The Great Oats Caper
M.E. (Bunny) Eastveld
Age Rating: 13 +
My answer to CL Bishop's Gangster Challenge.
Standing in the shadows, "Houdini" watched the sun dropping below the horizon, a red, purple, and orange extravaganza. The sky above was already darkening. Dusk always fell with a clunk out here on the flat of the prairies, one minute mid-light, and the next minute, full dark. "Good," he said to himself, "the darker, the better." As he stood in the shadows, ruminating on the job ahead, he continued to scan the yard around him, watching fo some sign, any sign, of his partner, "Blondie".
"Houdini", or Big H, as some of his closer confederates called him, was tall, dark and handsome, with a face that even made other males take note of him. Athletically built, muscular, with a good set of shoulders, he could have been a line backer, but he liked his life the way it was. His face was a contrast to his build, rather long and thin, but with a very strong, determined-looking jawline and a slight roman nose. His complexion ran to florid, a mostly reddish cast to his face. There was an air of tension about him at all times, (especially this night as he waited for "Blondie" to get into position), belied by the calm alertness in his large brown eyes. Those eyes expressed some self-doubt at the moment, as he awaited his partner for the night's skull-duggery.
He shook his head, as much to clear up his self-doubt, as to clear his longish black bangs from his forehead and eyes. It was a futile gesture, and he snorted in self-amusement. Big H. was rather tall, about 6'2", with lanky, soft, but totally unruly, long black hair. A sudden noise startled him, and he jumped (he always was a tad skittish), especially when "on a job". The others all knew that he was the one with the required finesse to open any lock, vault..whatever, and thus the name "Houdini".
"Where is that guy?" he muttered quietly to himself. "Psst, I'm over here by the gate," came the reply. "I thought you'd never show up," Big H stated, relief in his voice. "I've been reconnoitering for the past 10 minutes or so." said Blondie, as he stepped out of the shadows. Blondie was about 5'8" as compared to Big H's 6'2", stocky built and in good fighting condition, should the need arise. He and Big H had been partners in capers for 6 years now, success was the name of their game. "Let's get at her then," said Big H. "Yeah, okay with me," Blondie replied.
"No sense wasting time" said Big H, as he slid the long bolt out and neatly opened the security gate, "piece of cake". "One down and two more to go," he said as Blondie followed him through the open gate. "Shouldn't we close this?" Blondie asked as he approached Big H, who was already at work on the second gate. "Sssh! Quietly now," he said through clenched teeth, as he worked the pin from the next bolt. "Got it! Lets go!"
As he turned the handle on the "vault", there was a sound of metal parts clinking together. "Quiet!" said Blondie. "I can't see anyone, but the lights across the yard just went on." He listened for a moment, then "Okay, the dog's not even barking!" "Yeah, yeah," Big H replied, as he pushed the door open with his rather large nose, "we're in!"
The loud creaking of the granary door as it was forced open triggered the lights to go on all over the yard, and in the house. The dog, Snoopy (a Border Collie and very good watchdog), began to bark frantically. "Hurry" demanded Blondie, a sense of urgency in his tone. "Damn" cried Big H, "I wish I had opposable thumbs like humans do." Blondie replied sarcastically: "If wishes were horses, rabbits would ride." Then: "They're coming out of the house, and Les doesn't look any too happy!" Blondie rolled his eyes.
Carefully, but quickly Big H and Blondie went back through the gates, painstakingly trying to leave them as they were before the two had tampered with them. Voices could be heard outside, so they quickly trotted down the barn alleyway, away from the yard, and the voices. Snoopy had quit barking with a puzzled yip only a minute or two before.
"Good thing they don't pick the mud out of hooves before bedtime, eh?" joked Justin (the Big H). "Yeah", replied Blazer (aka Blondie) "it does give you some noise buffering." As they reached their stall in the east end of the barn, Justin slipped his nose into the halter that had been carefully placed in his oatbox before the caper. "Can you get the strap?" Justin queried Blazer. "Got it", said Blazer. Voices could be heard outside of the barn, getting louder as they approached the barn. "They must have stopped to check out the granary. Did you manage to shut the door?" he asked Justin. As he spoke, Blazer deftly slipped his nose into his halter, and turning his head toward Justin, asked "can you get my strap?" "I didn't get it quite shut all the way," Justin replied.
The two horses laid down in the straw bedding, feigning sleep, just as the lights went on in the west end of the barn. "Nope, nobody here." stated Bunny. She approached the east end of the barn, cowboy boots scraping on the cement floor, and turned on the lights. Looking to her right, she saw two very sleepy eyed horses, hers: Justin and Les's: Blazer. "Beats me who or what opened up that granary door, but the lock on it is so old, I guess I'll just have to fix it in the morning," said Les. "Oh well, as long as the horses are all okay," Bunny replied. "Sometimes weird things happen down here at the barn". "Yeah", Les agreed, eying the two biggest mischief makers on the ranch, Justin and Blazer. At that, Justin yawned hugely, while commenting to Blazer "all that work, and not even a mouthful." "And no bucket to carry oats in either," Blazer yawned and replied. "Good night ponies," Bunny called out as the two humans left the barn, turning out the lights as they went.
"Next time," said Justin as he was drifting off to sleep, "we've got to plan it better."