The Professional

He shifted his grip on the submachine gun. Psyched himself up for the next step; mini adrenaline rush before the main event.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a heist. I am known as ‘The Lemur’,” he tapped his trademark oversized goggles to indicate the resemblance to the arboreal monkey. “You probably haven’t heard of me. That’s fine. My first question, does anyone not know what to do? If so, please raise your hand. You’ve probably seen heists on TV; it’s just going to be like that.”

None of the bank’s customers raised their hands. Good. He hated dealing with amateurs, but it was part of the territory.

“Hey, mister. Think we can hurry this up? I gotta meet someone at six.”

“I’ll try to accommodate you, sir. But you know how heists can be. Much of the situation is out of my hands. But I’ll see what I can do.”

Ingrates. Never bloody satisfied. Still, he knew the score. He wasn’t just some cowboy operator; he had a code of ethics. He’d try and speed things up for this ungrateful sod.

“No more questions? Good, let’s get started. Uhh, yes miss?”

The punctual prat was eyeing daggers at the pretty and petite blonde who had just shyly raised her hand.

“Um, Mr Lemur? Do you need a hostage for your escape?”

He hadn’t considered it. But now that she came to mention it, it was a good idea. As long as the hostage wasn’t a complete muppet.

“I might. Why do you ask? And you can just call me Lemur, you needn’t be so formal. And you are?”

“Um, my name is Jenny. Um, the reason I asked is that I took a professional hostage course as my minor in college, and …”

He finished the sentence for her: “… you wanted to use your knowledge in the real world?”

“I got the highest marks in my class, Mr Lemur; I don’t mean to brag, but I think I can do it.” Her eyes were downcast and hands held together in front of her.

He could recognize the signs as she gulped nervously, awaiting his response. “This your first heist?”

“Uhh, yes, Mr Lemur. How did you know?”

“When you’ve been in the game long enough, you can see it. OK, first piece of advice, relax. Everything is gonna be alright. I promise. This might be my first shot at the big leagues, but I’m still a professional. Second piece of advice, I told you already, there’s no Mr Lemur – just Lemur.”

He patted her shoulder and gave her an open smile through the slit in his ski-mask.

“Just remember your training and do what comes naturally. You’ll do fine,” he assured her.

Jenny looked up at him with bright eyes, still nervous – but now more nervous with anticipation. Just like him. He just hoped he wasn’t doing something colossally stupid, trusting her, a rookie, like this.

With a louder tone, he addressed the mostly bored customers and tellers. “OK, are we ready to do this?”

A chorus of assent.


-———— -———— -———-

MIKE SALVATORE, commentator for Channel 57’s “Heist Tonight!” show: “… well, Bob, what’s happening here at the Stratford bank on Mulligan?”

BOB GUINNESS, commentator for Channel 57’s “Heist Tonight!” show: “Mike, it looks like we’ve got a newcomer to the circuit: the Lemur, a dark horse gunman, has held up the bank. And the surprise twist; he’s already taken a hostage!”

MIKE: “Ooh, Bob. Not sure if I agree with that play. Hell of a risk to take on your first try in the major leagues. Most budding robbers make it nice and easy on their entry into the circuit. One wrong move and your career’s over before it begins.”

BOB: “That’s true, Mike. An ambitious move for the unknown Lemur. But if he can pull it off, well, definitely a head start over the competition. In any case, surely a heist to watch, whatever the outcome.”

MIKE: “You’ve got that right, Bob. Our viewers are in for a treat this evening. And look at that, a near perfect blast of suppressive fire at the surrounding SWAT team. Looks like the ‘recoil walk’ tagged one of them though. Don’t worry, folks at home – we’ll find out his condition soon. Julie?”

BOB: “As Mike follows that up, I’m still here covering this masterpiece of robbery for you. A masterpiece on both sides, I might add. The wounded SWAT has fallen to the ground, looking at the sky while our shotgun microphones catch his painfully croaked word ‘Mother’. I hope you’re watching this poetry in motion, ladies and gentlemen. In my years commentating heists, I have to admit that this is going to be a classic.”

