This short story is dedicated to Stacy and Josh… My brothers, tormentors, and partners in crime through countless hours of Monopoly mayhem. How time flies when it’s not on our side.
Playing a Game of Chance (Part 1)
“Is that right?” replied Dog, sometimes a little skeptical of Car’s get-rich-quick schemes, but always loyal. “What now?”
“Man, you sound like you don’t trust me. I’m smart,” Car reassured him. “Just ask Iron. He knows.”
“Don’t bring me into this. I want no part of your harebrained scam,” interjected Iron.
Car, Dog and Iron, the three Jersey boys, raised on the unforgiving, capitalist streets of Atlantic City, called themselves the Baltic Avenue Boys. They grew up poor in modest houses with hardworking parents who could never satisfy their desire to live the high life. Car, the leader, thought he could fix their predicament the easy way. Dog, the obedient one, trusted everyone. Iron, the smooth talker, was the levelheaded one.
They lounged in the midday heat on a filthy, threadbare couch on Dog’s sagging front porch. His Baltic Avenue house and the couch had seen healthier days. Car laid out his infamous plan as they stared straight ahead into the empty street.
“We’re gonna pull a big heist on Park Avenue. There’s lots of money and jewelry on that swanky street, and it’s about time they shared the wealth instead of monopolizing it all for themselves. I heard one house has over $15,000 in the safe,” he began. “So, I say we break in the ritziest house, clean ‘em out and then hit the casinos on the Boardwalk, make lots of dough.”
“That’s your big plan?” Iron added incredulously. “You’re a dope, Car! You’ll never pull it off. There’s no free parking on this side of the tracks.”
“Man, I’m sick of your bad attitude, Iron. Either your with us or against us. You gotta decide,” replied Car.
“I’m in,” interrupted Dog. Even though he showed some doubt, he was always willing to go with Car, no matter where it led.
Dog and Car fist bumped in agreement. Car leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, and looked down the couch at Iron. “Well?”
Iron stood and sighed. “I’m out. I told you I don’t want anything to do with this,” he said as he ambled down the three concrete steps of the porch and headed off toward Oriental Avenue.
Car laughed in disgust and said, “We don’t need Iron anyway. He wasn’t exactly my favorite. You Dog, you’re my man now.”
Dog wasn’t sure how to react to this sudden hierarchal change. He thought for a minute and said, “Should we call Top Hat or something? We might need help.”
“Nah. We can do it alone,” Car reassured him.
They spent the next couple of days working out the plan. It was more like arguing out the plan. Without Iron to run interference, Car ran all over Dog with his big mouth and even bigger ideas. Dog rode it out, believed Car was a genius.
Heist night arrived. They sat in their rusted-out getaway vehicle in front of a gargantuan Park Avenue house. They could’ve cut the nervous tension. They both smelled of anxiety.
Dog broke the silence, “Seems to me this car is an eyesore in this neighborhood.”
“You worry too much. I got it handled.”
“You scared, Car.”
“Nah. It’ll be as easy as passing go and collecting $200.”
“Whatever you say, Car.”
They watched the house silently for a few more minutes then Car said, “Okay, Dog, you ready to open up this community chest and see what falls out?”
They quietly climbed out, pulled the ski masks over their faces and closed the doors with a faint click. Car ran across the street to the front of the house and turned to look at Dog, who stood transfixed in the middle of the road.
Car motioned at him with a wave of the hand. Once. Twice. Three times. Then hissed, “Dog, come.”
Dog finally snapped back to life and tiptoed up to Car. Without another word, Car broke out the side window and reached in to unlock the front door. He carefully turned the knob and pulled. An ear-piercing alarm penetrated the dark, quiet street.
They froze. This was not part of the plan.
They turned to run and found themselves staring at a burly police officer with a gun.