Easy Money
running shoes—important; best shock resistance ability on the market—even more important. The screws thought it’d be fun to check out lame sporting goods stores. Jorge in the know. Stadium on Kungsgatan had the biggest inventory.
    They drove the minivan into a parking garage on Norrlandsgatan. Jorge asked to drive the last short bit. The screws said no.
    They got out of the car. One of the screws asked a guy who’d just parked if he had change for a twenty. Needed coins for the meter. The screw bought a parking pass.
    They went out into the street.
    Sweet feeling. Downtown. Kungsgatan. The pulse. August heat. Jorge remembered. He’d rolled down K-street in a BMW 530i, also known as a cocaine sled. That was two days before he’d been picked up. Sure, the car’d been on a long-term loan from a friend, but still. He’d been stylin’. Livin’ life. Livin’ cash. Livin’ booty. Livin’ his reputation.
    And now: Jorge was back in town.
    What’d he learned since then? At least he knew this: The next gig he did would be well planned. That’s when he realized what made him different from so many others. He felt biggest/best/ballin’. But that’s exactly what everybody else in his hood thought about themselves, too. The difference was that Jorge, deep inside, felt that maybe it wasn’t so—and that was his strength. That would always make him think twice in the future. Always plan, prepare—make the impossible possible.
    He kept dreaming.
    Looked around. The screws were positioned around him.
    The crowd was moving on the street. To the rhythm of free life. He stared. Hot
chicas.
He’d almost forgotten—the bitches were so much more
caliente
in the summer than in the winter. But they were the same chicks. How was that possible? A mystery.
    And soon Jorge’d be out. Would roll down Kungsgatan. Grab a lot a boot
ay.
Fix all the chicks. Be Jorge again.
    Joder,
he longed to be out. He’d been given parole. Just that was superfly. Alone with three COs on Kungsgatan. What an opportunity. All you had to do was book it. He was fit. Strong. Knew the city like the back of his hand. He was a naughty, naughty little boy. On the other hand, the risk was too great. The screws were being nice today, but they knew their job. They were tense, hyperaware. Kept careful watch over him. Were in total control. Could lose it over nothing. Would have free rein. Cancel the parole. Make it impossible for him to complete his actual plan.
    He wasn’t prepared. Couldn’t escape now. The fuckup risk was too big.
    The salesclerk was hot. Jorge: horny. But the shoes were more important than pussy. They had the model he wanted. He already knew that. Asics 2080 DuoMax with gel in the heel. Still, he wandered around the store for a while. It was big. Him and his bros used to lift shit here when they were thirteen and Sollentuna grew too small for them. Again: flashbacks from his teenage years. First at McDonald’s and now in the sports store. What the hell was going on?
    He looked around the other departments for show. Bought a pair of track pants and a basketball jersey in addition to the shoes.
    Five o’clock rolled around. Cool on time. Just one more thing. He was meeting a friend, a former screw from the prison, Walter Bjurfalk. The dude’d resigned of his own accord a year ago. The COs thought it was gonna be nice. Didn’t think it was strange that Jorge and the ex-screw were meeting up. Some screws become friends with inmates; that’s just how it goes. The surveillance COs had no idea why Walter’d really quit.
    They were sitting in Galway’s on Kungsgatan: Sven hangout. Swedeville. The place was decorated like a typical Irish pub. Signs on the wall: HIGHGATE & WALSALL BREWING CO LTD. Trying to be clever: IN GOD WE TRUST. ALL THE REST, CASH OR PLASTIC. It reeked of beer. Felt homey.
    The screws sat down a few tables away and ordered coffee. Jorge ordered a seltzer, light on the bubbles. Beer wasn’t allowed on guarded parole.

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