I probably don’t have to tell you the whole thing was Pete’s idea. If you’d seen that boy tailing around behind us growing up you’da thought we were an after school special or something, letting the gimp-leg kid play with us, but the truth was, all our best games were Pete’s idea. He’s the one who knew how to build a log-dam in the creek to make the swimming hole deep enough to jump. The one who knew how to install a can of nitrous for dragging, before anyone else. We were nothing but Pete’s arms and legs, and that’s the truth.
When Pete found Minda he didn’t stop having ideas, he just had a new partner to help him make em work. Me and Joey, we never minded. What woulda been the point? We all loved Minda and her quick easy laugh. Besides, she was always first into the swimming hole even in snowmelt. She’d’a killed us.
So when she got sick, it was killin Pete.
“It’s that cancer,” he said, two cans of Natty Light on the ground already between his feet and the third on its way. “Doc, he can’t do nothing. They found it too late. Won’t give her no more medicine for it. I mean, he give her some. But it ain’t enough to stop the hurt. I ask him, what’s she gonna do, get addicted? But he says he can’t prescribe no more’n he did. She’s gonna die, Marsh, and she’s gonna die in pain.”
Well, that wasn’t gonna happen. Not with Pete on the case. I could already see that mind of his working on the problem.
He laid it out for us over barbecue, the women sipping sweet tea on the porch with Minda all bundled up even in oven-hot July.
“The hospital pharmacy gets their deliveries on Friday morning. When you go to the pharmacy they say they gotta make up your prescription, but that’s a lie. My cousin says them pills Minda needs come already made up, it’s just counting em into bottles that they do there. Now, the pills come in by custom courier. The driver’s got a gun, but he’s alone. So getting the pills, that’s no problem.”
“Yeah, but how do we get away?” Joey asked, glancing over at the women. “Lee’s pregnant again, I can’t get busted. Judge said they’ll throw the book at me next time, I’m what they call a ha-bit-chual offender.” He drew the words out, heavy with scorn.
“That’s where you come in.”
We talked that plan back, forth and upside down and none of us could put a hole in it by the time Lee brought us down watermelon and pie, so it was on for Friday.
“Remember,” Pete said, yanking the stocking down over his face. “All we gotta do is make this look good.” Joe, in the back with him, nodded. Pete had arranged us some paramedic uniforms, and mine itched like hell and tugged at my crotch as I tried to look like a regular ambulance driver.
We was idling by the curb when the delivery truck came in. That driver, he didn’t know what was up. Never even broke out his gun; had the strap over the grip the whole time, right up to when Joe stuck his own gun in the guy’s ribs and walked him back to the truck.
Them pills wasn’t anything big or special. Driver even showed us which ones they was, once Joe explained the situation to him real good. The whole carton wasn’t any bigger’n a liquor crate. We left the driver in the back of the truck, a thousand dollars tucked into his fist and his wrists tied.
Like I said, it was all going according to plan when I hit the lights on our faked-up ambulance to get the hell out. I’d ordered those bulbs myself, off a catalog, and Joey installed em. Lots of folks go jacklighting out here, or light their trucks with a big old light bar. Got me a box of all colors, so the red and blue wouldn’t stand out. Shipped em to Joey’s garage.
You know, kid, you’re okay for one of them Legal Aid guys. Think you could get Joe some time off for the baby, and for his ‘medical condition?’ I mean. Colorblind, that’s a condition.