Sixty seconds and then I'm done. I'll be back in the car and on my way home. Or to the only home I know outside of my childhood home. My right ear is pressed up against the small black metal safe and my eyes are closed, listening for the tick that will end this job. I breathe deep and focus, sending my mind and my nerves to some kind of internal balance within me. I need to be calm or things could go poorly.
I hate my job.
I only do it because of my sister.
The problem is that I am phenomenal at it.
It also doesn't hurt that my wing man is my best friend.
Gale Hawthorne and I left home a long time ago. We grew up in a small town in Virginia, hungry and poor. When our fathers both passed away, our families both struggled to survive and make ends meet. It was then that Gale and I met and formed a familial bond to make it through together.
We hunted in the woods, gathered berries and other useful and edible plants. Did our best to make sure that my mother and sister were fed as well as his mother, two brothers and younger sister. We may not have had much but at least we had each other.
After Gale graduated from school, he did the unexpected and hopped a train to New York City. We kept in touch via letters and he regularly sent money home for his family and for me. I was never one to accept a hand out until one day I got the nerve to ask him where he was making all of this money. The answer led me down a path I would have never thought to exist.
When I graduated school two years later, I took that very same train to the very same spot that Gale landed in. He met me there and we walked arm and arm to a dingy little dinner for a hot cup of coffee. After we sat down at the booth, we stared at each other, my frozen fingers wrapped around the steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee.
Gale leans in closer across the table and begins to whisper. "Catnip, I don't have much time so listen clearly. I couldn't tell you some things while we were writing because, quite frankly, there are just some things you don't put in writing. The truth is, I don't sit still at some boring job all day. I work for someone, and they pay me good money for what I do." He clears his throat and continues while I stare at him with my gray eyes.
"I'm in need of a partner. Someone whose as stealthy and loyal as I am. Someone whom I can trust. Now I'm not gonna lie to you Catnip, this job is unconventional. It'll keep you away from home for long periods of time. You'll even live a bit of a double life. BUT, it will feed you and your family. It will provide like you never dreamed. Unfortunately, I can't go into detail and divulge what it entails until you commit. I know that's unfair but it's no worse than some of the things we did back home."
I take a deep breath. "You don't kill people Gale do you?" I ask and look look around me to see if there are curious onlookers. Gale laughs. "No, I don't Catnip. But what I do can be dangerous. It's risky and it's a rush. But no, I do not harm anyone physically." he says.
I take a few silent moments to contemplate what he's saying and then throw caution to the wind by squeezing his hand. "I trust you Gale. I'll do it." Those were the seven words that I regretted most in my life.
From that point on, my life has been in a tailspin. I became something that I never intended. I've broken more laws than I can count. I've hurt people, not physically, but hurt them by default of my job. I no longer own myself. I am a piece in this game.
I am a thief.
The man that Gale and I work for has an insatiable taste for all beautiful things in life. Homes, cars, women, collectibles. He's probably the richest man in our country and could buy anything that he wanted, but no. He gets his sick kicks from coveting what others have. In his defense, he will try to offer a price and purchase the item outright. If that doesn't work, it mysteriously goes missing, at the hands of Gale and I.
We have no association with this man, Snow, outside of our phone calls. His henchman, Crane, calls with the job info, we make a drop with the item, we get paid, we go home. It's really very simple. We've gotten close to being caught a few times. Security has really picked up what with the rash of thefts going around. But we always manage to get lucky.
I hear the tick of the safe and smile as I unlatch the handle. Inside is the small pouch that Snow wants. I don't hesitate to grab the pouch and close the safe once more. I whistle our signal to Gale, letting him know that we're done when the alarm sounds around us.
Damn it! There must have been a silent alarm on the safe. We scramble to collect our things and get into the car. Our third partner and trusty sidekick, Haymitch Abernathy, is driving. He speeds away and we expect to have Peacekeepers on our tail. Just when I think we are safe and in the clear, I see the familiar flashing lights.
Haymitch leads them on a chase throughout the city until we finally lose them. That was the closest that we've ever come to being busted. When we arrive at the drop location, Snow is waiting there to greet us.
"Hello Miss Everdeen. What have you brought me this evening?" he asks with his husky voice and glares at me with his snakelike eyes. His white hair is combed back and he has on a menacing black suit. I hand him the pouch. Snow opens it, smiles and then glares down at me. "Is this some kind of joke?" he asks. I'm confused. He's never asked me that before. "No sir. Is it not satisfactory." I ask him.
Snow shakes his had in a negative response. He pulls my hand, palm up,. And dumps out the contents of the pouch into it. Out falls a a variety of rocks. I gasp. This has never happened before.
I look up and into his snakelike eyes. "This is going to cost you Everdeen." he says.
I am so screwed.
A/N: I know, not very long. And it's not one of the ideas that I had originally planned to write. I just sat down and wrote it. Wrote it two weeks ago and had the itch to post it. Send me ideas/thoughts and REVIEW!