Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Hanger Nade

To celebrate the end of National Short Story Month, here is a comic mystery piece, A Hanger Nade, (2004) which first appeared in Miami Accent Magazine.

A Hanger Nade

Martin Hill Ortiz

    "We got a hanger nade," Tommy told me.

    "Ain't them hand grenades?" I told Tommy.

    "No," Tommy told me. "The proper way to call 'em is hanger nades. They comes from hangers. Them's the place where the army keeps exploding stuff."

    I woulda thought that hangers was for planes, but then I guess the army puts exploding stuff to drop from planes and besides Tommy was the one who'd a been in the Foreign Legion, not me, though that is something of a secret, so don't tell. For near a month, I worked to get Tommy to open up on his military time. He had told me he was a soldier only when I asked what branch, he told me it was so secret that they never told him. I kinda doubted that, figuring he was just trying to hush me up, me being a feller that never did serve my country in such a dangerous and officious capacity. When I pressed him a bit more, he told me he was in the marines. Later he changed that, saying it was the ultramarines. When I finally pinned him on why he didn't just get government help for his syndrome that was bothering him, him being a veteran and all, he told me he was in the Foreign Legion.  He joined the USA Marines, then betrayed by our country he was traded away on the foreign exchange program. Then he got punted out two months short of turning "le general." He got punted out on account of getting sick without permission when he come down with legioner's disease, which should a been the official disease for him to have and which he still does have in his knees. Instead of them court marching him, he first runned off and moved in with me, even though I hadn' hardly seen him since we was fifteen.

    All this he told me excep for the part of moving in with me, which I kinda told you on my own.

    Well, it was a bad time for me and him to hook up, on account of I'd lost my job rounding up shopping carts. They got a motorized collection assister at the WalMart that helps one do the work of two and I was the other one.

    Now my landlord, Mr. Harlan, had always been nice about the rent on my shack when it was one of me living there, but he didn' care too much for the other one of us who was Tommy. So I was going to actually have to pay something and not just for Tommy but for all the months I didn' pay something.

    What we needed was an idea for money. Me, I wasn' built for smarts and for that matter, not much for action. Tommy, however, was built like that bully that kicked sand in the other guy's face while I, you see, I was built like that other guy. Tommy was so pumped up they throwed him out from the gym on account of jealousy and on account of his way of working out by tossing round barbells. Truth is, Tommy's got both muscles and brains in his head.

    "We steal some place," his idea was. "We steal some place like a bank." He tells me the important part to stealing a bank is to have an edge that puts you in front of dumber criminals. And he tells me an edge is what we's got. We's got a hanger nade. A hanger nade is better than a gun, he told me. This was on account of they add time to your ticket if you hold up with a gun, even a phony gun. But there's no special rule on hanger nades, Tommy said. Tommy was an expert on the law.

    "So what's our plan?" I said, asking. "A hanger nade needs a plan."

    "The hanger nade practically plans for itself!" he said. In a little bit though he gone quiet. He never could confess when I was right. He mulled and mulled until his brain turned to pudding. Then he got the other part of his idea.

    "First," he said. "We kidnap a bank owner. Then we would make the owner guy steal his own money under the profound influence of the hanger nade. So on account of him is the one doing the stealing, we is innocent. Then at the end, we let him go, so we undo the kidnapping. They can't arrest us and if they do we will be somewhere else where we picked up and run to." We kicked around this plan for hours, going through a half dozen six packs while trying to find a hole. We couldn'. It was fool proofed.

    To get more time for our getaway, we needed someone who was going on vacation. So when they was gone we could go put up a sign up on the front door of the bank, saying, "Closed for Inventory." Then, because the owner wouldn' be around to tell folks it wasn' true, on account of him still being kidnapped, no one would go in there for a week cause they would be waiting for the guy to come back from the vacation cause that was where he was supposed to be. And the workers would read the sign and practically give us a medal for the free week off. And for we ourself, a week would be like dog years when it come for time for escape.

