The Ring

February 16, 2012
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They pulled up in a black car, with dark and tinted window.
He had gotten there early on that dark summer night. The temperature was cold, and he could see the fog his quick breath made in the alleyway around him. He awaited their arrival- Shredder and Brick . They walked at a brisk pace to the appointed area.
“You called?” He said in a bored tone. He had learned young to never let them see just how shaken he was inside.
“Wes gots a job for ya.” Brick, the largest one, said with a twinkle in his left glass eye and a half smile on his cleft lip.
“What if I don’t want it?” He said with an edge to his voice. He had countlessly told his father he didn’t want a job like this, a life like this. His father said he understood, yet these people kept coming to him with requests he could not refuse. Not that he didn’t want to refuse, he did- a lot, but more like he couldn’t.
“Ain’t you learnt by now boy? Don’ nobody care what you want.” He said and lifted up the flap of his jacket to reveal a large pistol, just hanging there loosely. Nicholas ’ larynx throbbed as he swallowed the vile taste that came up in his mouth at the sight of the gun. He had assumed they had it on them, they never left the house without it, but seeing it in contrast to him was an entirely different thing.
“What is it?” He said through tight, clenched teeth, balled fist, and he may as well admit to himself, a little fear. During the day, his town of Alexandria was mostly an all-American city. Safe, fun and a little predictable. However, at night, thugs like these two came out and it was like being transported to the most unsafe town of Virginia. The locals knew this of course and nobody came out at night. By the time the streetlights were on people were in the safety of their homes. The police knew, how could they not? Perhaps because they paid them off. Perhaps because they were paid off or the cops helped with the dirty work.
“Oh, it’s a tough one, it is. He heard about a ring , from one of his, you know, ‘sources’,” Shredder said with air quotations and a small smile, “It has some kind of chip inside of it and can do some special thing.” Shredder said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Chip? What type of chip?” He said with a shadow of interest. Usually, they gave him the easy jobs. The usual ones. Breaking and entering, robbing stores, taking only the small things they wouldn’t notice and cleaning up all of the evidence before they even knew. He was good at what he did, the best. He was taught by the finest, his father, Wes. He didn’t want to do it anymore. He kept seeing his friends, losing their watches or favorite bracelets one morning, their little brothers losing their favorite toy cars. It hurt him to realize he was the one who was taking them.

“A computer chip, you idiot! I jus said dat.” Shredder said with anger showing what few teeth he did have.”Now, if you would jus let me finish my thoughts.” Nicholas rolled my eyes in annoyance, a thinking thief, who would have guessed? “It’s a fancy ring with a computer chip in it. They call it the cosmos ring. They say you’ll have access to all the computers in the cosmos if you have access to that ring. But, here’s the sticky part,” He said with a smug smile, as if Nicholas wouldn’t like what he said next. Shredder was right.
“What?” Nicholas said with impatience. It was past the safe time. He had to hurry up and get home; his mom would surely be going crazy, always thinking of the worst situations possible. He had gotten kidnapped. He had gotten shot. Or worse, his dad had come back.
“You ave to go to the big house to get it.” Shredder said with finality, like Nicholas already agreed to do it.
“The big house?” The only big house close to us was… “You mean the White House?!” Nicholas asked with wonder. They wanted him to break into possibly the most secure house ever, of the first family. This would be interesting.
“You’ll ave a little help, now. Don’t hink you’ll be in dis alone.” Brick piped in. Nicholas wondered whom they had gotten as his backup.

“I start tomorrow?” Nicholas asked with reluctance. No matter how much he didn’t want to do this. He had no choice.

“Meet us at the side of the lyceum building at 8 in da morning. Boss wants this done fast.” Brick said slowly backing away. They knew he wouldn’t try anything. You just never knew who was watching. Nicholas watched them start their way too conspicuous car before turning to leave. He dwelled on everything he had to do in the morning on his way back home.

His mother had all of the lights on in the house. This was not going to be a quiet entry. He sighed; might as well get it over with faster. He opened the screen door without even trying to muffle his boots.

