Title: Got Moxie
Word Count: 919 words
Mugsy flicked the safety of his gun on and off again and again. It’s a bad habit, he knows that, but he’s got too much nervous energy and nowhere to expend it. The back of the stolen ambulance is cramped, even gutted the way it is. It’s just him in the back, empty cabinets and drawers looking on accusingly, overhead light humming in the special way reserved for tense situations.
“You gonna shoot your own damn foot off,” warned Danny from the front. Danny refused to use a code name, said Mugsy was being dumb. “Call yourself whatever you want, you’re still Georgie from Fifth Street.” Danny didn’t understand, Mugsy was trying to get into the part, trying to fit his skin around the concept they were executing.
He flicked the safety again. Mugsy was too embarrassed to admit how nervous he was, being nervous wasn’t cool, people were never nervous in the heist movies. Danny must have caught a whiff of pheromones or something, because the next words out of his mouth were: “Relax, we went over the plans, everything’s under control.”
Which is exactly when everything spun slightly out of control.
There was a thump from one of the cabinets, Mugsy had enough time to worry about rabid raccoons or something when the cabinet door flew open and a girl came spilling out. She screamed, he screamed in response. Danny screamed from the driver’s seat, swerving the ambulance in a fit of panic. The girl threw one arm dramatically over her eyes and writhed across the floor.
“Kill the light,” she hissed. She slapped at Mugsy’s leg, inevitable in the quarters they were occupying, and his shriek of surprise went up several octaves as he thoughtlessly obliged with her request.
The gun went off, well, like a gun. The light went out with a musical tinkle of broken glass.
“The hell going on back there, Mugsy?” growled Danny, bringing the vehicle back under control.
Mugsy looked guiltily at the gun, a flush of shame shivering across his neck. “Um,” he replied smartly. “A lady fell outta the cabinet and I, um, shot the light.”
There was a long minute of silence save for the gentle rumble of vehicular background noises.
“You shot the light,” Danny repeated.
“Yay!” said the lady.
“Um,” said Mugsy.
“You do know there’s a light switch, ain’t no reason to shoot no lights.”
Mugsy made sure the safety was definitely on before sliding his gun into the the holster at his side. Maybe he’d just let Danny handle all the logistics of the stick up, he thought he could pull off standing menacingly in the background with little to no incident.
“He’s a hero,” cooed the strange lady. She was still sprawled across the floor and had begun petting Mugsy’s leg sometime ago. “Mugsy, is that a family name?”
“Don’t talk to her,” warned Danny. That wasn’t polite though, and their mama had brought both of them up better than that.
“Course not, it’s my code name.”
The lady rolled over, propping her hand in her chins as she went. “All the names in all the world and Mugsy is the one that spoke to you.”
“It’s classic,” snapped Mugsy.
“Classic for us thieving types.” He wondered about that for a moment. Heisting types? Was that more appropriate?
The lady sat up. “Oh, what are we thieving tonight?”
Danny asked “We?” at the same time Mugsy answered “convenient store.” The lady made a noise, possibly of disgust, possibly of an early warning of illness.
“You’re joking, please tell me you’re joking.”
Mugsy frowned. “What’s wrong with convenient stores?”
“Oh nothing,” said the lady breezily. “Just a bit cliche ain’t it?”
“Hey, nobody asked you. We got this planned already, sit back there and shut up before we toss you out,” threatened Danny. The lady held her hands up in surrender.
“Whatever, suit yourself, I’m just along for the ride.”
Which raised another question entirely. The lady held up a mostly empty bottle of whisky. “I was in there on a dare,” she explained. “I won all the alcohol.”
The convenient store came into view, Danny decided it was probably best if he did this alone, Mugsy quietly agreed but put on what he hoped was a convincing show of inconvenience. “Just watch our hitch-hiker,” said Danny, pulling his mask over his face before exiting the vehicle.
The store came up depressingly short on cash. “Not surprised,” said the lady. “Everyone uses credit cards now-a-days.”
“Then tell us, oh mastermind, where do you suggest hitting?” sneered Danny.
The lady checked her lipstick in the mirror, sucking on her teeth while she thought. “If you want cash, find a hotel, this late at night there’ll only be one worker and they keep at least five hundred in the register. Even if people pay for the room with credit cards everyone wants change for the vending machines.”
Mugsy was honestly impressed, and said as much. The lady shrugged. “I worked at one until Friday, they fired me. Say, I could give you directions and we could both come out of tonight happy.”
Mugsy and Danny exchanged looks of the pointed variety. Mugsy tilted his head in a why not gesture and directions were given.
“Do I get a code-name?” asked the lady.
“Sure,” said Mugsy at the same time as Danny snapped, “no damn code names.”
The lady grinned and ignored Danny, something that was already becoming habit. “Awesome, call me Moxie.”
This was originally written for NYC Midnight‘s first round of flash fiction challenge. This challenge is interesting as the prompt consisted of a genre/place/item and could be no longer than 1,000 words and we also had a time limit, something like 72 hours? If that long? So this was a challenge on multiple levels for me. It took me a while after finish it, of bemoaning it and being ashamed of it before I came to grips that “hey, it’s not what I want it to be but it’s not all that bad” and besides, I feel like I would be cheating if I only posted what I considered “best” pieces here. So, for your viewing pleasure I present: Got Moxie (piece is entirely self edited, con-crit welcome and appreciated)