Rain on A Stranger's Eyes
Kevin James Miller
Kip needed a hard man for the First Metro Bank
job, and they didn't come any harder than Stoney.
The two men sat in Nick's Bar and talked
business. Nick's Bar was the type of joint that nobody went into
except serious drunks or people who wanted to drink alone. The
interior was just big enough for a long bar, a dozen hard stools
and a toilet near the back in an unpainted room. The sound of
early morning traffic drifted in through the front door, along
with the summer heat, and the beer smelled cheap, but neither Kip
nor Stoney were interested much in drinking. Only business.
Kip was the man with the plans. He ran a loosely
organized crew of smash and grab types. They were pushers and
pimps, mostly, who occasionally put together a high profile job
that kept the cops on their toes. Kip could have been forty or
fifty, and had a face everybody forgot while they were looking at
it—except for those eyes. They were swimming pool blue. People
who saw Kip cut the throat of a contract killer who fumbled a hit
Kip bought claimed that when Kip was dragging the knife across the
guy's throat, green flecks swam in Kip's blue eyes.
Stoney had just turned twenty-five. He did time
first for being the guy who covered the door when the youth street
gang he was in robbed a convenience store in a quiet neighborhood.
The gang called themselves the Iron Shit Eaters. This reduced the
city's newspaper to comical displays of good taste. They had to
refer to the gang in print with names like "The Iron (slang
term for excrement) Eaters." The cops had to shoot the other
three guys on the crew, but Stoney surrendered peacefully and got
a public defender who liked crooks better than cops. That and
being a good boy got Stoney out in five years. He was pumped up
from the prison weight room. His head was full of crime contacts
to major operators. They were pleased at having a tall, well-
built tough kid with a winning smile who needed to be leaned on
occasionally to be kept in line, but other than that was the
Everybody remembered Stoney's hands. They were
big, wide, with scars on the fingers from when Stoney punched in
car window to get to a creep who had owed his current employer
five thousand dollars and change.
"I hear First Metro launders cash for Lev
Drago's mob," Stoney said. "Any crew that's going to hit
a bank with those connections has got serious balls, so I'm happy
"We're not hitting First Metro for the
"You're paying me to help you in a
go-in-shooting job—and this isn't to steal money?"
"It's a big world, Stoney, and it gets more
complicated every day."
"Hell, Kip. I thought one of the plus parts
for this type of life was the world is simple for us. It's
complicated for the good citizens."
"Here's a peek at being outside the law,
Stoney, the real deal: The solid citizens never lose the taste for
all kinds of things."
"Yeah, Kip, sure—dope, whores, hot DVD
players at a 90% discount . . . "
Kip dismissed this observation with a wave of
his hand, an almost imperial gesture. "Give the most honest
man in the world everything he wants --everybody he wants—and
there's still stuff that scares him, right down to his bones. In
one of my rackets I try to ease the fear, for a price."
Stoney shrugged his broad, muscular shoulders to show he had lost
interest in this line of discussion, but Kip went on. "I run
a profitable little side business. I had a partner who snagged
some product. He put it in safety deposit box 362 in First Metro.
Before he could set himself up as my new competition, I took care
of him. That still leaves box 362."
Stoney shrugged again. "One other thing.
The job is Saturday morning, The weather man said it's raining
Saturday, so . . . "
"Not a problem," Kip said. "We
got Tony Newton."
"Then you've got the best wheel man around.
Tony Newton could drive getaway through solid mud."
Two nights before the bank robbery, Stoney went
to a poker game held at Video Play Battleground, an arcade stuffed
with video games of all sorts. The game was held after hours, and
started around midnight.
The arcade games were stuffed into a one large
room (close to the street entrance) and one smaller one. It was in
the smaller room where an out-of-town gambling mob, on
semi-friendly terms with the city's syndicates, ran the poker game
that cost a man three thousand dollars just to pull up a seat.
Sure as hell wasn't any over head. The game was
a card table and five folding chairs, set up in the middle of
these quietly glowing and beeping and chirping arcade games. It
was a shadowy room, with crazy jagged flashes of green, orange,
yellow and red light coming off video screens.
Three enforcers from the out-of-town gambling
mob ran the game. Actually the game ran itself, but the job of the
enforcers was to stand around the table holding pump- action
shotguns (in case anybody got cute) and collect 10% from whoever
walked away the winner at the end of the night. All the enforcers
were these pale, soft-looking guys with bleached hair that hung in
silky curls down their necks.
A fourth gunman, from the same mob as the other
three, let Stoney in the front door after Stoney gave him the code
Stoney felt good about the game as soon as he
walked into the back room. He smelled the cigars that, as it
turned out, at least three of the players were smoking. Experience
told Stoney that in an underground game the serious money wasn't
being thrown around unless a couple players were smoking cigars.
