Paul watched as the large truck driver pulled down the door not bothering to strap it down, and plodded his way to the dock. It never occurred to him that aquariums would need a bulk food delivery service the same way a restaurant or college might. Paul shook a cigarette loose from his pack. The red and gold packaging shimmering in the afternoon light. He wondered if it was only for onsite cafeteria or if they needed to order food for the fish too. Paul knew a guy once, they called him Big Jay, who had a load of tanks. All gigantic with monster fish circling around. He fed them nothing but hunks of cut up tilapia, head-on shrimp, and occasionally as a treat – worms.
As the heat ate up his cigarette, the back door to the truck inched its way back up. The truck was entirely white; empty black crates lined the floor. Paul looked down at his watch – 11:45. It was almost lunch time. He had been worried about the crowds beginning to pile in, but Kevin had sworn up and down that this was going to work.
Kevin had been the one to really case out the joint. Paul had watched the social channels and read through the website for feeding times, sleeping patterns, and whatever other information he could piece together to determine the penguins scheduled routine. But Kevin – Kevin had been the one to infiltrate the aquarium. Standing a hair above two feet, Kevin was an adorable Cape penguin who made partnered with Paul to make their money stealing exotic and rare eggs and reselling them on the black market.
Paul flicked his ashes outside his open window and glanced at his watch – 11:48. Shaking his head as he turned the radio up a smidge. They were talking about the Sox, because life wasn’t hard enough.
“Hey -” a loud thud as Kevin’s flipped landed against Paul’s window scared the cigarette out of his hand “watch where you’re ashing that thing, Jerk Off!”
“Christ Kevin,” Paul snarled as watched Kevin’s flipper leave his window. Paul reached over to open the passenger’s side door. “You got em?”
“Of course I got em,” Kevin said gently patting a swaddled bundle cradled in his flippers.
“What is it,” Kevin said, still standing outside the car. The lights dimmed and the car stopped. “We got some heat on our fins. What’s the hold up?”
“The battery,” as Paul blurted out as he notice the alarm lights flashing the parameter of the building.
“Were you-” Kevin said waddling back over toward the driver’s side.
“Don’t even start, Kev-” Paul said running his palms over his stringy comb over.
“For the Sox-” Kevin’s little foot slapped against the pavement.
“Seriously, just-” Paul raised his hands toward Kevin as he hopped out of the truck. Police sirens could be heard in the distance.
“Well what’re we going to do now, just what-”
“What?” Kevin looked gobsmacked. Their buyer would be taking Kevin as reimbursement if they couldn’t deliver on this deal. It’s not like they had waited to spend the thirty percent they had received up front.
“The truck,” Paul said gesturing toward the large truck still sitting ideally in front of the dock. “Big truck. Big driver. Big opportunity to get the hell out of here as fast as possible.”
“You’re a really f-” Kevin grumbled as he waddled himself away from the car and toward the truck.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Paul said getting out his Zippo. “Move it along there small fry, I’m gonna gas this POS up.”
Kevin shot his left flipper straight into the air.
“Too bad you don’t have fingers there Kevin,” Paul said untwisting his gas cap, “really loses the effect of flipping someone off.”
“One giant flipper to you pal,” Kevin shot back as he broke into a run.
The door to the dock opened as Paul dropped the lighter into the fuel tank and sprinted away from the car. Swooping up Kevin as he bolted, he felt the heat brush up his back.
Paul checked the large round mirror hung to the side of the building and saw the trucker exiting the back of the aquarium. Distracted by the flames lapping out of the old car, he hadn’t yet notice a man and a penguin carrying a bundle heading toward his Big Rig, Nancy.
A bang cut through the air. Paul felt a stabbing pain jolt through his bottom. “That trucker,” he howled, “he capped me in the ass.”
Kevin half laughed, half screamed. It was a strange noise Paul had only ever heard in drunk females and penguins. He only did it when he was nervous. The police sirens called back in response. The police were getting closer. Paul had been shot. In the end it was Kevin’s feathers if they didn’t pull this off.
“We’ll have to ditch the truck,” Kevin shouted as Paul slid himself and his bundle of eggs he was swaddling into the back of the truck. Jumping Paul yelped in pain. He managed to grab the cords and secure the back door. Being taller than a penguin could make a man forget that 5’ 6” wasn’t all that tall for a human.
The overhead radio crackled as a trucker from the highway announced “something exciting happening down by that fish zoo over past the wharf.”
Paul swerved as his cell phone rang.
“Good Christ, Paul! Watch the turns in this thing,” Kevin screamed into the phone. “By the by, while I have ya hear. This refrigerated truck thing is great for these eggs. I’m keeping warm and safe. Very natural and all. But I’m a Cape penguin for Christ’s sake. Can we get a warmer ride soon?”
“I’m doing what I can, Kev. Just stand tall little one. We’re almost to the wharf.” Paul clicked the phone off. Shifting in his seat, Paul felt the blood squish between his jeans and the leather seat. For the first time on a job Paul had a real pain in his ass that wasn’t Kevin. The overhead radio crackled to life once more. The rest stop down the road from the wharf was at capacity. They were starting to line up at the wharf itself. Things were looking up.
Police cars were blocking the road ahead, the one that lead to the highway entrance. It seemed they weren’t letting any of the trucks through. An officer with a baton drawn and at the ready was checking each of the cabins as the drivers approached the wharf’s entrance. Cool, calm, and collected. Paul could fake it through the pain. They were almost home free!