MIKE: “Bob, I’m sure you and our viewers are desperate to know about this young man who was so poignant in his performance tonight. First, he’s not seriously wounded, a few days in our state’s fine hospitals and he’ll be back on active duty. Second, this up-and-comer on the police side is Martin Fiorelli, experienced enough to know what he’s doing yet still retaining his enthusiasm to leap into the action!”

BOB: “But let’s not forget about the star of the heist, Mike. The Lemur is giving us a great show, and his hostage … WOW! I can’t believe what a team they make. Hell of a debut for both of them.”

MIKE: “You know, Bob – I didn’t think the Lemur’s hostage play was going to work, but I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. Who is she? Julie, can you find out who this rising star is, please?”

BOB: “Thanks, Julie. Mike, this surprise player in this night of surprises is called Jenny Saucier. And look at the Lemur discard her, beautifully pirouetting away to lie near Fiorelli. Such choreography, almost like they rehearsed it. And now she’s cradling Fiorelli’s head in her arms, rocking him as she implores, ‘Why, God, why?’ Such a classic play, executed beautifully. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by that.”

MIKE: “Oh, Bob. I gotta admit, good buddy – I’m getting kind of emotional here.”

BOB: “Mike, I know what you mean, I’m getting misty-eyed myself. Ladies and gentlemen, this heist is over, the Lemur has escaped with the cash. But before we wrap up, here’s a message from our sponsors …”

-——— -——— -———

“Isn’t this a coincidence?”

He smiled at her. “Got that right. Great to see you again, Jenny.”

She lowered her eyes in that cute, demure way she had, and blushed profusely.

His voice, ardent: “You were really great out there. And I’m not just saying that, you’ve probably heard what the commentators said. And to think I doubted you for even a moment.” He gave her a little self-conscious grin. “I can believe your results. What college did you go to?”

“Wanapingu University.”

“Good school. Always wanted to go back to university and finish my degree. Guess now I can pay off my student loan,” waving the large bag of cash.

“True,” Jenny agreed with him as they shared a short, silly, laugh.

“Anyway.” Moment of truth. He couldn’t help shuffling his feet. “Well, uh, if you enjoyed last time …”

“It was the most exciting experience of my entire life! I loved it!” She was practically bouncing.

He tried not to think about that; it was too distracting. “Uh, well, I was going to ask you, uh, if you’d …”

“… be your hostage again tonight? Just try and stop me, mister!” Jenny beamed up at him, and his nervous demeanour faded into his trademark crooked smile.

“Alright then. Let’s get this thing on the road and knock ‘em dead. Ready, Jenny?”

“Ready, Lemur!”


-——- -——- -———

BOB: “… Mike, the second appearance in the circuit can be harsh, no more beginner’s luck, but I can safely say that was another sterling performance from the Lemur and Saucier.”

MIKE: “Bob, I couldn’t agree more. It’s just a shame that Fiorelli couldn’t be a part of this wonderful robbery tonight. Martin, you’re probably watching this, we’d just like to say, on behalf of the entire station, ‘Get Well Soon.’ And we also hope you received the card we forwarded from the Lemur himself, wishing you a speedy recovery. We’ll cut to Fiorelli in hospital LIVE – just after these messages from our sponsors …”

-———- -——— -——-

“So, we meet again,” Jenny greeted him.

“Yeah. Well, I’d like to talk to you about that. Uh, this heist I’m kinda doing on the fly. I just saw you here, and uh, I wanted to talk to you again. So I held up the store.”

“Ohhhh!” she gushed, “That’s so -” Jenny stopped abruptly and blushed. “… unexpected.”

“Uh, yeah. Unexpected. So, uh, do you think we could meet up sometime later, after the robbery?”

“Well, Lemur, I don’t want to offend you. I like you, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet,” Jenny gently rebuffed him, her hand on his shoulder.

“I just need a little more time, maybe just a few more heists? Here, take a copy of my daily schedule for next week, I’m sure we’ll meet again.” She smiled up at him and he realized it wasn’t a rejection, just a delay. His heart soared.