Stoney handed one of the blond enforcers three
grand in cash. As the shotgun wielding hood counted it, Stoney
looked around the room. He rubbed his large hands, with the long
white scars on the fingers, together. The three cigar smokers took
Then Gunther Brown came out of the men's room.
Holy shit. Gunther Brown, Lev Drago's east side
lieutenant. Brown was a fat man with a nose, mouth and jaw that
stretched out a good five inches from the rest of his face, giving
him the look of a satisfied horse. The mob running the game must
have really been sweet with the locals if the loyal left hand of
Lev Drago showed.
Now all the players were taking their seats.
Gunther Brown eyed Stoney.
"Yes sir, Mr. Brown."
"Heard you were a real firecracker up the
ass, but steady no matter what the job."
"You're gonna make me blush."
"Ha! Working on anything?"
One of the cigar smokers was dealing the first
"Nothing that will crowd Mr. Drago—and
nothing I can talk about or my current employers would ice
Brown studied his cards and shrugged.
"Probably one of those free floating smash and grab gangs—like
Fingers Murphy's boys, or that crew that happy nut Kip runs.
Anybody in your circle wants a serious shot in the big rackets
give me a call. I'll get you five minutes with Mr. Drago."
Stoney concentrated on the game. He kept his
mouth shut about what he heard about Lev Drago buying a contract
kill on Gunther Brown. Anyway, those rumors didn't make any sense.
Brown was as loyal as a hood could be to his boss.
Or so Stoney thought until Gunther Brown got out
the hip flask and the bottle of whiskey. As the night and the game
wore on Brown blabbed too much about Lev Drago's operations.
Shit. If Stoney had been Lev Drago he would
have, by now, blown Brown away himself.
Then Stoney got handed a gift.
"But," Gunther Brown slurred,
"what's really beautiful is the setup with First Metro. They
launder almost half of Lev's cash flow."
Stoney thought, hot damn! Then the rumors were
true! Lev Drago was practically the god of crime! Stoney felt
proud to live in the same city as him.
"We bought the vice president of the bank
and couple of key managers. We can make high volume cash deposits
without the bank contacting the feds, the way law-abiders are
supposed to. Hell, Saturday morning I'm going to make the latest
run myself and put in 2.3 million—in cash."
Saturday morning came in with a hard rain. It
seriously chilled down the summer heat. The First Metro Bank
opened at eight a.m.
Tony Newton drove the crew for the job to a
location two blocks away. Kip, Stoney and the three members of
Kip's gang who were here for the job (Kip never but everybody in
the field at the same time) were all dressed alike. Long rain
coats, gloves, fedoras and scarves. The robbery crew had collars
turned up and scarves bundled around their neck and faces. No one,
the theory went, would pay close enough attention to their faces
until the robbery started.
If a bank customer bothered looking hard at
their faces he or she would see that each member of the crew wore
a Halloween-style mask they had pulled down over their heads. But
the masks were only of ordinary men—not monsters or celebrities
or cartoon characters. (A member of Kip's gang who thought himself
an artist had made the masks.)
Kip, Stoney and the other three crooks took
turns getting out of the car, and walking through the rainy and
cold morning and going into the bank, taking up their positions,
pretending to fill out deposit slips or study brochures about car
loans. Each crook made the walk to the bank every ten minutes.
Kip was the last one to leave the car. His job,
for the first phase of the robbery, would be to cover the door to
the street—just like with the job with the Iron Shit Eaters.
At exactly nine a.m. the robbery crew whipped
out submachine guns and killed the five armed guards, then blew
apart the three security cameras near the ceiling.
One gang regular quickly moved over to cover the
bank employees behind the teller stations. The other two regulars
fired their submachine guns at the ceiling, stopping at a gesture
Kip shouted, "Everybody get face down on
the floor now!" His pale blue eyes, behind his mask, were
A lobby full of frightened bank customers did as
they were told --including, Stoney noticed from his position near
the door to the street, a chubby Gunther Brown, carrying a beige
briefcase. Brown's pinched out face was breaking out into a slimy
Stoney's large hands, through the gloves,
tightened on his submachine gun.
Kip and the two gang regulars who had shot at
the ceiling marched over to join the gang member covering the bank
employees, leaving Stoney to cover the lobby and the door.
Through the bank's front window, Stoney could
see the morning rain that kept coming down hard. It was a few
minutes past nine a.m. on a summer Saturday but the rain clouds
covered most of the sun. Outside, the world was all rain and
darkness. The thunder crashed. Stoney could smell that one of the
hostages had crapped in his—or her—pants.
