She Works Hard for the Money

A while back, I entered another contest from NYCMidnight.com. This time it was a Flash Fiction contest, so less than 1,000 words, but the rest of the structure remained the same: they would assign a genre, location, and object/person, and I would have 72 hours to write and submit a story. In this contest, each writer was guaranteed two rounds and our final score would determine if we moved on to the third round. My particular heat had over thirty entrants in it.

For the first round, my heat was instructed to write a crime caper and it had to include a counting room and a mirror.

I’d never written a crime caper before. They’re not really my thing. Still, I was please with my result: I placed 6th out of more than thirty stories and was awarded 10 points.

Here is that story. Disclaimer: I did some slight editing, so it is now over 1,000 words. Oh, well.

I will post about Round 2 later today or tomorrow. Happy reading!

 

SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY

My high heels clacked down the long hallway as the ringing casino faded behind me. Don’t trip, Sandy. Whatever happens, do not fall. For the first time in years, I felt alive.

“Can I help you with something, Miss?” A lone guard stood up, a copy of Playboy falling to the floor.

“I don’t know. Can you?” I slipped into a sultry purr as I slid close to him, my new neon dress whispering seduction.

A smile spread below his mustache. He was handsome, very Magnum PI, but was that a . . . perm? Damn, his hair was nicer than mine. “Guests aren’t allowed back here, Miss.”

“I’m so sorry. I was looking for the ladies’ room.” I reached into my purse, past the gun, pulling out a mirrored compact. Instead of looking at my reflection, I peered over my shoulder down the hall. There were Steve and Larry, their big dumb faces peeking around the corner.

If I hadn’t overheard them talking about their plans to rob the casino, I’d still be at the slots, drinking yet another Kamikaze, and wishing I was anywhere else while Alan, no-longer-love-of-my-pathetic-life, was in a conference room learning the latest marketing techniques as part of the 1985 Pocket Calculator Synposium. Roberta, the Princess Di twin with bigger boobs, was probably nearby. Everyone knew about them.

Larry supplied the guns. Steve, a former employee, was the “brains” of the operation. They’d planned to run in, guns blazing, demanding money from the dealers. I talked them out of that.

Another glance in the mirror. Steve was holding something up. Good. The other key. The counting room door needed two to open. The first was always with the floor manager, but somehow Steve had managed to get it.

The second key was here with Mr. Perm. Yeah, it didn’t seem like the most fool-proof security system to me, either. No wonder the Moonburst Hotel and Casino was so rundown. They probably got robbed every other week.

The guard’s key was my responsibility. I put the mirror back into my purse, my fingers curling around the gun Larry had given me. Would the lace gloves I wore obscure my fingerprints? If they were good enough for Madonna . . . .

“The bathrooms are by the craps tables. Let me show you.” Mr. Perm’s hand slithered down my back as he moved me away from the door. Smile, Sandy. He has to think you like him. I faked a giggle.

“I could use a drink.” Yes. Yes, I could use a drink, actually. “Why don’t you come with me?” I put one hand on his chest while the other slowly drew the gun.

His grin grew wider as he cupped my ass. “My shift ends at six. Think you can wait until then?”

I heard footsteps. Larry and Steve, I hoped.

“No, I don’t think I can wait that long.” The gun was heavy, slippery. Don’t drop it, don’t drop it.

I didn’t drop it. The press of hard metal against his ribs made him blink. “What?”

I held a finger to his lips, laughing at his bewildered look. “Shhh.”

Steve appeared next to me, his gun against Mr. Perm’s temple. Larry danced around behind us, a suitcase on the floor next to him. “Hurry up. Hurry up.”

My fingers didn’t tremble as I unhooked the key ring from the guard’s belt and found the key that matched the Steve’s. “Is anyone in there right now?”

The guard gaped at me, but started frantically shaking his head as I cocked the gun.

A nod to Steve and we put our keys in the lock. Larry burst in, waving his gun like Nick Nolte in “48 Hours”. There was a yelp and a thud, but thankfully no gunshot. What the hell?

“Larry, are we clear?” There was no answer. Mr. Perm flinched as I slapped him. “You lie to me, Ponch?”

Larry appeared at the door, his eyes wide, blood trickling from his nose. “Oh, yeah. We’re clear.”

Steve pushed Mr. Perm into the room and I followed. Holy shit. We had made it in.

Steve bound and gagged the guard, who seemed resigned to his fate. On the floor lay the crumpled form of . . . someone in a red blazer. An open metal door led to what I assumed was the vault. On the table, racks of chips. A window overlooked the casino floor. I bet the mirror I had checked my lipstick in had been a one-way mirror.

Moving with a swiftness that surprised me, Larry pulled several bags out of the suitcase and began dumping chips into them, the clatter of the plastic echoing off the plain white walls.

I didn’t want chips. I wanted cash. And I could smell it.

My purse held stacks of 100-dollar bills. I patted the guard on his curly head and strutted out of the counting room, leaving Larry and Steve fighting over the chips. I was done with them.

The casino floor was full of people, laughter, lights, and the sounds of Donna Summer. No one noticed me, not even Alan who was getting off the elevator, Roberta draped over his arm. I looked into the counting-room mirror and adjusted my sunglasses.

Another guard lounged near the exit.

“Excuse me, sir, do you work here?” I kept my voice meek, polite. I would never use that voice again. “I just thought you should know, I saw some strange men going down that hallway over there.” I pointed to where I had just come from. “I think I saw a gun.” The guard took off at a run, yelling into his walkie-talkie. I was already forgotten.

Hot sunlight wrapped around me as I stepped onto Las Vegas Boulevard and hailed a taxi. In mere hours, I’d be on a plane to somewhere tropical. Alone. Alan would just have to deal.

I would miss the kids, though.

Maybe.

Author: Allison Luther

I'm a busy mother of three who fancies herself a writer, speaks in profanities more often than not, and spends evenings doing counted cross stitch. A staunch liberal and ardent atheist, when I grow up I want to be someone who doesn't care what other people think.

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