Taking the liberty to stand up without permission Alex launched into his pitch.
“Let’s recap the situation here, Will. You owe a very bad dude some money, a gambling debt, am I right? The deadline is fast approaching and you don’t have the dough. You’re sitting in a bar having a few shots of Jack Daniels – “
“Hey, how did you know that?”
“I smelled in on your breath when you came through the bank door and took us hostage. I’m a very observant guy. Anyway, you’re sitting there trying to think how you’re going to keep yourself from an early grave and you see this bank across the street. Salvation you think. So you head over and do the deed, then you hear the sirens and bump into us at the same time. You take us hostage; you make good your getaway. Everything is swell. Then you miss your deadline, and now the prick wants it all.”
Will nodded. “Yeah, you got the picture. So what’s your plan?”
Alex smiled and sat down. “Listen to me, Will. I’m a negotiator. It’s what I do for a living. How about you let me take $20,000 to this Leo the Horse and convince him it’s a good deal and that he should be grateful and call it all square? I know, it’s only supposed to be ten, but you did miss your deadline. If I can get you off the hook for twenty you still have the lion’s share. Think about it.”
His brows scrunched up in concentration Will tried to find something wrong with the plan. He could think of two things.
“Leo don’t know you, he ain’t gonna like a stranger showing up, with or without money. Besides, how can I let you leave here? Why would I trust you to come back?”
“Because Beth here will still be with you.”
Alex wasn’t about to let Will think it over.
“Look, Will, this is your only real chance of keeping some of the money and getting Leo off your back. You have Beth for insurance and I’m the best negotiator you’re ever going to get. I can do this.”
“Yeah? What if Leo decides to ice you and come after the rest of the money?”
“He won’t. Tell you what, I’ll have him call you and tell you he’s accepted the deal, which he will when I’m done with him. Then I’ll come back here and, out of gratitude, you let Beth and I go. Deal?”
Will did his best to think of some reason not to go for it but the more he thought the more confused he became. It had been one hell of a day. Alex and Beth were beaming at each other. They were so in love. What the hell, it was worth a shot. At worst he’d have one less hostage to worry about and if he had to give Leo the rest of the money then he would.
He stood up and pointed his pistol at Alex.
“You better be on the level here. If I don’t hear from you in less than an hour after you leave she gets it. Understand?”
Alex put his hands up and gave Will a disarming smile.
“Crystal clear Will. I can do this. I promise.”
Will counted out twenty thousand and put in one of the bags. He gave Alex the address and the car keys.
“Okay, go do your magic then. I’ll wait to hear from Leo.”
Something was nagging at the back of his mind as he watched Alex drive away but by then it was too late. When he went back inside Beth was beaming at him.
“Hey, Will. Got anything to drink around here?”
Part 4 Tomorrow