Finally another chapter. Sorry for the long delay in posting but real life really did get in the way this time. Thank you to everybody who is still reading, commenting and enquiring about this story. Your support is greatly appreciated.
No Honour Among Thieves
"Hey Charlie; where did they go?" Tiny asked as he stared at the empty room where their two captives should have been.
Charlie pushed the taller man out of the way and peered into the gloomy storeroom. "They've escaped you idiot."
"But how? The door was bolted from the outside." Tiny said scratching his head in contemplation.
"They obviously had help." Charlie turned around and noticed the lack of light coming through the doorway. "Tiny did you close the door on the way in?"
"You came in after me, remember?" Tiny responded absently, "Who do you think helped them? I was looking forward to playing with that Indian some more. I've never had a real live red Indian before."
"The same person who closed the damn door." Charlie replied sharply. "Come on, we need to get out of here now." Charlie hurried across the warehouse floor to the door cursing when he found it wouldn't open. "See if you can find something to jimmy it open with Tiny."
"Huh? Jimmy isn't here Charlie." Tiny mumbled in confusion.
"Never mind," Charlie brushed past Tiny and made a circuit of the empty warehouse, returning to the door and only exit in frustration. He shook the door violently cursing Bird's orders to replace the old rusted lock with the new one. They were locked in.
Casino pulled the Packard to a stop in front of the Lazy Dog. A small chink of light escaped one corner of the heavy black out curtains on the front window, announcing that even though it was several hours past closing time someone was still in attendance on the premises. The three men climbed out of the Packard and cast searching glances along both sides of the street. A soldier showing sergeants stripes and the black and white armband of the Military Police stepped from the shadows of the alley, nodded at Actor and then beckoned three more men to step forward.
Actor looked at his two team mates. "Ready?"
"Lets just get this over with," Casino growled "And then we can get to the hospital."
"I'm with you mate," Goniff agreed.
Actor nodded and stepped up to the door of the Lazy Dog unsurprised to find it locked. He tapped sharply on the glass pane and waited for the door to be opened. Sally opened the door and stepped back nervously as the seven men entered. Actor raised an eyebrow and she nodded towards the booth closest to the bar. She waited until the men had passed and then hurried out the front door, disappearing gratefully into the night.
Actor strode purposely up to the booth where Bird and Fender were hurriedly rising to their feet, hands going to their guns. He was relieved to see that the two heavies weren't with them and he hoped that meant that the two men had already been picked up by the MP's.
"What's the meaning of this Actor?" Bird snarled pointing his gun at the tall conman as the men surrounded him, firearms held ready.
"We came to tell you that we are not interested in your job offer Bird." Actor announced, not in the least intimidated by Bird's armed threat. "And to arrest you."
Bird stared at the impassive faces of the men and then laughed harshly. "Oh that's good Actor, that's very good, you're going to arrest me. Did you hear that Jimmy? The pretty conman here's going to arrest me…"
"I heard him boss," Jimmy replied nervously, his heart pounding in his chest. Somehow the game was up. The tall conman had the upper hand and knew it. He could read it in the man's posture. Which probably explained why Tiny and Charlie never came back from the warehouse.
"…Well let me tell you, Mister Actor," Bird threatened Actor with the gun, "this little stunt just cost you the lives of that damn Lieutenant and the Indian."
Actor drew in a deep breath and stared unblinkingly at Bird. "Did you hear that Sergeant? He just threatened the life of a United States Army officer."
"I sure did Sir," the sergeant replied menacingly as he stepped forward. "Mister Richard Bird you and your accomplice James Fender are under arrest. Drop the weapons or we will shoot, Sir."
Bird stared in disbelief as Jimmy dropped his gun on the table. "You can't arrest me, you're not the police and I'm not in the army."
"We've got news for you babe…" Casino began only to be silenced by Actor.
"You might not be in the army Bird but when you kidnapped a ranking officer in the course of his duty it became army business. Sergeant…"
"I want my lawyer, now." Bird demanded belligerently, allowing his gun to drop onto the table alongside Jimmy's.
"You'll get him, eventually," Actor replied as the sergeant pulled Bird's hands behind his back and handcuffed him. Another MP came forward and cuffed Jimmy in the same manner.
"Yeah, maybe when the war is over," Casino grinned evilly.
"I still have your men," Bird tried one last bluff.
