‘Twas the night before Payday, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, because the house had laid abandoned for years in the country and had turned into a dropping-off point for illicit trades. And that wouldn’t have been a problem except for that it was happening on Hector’s turf, and the Columbian wasn’t too pleased about that.
So now after dark, a van painted a tacky shade of blue pulled up to near the house. There was not a car on the road nor a sound, save for the wildlife.
“Fuckin’ A. Why the hell are we working on Christmas Eve?” Chains asked as they loaded up in the back of the van. The van had grown strangely crowded over the past three months, surely not due to the addition of three people to the Payday gang.
“Do you know how much Hector’s paying us?” Dallas snapped back from the driver’s seat as he pulled the van to a stop.
“No, because you just keep saying it’s enough that we should be workin’ on Christmas Eve, and you won’t actually tell me how much it is!”
“Well it’s enough to make this worth it! It’s going to be easy. All we have to do is steal some stuff out of an empty house-“
“Yeah I was wondering, where are we going to put the merchandise when we get it? The van’s pretty crowded already.” Clover cut in as she donned her mask.
“There’s room for it. We’ll work it out. Anyway, we’re just going to lift some stuff out of an empty house and drop it off with one of Hector’s goons. Couldn’t be easier.” Dallas leaned around the driver’s seat, facing the back, doing his best to sound reassuring.
“So why’re we in full gear with a sniper on overwatch then?” Hoxton (Actual Hoxton, not Old New Hoxton) asked dryly.
“Because preparation. Anyway. John’s going to go up on the hill on the other side of the road and do overwatch. Keep an eye out for anyone coming to the house. Hoxton, Clover, Chains: You three go and sweep the upper floor. Wolf, Houston: You two sweep the ground floor with me. We clear?” Dallas waited for everyone to nod, and then they all piled out of the van into the cold winter’s night.
John started off to the elevated hillside while the others split into their two teams of three, creeping along the fence line towards the dark and abandoned house.
“I’ve got you guys, have eyes on the whole front of the house,” John said quietly into his mic. They reached the side door, and everyone pressed themselves against the walls while Houston worked at picking the lock. Hoxton tilted his head to the side like people do when they roll their eyes, but Houston ignored him.
The door swung open and the heisters silently poured into the dark house. The stairs were in view, and Dallas pointed the second team upstairs while the first started to prowl around the empty rooms. They looked for safes hidden in the cabinet, tapped the walls and floors looking for hollows.
Despite their methodical search, the discovery was accidental. Wolf tripped over a fold in the old carpet of the living room, and as he stumbled into the hall the floorboards creaked too much. Sure enough, they pulled the floorboards up and found bags of guns. They were about to pull them out when they heard peculiar thumping coming from the roof.
“Hoxton, you hear that? …Hoxton? Chains? Clover?” Dallas lifted his wrist to talk into his microphone as he, Houston, and Wolf looked up nervously. “John, what’s going on out there? Anybody? Piece of shit!” He whispered furiously. Everyone started to arm their guns.
“This is some black helicopter shit,” Wolf said in that two-minutes-from-panic voice.
“I’m serious! They’re totally silent! Probably got all kinds of radio jamming and shit! They use ‘em for cover-“
They all went silent, not just Wolf, for a simple reason: The sound of someone heavy landing on their boots in the living room right next to them. They all pressed themselves against the side of the doorway, barely even breathing. Dallas was on one side, Wolf and Houston on the other. The boots seemed to be coming closer, slowly coming to their door.
Dallas carefully reached to his belt, and pulled out his baton. Ever so carefully he extended it, keeping the usually snap muffled. He pointed at himself and mock-swung the baton at the door, then pointed at the other two and mimed turning and aiming a gun through the open door way.
The boots came closer and closer, with every heavy step only increasing the tension between the heisters even more. A large shadow appeared on the floor in front of the doorway, and after a moment’s pause a large figure stepped through.
Dallas snapped into action, smacking their knee out from under them and pulling them to the ground for more strikes until whoever they were was lying there barely moving. Wolf and Houston swung into the open door, screaming at the empty room for people to get on the ground. They didn’t scream for long though, because there was no one in the room, and all the windows were still closed.
They finally flicked on their flashlights as they turned to see who Dallas had beaten senseless, and froze in their tracks when they did. Wolf broke the new silence, in a quiet and tense voice: “Did you just beat up Santa Claus?”
“No, Santa isn’t real,” Dallas answered as he holstered his baton. “It’s gotta be a gang thing. Intimidation or something.”
“Who’s intimidated by Santa?!”
“Guilty people! I don’t know! But it can’t be Santa Claus!”
Suddenly the second team barreled down the stairs guns-first, yelling and ready to start a firefight with the police that weren’t there. They nearly stumbled over each other as they came to a stop and stared and the red-wearing figure on the ground.
Clover broke the silence first as she stared. “Did you just beat up Santa Claus?”
Dallas shook his head, raising his voice. “Santa isn’t real! It’s just some asshole wearing a Santa costume to mess with us!”
“Looks like the real thing to me,” Hoxton said as he knelt next to the unconscious man, rolling him onto his back with a grunt. Jolly face (except for the bruise), bushy white beard, rosy cheeks. Chains swore and kicked the wall.
A lot of yelling began, with people accusing Dallas of beating up Santa while Dallas protested that he couldn’t be real, with some “God damnit Dallas!” and “Stop ruining Christmas you dick!” thrown in. A burst of static came from their radios as they finally heard John’s gravelly voice again. “John where the hell have you been?!” Dallas yelled into his microphone as he waved at the other to be quiet.
“Oh man, finally. You guys aren’t going to believe what happened. Hold on, I got a video of it on my phone, I’m sending to you now. Is Santa still in the house?” They could hear John moving as he spoke, sounding like he was getting to his feet.
A moment later Dallas’ phone buzzed and everyone crowded around him as he opened the video file. The camera on John’s phone wasn’t very good, but in the bright moonlight they could clearly see a red and gold sleigh pulled by nine reindeer lifting off of the roof in a disorganized panic, the reindeer wheeling around and galloping through the air before finally turning north and vanishing into the dark night sky.
Everyone slowly turned to glare at Dallas as he stared as his phone. At first he sounded like a steam pipe that had just sprung a leak, a low hiss that grew in volume and rage that finally finished in a very loud single word: “FUCK!”