Dwayne ordered another beer. After two hours of searching Yelp for dive bars and roadhouses in Big City and filtering the results for graffiti and chairs that are easy to smash, he decided The Heaving Possum was the place to go to find someone to rob his bodega. After sitting at the bar for three hours, though, his enthusiasm was starting to lag.
Just then, a wild-eyed man plopped down on the stool next to him and pulled a few dollars out of a duffel bag. “Gimme a quadruple, Jimmy!” he said. The bartender poured some Drain Cleanser Whiskey into an old fast food souvenir Looney Tunes glass and slid it to him. The man gulped most of it down and set the glass on the bar. As smoke arose from the whiskey eating through the glass and the bar beneath it, Dwayne knew he had found his criminal element.
“Say,” Dwayne nonchalantly began, “Don’t you hate it when other people have stuff you want? I know it makes me want to take it. Right?”
The man looked at him suspiciously. “You’re speaking awfully openly about your antisocial compulsions.”
“Well, it’s a changing world. Openness is the new mystique!”
“I dunno. Sounds like entrapment.”
“Hah! I don’t know the meaning of the word!”
Dwayne pulled out his phone and looked up what “entrapment” means. He turned back to the stranger. “Oh man, I definitely do not want to do entrapment. No, I’m just a big fan of theft!”
The man cocked an eyebrow. “Theft, huh? Yeah, theft is okay. But how do you feel about robbery?”
“Oh yeah, I’m super into robbery,” Dwayne said. “Are you?”
“I enjoy a rob now and then.”
“Right? It’s great! Other people have stuff, you take it, and then you have it!”
“Ha,” the man said, “you’re a real rob head, aren’t ya? The name’s Do-Harm. Robbing Jack Do-Harm.”
“My name is, uh, Nickname Nick. And lemme tell ya, I’ve got a tip on Dwayne’s A-1 Top Notch Elite Fast Quick Diamond Lucky First Stop Mart Shop. It’s very successful and definitely the place to hit. Lots of cash just lying around in piles and a cowardly cashier with a big paunch and asthma and social anxiety.”
“I love this idea! But before I trust you, you’re gonna have to pass the Robbing Jack Do-Harm’s robber’s test!”
“What the best part about robbery?”
“Getting money, of course!”
Robbing Jack Do-Harm raised his fist. Dwayne cowered and quickly said, “I mean getting other people’s money because we like causing trouble and doing evil so much!”
Robbing Jack Do-Harm lowered his fist. “That’s right. Okay, let’s go rob this asthmatic coward.” He stood up, spread his arms, and shouted to the heavens, “I hate asthmatics!”
As they headed for the man-shaped hole in the wall that The Heaving Possum’s customers used for a door, another surly, downtrodden, crazed member of Big City’s criminal underground stood up. “You heading for a job, Robbing Jack?”
“Yeah. The place is run by a real wheezer.”
“Any chance there’s any of those dirty professeurs there?”
“Probably not. Sorry.”
“Aw, sockla blue,” he mispronounced.
They stepped outside. Robbing Jack Do-Harm tsked and said, “It’s a shame, really. I thought hating asthmatics was a hard criminal ethos. Poor Reggie got stuck basing his entire criminal career on victimizing middle school French teachers.”
They soon arrived at Dwayne’s A-1 Top Notch Elite Fast Quick Diamond Lucky First Stop Mart Shop. “Well,” Dwayne said, “here we are. Need anything? Ski mask? Glock? Poison gas-spewing gun thematically linked to your modus operandi?”
“No, thanks. I picked the villain name Robbing Jack Do-Harm because I like to keep things simple.” Jack shattered the glass door with his crowbar and walked inside. “Ye-e-es, there’s two things I love to do: rob and do harm. Oh, that reminds me!”
He opened the door to a refridgerated case, pulled out a gallon of milk, and swung the milk with both hands up into Dwayne’s face. He then grabbed Dwayne by the collar and smashed the door on his head repeatedly.
“Ah, yes, nothing fills my heart with childlike glee as much as robbing and doing harm.”
Dwayne spat out his tooth. “Yeth. I thee what you mean.” He shook himself out of the daze. “But you altho like wrecking the plathe, right?”