“Sure, I can understand that.” He smiled back. “I’m not offended at all. It’s so sweet and cute for you to consider my feelings like that.” His smile changed to charming, trademark crooked.

Jenny blushed prettily. To save them both embarrassment, he pushed on.




-———- -———- -———-

MIKE: “… without warning, but our viewers are happy to see their favourite Boy in Blue, Martin Fiorelli, back on his feet against his opponent on the field, the Lemur! Bob, we’ve definitely got a class trio act happening here.”

BOB: “The synergy, Mike, is truly amazing. That’s our ‘Heist of the Week,’ folks! But stay tuned, we’ve managed to secure an exclusive telephone interview with the man of the hour himself, the Lemur! Just after a word from our sponsors …”

-———— -———— -————

“So, uh.” He fidgeted with the safety on his SMG.

“… have I had enough time to make a decision?” Jenny asked coyly.

“Uh, yeah.” Fidget, fidget.

“When do you think the heist will be over?”

“I’m going for around 7:30. You know the variables by now – but I think we’ll have a clear run.”

“Pick me up at 8:00 then?”

He couldn’t help himself; he kissed her, she didn’t pull away; just responsive and eager in his arms. He could barely wait.

“So, Jenny, what are we waiting for? Let’s do this.”

“Hell yeah!”


-——- -——- -———

BOB: “… we did have an interview scheduled with the media darling Jenny Saucier, but she’s had to cancel for a pressing engagement at short notice. We’re sorry, folks. Instead, we have some background on our stars, their early lives and what made them into the people they are today. Just after, of course, these messages from our sponsors …”

-———- -——— -————

“Hey, darling!” His exuberant hello delivered to Jenny’s cellphone.

“Honey! I’ve missed you, great to hear your voice. I know you’ve been busy planning your next magnificent heist.”

“Awww, shucks. But I couldn’t do anything without my wonderful leading lady.”

“Cutie. But I guess this isn’t just a social call.”

“Fraid not, sweetie. I was just wondering if you could set the stunners in the bank to take care of the guards for the next heist? I’ve got to pick up my tux for Tony’s son’s bar mitzvah. It’s on the other side of the city … I hate to ask …”

“Well, it depends.”

“Err, on what?”

“Am I invited to this bar mitzvah?”

“I reckon I could swing that, dearest.” She couldn’t see his smile, but she could hear it in his voice.

“Alright then. Love you!”

“Love you too, thanks so much, angel. Here’s a kiss for you,” as he smooched the mouthpiece audibly.

“So sweet. See you at the heist … then the bar mitzvah!” Impish giggle.

“You so need a spanking.”

“Promises, promises.” Such a delightful tease she was.

-——— -——— -———-

MIKE: “… I don’t believe it. Has the Lemur finally met his match? Fiorelli has been playing the game very well tonight, trapping his opponent in a dead end alley. Jenny’s been sidelined, watching the confrontation, on the edge of her seat, as I imagine most of our viewers are.”

BOB: “You’ve got that right, Mike. I’m shivering in anticipation here myself. Definitely a clash of the titans tonight. We’ve just got the ratings, and a staggering 98% of you are watching this nail-biting LIVE broadcast!”

MIKE: “Someone’s firing! Our camera crew is rushing in to get a better look at just what happened. Who has emerged victorious? Bob, either way, I can barely contain myself. Julie, what’s going down?”

BOB: “Ladies and gentlemen, with regret, with a heavy heart I inform you: the Lemur is down. This is a sad day for the circuit. The Lemur was a fantastic robber, he’s been a true professional, and I think that the whole nation would agree. Never since the late, great, legendary ‘Hammer’ has a brigand been so beloved.”

MIKE: “But folks, at least we are pleased to say that the Lemur is not mortally wounded. I’m sure there isn’t going to be any shortage of support for our brave gunman while he convalesces in ICU. Bob, I’d advise our viewers to sign up NOW to visit him once he is incarcerated – I’m sure everyone will want to personally meet this great man.”