"Do you really think we would put their lives in jeopardy Bird? We recovered Lieutenant Garrison and Chief some hours ago." Actor turned on his heel and headed for the door, closely followed by Casino and Goniff.
"You won't get away with this Actor, do you hear me?" Bird called angrily. "I'll be out before you know it and then I'll come after you."
Casino paused in the doorway and looked back at Bird. "You can try Bird, and I hope to hell you do, because we'll be waiting."
"What are we going to do Charlie?" Tiny whined as he watched Charlie pace in front of the locked door.
"I'd be more worried about what the boss is going to do when he hears his prisoners have escaped." Charlie snapped irritably.
"But that weren't our fault. I mean Jimmy was the one who locked the warehouse." Tiny lamented. "How come he doesn't get into trouble?"
"And it was still locked when we got here you idiot." Charlie lifted his head and listened before grabbing Tiny's arm and dragging him back to the storeroom. "Come on you idiot, someone's out there. Maybe if we hide in here they may think it's empty."
"But Charlie, they can let us out." Tiny protested even though he allowed himself to be dragged along by Charlie.
Charlie pushed Tiny into the storeroom and pulled the door closed behind him. "Be quiet," he whispered as he heard the front door open with a bang accompanied with shouts to come out with their hands up.
The two men held their breaths as heavy footsteps drew closer to their hiding place. The door flew open, light beams arced through the dim interior, coming to rest on the two cowering heavies in the far corner. The sounds of cocking rifles and shouted commands to drop the gun filled the small room. Charlie sighed heavily, he wasn't smart, more used to using his brawn rather than his brains but he was smart enough to know they were cornered with no way out except through a hail of lead if he didn't do what they ordered. With a shrug, Charlie placed the gun on the ground and then lifted his hands up in a sign of surrender.
The three men padded silently into the room, having been given permission to visit despite the late hour, coming to a stop at the foot of the two occupied beds. Major Richards looked up from his place beside Chief's bed and watched with interest, the solemn glances and undisguised worry that passed between the three cons as they surveyed the damage done to the sleeping occupants.
"Blimey, I didn't expect Chiefy to look exactly chipper, considering what 'appened to 'im," Goniff whispered, as he stared at the white bandage that circled the Indian's chest, "but the Warden don't look any better than Chiefy."
Actor studied both men, his eyes narrowing as he took in the bandages, bruises and uneven breathing rattling in Chief's chest. He turned worried eyes on the Major. "What did the doctor have to say?" he asked quietly.
"I know it doesn't seem like it at the moment but they are both going to be alright." Richards began softly, gaining the attention of the three men. "Of course it will be some weeks before Chief will be up for another mission. He has four broken ribs, sever bruising to his chest, a mild concussion and whiplash. There was also some minor internal bleeding but it seems to have stopped."
"Has he regained consciousness yet?" Actor asked.
This time Richards smiled. "Yes, thank God. About a half hour ago but only for a minute or two." Richards thought back on the one track conversation he had with Chief.
"War…den?" "Easy Chief, you're safe, in the hospital." "Where's…the Warden?" "Lay back Chief, you need to stay still, you've got broken ribs." "The Warden?" "He's sleeping in the bed beside you." "Is he…alright?" "Better than you. Banged up his ankle and exhausted." "He go…ing to be…alright?" "He's going to be fine and so are you provided you lie back down again and follow the doctor's orders." "He was more worried about Garrison than himself."
"That's Chiefy for you." Goniff agreed happily.
"What about the Warden?" Casino demanded from his place at the foot of Garrison's bed.
"Banged up his ankle again and exhausted. He's out of action for another ten days though." Richards rose from his chair and indicated that Actor should follow him out of the room. "We won't be long."
Casino plopped down into the chair Richards vacated while Goniff carried the chair from the far side of Garrison's bed and placed it between the two beds and facing Casino.
"Don't worry Major, me and Casino will watch over them for you."
Richards shook his head as he closed the door to the room. "Are you all like that?"
Actor raised an eyebrow. "Like what?"
"Like that." Richards waved a hand at the closed door. "When I came in here, Garrison was sitting beside Chief's bed, insisting that he was staying in that chair until Chief woke up. Then later when Chief finally regained consciousness, all he wanted to do was get to Garrison. I had a devil of a time keeping him that bed until he passed out again. And now Goniff is playing the mother hen, although in his case it's not surprising. I suppose next you'll tell me that Casino has mothering instincts too."