    Now Suzy, a former ladyfriend of Tommy, worked making vacations for people on planes and travel and stuff. Only she couldn' a been too former on account of her doing him a favor. He asked Suzy if maybe she had the inside story on somebody who owned someplace like a store who was going someplace like somewhere else. Like a business or a bank going on a camping trip. Now Suzy said, as matter of fact, she did. The manager of a credit union was flying out on a plane ticket on Sunday. Now Tommy and me was both disappointed it was a credit union and not a bank, but we couldn' be so exactly choosy.

    The plan was even deeper than what I just told, I suppose on account that there was parts Tommy hadn' had even prior told me. We started the day, not in a kidnapping but with going to the hospital where we stealed an ambulance. Tommy said with an ambulance we could turn on our emergency light and no one could stop our escape. Cause we didn' need our car no more, we just parked it in front of the emergency room. It was kind of junky anyhow. It was missing its back seat doors cause we pulled em off to tie to the front seat part cause them doors was missing too. So we taked the ambulance to the house of the credit union guy.

    We rang on his doorbell only no one answered. We hadn' a counted on that. A neighbor, however, saw the ambulance and come over to us and asked us is there a problem. Tommy thinks faster than me. He said, no.

    The neighbor told us that the manager had headed off for work and we could probably find him at the credit union. We thanked the neighbor and drove off. On the one hand, we felt sorry for the manager working so much that he had to work on Sundays. On the other hand, it was dang convenient that he was at the place we was going to steal.

    Only along the way we ran across a police car blinking its light and one of them officers was waving at us. "We pass by real slow and don' make eye contact," Tommy told me. Only the officer stepped in front of us.

    It seemed there was this bum who was lying on the sidewalk not moving who had a nasty bump on his forehead. They asked couldn' we take him to the hospital?

    Tommy looked at me and me, I looked at Tommy. I suppose, we said.

    Don't you need to put his neck in a brace? the policeman asked and Tommy said, "No, that's just in the movies."

    Tommy grabbed one arm and I grabbed one leg and we swung the bum up and tossed him into the back of the ambulance. We taked off and no one was the smarter.

    Only now we had someone extra to consider. "Maybe we ought a prop him up in front of the hospital," I said.

    "We got a bank to steal, I mean credit union," Tommy said. "We take him to the hospital after, when we got time."

    "But he could be dying," I said. "Maybe he needs a zap from a couple of them electrical flippers." They had some in the back.

    "They's called pong paddles," Tommy said. "Go ahead, give him a spark."

    "Oh, no you don't," Mike said on account of Mike being the name of the bum. Mike explained how he rigged the bump on his head and pretended to be knocked out only so he could get checked into the hospital for a day or two of observation. If he didn' have the bump, they woulda figured he was sleeping one off. But this way he got a place to stay and they might even set him up a drip of morphine.

    "Well, we can't go and take you to the hospital right now," Tommy said. "We is stealing a credit union. If you wait a bit, we'll drop you off on our way out of town."

    "I don' know about that," Mike said.

    "Better still," Tommy said. "You could join us as our lookout. Only a lookout don' make as much as a mastermind. Still, we'd be willing to start you out at ten dollars an hour with a chance at promotion."

    So we leaved Mike in the ambulance as we taked our duck tape and hanger nade and knocked on the front door of the credit union. The bank manager was a skinny dude, musta been fifty. I'd swear he used black shoe polish on his hair. He waved at us from behind the door, saying, "What?"

     Tommy said that we got a call for an ambulance. (Now, the ambulance was parked in front where the manager could see it.)

    The manager guy said he didn' call for an ambulance only Tommy pretended he couldn' hear. So the manager guy unlocked the door to tell us and that's when Tommy said, "We got a hanger nade," and showed him. The guy taked us like we was serious.

    Next thing you know we got him to open the safe. Then we wrapped him up with duck tape in his chair and taked the money, which was already in bags. Musta been a dozen of them.

    Tommy asked the manager guy how much was his watch worth and the guy must not have been as smart as me, cause I would have said a couple of bucks, only the guy said, a lot. So Tommy taked the watch. Then Tommy tells him not to try to escape cause we'll be back in five minutes to kidnap you.

    So Tommy and me take the money out to the ambulance only to find there was no ambulance. Mike had stealed our getaway vehicle and our only transportation.

    "That does it!" Tommy said. "He's not getting paid, not even for part of an hour."

