There was tension in the room. In the furthest corner sat four gang members, muscle in case anything went wrong. They had been instructed by Simon, their leader, not to move unless he told them. He didn’t want them seeing what was going on in too much detail in case it gave them ideas.
Simon himself was pacing up and down the floor of the lock-up garage where this crime was taking place. This was the moment he had been planning for months.
“How much longer?” said Simon to Charlie, the computer whizz making this criminal escapade a reality.
“Not long, bear with me. Can someone get me a drink please, I’m thirsty?” replied Charlie, without even looking away from the two computer monitors and the data flashing upon them.
Simon stopped pacing and looked at his heavily tattooed cohorts sitting in the corner. He pointed at one of them.
“You heard, get Charlie a drink.”
Full of attitude, the chosen gangster slopped off, returning a few minutes later with a can of Red Bull. He slammed it down on Charlie’s desk.
Simon, several year’s older and a much smoother operator, made a note of this kid’s defiance. He would arrange for him to get a gentle slap one evening. Nothing too much, a couple of broken ribs maybe, just enough to confirm his lowly place in the food chain.
Charlie opened the can and took a few swigs before spinning round in the office chair. Wearing plastic rimmed glasses, Clark’s shoes, grey woollen trousers and a blue polyester top, Charlie looked every bit the unfashionable computer geek.
“That’s my bit done. Give it a minute and we’ll know whether everything has worked,” said Charlie.
“It had better,” Simon replied.
“I’m confident, the security systems were very poor,” replied the computer expert.
Computers had been an obsession of Charlie’s since a very early age. Programming them, building them, hacking into Government departments with them; all had been completed by the age of 14, often at the expense of socialising with peers.
Charlie’s mother, Cybil, was a verbose and unlikeable individual. She had been very happy and a great parent until her obscenely wealthy industrialist husband died in a car crash. He had been taking Charlie to a school friend’s seventh birthday party. Cybil blamed her only child for the accident, hit the bottle and made life at home miserable.
Cybil knew that Charlie sought refuge in computers and computer science and preferred this to the company of humans of a similar age. She didn’t understand it and routinely referred to her child as being “on the spectrum.”
At first such insults had hurt. Over time these and similar comments were heard so often they could no longer wound. Even so, Charlie lived in a gilded cage and needed to escape.
Charlie was enjoying this experience. It had taken years to perfect these computer skills and they were now being used to pull off a massive credit card fraud.
Yes, many individuals would get an initial shock when they saw their card statements. Ultimately, however, the only losers would be the banks. Who had sympathy for them?
It had been agreed that Simon was to receive the biggest cut. He had, after all, facilitated the operation and provided the hardware.
A dangerous career criminal, he would no doubt spend most of it impressing women and giving the obliging ones chlamydia. What was the point in looking to the future and saving? In his world you could be dead the next day.
Charlie, however, had very different plans for the money. Although a smaller amount was due, it would still run to an impressive figure and would be used constructively.
Simon’s mobile phone beeped. It was a banking app confirming a ginormous payment to his account.
“Wow,” said Simon, “you really are as good as you claim.”
Moments later, Charlie’s phone also beeped, a banking app delivering good news.
“No time to relax,” said Charlie, “the evidence is all on this external hard drive and the lap top. Shall we?”
“Let’s do it.”
Charlie pulled the hard drive out of a USB port and placed it flat on the concrete floor. Simon came forward with a lump hammer and smashed it to pieces before doing the same with the lap top. He didn’t stop for several minutes, the evidence completely destroyed. Sweat poured off his face and his silk shirt had moisture rings in the arm pits.
“It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Simon. As agreed I’m now going to walk out of your life.”
With the work complete, Charlie felt she could relax a little. She took off her glasses and reached back, pulling a scrunchy out of her hair. Long, shiny dark brown locks fell across her shoulders. She picked up her fleecy jacket from the back of the office chair and put it on. The motif on the left breast confirmed she was a pupil of St Philomena’s School and Sixth Form College.
“Hey, come on, surely we could have a drink some time?” said Simon.
“Simon, I may be 18, but I’m still a school girl. Go and find someone your own age,” she said with incredible confidence.
“Yeah, I hear you. Opposites attract, but their worlds must never collide, right?”
“Something like that. Now enjoy your money and keep out of prison.”
She turned to the other gang members.
“See you guys and thanks for the Red Bull.”
Charlie left the building and didn’t look back. What Simon didn’t know, what he’d never know, was that Charlie had just ripped him off.
Oh sure, his bank balance proved he was several hundred thousand pounds richer. This is exactly what he had expected.
Charlie, meanwhile, had just walked away from this audacious crime with several million pounds. Her phone had beeped confirming the one payment. What Simon didn’t know was that she had set up several hundred bank accounts across the world, each of them full to bursting with money that should have gone his way.
Once Charlie’s A-levels were out the way, she was off to university in California. She’d just proved what she could achieve and had no intention of returning to her miserable upper middle class life and miserable mother.
Although a tender age, she was now wealthy enough to see out her days in the West Coast sunshine and spend her time playing with technology. That’s exactly what she was going to do.
Copyright, John L. Adams, London, October 2014.
This short story was inspired by #theprompt linky hosted by the MumTurnedMom blog. The prompt phrase was “opposites attract”.