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"This is one major mega-catastrophe." A baritone voice.
"Ill get the Oldsmobile." Almost a falsetto.
"Youll get the what?" boomed the baritone. "Theres armed cops outside this goddamn warehouse. You aint heard the sirens, the megaphone." Once again the megaphone demanded they walk out, hands held high above their heads.
"We gotta get outta here," the falsetto came back, now in a whimper.
"You open that door one inch and they gun you down in one nano-second," boomed the baritone, " and then they storm in here and they take us out." He was fingering his handgun dangerously. A huge man, beefy foreams bowed, a sailor ready to brawl
"Lighten up guys." A melodious voice, a tenor. The tenor jumped lightly off a forklift truck he had been exploring. He moved some packing cases together to improvise seats. "OK, guys. As long as that megaphone keeps it up, we got time to plan. Sit down." The three of them sat on the packing cases and faced one another.
"This is one major screw-up," repeated the baritone.
"Youve already said that," responded the tenor. "Anyone worked out whats in here."
"Mostly newsprint," said the falsetto. "I know this place."
"And what are these buildings outside?" asked the tenor.
"Road in, road out, front and back. Left is commercial. Right is residential," the falsetto answered. The megaphone continued with its demands from outside.
"So this is gonna burn well," said the tenor.
"You what?" yelled the baritone. "You crazy? We smoke ourselves out of here? Save them the trouble?"
"OK, guys. Now listen up. This is the plan. We start the fire by one of those vents up there. Smoke will billow out like the whole buildings going up. They got no choice. They gotta get the fire department before we roast those turkeys in the neighbouring buildings."
"So what about us?" The falsettos voice was not that of a man convinced by this logic.
"How many are we?" asked the tenor.
"You know how many we are," roared the baritone. "Three."
"But thats not what theyre gonna think with the firepower we packed in the bank and the police cars we shot up in the chase. We had two automobiles. We could be as many as ten. Not for one second do they think we are three guys." The tenor spoke evenly.
"So what the hell kind of difference does that make?" countered the baritone.
"This is what were gonna do. You two guys are gonna put on those warehouse coats hanging over there. Im taking you hostage. As soon as we know a fire truck is outside, Im gonna act like were smoked out, and come out with guns at your heads, screaming that Im gonna negotiate for all of us. Theyre gonna think the rest of us are still in the warehouse, covering me and the hostages."
"So what the hell does that do for us?" the baritone protested.
"This is what the hell it does for us," said the tenor. "We walk past the fire truck. If theres a guy in it, we take him hostage. If there isnt we take the truck. If we cant get the truck started, we grab ourselves our personal fire-fighter. Either way we bang straight through the cops blasting at everything that moves or doesnt move, heads, chests and police cars."
"That is one plan!" The baritone was so taken with it, particularly the blasting at the cops bit, that he even omitted his habitual expletives.
"But where do we go?" asked the falsetto. "Fire trucks dont outrun police cars."
"Theyre gonna be affected by two things: shock when we storm the fire truck; and lead, as in bullets, when we blast them as three, when they think its only one of us and two hostages. Also theyre gonna be concerned about the guys still in the warehouse, as they wrongly think, packing mighty firepower. Theyll probably think the bullets are coming from there. The one thing we did right on this job was to pack the firepower. Theyll lose valuable seconds, deciding what to do. Nobody is gonna act without orders in this situation. You got that?"
"I got that," said the falsetto.
"So," the tenor continues, " we strap ourselves in the truck, real tight, like good boys, and head for the shopping mall three blocks down. But we dont want to draw attention to ourselves, so we go in the back way. And when I say the back way, I mean straight through the wall at the back. Theres gonna be mayhem when our truck ploughs through the mall: merchandise strewn all over the place; shoppers screaming and running for their vehicles in the parking lot. So we are just three ordinary guys, and like everybody else, we just get the hell outta there. Anyone see any weaknesses?"
Outside Captain Kinley was on the radio updating the situation.
"We got the rear covered. Im at the front. We got men moving into all the adjoining buildings and on the roofs. No contact yet. Any news on how many they are? What? Someone must have seen something. Dead? Six at the bank. What about our guys? Six cops down! Jesus. Just tell me and well storm these bastards right now. No, I dont know if there are any workers inside. Yeah, were still clearing civilians from the adjoining buildings. Give it ten minutes and everyone will be in position."
He turned to Lieutenant Ralphs.
"This is one bloodbath," said Ralphs.
"Yeah, but I think weve got these guys now, as long as we stay cool," the captain responded. "Jesus, theres smoke coming out of there!"
The captain was straight back on the radio. The deliberation was brief. The adjoining buildings were not yet evacuated. The warehouse was a high fire risk. They had to call in the fire trucks. How the hell was he going to keep the trucks covered?