Stockton St. San Francisco, CA Wednesday, April 9 4:00 PM
The procession that filed out of the red house on the street near the piers was not a happy one. It was led by a balding man in a tan overcoat, a squat figure who carried himself with all the grace of a Prohibition era enforcer on his way to a speakeasy. The two men that followed were taller and somewhat younger, but otherwise the same as the first. All three wore expressions similar to those etched on statues at war memorials.
The last was different. A casual observer might have pinned his weary look and lumbering gait to the oppressive heat that was melting the rest of the Golden Gate City. Yet, he was not only the youngest by far, but was also dressed the lightest in his white polo and khakis. Once outside, he turned and took a long look back into the house. Then, he eased the door shut and wiped the doorknob with his sleeve.
The first man watched him come down the stairs.
“There was no point to that,” he said. “The next person in would have done it for you.”
“I thought we weren’t supposed to take any risks,” The younger man joined him on the sidewalk, but looked the other way, squinting at distant high-rises.
“Some risks are acceptable.”
“Yeah,” said the younger in a hushed tone. “As long as you’re not the one taking them.”
“He knew what he was dealing with.”
“Did he?” The younger man turned and studied the side of his face.
The other two had been watching, but looked away at that. The older man fell silent for a while. “Perhaps not fully,” he said. “But he did have a choice. And he miscalculated. That’s not our fault.”
“And the blame falls off your shoulders? Just like when-”
Without looking, the older man delivered a backhand that snapped the young man’s head back the other way.
“Pull it together,” he said. “We lost an asset, that’s it. If you really want to help your friend, you’ll make sure the tapes he pulled get where they need to. Now are you sure they’re in his apartment?”
Still rubbing at his cheek, the young man nodded once.
The rumble of an engine grew over the crashing of the bay and the dull roar of the city. A dark green SUV turned into view, and made its way up the hill, coming to a stop in front of the group. While the other three climbed into the back, the older man took the passenger seat.
“We’re going to Berkeley,” he said.
The driver nodded, glanced at the rearview mirror, and continued up the hill.
The woman closed her eyes as the green SUV passed the intersection. It wasn’t necessary, but it helped her focus. There was the usual jumble of noise, but then she heard.
“Berkeley,” she said.
“Has to be his apartment,” said the voice from behind. “Let’s go.”
The frame shook as her passenger raised his feet. She pushed the bike away from the curb and did the same. The light at the intersection turned from red to green, and she only needed to rev the engine once to turn onto Stockton. Gravity took over from there. She coasted downhill and eased into the driveway of the red house.
The man got off and came up along side. She raised her helmet visor to meet his eyes.
“Now remember,” he said. “If you can get to the tapes first, then get them. Otherwise, just hang back. If they know we’re still out here, things will get tough.”
His expression darkened and he turned to the house. “Look, I know what happened here, but you can’t just-”
“I won’t do anything stupid again,” she said. She’d worked too hard avoiding this conversation at the intersection to be pulled into it now.
It was clear the response didn’t satisfy him, but after a bit of silence, he conceded. “Alright,” he said, “call me once things start happening.”
“How long do you need here?”
“Ten minutes to tidy up his body. A few more to set up the rest. I’ll be done long before you could need me.”
The man started up the stairs. The woman rolled the bike back onto the street. She stood there and stared at his back, watched him fiddle around with the doorknob. She knew she should trust him, that there was no reason not to. But without a chance to confirm it herself…
This is badly over written. For starters take out everything in blue.
You need to prune ruthlessly.
We don't need you to tell us what those guys look like; you can show us with how they talk and what they say.
You've got a good idea and I was willing to read to see if you'd pull it off but this one would have gotten the dreaded form letter after five pages. You can save this with careful editng.