The Littlest Thief
(A short, short story)
By Bexley Benton
Friday, December 18, 2015
Dexter leaned back against the wall and tried not to roll his eyes. It had gone exactly the way he had predicted, which is to say, completely fucked up. His job was to advise the newbies, and he had, he had told them that the museum director, Edward Thumbsky, was a complete ass-kisser, only interested in impressing his bosses by showing off his highly expensive new “theft prevention” hardware. He had advised them, that taking the job was going to be a complete waste of their time, skills, and effort, since the test of the Hempstead Museum security system, was dependent on the system being left as it would be displayed on a normal given day.
Of course, they had out-voted him. They were new and pumped up with enthusiasm and a naïve need to prove themselves. All newbs got the privilege of selecting their own first mission. It was a traditional rite of passage. Every member of Brightwell industries had their “nestling” story. Their first mission as a team. Inarguably the finest fuck ups ever to be witnessed and created were performed and committed on these first missions. No one expected a first mission to succeed, though, every single team, without fail, swore they would be the first to do so. Brightwell industries had some of the finest minds and bodies in the world working there, but in their proud 20 year tradition, not a single 1st mission had ever gone off as planned.
Clients were advised that the best way to test their security, was to have Brightwell send in their people randomly and attempt to break in and steal something. They were also advised that this was random, because thieves were not apt to warn them of an impending attempt, therefore, it was best practice to have the client completely clueless as to when the event would occur. To leave the planning and testing of the security system completely to chance.
Something that Edward Thumbsky, who spent $300,000 of the museums money, was not apt to do, as he now sought desperately to impress his superiors with his “genius” and to rationalize his gross overspending on a single pressure sensitive device for a book that “surprise-surprise”, just happened to be the mayors favorite book.
The mayor liked to impress people with his “Art is air” platform, talking about how art in local high schools were shamefully lacking in “proper” culture. Which, Dexter was in agreement on, it just wasn’t really all that helpful when the mayors grand idea for improving the lack was to charge the students a $50 per semester fee for “Cultural education” loosely translated (apparently) to “grand dinners for the mayor” with attendees being upper class voters, expensive food and very little actual art, or benefit to the students who were tasked with attending these events under the helpful guise of servers and valets. Oh, and apparently, the students were touted as being “exposed” to the various art on display at these events as they rushed by, you know, on the way to the kitchen or parking lot.
“Art is air” Dexter snorted. He knew for a fact the mayor had 0 interest in art and couldn’t tell a Picasso from a Monet. Edward Thumbsky liked his cohorts dumb and pompous, the better to use and abuse them. He liked to think he was rising in the ranks of the Who’s-Who of Pennsylvania mucky-mucks by pandering to money-greedy figure-heads like the mayor. Maybe, Edward would chuckle and flash a shiny smile, he might even get into the political arena himself one day, wink-wink.
Dexter had advised the newbies that this was apt to go pear-shaped. Edward Thumbsky was not the type to leave things to chance. Which, was completely proven, when they had arrived for the random test of the system, only to find surprisingly beefy security guards on patrol. Beefy guards who had been hired only 2 weeks previously, and only for the room the book, a rare 1st edition of Les Miserables, was being displayed. “Yup. Fucked” he muttered.
He just wanted to know which of the new-hires it had been to sell out the date and time of their “test”. His money was on Randy, the little weasel-faced social climber who had suggested this job in the first place. It was either him, or Wilson Thumbsky, Edward Thumbsky’s nephew. Wilson had only been in the group 2 months, a late addition to the team, and of the two suspects, Dexter was hoping for it to be Randy, who had joined the same month as Wilson.
Wilson was a shy, rotund, computer geek, and clearly wanted desperately to impress someone. He was geeky, but brilliant, in the short time he had been there he had corrected 2 coding errors that were leaving clients vulnerable to hackers, and had vastly improved the specs on the prototypes of three separate electronics firms, that had enlisted their services to test their products for them. Dexter found himself liking Wilson despite himself, he really didn’t want it to be him. Either way, someone had sold them out. Evidenced by the complete brawl situation they were currently in.
The plan had been to enter the museum dressed as students completely unrelated to one another. Max and Randy had come in as students of the university carrying sketch pads and various art tools. Wilson and Tessa had come in as a “blind date” a plan Tessa had vehemently opposed citing their completely differing personalities as clear evidence that no one would possibly believe they were together.