Kip put his submachine gun against a bank
employee's face, a young man wearing thick glasses. "We
started this at nine. By nine-fifteen me and my people are walking
out of here with the contents of safety deposit box 362."
"I--I--can't get to it for you," the
young man with the thick glasses stammered.
Kip blew the head off a redhead a few feet
behind the young man with the thick glasses. She had been sitting
at the desk, a sandwich half eaten in front of her, and her hands
"OK! OK!" The young man with the thick
glasses closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He opened his
eyes. "I think I can hack past the eye scan system."
Kip pushed the young man with the thick glasses
toward an open vault door. The three gang regulars went with him.
This was the part of the plan Stoney was
planning to exploit. Stoney moved to the middle of the lobby at
this point, just like Kip's plan said. From this position Stoney
was able to cover the hostages in the lobby and the bank employees
who were over behind the teller stations.
Stoney waited until Kip, the young man with the thick glasses, and
the three gang regulars disappeared into the vault. A few seconds
later, he stepped over trembling hostages, positioned himself over
the wide, fat back of Gunther Brown and shot the man between the
Bank employees and customers screamed.
"Small change of plan, folks," Stoney said, kneeling
next to Brown's beige briefcase. He opened it. He wanted to kiss
the stacks of fifties and hundreds neatly packed inside, but there
would be time for that later. Stoney closed the briefcase and
stood up, holding it in one hand and his gun in the other.
"WHAT THE FUCK!" Kip's shout was loud
enough to give a mountain a headache.
Stoney turned and faced Kip, the three gang
regulars and the young man with the thick glasses. One of the gang
regulars held a case with a handle. The case looked like a
hospital kind of thing and had PORTABLE REFRIGERATION stenciled on
Kip shouted again. "I just asked you a
"Picking up a bonus." Stoney smiled
behind his mask.
Kip turned to the gang regular standing nearest
The crook checked his wrist watch.
Kip nodded. "OK. Plan B."
Kip and the three gang regulars massacred the
bank employees and customers that were still alive, starting with
the young man with the thick glasses. They fired in long arcs.
Some of the victims tried to do the impossible and escape, but in
a moment only the crooks were left alive in the bank.
And none of that surprised Stoney. Any
professional crook on a job, when faced with an unexpected
complication, eliminated the source of any other possible and
unplanned complication—witnesses or hostages that were still
Kip and the gang regulars reloaded. The air in
the bank was thick was smoke from the gunfire. The thunder crashed
"Right, " Kip said. "Now where
was I? Oh yeah. I don't like it when people change my plans,
"I don't give a shit what you like and
don't like. Four to one doesn't make me piss myself. I've done
worst odds and walked away."
"You're a 'Grade A' killer," Kip said.
"But you never tangled with a guy who can knock you off
balance with a surprise."
"Nobody makes the surprise that can do that
"You're a classic, Kip. Almost a golden
oldie. Young, tough—and dumber than a sack full of bricks."
"You and your boys gonna try it or you
gonna bullshit me to death? Cops are gonna be here soon."
During all that talk, Kip's hand had slowly gone
over to the case his man held. The case now opened, Kip's hand
flashed inside, and he pitched something in a long arch over to
Stoney. It hit him, wet and soft, on his masked face.
Instinctively he looked at the floor.
Stoney looked down at a human eye, lying on the
bank lobby floor.
He shouted, let the submachine gun and briefcase
slip from his hands and snatched off his mask. The mask, scarf and
hat lay on the floor in a loose tumble. The eye, brown, bloodshot,
and slimy, rolled up next to the silky black scarf.
Stoney felt the toast and bacon he had for
breakfast start to come up his throat.
He looked up at four submachine guns pointing at
Green flecks danced in Kip's blue eyes.
Then the dead in that bank were starting to
smell like the fire at the slaughterhouse Stoney's grandpa took
him to when he was a little kid.
"Black market human organs," Kip said.
His smile was so wide traces of it were visible from below the
mask. "Guns, drugs and whores, I never saw money like this
like I get in this racket. This is a new century for crime. I'm
hoping I can hang there long enough to sell solid citizens new
black market bodies that some scientist being born right now will
grow for me." He barked out one loud, abrasive HA! "Tell
you what, Stoney. We'll kill you for spare parts and call it
Kevin James Miller has worked in factories,
carnivals, zoos, movie theaters and colleges. Over forty of his
stories, reviews and poems have appeared in over twenty
publications. He will also have a story in the horror anthology Cold
Storage. You can read an excerpt from his unpublished science
fiction novel at http://www.webspawner.com/users/kjmiller/.