Just Go to Sleep
For once the mission had gone off without a hitch. Nothing had to be improvised. There wasn't something bigger or better for the Warden to lust after. No one was bleeding. Perfect…until they got to the safe house where they were to wait for their transport back to England.
It was a tiny little fisherman's shack that was barely big enough for two, let alone five. It was tucked back against the bluff just out of reach of the highest tide. In the dark the place couldn't be seen from the water and it was under the overhang of the bluff so it couldn't be seen by anyone scanning the horizon from further back in the trees either. Perfect… Except the sound of waves crashing on the shingle beach made it impossible for a single sentry to signal anyone resting inside. So, instead of one person rotating out to guard the place, two men had to make the rounds, one keeping close to the bluff, the other ranging a little further out where he could pick up on any trouble in time to warn the others by signaling his partner.
Chief had gone out on first watch like he usually did and Actor had gone out with him. Garrison settled down in the one chair the place held and started sorting through the documents they'd been sent over for. After a quick survey the other two, hoping to find a bedroom, climbed the ladder to the open loft. They found a bed up there all right, and it was a perfect fit for the shack, long and narrow, and tucked back under the eaves along the wall. Each man settled gratefully on the straw mattress, turned so they were back to back, pulled the blanket up over their shoulders and prepared to get some sleep.
It was quiet for about five minutes.
"Hey!" Goniff complained. "You got the whole bloody blanket! Giver 'er here?"
"Jeeze! Stop yankin' on it, will ya?"
"But you got more 'n your share." The second story man whined.
"What a ya mean?" Casino twisted and looked over his shoulder. "I'm bigger 'n you aren't I?"
"Uh…Well, yeah, but…"
"So I need more a the blanket to cover me up." The east coast con explained as he gave a tug.
Goniff clutched at the blanket as a few more critical inches were pulled through his fingers. "Well I'm skinnier than you, ain't I?" And in the brief moment of silence that followed he added, using his teammate's logic. "So I need more a the blanket to keep warm!"
Casino mulled that over for a minute before he shot back. "If you're so skinny how come you got most of the bed?"
"I'm just followin' the ruddy blanket!"
"Yeah? Well you're about the shove me off the…."
There was a yelp and a thud as the safecracker hit the floor
Goniff did his best to stifle a giggle, but he didn't quite pull it off. "Ooops!"
"Ooops? Oooops! I'll give you 'oops', you lousy little Limey!"
Casino clambered up onto his knees and reached out in the darkness. He caught Goniff by the front of his shirt in one hand, made a fist with the other and cocked his arm back…
"Do I have to come up there?"
Both of them froze. Garrison didn't raise his voice, but his irritation with them carried clearly from the room below.
They considered their options. In silence the pick pocket's shirt was released and smoothed down. The blanket was shoved into the safecracker's arms as a peace offering.
"That's better!" There was a soft rustle of paper as the Warden got back to work.
Casino wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and curled up on the floor next to the cot and tried to go to sleep. The longer he laid there the harder the floor got. He shifted around to try and find a more comfortable position. All he managed to do was bruise a hip bone on the wooden floor.
Goniff curled onto his side on the cot and tucked his hands in between his knees to try and stay warm. It didn't work. The longer he laid there the colder he got. He wriggled over to the edge and pulled the other side of the mattress over him like a feather bed. The straw mattress was too stiff, he had to keep a good hold on it so it wouldn't fall off and it didn't mold to his body so every cold draft found its way right down his spine. The mattress smelled funny too. It wasn't so noticeable just stretched out on top of it but with it curving in around his face….
About five minutes later…
"What'r you doin' down here?" Casino hissed.
"It's cold up there." Goniff whispered back.
"Yeah? Well it's hard down here."
"You want we should start over?"
"Alright, let's do it."
For almost five minutes there was nothing but comfortable, warm, silence, broken occasionally by the soft rustle of turning pages coming from below, then…
"Will you stop hoggin' the ruddy blanket!"
"Only if you stop tryin' to shove me off this cot!"