The Usual Suspects

The following is a piece of flash fiction in response to a challenge offered by Susan at Polysyllabic Profundaties. The challenge was originally offered in October(!) and while I had started on the story back then, I never got around to finishing until now.

Better late than never, right?

After talking to her for ten minutes, Lawrence decided that Gail would be perfect for the job. It was clear that she had the right mindset: She was angry, looking for revenge, and most importantly, she didn’t seem to much care who she got her revenge upon.

The next few decisions weren’t quite as easy, but eventually Lawrence assembled a crew that he hoped would be up for the task. At the very least, he felt confident that none of the group would turn on him if things began to fall apart.

It was a Friday night, and the group was gathered around a table. The smell of leftover Chinese food lingered in the air as they got down to business and went over the details for the next day.

While Lawrence tried to maintain a sense of enthusiasm, he could tell that not everyone was feeling as confident. Reynolds was being particularly negative, but that wasn’t surprising. He was the last to commit to the plan and had always been the most skeptical.

When they named their child Henry David, Bruce and Judy Thoreau thought they were setting up their son for a lifetime of success. Instead, it just led to a lifetime of resentment.

Some people enjoy being named after a celebrity. Henry did not. As he crassly told anyone who asked, being named after a famous poet was “the gayest thing ever.” And so, since the age of 15, Henry had insisted that everyone simply call him “Reynolds.”

It wasn’t clear why he settled on that particular name, especially since he never provided an explanation that made much sense. Most people assumed that he just took the name from a box of aluminum foil.

Lawrence wasn’t particularly fond of Reynolds, and given a choice, he would have avoided working with him. But considering that his parents owned the Longwood racetrack, Lawrence didn’t see any way the plan would work without him.

“You have this all planned out like it was some kind of movie script. But we all know that it isn’t going to go down like you think it is. All it takes is one guy deciding he’s gotta use the can at the wrong time, and we’re screwed.”

Lawrence tried to reassure him, but it didn’t seem to have much effect. There were a few nervous moments when after Reynolds (correctly) pointed out, “And when s*** goes wrong, me and Gail are the ones who are going to get caught, while the rest of you are sitting here planning your getaway.”

Lawrence couldn’t deny that. But he needed to either get Reynolds fully on board or end this thing now. “Reynolds, I’ve heard your concerns. Now you need to tell me one thing: Are you in or out?”

Everyone was finally able to breathe again when Reynolds finally answered, “In.”

The next day went almost according to plan. There were a couple of mishaps, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome.

As planned, the race came down to a photo finish. And sure enough, when the results were revealed, Ballerina – who began the race as a 20-1 longshot – was revealed as the winner.

The following afternoon, as he stared at the stacks of money piled on the table, Reynolds couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from his face. “I gotta hand it to you, Lawrence. I had my doubts.”

Lawrence smiled almost as widely as he patted his cohort on the back. “I know you did, buddy. I know you did.”

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was U and the topic was “Usual Suspects”


About The Cutter

I am the Cutter. I write some stuff. You might like it, you might not. Please decide for yourself.
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