Scene 2

My beautiful picture

(Our story thus far)

I figured I could trust her at least as far as I could throw her, and she was a trim thing, as I said, so I could probably throw her farther than a lot of folks if she were to let me close enough to throw.

Besides, she came with a recommendation from Pete Bratcher. Or, at least, she came with a name drop. I would have to check with him about that.

Pete and I go way back. Back to before there were cameras in every nook and cranny of civilization to surveil the guilty and the innocent alike. We would scope out the new cameras as they were being installed and figure out how to beat them. The train station was one of the first to be outfitted, so the tech was a little older, a little more primitive, a touch easier to beat. But just a touch. I’d still have to be careful.

Stella or whoever-her-name-was walked away in the same direction she walked up from. I figured she had a vehicle stashed somewhere up by the highway or in the woods along the road in that direction. Heck, she could have walked the whole seven miles from town without breaking a sweat. She looked that healthy. I don’t want to dwell on her looks, so I won’t. She was a trim, healthy woman. Yep.

“What was that all about?” Buzz asked when I came back into the cabin.

“She had a proposition for me,” I said. Buzz raised his eyebrows.

“I like the sound of that,” he said, as I knew he would.

“Not like that, fool. She has a job she wants down.”

“What kind of job?” I told him about the train station and the commemorative coin.

“What’s this coin look like?”

“Remember about 15 years ago when they restored that old steam locomotive and put it back into service? They gave out some limited-edition coins with the engine on them to the mucky-mucks who attended the dedication. The station master got one – has it framed on the wall.”

“She wants you to copy the coin, open a frame, swap out the coins, put it back exactly how it looks now, and without getting caught on surveillance anywhere?”

“Pretty much.”

“Piece of cake.” His tone suggested he did not believe it would be a piece of cake.”

“Yeah.”

“What’s in it for us?” Buzz is my assistant, my sidekick, my business partner. He remembers to ask questions like that when I forget. But I had remembered this time.

“Forty percent.”

“Forty percent of what?”

“It’s a limited-edition coin, remember? I guess it’s worth a good chunk of change.”

“What does she call a good chunk?” I told him. His eyes got bigger. “All right, that’s a good enough chunk. Why is it worth that much?”

“Scarcity, for one. I guess the original medalist is some kind of big name now. ‘Early work of the artist,’ la tee da.”

“OK,” said Buzz. “When does she need this done?”

“About a week.”

“Whoa. We’d better get started.”

“I need to confirm this with Pete yet.”

Buzz was thoughtful for a moment.

“It does sound too good to be true, doesn’t it?” he said. “Sweet young thang walks up to your place, offers you a job with that kind of return, just out of the blue. Why you?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I asked her that.”

“What’d she say?”

“‘Why not?’”

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WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith, journalist and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and a couple of cats.

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