    We had to figure out what to do. It taked Tommy only a short bit of figuring to decide we needed to take the car of the manager guy and go get the ambulance back.

    So we go to the manager to get his keys only we find he's done with unwrapping himself and he's about to make a phone call. "Stop right there," said Tommy. "We got a hanger nade." Now Tommy was real mad. He had already done told the manager to not to try and escape. "All I asked for was five minutes."

    The manager at first was quiet. Then he pointed out that we taked his watch, which was true, and kind of humbled Tommy and me. So Tommy got the guy's keys, put the watch back on him, and wrapped him up again in duck tape, but this time good.

    "We'll be back in thirty minutes to kidnap you," Tommy told him tapping on the guy's watch to make the point clear. "Do not try and escape. We got a hanger nade."

    Well the manager's car was nothing but a dinky two-seat sports job and there was barely room for Tommy and me, Tommy being built like King Kong and me being built like the other guy. And there definitely was no room for the loot. So to be safe, we put it back in the safe.

    Tommy did some terrible things to them gears, but we made it to the hospital. There we found a half a dozen people around the ambulance with Mike being taken out in one of them wheelie beds. We figure Mike drove up and then put himself in the wheelie bed and pretended to be out cold. The security guys musta showed up and figured this was their missing ambulance.

    Alright, we was in a hurry and couldn' wait for the ambulance to be clear and so we decided to steal our own car. Only there was some dude attaching it to a tow truck sling. Tommy told me to drive the sports car back to the credit union and then danged if he didn' sneak up and steal the tow truck, dragging our car right behind.

    I did some even worse damage to them gears but I made it back to the credit union, and by this time we had three cars, or rather two cars and a truck. Only when we got inside, there was the manager guy on the telephone. Seeing us, he hung up quick.

    Tommy was angry all over again. "Didn' you listen to us? We told you not to escape. We got a hanger nade."

    The manager said, "You told me you'd be back in 30 minutes. It's been 35." He had a point.

    Tommy said, "Well, have a sit down cause we'll have to tape you up all over again." And we did. Only we couldn't do it very well on account of using up the last of the tape. We just got one arm and two of his legs. We figured this wouldn' even hold him for five minutes.

    Tommy told me to take the money out to the tow truck, cause Tommy had to watch this guy. So I did. Only when I was done, I could hear sirens coming. Tommy, he come running out, telling me it was time to give up on the kidnapping part of the plan. We taked off in the tow truck with the money carefully hid atop the spare tire in the trunk of our car, our car in the back of the tow truck.

    We camped out at my place. Tommy called it our back up plan number B, saying they would be expecting us to run.

    Night came and we didn' even turn on the lights cause we didn' want no one to know we was there. We only turned on the television. The news was revealing. The credit union guy was arrested. Someone for the police explained the whole story and then some.

    Seemed first, the manager guy tried telling the police that two crooks had stealed $200,000, which was a lie cause we had only about twenty thousand in our bags. The police was right away suspicious. How come he had $200,000 on hand in such a dinky outfit? How come he made a phone call to the police and then got to be taped up again? And how come he had a one way plane ticket for somewhere, somewhere else? Turned out, he had been stealing for some time. He had come to work that Sunday to pack up what was in the vault and hightail it for good. He got caught seen on tape unplugging the security cams. When we showed up and taked the money, he decided to try and blame us for all the missing loot, only now the police didn' believe in an "us."

    He mighta gotten the police to believe him, only he told them that we stealed his car and if they just found his car then they would find us. Well, the police taked him outside where there was his car with the keys still in it. "They did steal it," he told them. "Only they must have returned it. The way they stole my watch." He showed them his watch. Then he got panicky and jumped into his car to try to get away. Only his transmission wasn' working so good.

    For us, everything had worked out perfect fine, I guess on account of smart planning. We helped snag a crook, we got the money and nobody was looking for us. The ambulance was back at the hospital and I imagine that Mike was enjoying his morphine drip.

    All we had to do was return the tow truck, only we couldn' figure how to disattach its sling from the bumper of our car. Fortunate for us, we got a hanger nade.


Image result for "hand grenade"
A Hanger Nade. Mardis Gras. Google describes the image as free usage.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at


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