In the beginning there was the Alarm, clarion birth. Earshattering and fierce. The alarm brought Panic, which was what they called the world. It also brought the Po-lice, which is what we call the Law of the Man. Yes, the Po-lice formed from the clanging need of the Alarm and went to shake down informants, backtalk the press and track down clues that would bring them to the Prime Suspects. They were looking for them, the Crime Twins: Aid and Abet.
Aid and Abet had stormed the Bank of Blessings. They popped the tills, filled the bags and split fast. They split fast, but Abet, who was never as fleet of foot as his brother, tripped over the Eye of Security and brought Alarm. As they fled the First Crime Scene the Po-Lice squeezed one off and hit Aid in the leg. Despite the gimp leg, Aid and Abet kept barrelling down blind alleys.
“Brother,” Aid said to Abet, “you must ditch me. Leave me to the Law of the Man.”
Abet listened and said, “Nuts. We are twins. We are brothers. We rob together. We bleed as one. We will escape as one. So cool that dime novel doom talk and let’s find us a Holing Place.”
Aid looked about him, at this new land of distress. This landscape of pawnshops and fake ID hawkers and said, “I know this place. I know this place like it has always been mine. I got an old lady near. We can hole up there.”
And so they went past streets and over winos until they found the coldwater flat of Aid’s Old Lady. They banged up one flight of stairs and rested. Aid bled on the landing and that first pool of blook gave us greed. They banged up another flight of stairs and rested. Aid bled on the landing and that pool gave us lust. They banged up a third flight of stairs and rested. Aid bled on the landing and that pool gave us jealousy. They banged up the fourth and final flight and rested. Aid bled on the landing and that pool, the Fourth Pool. No one knows what the Fourth Pool gave us, but even today, when one of us is taken with itchy neck and does something rash and hard we say that that sumbitch has bathed in the Fourth Pool.
At the fourth floor, they reached high enough up the building to go to ground. They knocked six times before Aid’s Old Lady answered. She saw what was there at the threshold and said, “Aw damn. The hell you two want?”
Abet said, “We need a place of holing.”
Aid’s Old Lady said, “Not a chance even with fixed dice. All you do for me is bring the Heat down on my ass.”
The dying Aid said, “Then let us be warm at least. Let the Heat come. Let us be blazed pure, to be shown blue white hot. The Heat will always be on our heels. It is just a question of where the fire will embrace us.”
Aid’s Old Lady did not budge. “Whatcha got in the bags?” she asked.
Abet lifted up the first tote. “This bag has Peace that we stole from the Bank of Blessings.” He picked up the second tote. “This second bag has all the Paradise the Bank had in its vaults. Do you want to see?”
Aid’s Old Lady shook her head no. She said, “Come on then. You’re messing up my doormat.”
She gave them beer and chips. She played music from the radio. She gave them chairs to sir silent upon. Aid looked at his brother and said. “I die. I die. I’m the busted perfect crime. I’m the rat in the room with the light bulb and I can’t help myself from singing. I die, brother. I die. I will see you again in the Safe Place.” He closed his eyes and slumped his head to his dead heart and was no more.
Abet was not awarded a chance to wait grief because the Po-lice were pounding at the door. “Open up. We have you surrounded.” Abet looked towards Aid’s Old Lady and said, “Do you have a way out?”
She said, “Natch. You always have to have an Escape Route.” Which is still true to this day, friends.
Abet gave Aid’s Old Lady the two bags of stolen goods and said, “Scram. I’ll catch up with down the road and it even.” And Aid’s Old Lady took the bags and scrammed. The front door exploded into shards and the Po-lice swarmed at the threshold. Abet blazed with lead and righteousness.
He took one in the chest. He spurted out life. He fell onto the body of his brother and they fused together into hard metal. The metal was so dense it crashed through all four floors of the apartment and pushed down into the center of the world. Wherever we tread, the Crime Twins are always underfoot.
The Authorities never found Aid’s Old Lady or the bags of Peace and Paradise. But that, friends, is why we gather in this Safe House. We bring offerings of swiped food, picked pockets and jacked cars to the memory of Abet and Aid. One day, one day, we will go to the next place where Aid’s Old Lady will greet us and present us with the stolen goods of the Bank of Blessings and only then will we at last stop running and get our fair share.