The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 8

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 –

Barry thought about the day he’d run from his parents, stumbling frantically through the wreckage that had been Gainesport, Ohio. Barry’s parents were nonplused by the destruction of their home. The safe was safe. Dad would open the safe and retrieve the Rembrandt, an oil on canvas that had mysteriously appeared in their backyard on a June morning fifteen years earlier, an eight-million-dollar gift from the sky guaranteed to provide a worry-free future. But Barry, himself an aspiring artist, knew otherwise, having retrieved the curious work from its iron prison only days earlier to study and learn. As the tumblers of the safe turned, he ran, knowing that the Rembrandt, like every material item his family possessed, had been obliterated by the forces of nature. At eight years old, he ran and never looked back.

A distant car horn wailed in the night, jarring Barry to his senses amid the towering Carbondale skyline. He was keenly aware that the winds were blowing from the south-southwest at sixteen miles per hour. He walked toward Jackson who was engrossed in calf stretches.

“Don’t wanna overdo it.”

“I won’t.”

“I need thirty-five cents.”

Jackson dug into his right front pocket and procured two dimes and two nickels. “This is all I got.”

“Need another five cents, man. Gotta make a phone call.”

“If this is about the weather, just make the call on my cell. Use my phone’s app.”

“Cellphones cause brain cancer, and you can’t trust apps.”

Jackson had known Barry long enough to realize it was futile to offer a counterpoint so instead he dug deeper into his pockets, finally retrieving more coins.

“Got a bad feeling about tonight’s weather,” Barry said. “Spotted a payphone on the first level. This won’t take long.”

Jackson waited impatiently for Barry’s return, feeling vulnerable on his own. Although he could handle himself in a scrap, he felt more self-assured with The Blitz by his side. He paced for a while, turning at the ping of the elevator doors further down the ramp. Barry walked toward Jackson with a slow but determined stride; Jackson saw the scowl and knew something was amiss.

“What’s up?” Jackson asked.

“Not sure.” Barry stared up into the night. “Weather recording was wrong.”

“How so?”

“It played yesterday’s forecast. It’s 2:03 a.m. I’ve not seen nor heard a weather report in four hours, Jackson.”

Jackson glanced skyward. “Seems okay. I mean, clear morning.”

“That has nothing to do with it! They strike without warning. Don’t you understand that?”

Jackson didn’t know the reason behind Barry’s fear, but knew of his partner’s Lilapsophobia. It factored into their every scheme. “I’ve got The Weather Channel app. You should really take a look at it.”

“Like I said before, can’t trust an app.”

Their plans were quickly unraveling. Jackson sighed. “There’s never been a tornado in Carbondale, Barry.”

“Don’t fucking patronize me, Jackson.”

“Sorry. Let’s just do this job. C’mon. We can pull it off in thirty, forty minutes tops. We drop off the piece and collect our money, switch over to civilian gear, maybe visit Alfie. The guy never sleeps. Kick back with a few beers, watch the latest forecast. Or you can borrow his home phone to check the weather.”

“I don’t think—I mean, the weather report … it’s been too long since …” Barry’s voice faded as he sat atop the pavement, face awash in despair.

“We can do this, Blitz. One last job. Thirty minutes of work followed by a $3.5 million payout.”

Barry turned to his accomplice, this bizarre little friend with a terrible super-human power and an inability to dance. Somehow the words were enough.

Slowly Barry rose to his feet and swept the dust from his costume. “Okay, let’s do it.”

As the duo reaffirmed their criminal intentions, the object they coveted was, at that moment, being unloaded from the cargo hold of American Airlines flight 304 at Terminal 1 of the Carbondale International Airport.

Under the watchful eye of law-enforcement, numerous wooden crates bound for the Carbondale Museum of Art were carefully loaded aboard a waiting quartet of cargo vans. The procession left the airport, accompanied by local and state police, as well as a team of private security guards in unmarked vehicles. Once clear of the airport, the convoy began a trek toward Carbondale–a journey it would never complete.

NEXT: Our story concludes.