his bones. Spots darted over.

“It’s really comin’ down! What should we do? Wait it out?”

“How much is left in there?” Micky asked. He could feel the rain soaking through his clothes by the second. Spots glanced back at the boxcar.

“It’s a little over half empty,” he replied.

“We’re going to stick to the plan and clear out the whole lot, got it?” Micky felt his pockets in search of cigarettes as he stared Spots down. “Rain or no rain.”

Spots got the hint and didn’t dare challenge him. His shoulders slumped with the prospect of a warm bed being so far away.

“Get a move on!” Micky shouted to the whole crew.

The men picked up the pace with renewed vigor. Spots splashed through the grass back to his post. Micky carefully dug the least damp cigarette from his pack. With a flick of his lighter, he was able to inhale a slight bit of warmth. He closed his eyes as the smoke drifted briefly around him before it was pelted down by the rain.

After a late night, it had been a very long day. Organizing and pulling off a robbery had not been on his mind when he had come to town. He expected to report to Sicero and had a night to blow off some steam before he returned to the drudgery of the Farm. Not this, not standing in the rain after dark. He felt as though he could fall sleep standing up either that or he was freezing to death. One of the two, he thought. He continued to smoke as he watched the men make further progress on moving the liquor. His body was stiff from the constant shivering. He could feel the water leaking into his shoes and sloshing between his toes. He couldn’t wait for this night to be over.

There was a shout from the road, then rapid gunfire cracked through the air. Micky’s eyes shot open and he saw flashes of light near the crossing. One of his guys instantly fell to the ground dead. The other men scrambled to take cover and pull out their own weapons. Whoever owned the liquor had showed up to collect.

“Clear out!” Micky yelled. Men from the boxcar leapt into action, firing back as they swarmed back to the cargo truck. A few even grabbed one last case as they piled in. Someone got into the driver’s seat and the engine came to life. Spots crashed into Micky and knocked them onto the soaking grass. The bootlegger could hear the truck’s tires squeal as it fought for traction. It tore off down the road and swerved at the rival gunmen.

Micky shoved the kid off of him. He ran to a fallen crate near the boxcar and reached through its cracked wooden slats. He pried a bottle out and knocked the top off. He splashed a trail of alcohol across the floor, then flung the bottle against the remaining crates. The glass smashed and spread alcohol across the interior. Micky flicked his lighter and tossed it on the fluid igniting it. The flames spread over the splash mark and licked their way up the wooden crates. He ran back to the trees. Spots grabbed at him again, but he shoved the boy away. His only concern was to save his own skin.

Not long after he plunged into the brush, the gunfire began again. The rivals peppered the trees with bullets. Micky dove down into the mud. Immediately Spots landed on top of him. Micky fought him off and got him in a chokehold as he tried to keep the kid quiet. The gunfire stopped and the men were shouting more urgently as they noticed the fire growing inside the boxcar. With them distracted, Micky pulled out his revolver and shoved it in Spots’s face.

“Did you set us up?” he growled as the boy whimpered and fought for air. “Did you set us up?”

“No,” Spots croaked. His eyes were tearing up. “Please don’t leave me behind.”

Micky shoved him away. The kid couldn’t be that good of an actor and Micky had the suspicion that under all the damp Spots had pissed himself. The fiery glow spread across the boy’s face as the boxcar was ablaze. It crackled as Micky got to his feet to slink away, but he was immediately knocked down by a deafening boom. Fire shot up into the dark sky, the black billowing smoke joining the angry rainclouds.

Micky stumbled to his feet. With his ears ringing, he grabbed Spots by the collar and hauled him up. They ran without caution. Anyone else in the area was going to be staring at the burning railcar. Spots had to hustle to stay on Micky’s heels and not end up abandoned in the dark.

They made it to the road parallel to the tracks and leapt into the lone dark car. The other trucks owned by Sicero had deserted. Within seconds, Micky was tearing down the road back to town, he didn’t even care that Spots was near bawling in the passenger seat.

Continue to the conclusion: Part Four

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