‘You can see everything from up here’.
I grab for Jimmy’s shirt as he leans forward, hips against the ledge and his top half leaning out over the edge looking down to the street three storeys below.
‘Geez, Jim. Come on. Quit fooling around’
I yank him back, hard as I can. We have a lot of gear to carry out of here, and we’ll struggle as it is with just the four of us.
‘But look at it. We’re high enough, if we drop a coin I bet it’d go straight through the roof of that convertible’
‘I’ll take that bet’
I shoot Steve a look, shaking my head at their immaturity. Steve shuts his mouth, drops his gaze and gets back to work securing the last panel. I give Jimmy the same look and he just turns back around, looking up and down the street. I don’t know how I work with these guys without getting shot at or arrested. Idiots, the pair of them.
Johnny comes through, though. The only responsible guy, other than myself. He starts packing up the gear, checks each bag carefully and then double checks them compulsively. We don’t want to leave anything behind.
I take a moment to look around. And I have to admit, Jim has a point. The view is spectacular. The building is an old one but the city hasn’t towered up around it and you can see across mountain peaks of rooftops and street valleys, all the way to the river. The sun is just getting to a point where the water looks golden as it curves through the middle of the city. Along the riverbank, light hits the corners of buildings and melts around them.
I should enjoy views like this often. It’s quiet. Calm. Maybe I should retire. I’m getting too old for this kind of work anyway. Too physical. Too stressful. Maybe I should get one of those camping chairs and a cooler full of beer, spend my time sitting on rooftops and marvelling the world below. Maybe I can find a new rooftop and a new view each day. Or maybe I can stick at one and find the little differences. Either way… –
‘Ah guys’ Jimmy starts bouncing on his toes, points down over the ledge, ‘we got company’
Everyone snaps into action, well prepared and practiced in their motions. Jimmy keeps watching, keeps a running commentary on what is happening below while Steve finishes putting the final pieces back where they belong. Johnny and I gather the gear, divide it into four piles, one for each of us to grab.
Everything is going smoothly; the rooftop looks like it did before and every piece of gear is picked up before we head for the dividing barrier that leads to the adjoining roof of the building next door. We move as quickly and quietly as we can and when we get to the fire escape at the end of the block we each climb down to a landing and pass the bags from person to person until everything and everyone is safely on the ground.
Everything is working, until a patrol car blocks the end of the lane. We all turn to look behind us, thoughts of escape met by the dark brick of a two-storey wall. Before I’m even told, I start laying down on the ground, hands on my head. I stare at the pile of black leather bags that hold the money we had just worked so hard to steal as a cop pulls my hands down and cuffs my wrists behind my back. And all I can I hope is that there are rooftops in prison.