ㅤThe clock tower came into focus every few seconds, as the wipers cleared the water droplets from the windscreen. Callum could always tell from this spot, waiting at the traffic lights by the post office, whether he would be on time for school. He was going to be late today.
ㅤA tapping sound came from somewhere to Callum’s left. He looked over and could make out the figure of a boy standing there. The blurry figure wiped the rain off a spot on the window, and mouthed, ‘can I get in?’, pointing at the empty passenger seat. Callum recognised him as Adam Henderson, left back for the school’s footie team. Callum beckoned him in.
ㅤThe door opened and Adam threw a sports bag into the footwell before climbing in himself. He wore a black and white striped football jersey with black shorts. Water droplets quivered on every hair on his legs and his brown curls dripped onto the back of the seat.
ㅤ“Alright mate? Sorry about that, I’ve seen you in school and didn’t fancy drowning out there.” Adam gestured to the rain hammering onto the car. “You’re… Connor?”
ㅤ“Callum!” He smiled with the kind of confidence that came easily to some people. “…do you fancy driving, Callum?” Adam pointed towards the traffic light, shining green through the downpour. Callum snapped out of his daze and scrambled to get the car in gear. His hand brushed against Adam’s leg as he reached for the gear stick, just for a moment feeling coarse hair over muscle.
ㅤThey drove in silence for a minute. Callum was the first to speak.
ㅤ“I think you know my sister. She’s friends with Jack.”
ㅤ“Oh yeah… Morgan, right? She works at that electronics place on the high street.”
ㅤ“She used to, yeah. Quit a couple months ago.”
ㅤ“Used to nick video tapes from there.” He smiled.
ㅤ“Yeah, she says the security there is shocking. All their cameras are fake too. Ironic for an electronics shop, really.”
ㅤ“Huh. They’re almost asking to be robbed.”
ㅤA few weeks later the plan was ready. Adam was the mastermind behind the robbery and Callum, the only one with a license, was tasked with driving. The two boys were joined by Lewis Aston, another member of the football team. He was stupid enough to be trusted, and acted like a loyal puppy to Adam. Also, his parents were preoccupied with a messy divorce, so his house was a convenient place to meet without being bothered by anyone. The fourth member of the crew was Mark Duncan, a nutcase if there ever was one. But his older brother sold knockoff designer handbags so he was their only way to shift all the tech once they had stolen it.
ㅤThe night before, they had done a final briefing of the plan in Lewis’ basement. The four of them leant over a hand drawn map of the shop laid out on the pool table, while Adam gave instructions. Go in through the back window. You each have a job to do, and just remember to stick to the plan. Don’t touch the front doors. They’re alarmed. Stick to the plan and we’ll have nothing to worry about.
ㅤAdam had bought rubber Halloween masks from the costume shop, in case someone saw them as they were driving around to the back alley. Since he had bought them, he took first dibs on the skeleton mask, with dark hollow eye sockets. Mark had insisted on being the snarling werewolf, leaving Lewis as Frankenstein’s Monster and Callum as the mummy with grimy, bloody bandages.
ㅤOn the night of the robbery they parked the car in the alley behind the shop. The street lights cast stark shadows across the veins in Adam’s forearm as he strained the crowbar against the window frame. Callum imagined watching Adam from the sidelines of the football pitch. Cheering when he made a tackle. Watching him suck on an orange slice at half time. The crack of the window breaking open brought him back to the shadowy backstreet.
ㅤOnce they were inside Callum was in charge of the small stuff. He started taking digital cameras off the wall behind the counter and packing them into a duffel bag. Opposite him, Mark was adding VCRs to a stack on the floor. Two. Three. Four. Adam was making trips back and forth though the office, passing printers through the window to Lewis, who loaded them into the car. Mark kept stacking. Six. Seven. He knelt to pick up the stack of black and silver boxes.
ㅤ“Mark, be careful. Just take a few at a time.” Callum spoke in a loud whisper. The metal shutters over the windows prevented them from being seen from the street, but anyone walking past would be able to hear them.
ㅤ“I’ve got it. Stick to your own job.” With a grunt, Mark lifted the stack of VCRs. They swayed left, then right, then they were still. Mark turned to face Callum, his sneering voice emanating from the werewolf’s gaping jaws. “See? Mind your own business, you prick.”
ㅤBefore Callum could shout a warning, Mark stepped forward onto a power cable dangling from one of the VCRs, sending the stack crashing from his hands. Amid the sound of splintering plastic was the tinkling of broken glass, and Mark lifted his head to see one of the boxes had tumbled across the floor, colliding with the door and smashing the glass pane. There was a moment of silence before the piercing scream of the alarm sliced through the air.
ㅤAdam burst through the door and crossed the room in just a few steps. He grabbed the back of Mark’s shirt and pulled him up from where he lay sprawled on the ground.
ㅤ“You fucking idiot,” he hissed. “Get in the car.” Adam shoved him with both hands towards the back office. He turned to Callum, shouting over the wailing alarm. “Don’t leave that bag. Let’s get the hell out of here.” Callum couldn’t move, paralysed by the fury burning through the eyes of that grinning skull face.
ㅤThe four boys spent the next day lounging on a hillside just outside of the city. It was a beautiful, sunny September morning. The car was parked in a dusty lay-by on the side of the hill, off the main path to keep hidden from the joggers and dog walkers. Below them, past the tree line, was the motorway. The hum of traffic couldn’t drown out the sound of the alarm, still ringing in Callum’s ears.
ㅤLie low for the day, that was the plan. This is the easy bit, Adam had told them, just relax and keep a low profile until the police stop looking for us. They’ll be expecting us to try and stash the tech somewhere. He seemed to have forgotten his temper from the previous night. Lewis broke into a case of beer and handed one each around the circle. Mark was stabbing at an ants’ nest with his penknife.
ㅤCallum was trying his best to enjoy himself. More than anything, he was trying to suppress the traces of adrenaline that were still drifting through his veins. He couldn’t deny how good it felt to jump through the window and run as fast as he could away from the alarm. Callum took a long gulp from his beer can.
ㅤ“So are we just sitting here waiting to get caught?”
ㅤ“No, we’re waiting here so we don’t get caught,” Adam replied.
ㅤ“What if someone saw us?”
ㅤ“No one saw us.”
ㅤ“What if someone finds-”
ㅤ“No one is going to find the car.”
ㅤAdam propped himself up on one elbow. His shirt was unbuttoned halfway and sunlight caressed his bare chest. Adam grinned at him. “You do trust me, don’t you Callum?” Callum looked out across a city of honest people and felt his heartbeat race.