“Oh, no,” Jack said. “I try to do as little damage as I can. It attracts too much attention. A door here and there is one thing. That’s a necessary evil. But I like to slip in, get as much money as possible, hurt somebody, and slip back out.”
Dwayne froze, eyes wide. “Wait, so you’re not going to cause claim-worthy damage to this property?”
“No, of course not! Besides the undesired attention, it could also lead to the owner of the place winding up with a fat insurance check. That goes against both my taking their money and my doing them harm!” He spat on the floor. “No, thank you. Say, where’s the asthmatic clerk?”
Dwayne was near panic. This was going to be harder than he anticipated. He slyly reached into his pocket. He calmly pulled out his phone. He stealthily typed a mass text to the Redressers to hurry up and come in. He subtly pushed the Send button. He clumsily dropped the phone on the floor. He tensely looked up at Jack. He nervously watched Jack’s eyes as he read the text. He suddenly found himself on the floor after Jack kicked him in the stomach.
Just then, the Redressers ran inside the store in full costume. Jack threw his hands up. “I surrender! Just don’t wreck the place!”
After a moment of confused silence, Azrella picked up the credit card reader, unplugged it, and threw it at Jack before rushing him. He blocked the reader with his arms, leaving him susceptible to Azrella shoving him into some shelves. Jack, the shelves, and about $800 worth of nearly expired canned meats tumbled across the floor.
As Jack struggled to his feet, Dorizan waved his hands, seemingly causing the lottery kiosk to fly through the air of its own volition. After Frankenstein threw the kiosk, he ducked back behind the counter for his grand entrance.
Mia came in next in her steampunk cosplay. She pressed a few buttons, activating the small motors controlling the fans and belts in her suit. It all looked very impressive and distracted Jack for a few seconds while Frankenstein snuck up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. Jack turned around, saw the hulking amalgamated graveyard, and screamed. Frankenstein knocked over a row of shelves and picked Jack up under the shoulders, holding him in the air while Mia tied his arms and legs together.
Meanwhile, Dwayne was outside giving the address to the police dispatcher. A few minutes later, two squad cars arrived and Robbing Jack Do-Harm was off to jail for fifteen months while his case was processed because he couldn’t make bail. The police thanked Dwayne for keeping Jack at the scene. They’d been looking for him for months. As the police drove away, the Redressers celebrated their first bona fide victory / successful insurance fraud.
The next day, Dwayne strolled confidentally into the insurance office. An hour later he strolled out with a fat check. Well, it was a thin, normal-sized check, but the amount on it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Four days later, two police officers strolled confidentally out of Dwayne’s house with Dwayne handcuffed between them. “Did you seriously think we wouldn’t look at the security footage? That was the most obvious insurance fraud we’ve seen in years!”
The Redressers watched from the basement window. As the police drove away, Kathryn said, “So we’re gonna break him out, right? That’s what a real team would do.”
Mia, Carl, and Frankenstein made quiet, noncommittal noises. Kathryn added, “Come on, guys. He brought us together and is trying to help our careers. We owe it to him.”
Frankenstein had a rebuttal. “Well, he did break the law. Plus with him out of the house, I won’t have to sleep in the basement anymore.”
Mia walked over to Frankenstein’s side of the room. “I told him if he did anything to make me hate him, I’d be out. He got arrested, so I’m fine with walking away from all of this.”
Carl stood by Kathryn. “I hear you, but we all signed on for the robbery and fraud in the first place. It’d be hypocritical to turn on him now that he got caught.”
Mia thought for a moment. Her shoulders slumped. “Ugh, fine. In order to take responsibility for my actions, I’ll help break Dwayne out so he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his actions.”
Kathryn and Carl high-fived. Kathryn asked, “So what do you say, Vic? Are you in?”
“I suppose,” Frankenstein replied in his best Eeyore voice.
“Well,” said Mia, “I guess we’d better start figuring out the intricate details of how we’re going to break Dwayne out. It’ll probably take a really long time to work it all out. Ha, can you imagine if we were in some serialized fiction story that has to have cliffhangers and constant drama? This would make a really dull episode.”
Just then, the wacky neighbor kid came in and said his wonderful catchphrase. Everyone on the recording of an audience had a good laugh.