Carolyn’s Eyes

06/20/23

“I already told you, I can’t move it,” said Mooney.

He sat at a metal-framed desk. I tossed a newspaper to him. It landed with a thump. “Say’s it’s worth two million.”

He glanced at the headline above the fold. “Yeah, Danny, front page.”

“Two million,” I repeated.

“This thing’s hotter than Carolyn’s ass on a summer’s day.”

“Leave my wife out of this.”

Mooney smirked, revealing the glint of a gold-capped incisor. “Ex-wife.”

I moved towards his office window. A thin layer of morning frost outlined the wooden pane. Except for Mooney’s silver Lexus the parking lot was empty. “We’re separated. I haven’t signed the papers yet.”

“You must be desperate if you’re here.”

I couldn’t argue with him. Not a single fence would touch the thing.

“Who steals a damn tabernacle?”

“Me,” I said. “I do what can’t be done.”

He shook his head. It sat on his shoulders like a ten-pound honeydew. He lifted weights and somewhere along the way had misplaced his neck. “There’s a reason some things shouldn’t be done.”

“Listen, if you can’t move it, then pawn the stones. The box is 18-carat gold. You can melt it for Christ’s sake.”

“I’m a fence, asshole.” His face twisted up like a push-cart pretzel. “I don’t melt shit.”

“I’m jammed up.”

“I can’t help you.”

“Or won’t.”

Mooney stood up, his shoulders drawn back like a compound bow. “You rob an antique box filled with Holy Sacrament from a church. And, if that isn’t bad enough, you decapitate two angel statues. Who does that?”

“I do.”

“You decapitated angels, Danny.”

“They were staring at me.”

“They’re statues!” His spray lingered.

Mooney pitched the newspaper into a trashcan and took a seat. My thoughts raced.

What could I tell this bottom-feeding joker? That I loved the challenge of a heist. That I didn’t care what I stole. That Carolyn and I were married in St. Michael’s. That stealing the tabernacle was restitution for a failed marriage.

I broke the silence. “I messed with the angels so they’d think it’s a hate crime. They’re headed down a rabbit hole.”

Mooney’s black eyes fixed hard on me. “I never understood you. No wonder she left you.” He rubbed his mitten-like paws along his desk.  “Don’t worry, she’s in good hands now.”

Acid boiled at the back of my throat. The thought of him with her…desecrating her. The jobs gave me purpose, a cold rush, but they meant nothing without Carolyn. And those pale-green eyes like warm ocean tides washing over me.

I thrust my right hand into my jacket and pulled out a compact .22 from its holster, a pill-box-sized silencer extending from the barrel aimed at his chest. “Didn’t think I had the balls?”

Mooney rose slowly, the armpits on his powder-blue shirt stained with sweat. “Something like that.”

I didn’t see it coming.

His right hand lashed out like a viper; the sting lifted me clear off the ground. I stumbled back drunk with pain. Falling fast, just inches from the floor, my eyes searched for a target and I squeezed the trigger. The gun exhaled a short gasp of air. Instinctively, I scrambled to one knee and fired three more quick bursts. The shots hit Mooney square. He folded like a cocktail napkin, landing in his office chair. His body slumped forward; his head bowed in prayer.

That was the thing about Goliaths like Mooney, they always discounted the underdog. But I’d take their bets, time and again. 

With care, I placed the .22 back in its holster, pulled a pair of gloves from my pocket and slipped them on. First, I rummaged through Mooney’s desk drawers and wallet. They revealed close to a grand in small bills.  Next, I searched the filing cabinets. They held an additional three grand, all Benjamins, in thousand-dollar stacks.

Enough to hold me over.

Enough to make amends.

***

Mooney took the wrap for the heist—I made sure of that. He even made the papers, just not above the fold. I kept a few gems from the tabernacle. I even saved a nice big one for Carolyn. I knew she’d like that.

She always did like shiny new things.

~ fin ~

James Patrick Focarile 300 x 300

James Patrick Focarile resides in the Northwest. He holds an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College. His literary work has appeared or is forthcoming in the following: Mystery Tribune, Shotgun Honey, Close To The Bone, Kings River Life, Pulp Modern Flash, White Cat Publications and more. Awards include 2nd Place in both the Idaho Writers Guild’s 2023 Short Story Contest and Litro Magazine’s 2022 Art of Reflection Competition.