She had gestured down at her pink high-heels, blonde highlights, and bubble gum pink manicure. She had quickly acquiesced when Max had suggested they swap Randy with Wilson as her “date”. Randy had been “accidentally” brushing up against Tessa ever since she started working there. Leering at her and referring to her as “Doll” and “Sugar”. Dexter was just waiting for the day Tessa “accidently” kneed him in the crotch.
Then there was Lily. Who came in alone. No one noticed Lily really. Lily was tiny. Black hair like a slick rainfall straight down her back, and pale skin almost like porcelain. At 5′ she was short, slender in frame, and somewhat quiet. She thought things through before speaking. She had a mild, easy-going, nature that most assumed was Latin for “push-over”. Dexter figured one day she would totally prove that assumption for the total crap he knew it was .
He had known Lily before, but when they had met again here 6 months ago, when she had joined the Brightwell team, she had not seemed to recognize him, for which, he was quietly thankful. He wasn’t that person anymore. He didn’t look the same. Didn’t dress the same. He wasn’t that person anymore. He wouldn’t be. Not ever again.
Speaking of Lily. He looked over and spotted her among the chaos. The guards had immediately gone on the offensive the moment the team had entered the room, it was obvious someone had supplied them with not only the time and date, but also photographs of the entire team. For their part the team of agents had entered the room calm, cool, collected professionals, and then taken one look at the 3 guards bearing down on them like angry rhinos and those calm, cool, collected professionals, had freaked out like the inexperienced idiots they were. His job was to observe and not interfere. He hadn’t been instructed not to laugh though.
The first guard was currently attempting to grab Tessa who was running in circles around a Plexiglass case full of what looked like a rare travel journal, if one went by the prominently displayed placard, the very same placard Tessa was currently bashing the guard repeatedly over the head with as he swiveled around left to right attempting to catch her as she flitted back and forth behind the display. Wilson had wisely determined he was in no physical shape to run from anyone and succeed, and had merely sat down on the floor waiting to be captured, where the guard had promptly tripped over him attempting to capture Randy, who had decided to climb on top of the display units and hop-scotch from one creaking case to another.
The third guard was no match for Max, a bodybuilder who worked at Brightwell as security detail and had come over to their unit just to get some experience. Max had him in a headlock and was showing off for the female college students who were cooing at him and giggling uncontrollably from across the room where most of the museum guests had fled in a panic when the guards had converged on the team brandishing nightsticks and attitude. The poor guard was turning purple. He probably had never encountered someone bigger than himself and wasn’t handling it very well, if the sputtering and flailing of arms and legs was anything to go by.
Lily stood behind the protected case of the Les Miserables, completely undetected. She was so small in stature he’d almost missed her completely. Her head barely higher than the case and her entire frame indistinguishable from the angle she was standing behind it. She was fussing with the straps of her bag. It looked like she had removed a textbook from her pack.
He was curious what she was intending to do with the “Confessions of a Master Thief” but was distracted by the sudden appearance of Tessa who sped by him, did an extremely impressive mid-run pivot, and fled full speed in the opposite direction, from the guard, who had been chasing her, and had just slammed into the wall next to Dexter so hard he slid headfirst down the wall, then onto the floor, out cold. Tessa dusted her hands with exaggerated movements and winked before rushing off to help Wilson who had tried to get up twice but kept sliding to the floor, which really wasn’t his fault, given that the 2nd guard was the reason he kept falling, what with him holding onto Randy’s leg and all.
Dexter looked back to where Lily had been standing and realized, she was gone. He looked around and spotted her near the elevators. She looked slightly annoyed, standing in front of the open elevator looking at the chaos and not even attempting to hide any longer. She shook her head in disgust and walked backwards into the open elevator. He stepped forward to ask her what she was doing, but the doors shut suddenly cutting her off from sight. He watched the numbers light up and realized Lily had simply left.
A few minutes later the elevator doors opened again and out tromped Edward Thumbsky, with a triumphant look on his face, accompanied by the Mayor himself. “Great! Just Great!” Dexter muttered. “This is the icing on the cake.” He sighed loud and long. Took a deep breath and stepped forward to meet the biggest ass on the planet, and his puffed up pretentious puppet, otherwise known as Mayor Brumwell.
To be continued…