“Where in heaven’s name have you been!” His mother asked coming out of the kitchen. She was a stress baker.

“ I was at Jonathan ’s.” Nicholas said looking down. Jonathan was his best friend, and lived in the next block over.

“You’re lying. I called Jonathan’s mom, as soon as the street lights came on.” His mother said putting her hands on her hips. She was barely 5 foot yet she could command a room with her strong and sure voice. He always used Jonathan as his back up person, whenever he was out past curfew, or doing something he wasn’t supposed to. John was usually the person who answered, and because Nicholas’ mother always asked the first questions, John usually complied. However, if Jonathan’s mother had answered then that meant…

“I also know that you have been lying these past few times too. She said she hasn’t seen you since Easter Sunday. Do you know how long it’s been since Easter Sunday?” His mother said narrowing her eyes.

“I… uh… had to take care of some things.” Nicholas said his eyes darting across the small room. He hated lying, especially to his mom.

“You had to take care of some things in the middle of the night?!” His mother said, hysterical, “Do you know how dangerous that is?”

“Yes, mom, I do!” He hadn’t meant to yell, it was just that he was old enough now. He could take care of himself. His mother was stunned into speechlessness, which didn’t happen very often. The house was dead silent, as both of the Johnson’s tried to get their bearings.

“I’m sorry. I do know how dangerous it is. And I will try to make it not happen again.” Nicholas said looking downward into his mother’s eyes; the same hazel as his own. He would try to make it happen. Maybe the people could meet him in the daylight, when the streetlights weren’t on yet. It was highly doubtable, they never came out in the sunlight, but he had to have some amount of authority considering his father was their boss. Nicholas and his mother stayed like that for a long while until his mother let out a long breath and hugged him tight. Her chin reaching, barely, his neck.
“I just don’t want to lose you too.” His mother said quietly, her breath soft on his neck.

“You’ll never lose me, mom.” He responded back to her. “I’m getting older. I have priorities I have to take care of. I know how far I can go.” Nicholas felt his mother squirm to try and look up at him, to see the truth in his eyes. But he held on tighter until she gave up. He let go, turned in the opposite direction, with his mother staring at his back and went to his room. He had a long day tomorrow.

The next morning he woke up at 5 am. Luckily, it wasn’t unusual for him to get up this early. He usually got dressed, ate and then went to the gym to box for a few hours. He would still do that today, with another added agenda plan.
After eating leftovers from what his mother had power-cooked last night, he headed down the 2.5 blocks to the gym. He passed John’s house, and after a few moments of deliberating with himself, he went around to the back and climbed up the makeshift ladder, and rapted lightly on his friend’s bedroom window. Nicholas was going to knock again but suddenly, the window flew open, so suddenly that he almost lost his balance. Then he was staring face-to-face with his bedridden best friend.

“Nick?” John asked squinting to see in the light of dawn. “Yes, it’s me. Can you let me in?” Nick replied hurriedly, the ladder he was balancing on wasn’t as sturdy as he expected it to be.

“Why are you on that old thing? We haven’t used that since we were kids, and I know you don’t weigh that much, but I doubt it’s the same as when we were five. You shoulda just came through the front.” John said opening the window wider and stepping back so Nick could get through. “What did you want this early anyways?” John finally finished.
Suddenly, Nicholas didn’t know why he was here. Then words he didn’t know were true until know came out without his permission.
“You do know I really care about you, right? I mean, not just as a friend, but as a brother.” He said. Suddenly, Nicholas realized he might not make it back home. He was breaking into, The White House; the home of the president of the United States and his family. He had to do something as his possibly last day as a free man. He already comforted his mother; the last person he really cared about was John. Excluding his father of course…
John was giving him a funny look, even in his incoherent state of fogginess.
“You’re not going all sappy on me, are you dude?” John said still leaning a little away from Nicholas.
“Just answer the question.” Nicholas said. He didn’t like goodbyes, so he wanted his over with. When they saw his face on the 6:00 news tonight, they would know.

