The Royal We


We had our man. Jumped bail on a racketeering charge. I guess he thought “fall guy” was just an abstraction. Thought he could slip away on the 7:30 to Chicago. Not a chance. We always got our man.

We could hear him running over the top of our heads, leather shoes clanking across the train car’s roof. The conductor bent over to check a ticket and I shimmied up and out of the hatch. My partner stayed behind in case our man swung back inside the car. We always covered our bases.

And there he was, running down the length of the train, his trench coat flapping behind him like a loose sail. I ran after him, after our man. I had to give it to him, running on top of a moving train isn’t half as easy as it looks. And that’s before you have to jump between the gaps.

But there he was, the last car. No more train to run to.

“Give it up,” I called over the wind. He was facing me, but I couldn’t make much of his expression in the darkness.

“How much you gonna get for me?” he yelled. He was clutching a newsboy cap in his left hand.

“That depends,” I said. “Dead or alive.”

“I bet I can get you more either way. I’ll disappear at the next river. Won’t be a thing.”

He flashed me a peek inside his coat. Four fat wads of bills poked up out of the breast pocket. Certainly more than we’d get from the Marshalls. I paused, extended my hand, he passed me the bills. I slipped them into my own jacket, climbed back inside the train.

“Where’d he go,” my partner asked.

“Not sure,” I said. “We must’ve missed him.”

~ fin ~


Luke Woodard is from Montgomery County, Maryland. His story Tarhook Woods appeared in a recent issue of Floyd County Moonshine.