BOB: “We still have to think of the others in this heist, Mike. Fiorelli did a masterful job, but is that a tear I can see on his cheek? Somehow, I think even the victor feels some sorrow how the game has ended today – no more great chases together. And look at poor Jenny, she’s inconsolable. I’m sure she’s not the only one to cry like that, but surely she’s the picture of loss here. Our thoughts and hearts are with you, Jenny.”

MIKE: “There’s no more to see here, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s just commiserate the passing of our hero, the Lemur. Watch tomorrow, this time, to join us for our Lemur memorial special, and celebrate his illustrious career.”

-———- -———— -————

The game was over.

It had been played well; he’d played it well. Done good, but finally caught. Now, consolation prize, twenty years in the slammer.

He held the bars tightly in his hands; grip, release; grip, release.

The turnkey noticed his tension. “Cheer up, Mr Lemur. You had a good run; unofficially we were all rooting for ya. If you’d do me the honour of shaking my hand, Mr Lemur?”

“Sure, man. Just Lemur, though; no need to be so formal.” Trademark crooked smile. The guard calling him that brought back memories of a shy little woman who called him ‘mister’. He’d only been separated from Jenny for a few days and her absence was a gnawing hole in his soul. He could see her when visiting times started; even that wait seemed an eternity.

They’d been such a great team together. Now, TWENTY YEARS before he got back to the Outside. Those were the risks of the circuit, he supposed, but secretly he’d never thought they would apply to him. He’d foolishly thought he was uncatchable.

And he’d been very, very wrong.

“Look, Lemur. You can get your sentence reduced for good behaviour, probably ten years in your case. Professional performance, not a single death caused. Not like some of these careless losers,” the turnkey spat, “Only amateurs need to kill in the circuit, filthy vermin.”

“But as I was saying to Tom the other day,” gesturing to the other guard, “you remind me of the Hammer. A smooth operator if I ever saw one.”

“Dat’s right,” answered Tom. “Such a shame he caught that shot and left us. Coulda been worse, young Lemur. Could be dead like old Hammer. And as John said, mebbe ten years if you’re lucky, then back in the saddle.”

Still, even ten years … he was numb with his sense of loss. Some part of him raged at the Fates: it wasn’t meant to be like this!

He was ready to resign himself to his fate when their conversation was interrupted by screeching metal. The black pick-up truck blasting through the foyer was an unexpected development. Tearing through the interior walls as if they were cardboard, the ebon machine rolled to a halt near the cellblock. A small and lithe figure jumped out, dressed head to toe in dark-hued spandex. The mysterious intruder’s first action was to prime a shotgun and blast the security camera into a sparking rain of shredded plastic.

“Honey, I’m home!”

It couldn’t be. But it had to be.

“Hi, boys,” Jenny addressed the guards, “I’m here to pick up my Lemur. Any objections?” She pumped another round into the shotgun for impact.

“No, not at all, ma’am.” Tom and John raised their hands slowly, but they couldn’t help smiling at her.

Jenny smiled back. “Thanks for being so understanding, boys,” giving them both a quick curtsey, although the gun didn’t waver an inch as she did so. As he was released, she slid up and engulfed him into a warm embrace. “Baby, I missed you terribly.”

“I missed you too, angel. I’m speechless – I’m so proud of you!” kissing her passionately.

“Um, sweetie? Don’t want to nit pick, but this is hardly the time or the place.” Jenny reminded him impishly.

“Err, guess you got a point. But I do want to ask you something. Will you marry me?”

She smiled and with said with a grin, “I don’t know. I think I need more time. Maybe after a couple more heists together …”

Guffaw and giggle of nostalgia. He wasn’t sure if she was joking, but then again, this was hardly an appropriate situation for such a proposal. Maybe later would be better.

Buckled up and sitting in the passenger seat of the pickup, he asked her: “Ready, angel?”

“Ready, baby.” She revved the engine in readiness.

They looked at each other and said the word simultaneously:


The Professional


Adelaide, Australia

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