THE STORY THUS FAR…
Continuing the rewrite of “The Night it Rained Rembrandt.” Confused? Don’t be. Simply begin with part 6 of the narrative and it’ll all be crystal clear.
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The Night it Rained Rembrandt –
The mask was annoyingly hot. So was the uniform. Barry licked his lips and could still taste the cold beer he’d been consuming thirty minutes earlier at Shockey’s. He longed for another drink. He and Jackson stood atop the pay lot at Twenty-Second Street, four blocks south of the Combustible Museum of Art. The garage was otherwise empty.
“I’d forgotten how goddam hot this costume gets in the summer,” Barry complained. “I’m already sweating.”
Jackson adjusted his gloves. “Ventilation is everything,” he said. “Can’t be a super-criminal without dressing the part.”
Jackson finished dressing and removed a folded newspaper editorial from his front pocket. “Have you seen this?”
“You know I don’t read the news.”
Jackson unfolded the piece and passed it to Barry who read the headline. “‘Super-Criminals – a Blight on Combustible.’ So?”
“It’s about us.”
“Obviously,” Barry said. “What’s your point?”
“Do you think we’re a blight?”
“On better days.”
Barry skimmed the editorial which had been published two weeks ago following his and Jackson’s successful theft of a 198-year-old bronze bust of Thomas Jefferson from Combustible’s City Hall building.
“That statue was a pain in the ass to haul outta there,” Barry said.
The crime duo had entered the building in full costume through a tenth-storey window and bypassed multiple security systems and guards before retrieving the sculpture. “‘Upon being trapped by a security team, witnesses report that the criminal known as MAN FORCE (Menacing Attack Nihilist Focused on Radical Criminal Endeavors) fashioned a speedy exit from the building by flying directly through the stone walls of the City Hall building, risking countless civilian lives as he and his much more dangerous accomplice, The Blitzkrieg, fled to freedom with the stolen item.’”
Barry handed the paper back to Jackson, smiling for the second time that evening. “They think I’m dangerous.”
“I noticed that,” Jackson sighed.
“Don’t look glum, chum. You got us out of a tight spot that day, and Peligrosa’s people paid a fortune for the bust, though let’s try to avoid contracting with drug lords going forward.”
Jackson nodded his approval and popped an aspirin.“
“Never went away. If anything, it’s worse.” He rubbed a gloved hand against his temples. “Never felt like this before.”
“Maybe have it looked at.” The Blitzkrieg checked his watch: 1:30 a.m. “Sure you’re up for this?”
“I’ll be fine, Barry”
“From here on, we address each other in code names. We run into anyone, we’re steampunk cosplayers. If they recognize us or press the matter, we kill them.”
“I don’t think we look steampunk. If anything, we’re a hybrid of goth and metal but with, ya know, face masks.”
“Anyone asks, we’re steampunk. Limber up, MF.”
“It’s MAN-FORCE,” Jackson said.
Barry dismissed the comment, recalling his contempt for his partner’s chosen code name. “MF’s close enough. Limber up. You don’t wanna get another leg cramp.”
“Right,” Jackson said, and began to perform calf stretches. “So, uh, what’s the plan? We gonna strike while the pieces are being unloaded or after they’re inside the museum?”
Barry walked to the edge of the parking structure and stared up and into the night. “MF, we don’t need to strike at the museum because that convoy of canvases never going to reach it.”
NEXT: Our story continues.