When Johnno picks them up for the gig in a stolen fire truck, Dicko and Kat get their first inkling it’s going to blow up like a highway cane toad.
“Mate, where did you get this?” asks Dicko as they climb up into the cab. Kat tries on a helmet. It fits pretty good so she decides to keep it.
Johnno gives the engine a fat rev, laughing. “You kidding? They don’t even lock these things up. I just walked in, ducked the cameras and started her up.”
He reaches for the switch marked ‘Siren’ but Dicko knocks his hand off it. “Nah, mate. Sneaking, remember?”
“Like ninja fireys,” says Kata, drumming on her helmet.
They all guffaw like they’ve been on the piss all night. They’re too professional for that, though. Well, Dicko had a couple-three beers with his fish basket dinner, and Kat tucked away her half of a bottle of Chardonnay consoling Shaz about her breakup with that dickhead from the insurance office. Johnno carries the pocket flask he got for his 21st everywhere; he tells everyone it’s empty and he’s just being ironic, but everyone knows it’s always full of shitty bourbon except right now it’s not.
Dicko’s plan’s so simple, it’s genius.
The Beam Creek Footy Club is under early closing orders again, after getting done for multiple health violations, not to mention suspicion of service of alcohol to minors, and an investigation into kitchen staff who don’t have enough English to know how to say “below-minimum-wage sweat shop”.
While its poker machine and liquor licenses are under review, they have a 2 am closing curfew. It’s now ten past three, and the only things standing between Dicko’s crew and their target are a thin wall of sixties weatherboard and a couple of also-underpaid security guards.
And inside – six pristine MoneyBomb poker machines, stuffed to the gills with pensions, dole payments and whatever Jan Kruger managed to skim from the till at the bakery that week. Could top a couple of grand all told. Maybe more.
Kat runs interference. She jumps out a couple of blocks early and jogs to the car park. A handful of cars have been abandoned overnight by legless owners who’ve been told in no uncertain terms to Uber it home while the club’s under close scrutiny by the authorities.
Among them is a certain silver Beamer belonging to that dickhead from the insurance office. After Kat carefully inscribes the word ‘Wanker’ into its side with her keys, she finds a chunk of broken gutter concrete and puts it through the windscreen. She nicks off into the night, giggling, as the security guards come running at the blaring alarm.
Johnno guns the engine and backs the fire truck straight through the side wall of the club. Dicko runs into the gap, hooks a chain around the first pokie he sees, and gives a thumbs-up to Johnno as he jumps back on the truck. The fire truck roars as it jumps forward. The chain goes taut with a hum and a clank. The Montezuma’s Incan Gold adult entertainment unit, a culturally-insensitive box of flashing graphics, squawking music and blatant theft, rips free of its moorings and bounces into the night.
Nobody’s in the cab to stop him, so Johnno hits the ‘Siren’ button as they make their getaway. He gives the flashing lights a blast for good measure. He keeps them up for two blocks until he gets the text from Dicko telling him to knock it off.
They hide the truck behind the mountain of scrapped Toyotas along the south side of Dicko’s Uncle Geoff’s wrecker’s yard, then drag the poker machine into the workshop and break out the cutting torch. Dicko messages back and forth with Kat, who’s decided to get started on the next bottle of Chardonnay.
Johnno finds Geoff’s stash of bottom-shelf whisky and sends the tide out, saluting. “To Montezuma. Thanks for keeping your gold warm for us!”
He puts the bottle down on a stack of Geoff’s paperwork and pulls on a welding mask. The cutting torch flares blue and he leans over the poker machine’s casing, looking for the shortest route to the coin receptacle.
“Two grand easy,” he says.
Dicko doesn’t catch that through the muffling effect of Johnno’s mask. He looks up from his phone, where Kat’s just sent a picture of Holly, her Weimaraner, wearing a fireman’s helmet. Dicko looks straight at the cutting flame just as the first sparks fly and screeches as the glare wipes out his vision.
He bumps the table in his panic. The bottle of rotgut spills across three weeks’ worth of unfiled sales receipts and order forms.
Johnno is startled by the noise and looks around in surprise. His peripheral vision is for shit and he rakes the torch across the face of Montezuma’s Incan Gold, sending up another cloud of sparks. The sparks find the whisky-soaked paperwork and get started on a party. Flames spread across Uncle Geoff’s desk and make for the workshop’s stained polyester curtains.
It all goes to shit after that.
The emergency operator takes the call about an out-of-control blaze at a local junkyard and patches it through to the closest fire station. The on-duty officer tells them to refer the request to the next town over, owing to the inability to respond to calls for help.
“We can’t mobilise,” he explains. “Someone stole our truck!”
When the first responders eventually arrive on the scene, they’re pleased to find the missing fire unit but the wrecker’s yard is unsalvageable.
It’s lucky, they agree, that nobody works there so late at night.