"Why are you so surprised Major? Both Goniff and Casino were brought up by loving mothers in a family environment, as was Craig. Despite what they may have done in their later lives, they do still know how to care and especially one of their own is injured and in need of protection. They don't trust easily anymore but those that they do trust they will protect with their own lives if necessary."
"And what about you Actor? Are you a mother hen as well?" Richards smirked at the tall conman's raised eyebrow.
"I'm sure you didn't pull me out of the room to ask about our mothering capabilities Sir."
"No, no of course you're right." Richards sighed; secretly he enjoyed baiting the tall Italian. It was always interesting to see how much the man would reveal of himself. "Were there any problems with Bird?"
"None Sir." Actor smiled, "He even managed to incriminate himself further and in front of the Sergeant. What about the two men that Charles left at the warehouse? Were they captured also?"
Richards nodded, "The MP's picked them up a half an hour ago without any trouble."
"Well let's just hope that the charges stick, Sir."
"Oh they will Actor; I'll make damn sure of it." Richards promised.
"And what of Bird's brother and his family?"
Richard's sighed, "I don't know yet Actor. I wanted to speak about that with Garrison before I make a final decision. I know he should be dishonourably discharged, but there were extenuating circumstances."
Actor nodded in understanding. "The wife and young daughter. You can't blame the man for wanting to protect his family."
"And especially from a man like Richard Bird." Richards shook his head. "His own family."
"It just goes to show that blood isn't always thicker than water." Actor supplied.
"A bit like that saying 'honour among thieves,' Actor."
"That is not always the case Sir."
"So what have you planned regarding the mission we spoke of?" Richards asked, changing the subject and getting down to busy.
"To be honest Sir, not a lot. We had other more pressing matters to consider and I want to speak to Craig before we settle on a final plan."
"'Ay Actor," Goniff stuck his head around the corner of the door; "The Warden's awake and wants to talk to you."
"I'll be right there," Actor acknowledged before turning back to Richards.
"You go on Actor. It's about time I got forty winks anyway. I'll catch up with you in the morning."
Actor nodded. "Thank you Sir."
Richards waved a hand in acknowledgement as he strode down the corridor.
Actor watched the major until he disappeared around the corner of the corridor before he turned back and re-entered the room, stepping up to Garrison's bed. "Craig, how are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," Garrison rasped tiredly, choosing to ignore the smirks and rolled eyes of his three conscious men as his eyes strayed to the fourth sleeping in the next bed. "What did they say about Chief? Has he been awake yet?"
"Chief is going to be fine Craig. Richards said he was awake a little while before we arrived and asking after you."
Garrison visibly relaxed at the words. "What happened with Bird and what have you decided to do about Metternich?"
"Bird, Jimmy and their two heavies are all in army custody and if Richards is to be believed they are going to be there for a very long time."
"Good. Now what about this job Richards wants you to pull at the Metternich place? What ideas have you come up with so far?"
"I must admit, not a lot. We have had other more pressing concerns to worry about but what I do know is that it is not going to be as easy as our continental cons getting onto the estate."
"Yeah, I don't reckon we can just go and lift some British uniforms like we do Kraut ones and pretend we're SS or something." Goniff added.
"The British don't have SS you dumb limey." Casino growled.
Garrison rubbed tiredly at his eyes, "Alright that's enough you two, Chief doesn't need to be woken up. I think what we all need is a good nights sleep. Tomorrow will be soon enough to tackle the problem of getting onto the estate."
"Yeah, sorry Warden. Say sorry Casino."
"What for? You're the one that started it."
"And I'm the one finishing it. Out now." Garrison ordered.
"Say 'ello to Chiefy for us Warden, tell 'im we'll see 'im in the morning." Goniff said as Casino grabbed his arm and dragged him to the door.
"Will you shut up before he decides to throw us in the stockade." Casino warned.
"Aw the Warden wouldn't do that to us Casino," Goniff stated as the door closed behind them.
"They're just relieved that you and Chief are going to be alright Craig. We were all worried not knowing what had happened to you both."
"I know Actor and I'm grateful for what you and they did for us but…"
"They can be trying at times. Tell me about it." Actor opened the door. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Actor," Garrison waited until the conman turned back to look at him. "Charles?"
Actor arched an eyebrow and smiled knowingly before turning back to the door.
"I didn't think so," Garrison muttered disgustedly as the door closed on the silent Italian.