Disclaimer: I do not own The Mummy.
Revision Notes: 6/18/13. This is the rewritten version of an AU story that was originally written in May of 2012 and completed in December of that same year. I was never satisfied with the first version and felt like I could have done more with it, so I finally took the time to make this a better story. If you never read the original, then you can basically ignore all of this rambling, but if you did read it, then things you can expect in this New-and-Improved Extended Edition include: more detail, extra scenes, bigger roles for certain characters, a couple of new OCs, and a completely new ending, since the original ending was a total cop-out. So on with the story!
That Was Yesterday
March 15, 1923
The streets were busy at one o'clock in the afternoon. Rick's old car—a Model T, the most nondescript car a man could buy—blended in with a dozen other black cars as he drove into the heart of the city, a hat pulled low on his head to shield his face. The sun had finally poked through the clouds after several hours of a light, cool drizzle that dampened the streets but left no puddles, and Rick was starting to feel warm under the jacket he pulled on before heading outside. He couldn't remove the jacket, though; not when it concealed the gun he had stashed into his shoulder holster. Rick was used to carrying guns. He fought for several months in the Great War, faced with the nightmare of rats and fever in the trenches, but something about the gun stored in his jacket felt different from the rifle he carried all those long months in Europe. Much more personal, he guessed.
"You sure you wanna do this, Beni?" he asked his partner.
Beni sat in the passenger seat, smoking one of the Cuban cigars they had stolen last week. "Of course," he said, tapping ash out of the window. "It is easy money."
"You ever done it before?"
"No, but how hard can it be? All you do is walk into the building and wave your gun around. The moment these people see a gun, they will give you whatever you want, and you don't even have to really shoot anyone in order to get rich. It is the easiest money there is."
"That easy, huh?" said Rick.
"It is easy to make money in this country, O'Connell. Look at your Prohibition. People like Capone are getting rich just by breaking a stupid law."
"You've got a point," said Rick.
He glanced at Beni, who resumed smoking his Cuban, and thought the cigar looked comical sticking out of his mouth. A cheap cigarette, along with a flask of equally cheap gin, would have been more fitting. Beni was a foreigner with the accent to prove it, the sort of man who earned his bread robbing the very Americans who refused to hire him. Not that Beni was interested in finding real work. He was a mastermind with lightning-quick fingers, the brains that matched perfectly with Rick's brawn, and the two of them were about to embark on their most daring scheme yet.
"We're almost there," Beni remarked, watching Rick turn a corner. "What will you do with your share of the money?"
"I don't know," said Rick. "Maybe skip town." Or perhaps skip the country altogether. He had thought about going someplace warm, like Egypt. "What about you?"
Beni flicked more ash off his cigar and let out a mocking laugh. "Pay my wife to stay the hell away from me."
"She's really that bad?"
"You have no idea. She married me in Hungary a year ago and now I cannot get rid of her."
"Why'd you marry her in the first place then?"
"I had no choice," said Beni, looking at Rick with the sad-eyed expression he had used on a dozen crooks, always hoping to buy more time with pity. "Roza has two older brothers who are much, much bigger than I am. They found out I was screwing her and dragged me to the church. I had to go to the stupid wedding with a black eye and a split lip because I tried to avoid the ceremony, and then about a month later I tried to sneak off to America by myself."
"That doesn't surprise me," Rick muttered.
"Somehow Roza found out I was planning to leave. She followed me onto the boat and has given me hell ever since."
Rick glanced at Beni, who held the thick cigar clutched between his greedy fingers, and tried to imagine what kind of a woman would follow Beni across an ocean. He couldn't help but wonder if she was nuts. "That's some dedication," he remarked.
"Yes, she is dedicated to making me miserable," said Beni. "She only married me because she hates her brothers and wanted to escape them. And then she followed me to America because she can't take care of herself and needs a man to do everything for her."
"How come I've never met her?"
"Her English is bad," said Beni. "And you don't speak Hungarian. You would have nothing to talk about."
Rick reached the end of the street and parked his car, then checked the ammo on his gun one last time. "Well enough about your wife. Let's get in there and find some cash."
The two of them got out of the Model T and walked down the busy street, mingling with the dozens of men and women who filled Chicago day in and day out. Nobody gave Rick a second glance as he strode past shops and cafes with Beni trailing behind him. His jacket resembled a dozen other jackets on the street, his hat was identical to countless other hats, and he walked with the casual purpose of a man who intended to meet his girl in a cafe, or pick up some shaving cream and cigarettes from the drugstore.
He walked past a newsstand and glanced over the display of boldly-printed headlines, of fashionable women illustrated on magazine covers, of advertisements urging him to buy anything and everything, and it occurred to him that he could end up on the front page of the news. Rick had never made the front page before. He had been mentioned in small, easily forgotten articles on three separate occasions—once when he lived in Philadelphia and twice when he lived in Detroit—in connection to minor thefts. Now he was back in Chicago, back to his birthplace where he spent his childhood in a crumbling South Side orphanage, and there was a strong possibility that he could wake up in the morning and find his picture splashed all over the Tribune.
Though he supposed it wouldn't matter once he skipped town. He would be gone by the time the morning Tribune arrived at the doorsteps and the newsstands, gone to some other city with money in his pockets and vague, uncertain dreams of quitting while he was ahead and settling down at last. The idea of Egypt beckoned to him with its warm, hazy allure and Rick kept walking, moving forward until the newsstand was behind him and the bank was just ahead, looming above him with its endless walls and columns that reached for the cloudy blue sky.
"There it is," he told Beni. "Easy money."
Beni tossed down his cigar and ground it under his shoe, a smirk on his lips. "I guess this is goodbye."
"Yeah," said Rick. "I'm heading for the train as soon as I drop you off. Say hi to your wife for me."
Beni rolled his eyes and opened the bank's gilded double doors. Rick stepped into the bank, Beni trailing behind once more, and pulled his gun out of its holster. He started to shout those clever words that Beni came up with yesterday, the ones that would make them both rich, but the words died on his lips as uniformed figures came out of nowhere, surrounding him on all sides with pistols in their hands.
"Beni?" said Rick, though he already knew he was doomed. "A little help here?"
Beni hadn't followed him all the way inside. Instead he lingered by the massive doors, safe from the cops that surrounded Rick, and watched the whole scene with wide eyes. He looked at Rick and took off running, vanishing into the street where Rick's car waited, but Rick could have sworn he heard him laughing as he darted out the doors.