This story has been revised! The combined revised Parts 5 and 6 can be found under Interviewing Leather Revised #3.
This version is from alternate universe ⎇998JW and is not in continuity with the Justice Wing stories. The revised version is the recommended version. Thanks!
I’m breaking the Leather story where the scene breaks naturally fall. That mean’s this week’s is shorter than normal. But then, it had to happen sometime, right? Anyway. Here’s Leather. Have fun with her!
Because there’s nothing more fun than spreadsheets….
In grey midmorning light on a rainy day, Leather looked tired and disheveled. She wore a tank top and those same flannel pants she greeted me with, and drank coffee while she worked in Microsoft Excel. “I hate paperwork,” she muttered to me, and plugged numbers into columns. Marco and one of the bagmen from the previous night were busy driving their haul to the relay point to the fence, after inventory and estimate. That meant Leather had to crunch numbers.
“Jewels suck,” she said. “It’s a perfect loud crime. Exactly what you want when you’re giving the full business, but in terms of return on investment, you either want actual antiques and heirlooms or you might as well not bother.”
The night before, at two in the morning, her tune was different. There was laughing and screaming and dancing. They played loud music until late, and giggled and recounted what happened. The Steve got high in a corner. I’d seen it a thousand times at rock concerts — you really nail a gig, and you run off that high half the night. I just hadn’t thought it applied to grand theft larceny. I watched diamond rings and necklaces spill through her fingers as she laughed and laughed….
“After seeing the inventory, the fence gave me estimates. Nine hundred and thirty two thousand retail value. They’re offering ninety one thousand dollars for the lot.”
“I thought you got ten cents on the dollar for jewelry,” I said.
Leather snorted. “I get what they offer. It’s not easy to move jewels. We all know it. I’ll make a Hell of a lot more tonight.”
“Tonight?” I asked, but she was adjusting the spreadsheet.
“Ninety one thousand. So, eighteen two goes to the Guild, and they’ll pay the henches. Fifteen percent goes to the service–”
“That’s not the Guild?”
“Nah. Whole different operation. The Guild’s all about the henches. The service is all about insurance. Most jobs we don’t need them, and they get lots of money. But when we do need them, there’s top flight attorneys and my personal belongings get dealt with. Eventually, they either arrange a release or a jailbreak, and I’m right back to work.” She tapped a few more keys. “That’s thirteen thousand, six fifty to the service. Five thousand for the escape route?”
“Escape route?” I asked.
She just smiled, and continued her breakdown. “Twenty five gallons of gas for the Leathermobile — every trip I swear we’re going to swap it out for a Honda Civic — plus wear and tear from when we went through the front of the store and servicing… call it a hundred and fifty dollars for that. Drive thru food–”
“You did McDonald’s drive thru on your way to rob a jewelry store?”
Leather shrugged. “I was craving fries and Marco likes the double quarter pounders. Anyway. After everything, call it fifty four thousand dollars for last night’s work.”
“That sounds pretty damn good to me,” I said.
Leather rolled her eyes. “Not hardly. I’m going to owe three quarters of a million dollars for transport services, setup and support of my new lair at the end of the week. I don’t have any intention of cutting into my savings.”
“You mean… you intend to come up with another seven hundred thousand dollars between now and then?”
“I intend to come up with another seven hundred thousand dollars after expenses between now and then,” she answered, grinning impishly.
“Yo, Leather!” It was the Steve — I never did learn his actual name — shouting from downstairs. “C’mere! Got something on the Tivo for you!”
“Right!” she shouted back down, and hopped up, scooping up her now empty coffee mug. “C’mon,” she said. “I think I know what this is.” She looked excited.
The television was paused when we got in. The Steve was grinning and backed up to a news break. It was local news, admittedly, but still. Naturally, it had been about the robbery. Their television station had gotten security camera footage of the Leathermobile as it smashed through the front of the store and took out one of the display cases. The grainy, black and white footage caught the bagmen as the scooped up jewels, and Leather as she danced around fleeing civilians and disarmed a security guard. I heard Leather coo with delight as she watched herself spring up a good ten feet, straight for the camera. She kissed the lens right as the feed cut out, no doubt because she had destroyed it.
“Perfect, Leather said, pumping her arm. “That was exactly what we wanted.”
“How do you mean,” I asked.
“That’s good video,” she said. “That’ll play the rest of the week. I give it even odds the cable news channels will pick it up. Maybe even the networks.” She almost bounced in place. “That footage will show up on police video television shows for the next decade.”
“What does that give you?” I asked.
She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and darted out of the room, no doubt to grab more coffee before she went back to paperwork.