The four men smiled as they planned the heist.
They sat at an ancient, round darkwood table and spoke in a calm but quiet manner. With the chatter from everyone else in the bar, there was no risk of their illicit plans being overheard.
The oldest man, the man who sat facing away from the crowd so no one could read his lips spoke first. His voice was raspy but calm. Despite the circumstances, he still projected a paternal aura, and made his compatriots feel both safe and respected.
“You all know why I’ve called you hear. There’s a job we have to do. I’ve worked with all off you before, so I know all of your skill sets. Now it’s time to combine them. If we’re going to pull this job off, we’ll need strength, precision, and speed. That’s why you’re here.”
The man to his left spoke next. Like everyone else at the table he was calm, but deep in his eyes there burned an unmistakable passion. He nodded and smiled at the older man.
“Just tell us what we need to do, Skip.”
The older man grinned. “Your job, my friend, is to infiltrate. And distract. If you can get on and stay on, that’s great. But if not, your approach will attract our adversary’s attention from the real plan.”
“And that is?”
“I’m getting there.” The one called skip raised his hand palm upward to the man sitting to his right. “This is the muscle.”
The indicated man was huge, with arms as big as tree trunks. Despite his size, he had an amiable demeanor, and one could easily tell that this was a man who loved his job.
He didn’t say anything, but instead just grinned and nodded at the boss.
Who continued, “So here’s the plan. We go in late, just before closing.” He pointed in turn. “You filtrate and start gathering the take. When the time comes, Muscles steps up and puts the play in motion to allow you to come home with the score. And then we’re all happy.”
The one the Skipper referred to as Muscles slowly pointed to the fourth man. A skinny man with long legs, the fourth had an air of confidence that on some would be off-putting, but with him it was enrapturing.
Muscles spoke slowly in a low, carefully measured voice.
“And why is he here?”
“I’ve seen what he can do. What he lacks in subtlety and experience he makes up for with raw speed. I’m gonna give him his shot with the big boys. See if he’s ready to step up his game.”
The leader looked again to his left.
“And that’s where you come in. This guy’s a master con artist. He can fool anyone into letting him in.”
He continued. “I need the two of you to infiltrate together so that when it’s time for muscles to do the smash, the pair of you are ready for the grab. I don’t care what form it takes, whether you’re both there, or whether you just open the door for him, but this is the guy that I want running home with the score.”
The skinny man smiled. “That’s what I’m saying. Now, no offense to my two pleasant compatriots here, but why don’t you just give me the details and let me handle this alone. I don’t like splitting the take.”
“No,” the boss said flatly.
The skinny man was shocked. “No?”
“No. You aren’t Qualified. You’ve never been Qualified. You’ve had success at doing lower level stuff, but if you want to play with the big boys, you have to work as a team. Besides. I know your strength. You’re slow in, fast out. That’s what I like about you. It’s not a big deal if you can’t hit hard, that’s not how I want to use you.”
By now the fourth man was starting to get upset. “You’re joking. Just let me show you.”
But the skipper wasn’t convinced. “You can either do it my way or you can walk.”
Fully enraged now, the young man stood up quickly, towering over the table. “Now wait just a minute.”
Instead, the young man raised his voice. Not enough to attract attention in the loud bar, but enough to express his outrage.
“No! I don’t need this. You said it yourself. You’ve seen what I can do! Just give me a shot. I can do any job you need me to do! And I can do it on my own.”
The skipper just stared him down. After a long moment he replied in a soft tone.
“On your own you can steal bases. Work with us, and we’re going to steal games.”