Smythe and Jaymes were the lowest of the low. They were ruffians and thieves and, some said, much, much worse. Between the two there was enough brains to stay ahead of justice.
But that is where the brains ran out. Throughout their partnership, an intense rivalry developed. No where else was their competition as fierce as it was in romantic affairs. They kept count of their conquests, spending the fortunes they stole to out do each other. But Jaymes, it seems, fell behind.
Jaymes had found something special.
For this, Smythe taunted him relentlessly. More than once they nearly came to blows over it. While Smythe would visit brothels, Jaymes would seek his sweetheart. Though Smythe believed that his partner would come around, Jaymes only seemed to fall deeper.
And much to Smythe’s dismay, Jaymes seemed to be reforming. He even spoke of settling down! How long, then, would it be until remorse set in and confessions were made? If confessions were made, how long until he implicated his old partner?
This wouldn’t do. In the interest of self-preservation, Smythe had to put an end to it. First he tried to seduce Jaymes’ beloved. In all fairness, thought Smythe, Jaymes was but a poor specimen, what woman would want him? Yet, that wench spurned his own advances and threatened to reveal them to Jaymes. So Smythe turned to the alternative.
One night on the docks, as they passed a bottle of rum between them, Smythe began.
“Brother, I’ve been unkind.”
Jaymes stared and asked, “How so?”
“I’ve begrudged you, out of ignorance, out of jealousy.”
Jaymes began to reply, but was waved off by Smythe.
“You have something I have never known, the love of a good woman. I don’t think I’ll ever have that, and I was wrong to ridicule it.”
“I think, my friend… Yes, I believe that you should retire. Settle down and make a life with the lovely girl you’ve found. You’re strong and young and I think you can find work.”
Jaymes was shocked, but smiling.
Then Smythe continued, “Too bad the pay is so…”
Jaymes nodded with a growing frown.
“I don’t know how I’ll get along with out you…” and after a drink, “I’ve been thinking of reforming myself!”
“Good!” said Jaymes, “My brother, I’m glad you said that.”
“I wish I had just a piece of the fortune I’ve wasted. It would make things so much easier…”
And, right on cue, Jaymes went on, “As do I.”
“Too bad we can’t pull off one more job… Might make settling down easier, but, no, I don’t want to draw you back into it.”
“Who says we can’t?”
“Think of the ring you could give her, eh?”
“Let’s do it!”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to…”
“Damn it all!” Jaymes cried, “For my brother, one more is not too much to ask!”
Smythe laughed and said, “I’ve got just the thing, the biggest, and easiest, we’ve ever done.”
“Hold on, now. We’ve…” and he leaned in close to whisper, “we’ve broken a lot of rules before, but this one is the biggest. For this last job, there will be no rules. If you can’t swear to go in with me, I’d prefer to call it off now.” He sat back enjoying Jaymes’ silence.
For a few long moments, Jaymes thought quietly. He knew that Smythe must have something terrible in mind, for Smythe never worried over breaking rules. But he had said it would be big and it would be safe. He finally broke the quiet, “For my brother, anything.”
“Good man,” replied Smythe, his twinkling eyes turned away.
story by Joe Stanley