John blew out a slow breath and replied with an infuriating, “I guess so.” Nicholas turned to leave when John stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “You’re not going to do anything stupid, dude, are you?” He asked suspiciously. Jonathan knew him so well. Nonetheless, Nicholas couldn’t tell him the truth, so he just plastered on a mastered fake smile and replied with, “Of course not.” He slipped down the ladder before he had a chance to turn around and forget all about his priorities. On the walk to the gym he glanced around and noticed all the little things he hadn’t before; a bright flower, the way everyone up seemed to have a bright smile on their face, you know the things you don’t really miss until it has the chance to be taken away from you. He highly doubted that federal prison had birds chirping in complete harmony.

After boxing a couple of hours at the gym, he made his way to the alleyway on the side behind the lyceum building. He couldn’t see anything yet, but sure enough as he stepped into the tiny crack that seemed only small enough for one person to fit through, there were about five other people besides himself, Brick, and Shredder.
“Almos thought you wouldn’ta shown up, boy.” Brick said. He knew Nicholas would. When he was given a mission he’d take it, not because they threatened him with a gun, (and he hardly believed they’d use it on him.) but because it was given to him by his father, whom he has not seen for several months now which was highly unlike him.
“I’m here.” Nicholas said quickly. “Who are these people?”
“They’re jus some people boss though might be of service to ya.” I looked around the dirty alleyway. There were three guys and two girls . The girls looked like they were in there 20’s and one had red hair the other’s was pitch black. The guys, one was typing furiously on his laptop he looked almost like a college student maybe younger, while the other two looked like they had just reached retirement age one had gray hair and the other had a white beard, and he was wearing suspenders. They were all dressed in somewhat normal everyday clothes, you’d think they were on their way to a family outing, if you saw them on the street. No one would meet Nicholas’ eyes.
“This,” Shredder said putting his hand on her shoulder and looking at the red head, like prey, “is Lydia. She can be gone in a split secon if ya need her to. And this,” he said putting his other hand on the black haired girls shoulder, “is her sister Eliza. She the sweet talker. Can talk herself and anyone else out of anythin, she can.” Both girls looked up at him with something like fear and revulsion. I couldn’t blame him, wouldn’t want him to put those grimy hands on me either.

“Now, that egg- head over ther is Sheldon. He can hack into any firewall in the U. S. of A.” Brick said chuckling. “Them other countries gots different stuff in their internet, cordin’ to him.”

“And dis is Noah an Jonah. Now I know what yer thinkin’ an no they ain’t brothers.” Nicholas wasn’t thinking that at all for a matter of fact. He was thinking how they were going to be helpful in this type of situation, when one of them had a walking cane. “They gon’ be y’all’s distraction for getting the whole thing started.” Ah. Now that made more sense to Nicholas then everything else on this suicide mission. Shredder reached into his pocket and pulled out a small silver item. Everyone was looking at it curiously when he walked up to Nicholas and commanded, “Open yer mouth.” Nicholas quietly complied and felt a small pain in his second molar.

“Ow!” He yelled, pulling his face back, “What was that?”

“It’s sorta like a one- way walkie talkie. We’ll be able to hear you on this side but you won’t hear us.” Shredder explained.

“How will we even get into the house in the first place?” Nicholas hadn’t thought about that question until now. They had to have the best security in the U.S. not mentioning the world. We couldn’t just sneak through the front doors.

“Luckily, we ‘ave people on the inside, who ‘ave arranged a tour for yer.” Brick said.

“I thought they don’t give tours anymore.” Hadn’t they stopped like a while back?

“They do for special people.” Brick said cryptically. Just how special did he mean?

“Okay, so you have that figured out. But how do we know where to go? The ring could be anywhere, and certainly they won’t show us on the tour!” Nicholas said, getting a little hysterical. Certainly, these thugs aren’t smart enough to figure everything out. Just as he got his hopes up they came right back down.

“Oh, that’s where Lydia comes in again. Ya see, shes use to be one of them tour guides awhile back. Before they stopped givin ‘em. She know where the restricted area’s is and y’all are gonna check them all once y’all take the keycard from one of the big men.” Shredder said like it was a piece of cake. I’d love to see him go ahead and do it. “Plus, you’ve got Sheldon; he’ll cut the cameras off that you’ll pass on your way. That might give ya a little extra time, but you’ll still ‘ave to be quick with it.”

