Let's back up.
The Balcony was wrought iron, painted chartreuse (there's no other green, in New Orleans) and has a half dozen hanging baskets choked with a time lapse of snapping dragons and poppy weeds.
A steep stairway lead to the roof, which had very little by way of a guard rail, just the rickety n's.
The Roof itself held a well kept but old, New York style, water drum; and a small stage, and a green edged tiki bar in opposite corners.
So, when James frenzied and dove at Geoff, Philip knew that he'd have to heft the man up through the window in order to get him over the edge and away from the party goers.
A few things: Philip didn't know it would be James that frenzied, just that most likely it wouldn't be Geoff or the other guy, and it definitely wasn't going to be Matthew. Philip was larger than every other player by a good fifty pounds, but he hid it well in loose, well fitting clothes, a practiced half slouch, and an easy smile.
Philip knew someone was going to go nuts; to his brain, that is just how these jobs went. He wouldn't be there otherwise.
The table flipped away from everyone, toward the living room as James, spittle dripping, drove toward Geoff, who sat there, somewhat stunned.
There was a crash and a rattle when Philip tossed James through the window, upward trajectory practicedly correct.
“Wait for it,” Philip said, “There’ll be a thump in a moment.”
They listened to the party from the roof, the hum of the fridge.
Then, with blood curdling silence James popped up, bloody, a shards of glass spider webbing, embedded acros in his face. He stood, heaving, hands rictus, staring at the four men.
“Oh.” The other guy said, followed by the tinkle sound of liquid dripping on tile.
“Piss.” Matthew muttered, scooping money as he slunk away from the shattered window (and James) and toward the living room.
Right. Layout; of the apartment. It’s nice in the glitzy ramshackle sort of way only New Orleans pulls off with pride. If you come up the stairs next to the shop front (currently coffee, soon to be a post card and candy shop, then a coffee shop again --this is too far from tourist land to be an effective anything not already established or a truly amazing amalgamation.
Up the stairs, you’re in the living room right off, and it’s a big square, four rooms with a bathroom squeezed into the back middle, kitchen and living room “on the front” bedroom, and in this case an office, in the back, to your right.
It’d be easier if you saw it, promise. For now, just know that Matthew is making his way toward and exit and there is a bloody, somewhat crazy man on the balcony, breathing heavy, peppered with glass.
“What the eff man?” James shrieked, a string of spit dangled from his chin.
Philip replied, “Uh, you were about to mangle-ate our host. I’m not cool with that.”
“You almost tossed me off the balcony!”
“I was trying to, actually.” Philip was still calm, hands at his sides.
“What the hell? Aren’t you on my side?”
“Yeah, man, I figured there’d be a rube and four of us in the know; once I realized the other two were in cahoots, I figured you were another sucker!”
“Ah.” Philip said, “I see.”
The four of them were motionless for a few, quiet, seconds.
James blinked a few times. “I’m going to go. And I am never playing cards with any of you again. And you,” He snarled at Geoff, “I know where you live.” James carefully climbed down the balcony, and was gone.
“Well, that was strange.” Philip noted.
“Uh, yeah.” Geoff stared at his broken window. “Was that necessary?”
“How’s your throat?”
“You count the money, I’ll be on your couch.”
“I’m just going to go,” Said the rube.
No one responded.
* * *
(The next morning)
Beatrix woke up to her phone buzzing --Matthew wanted to get a breakfast burrito from Juan’s Flying Burrito.
(This is 2012, remember, before the apocalypse and the three hurricanes that destroyed Florida, D.C. and NYC. These places exist as stores and shop fronts and houses. This could’ve happened, for all you know. [Don’t worry, it’s all just fiction, really.]).
Philip was sprawled happily outside The Burrito, on the curb, sunning himself, a half lit cigarette hung callously from his lips.
“Hey!” Beatrix shouted, “Where’s my burrito?”
“I will hop on your crotch if we don’t eat a burrito soon.”
“An interesting argument.”
“You order, I’ll save us a table, the tourists will be waking up soon.”
They smiled at each other and she went inside. Philip puffed his cigarette back to life, smiled on the last inhale and tossed it into a gutter.
(Once they’re seated, eating)
Beatrix asked, “What happened last night, anyway?”
“Just another angry mark.”
“You should be more careful, it’s a small town and if you keep taking jobs like that eventually people are going to know you.”
“And that’d be bad?”
“Having a reputation poor reputation? Yeah, that’d be bad. I had a friend who had to move to L.A. because he rubbed the wrong local rube the wrong way.”
“Ruh ruh ruh ruh ruh.”
Beatrix slapped his burrito, a splodge of guacamole plithed onto the sidewalk. “Seriously. I know you think you’re special or whatever, but eventually someone will figure out your game.”
“Yah, but we were working for a local.”
“Geoff?” Beatrix snorted, “He’s a migrator who normally sublets his place and kicks out his tenants for random parties. Or sleeps with them.”
“So, not a local local.”
“That sucks. Matthew said he was a local. He said it probably wouldn’t even blow up.”
“He says that every time.”
“Yup.” Philip sighed. “I don’t know why I keep agreeing to it.”
“Because it’s easy money, yea?”
“Just be careful.”