Keeping Watch

copper fittings

He squinted his eyes to get a better look at the blue metal building from a safe distance. All he could see was a rusted scoop tractor parked by the door but nobody milling about the structure. “Where do you think he keeps that ol’ shit-eating dog?” he asked his partner in crime, as they hid within a copse of trees just off the property. They preferred their presence go unnoticed there, as the duo planned to break into the place.

“Don’t worry about that mongrel. It don’t have enough teeth to nip either one of us, much less land a bite that’d do any damage,” Cyrill tried to convince him.

They sat still and didn’t say another word to each other for several minutes, anticipating a visitor to the building or the owner himself. The pair hoped no one would arrive. Staking out the place proved to be a much more tedious task than originally thought.

“You know, this might not be such a good idea,” Tony offered. “Maybe we oughta just call it a day.” He nudged Cyrill in the back with one shaky hand from behind and dug in his front pocket for a cigarette with the other hand while glancing down at his wavering knuckles. Taking a last drink about 5:30 that morning, before daylight peered over the horizon, meant Tony’s body either wanted another one or desperately needed some sleep. They’d sat hidden in the overhanging branches for about three hours, and his ass felt frozen to the ground below it.

Cyrill turned to glare back at him and crossed a fat, tobacco-stained finger across his lips to shush him. “Shut the hell up, why don’t ya? If anybody’s in there, they’re gonna hear ya.” He’d have never told Tony about the heist if he knew how much belly aching he’d do.

The man waved his hand back and forth in front of Tony’s face and turned away from him, whispering sharply, “Damn, Tony. I can smell your breath from here. Eat a Tic Tac, man!”

Tony’s hand continued to shake as he covered his gaping mouth with it. “’Scuse me,” he replied. “Didn’t mean to upset your delicate sensibilities.”

An undeveloped plan followed the pair out of the bar at closing time. Knowing the bar owner meant they’d stayed on drinking well after the public left. Too many whiskeys meant they left half-cocked and ready to rip off Ol’ Man Jenkins of all the copper inside his plumbing warehouse and sell it for scrap. Cyrill and Tony’s small-time burglary could still get them put back in county lockup. Neither man found work since last released from jail, so they needed any quick cash they could scrounge. Quite a risk for so little return, but bad habits stayed with them after their previous incarceration.

Tony glared when Cyrill finger-shushed him again. “I just think this is a bad idea. We should get on back to those boys. Have another beer maybe.” He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, nodded empathically, trying to convince Cyrill of the error of their ways.

“Go on,” Cyrill said, “if you ain’t got the stomach for it.” He sniffed in disgust and settled in against a tree stump, shoulders hunched forward, and stared intently at the metal building he continued to watch. Their mission seemed quite fruitless.

The rumble of a rusted-out exhaust pipe woke them both up a few hours later. Ol’ Man Jenkins’ truck stopped on the gravel path several yards from where they sat. Its owner opened the door with a creak and stepped out to address the due. Hands on his hips, he shook his head and asked, “Now, what have we here?” A fat mutt of a dog tumbled out the door after him, promptly sat down, and scratched briskly at an itch behind its ear that took some digging to remedy.

Tony and Cyrill shook off a hungover sleep still clinging to them and stumbled to standing. Tony practically fell into his friend, who coughed and spat a long line of phlegm off to his side. They both stammered but couldn’t come up with an explanation of their intentions between the pair of them.

Jenkins assessed the situation as best he could. “I don’t quite know what you’re doing,” he grunted, scratching his head like the hound. “My dog don’t seemed too troubled, though, so you must not present too big a threat.”

He kicked up a cloud of dust in their direction and said, “How ‘bout y’all get on outta here, anyway, the both of ya? Do that and I won’t call the Sheriff.” The dog stood up and shook itself all over, floppy ears flipping back and forth across the top of its big head.

Sensing they should take the man at his offer, Tony and Cyrill moved quickly back up the driveway from whence they came in the dark early morning hours. Jenkins motioned toward the truck and opened the door for the dog. “Come on, Pearl. Let’s go back down to the shop. You done yer work for the day.”

*

Image: Tony Hisgett via Flickr

Studio 30+ writing prompt – undeveloped Studio30

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4 Comments

Filed under fiction, writing

4 responses to “Keeping Watch

  1. Great characters. I also love Pearl, a wonderful description of a laissez-faire guard dog.

  2. Loved it! Great dialogue too.

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