“Are we ready yet?” Eliza burst out in anxiety and irritation. Seemed like she was condemning herself to her fate also.

“Let’s get this show on the road.” Nicholas said. A black stretch limo was waiting behind the building where Shredder led us. Well, Nick thought, at least we’ll go down in style. Everyone loaded into it, except Shredder, Brick and Sheldon. They would watch and help as best as they could from here. Jonah drove and we drove across the Wilson bride over the Potomac River, to our fate.

It was silent on the limo ride over as everyone was lost in their own thoughts about what we had to do next, though they did get each other’s phone numbers. Noah, tried to cheer us up, but it was no use. A situation like this was helpless. The car stopped on 14th street barely a block away from the White house. We all walked, it took some time considering how fast Jonah and Noah were going, toward the giant gleaming house as the sun beat down on our faces. We knocked the huge brass knockers and almost immediately were greeted with our tour guide’s overly cheerful face.

“Hello! You must be Dmitry Medvedev’s grandchildren and guardians.” She said. Dmitry Medvedev? The president of Russia’s grandkids? Wow. They really thought this through.

“My name is Katy. Welcome to the White House.”
While Katy was showing them around the room, and giving them a long drawn out history of it, Nicholas’ mind was whirling. He didn’t need to hear all of this; their mission was to get in and get out. Just as he was about to signal to the others that they had to do something, he watched out of the corner of his eye as Jonah fell. Nicholas, and everyone else, rushed to his aid.

“Well, my fault. All this walking is driving me crazy. Do you think we could possibly take a break?” Jonah asked in a very convincing Russian accent.

“Of course! We have a lovely sitting area over here!” Katy said enthusiastically, though you could tell it was forced.

“Do you think we could possibly take a bathroom break?” Lydia asked in the same accent. Nicholas assumed it was to really take a restroom break, and when he rounded the corner, while Jonah and Noah were entertaining and asking questions gleefully, Nicholas headed for the boy’s bathroom, but Eliza grabbed his arm, pulled him into the girls’ bathroom, and quickly shut the door.

“Are you ready Sheldon?” She asked to Nicholas’ mouth. There was no response of course but she nodded to herself anyway. “Are you ready?” She asked again, this time to Nicholas. Nicholas nodded. Eliza reached into her purse and pulled out six ski mask.

“Double them up.” She commanded Nicholas and he placed two over his face. Everyone nodded to each other and slipped out the door. Lydia in front, Eliza second and Nicholas last. They rounded the bend, turned down three corners, went down two flights of stairs, and came to a vaulted room. Nicholas had no idea how Lydia knew exactly where to go, but he just went with it.
“This way,” She whispered, at the last bend. Lydia looked at the vault in concentration as if it would open at her own will. Nicholas knew exactly what to do here.

“I’ve got this one,” He whispered. Finally, a challenge. He never left the house without his stethoscope. He walked right up to the vault, being careful there were no trip wires and placed his ear on the wall of it. Now, because this was probably the most secure safe in the world it took him another couple f minutes to get it open. Nonetheless, it opened. To another door. This time with a handprint and a key code.

“Move over,” Eliza said moving him out of the way. She dug into her purse and got out a white and powdery substance and a clear sheet of plastic. She poured the white powder over the plastic and then placed that on top of the handprint area. Nicholas was waiting for some loud sound but it never came. The handprint had worked. Now as for the vault, nobody knew what to do.
“We’ve gotten way too far to go back now,” Lydia said truthfully. Nicholas thought very hard. The safe’s code was 54-71-22. He thought about the last spy movie he had watched, to get the pass code they added the safes double-digit numbers together and for the last number they put a zero. It was worth a shot.

“I’m gonna try something,” He said. The girls gave him alarmed and wide- eye stares but he went forward without hesitation and typed in 9-8-4-0. The numbers blinked one by one until they all blinked in unison. It worked, it actually worked. Nicholas was relieved. The ring was just sitting on a tiny little pillow in the middle of the safe. He reached for it, but in the middle, he was pulled back by Lydia.
“Are you crazy?” She stage whispered. Nicholas was shocked. “Its pressure sensitive, any change in the slightest pressure will set it off.” She said looking back at the ring with fierce determination. “Then all of our achievements will be for nothing.”

“How do you know?” Nicholas asked.

“How could you not know? It’s so obvious.” She said in a type of “duh” voice. Who were these girls?

“So then all we need is something that ways the exact same pounds,” Nicholas said as Eliza digged around furiously in her purse and pulled out a small ring, exactly the same size as the other ring, from what Nicholas could tell. Eliza handed the ring to the closest person to her, Nicholas, in what felt like a long time, Nicholas handed it to Lydia and Lydia turned to the vault and reached both hands in and with lightning speed dropped one at the same time as she picked up the other. Everyone simultaneously let out a breath. They did it, they actually did it. No time to celebrate though. Eliza shut and resealed both of the vault doors.

Nicholas grabbed the ring out of Lydia’s hand and said quickly, “Let’s go,” he waited until Lydia and Eliza was in front of him as they sped to where the others were still talking about the history.

“Hey, there you are kids,” Noah said throwing his hands up in delight. “Did you use the bathroom?” He asked clearly meaning did they get the ring.
“Yes, we did.” Nicholas replied, it wasn’t until a second later he realized he made a mistake.

“Why don’t you have a Russian accent like your other family?” She asked. She was excessively nice to be suspicious, but there was genuine curiosity there. Everything went dead silent.

“Uhhh….” Nicholas started. “He used to have an American nanny when he was growing up so he kind of picked up on their accent,” Eliza explained. This girl was good at everything. Nicholas hurriedly nodded his head so hard he was beginning to see stars.
“Well, I guess we can get on with our tour then!” Katy said joyfully. Jonah interrupted her.
“You know actually, I think we should get home; everyone is very tired.” He said good-naturedly.
“But we only saw the front of the house, there is so much more!” She exclaimed.

“That’s okay. We’ve seen all we needed to see.” She started to disagree again, when he added, “We’ll be sure to mention to the president what an excellent host you’ve been.” This surely placated her. She nodded eagerly and talked to us all the way out the front door with something in her hand. They had made it to the car when Katy came running out of the house in a flurry and toward them yelling. Nicholas and everyone else thought they were surely caught. Maybe they left some type of evidence, or someone saw them, or… or…
“Eliza you seem to have left your purse!” Katy said, out of breath. Eliza easily smiled and thanked her. They walked the rest of the distance to their car and watched their backs the whole rest of the way home.
When they got back behind the lyceum building, Sheldon, Brick and Shredder was still there. Sheldon smiled up at them as they came. He had clearly been listening. Thank God.
“Well, ya did it boy.” Shredder said in his usual no nonsense way, but in his eyes there was something like respect in it. Nicholas was glad it was over.

“We did it.” Nicholas said looking around at the faces of the people who helped him rob the White house.

After he left the makeshift celebration party, he wrote a note to Brick and Shredder telling him to tell his dad he was done. For good. No more small jobs and definitely no more big jobs. They wouldn’t be happy but they certainly couldn’t disagree that he has earned it. He left it on the window shield of their car. On his walk home, he caught John kicking and practicing his soccer. Nicholas jumped in front of the ball just as John kicked it in the goalie box, catching him off guard.
“Mind if I play?” Nicholas yelled.
“Got everything taken care of yet?” John replied with a smile even though his words were serious.
“You know me, man. Of course I do.” Nicholas replied.

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Sarah_jay said...
Aug. 14, 2012 at 8:06 am
ermagerd, this was soooo super duper cool with sprinkles and awesome sauce
BeyondMe replied...
Aug. 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm
OMG!! Thank You so much! I worked so hard to define all of my characters in this one chapter! Nice to know it was appreciated!
Sarah_jay replied...
Aug. 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm
thanks for responding, i would love to hear more 
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