"I hate it here," Robo used to say, when they were young. "I want to go to Paris."
"We can’t afford Paris. We gotta stay here, little bro."
"We don’t have to. We could run away," he insisted. "Why don’t we run away?"
"Because we know what it’s like here," Mobo said. "We got a roof over our heads and we got enough to eat, most of the time, and we can make some money too. Out there? We don’t know what’s out there."
Mobo turned away.
"I can’t," he said. "We gotta wait, okay, little bro? We gotta wait."
Years later, they earned enough to make their first month’s rent.
"You see that?" Mobo said, standing on the balcony. "Looks better from up here, doesn’t it?"
"Yeah," Robo admitted, leaning on the railing. "We finally made it outta the neighborhood. Thank God."
"You were worried we were gonna get killed in the south side. Shows what you know," Mobo laughed.
"Yeah." Robo laughed, too. "Now we’re gonna get killed in the middle of town instead."
One day, they robbed an art museum.
"I can’t fit ‘em all in," Robo said, kicking one of the picture frames with the heel of his shoe. "It’s tight enough as it is."
"Well, we gotta do something,” Mobo said. “Anyone comes in here, sees half a Warhol pokin’ out from under your bed…”
"Don’t sweat it. I’ll think of something, okay? I know a guy who knows a guy. It’s fine."
The next morning, the paintings were gone.
"Sold ‘em to a guy on the east side of town," Robo explained. "Millionaire, works in real estate. And I made a deal with him, too. If we pull another job like that, he’ll sell us a house on the cheap."
"A house," Robo repeated, making a square with his hands. "With an attic and a garage and two stories, too."
"Why the hell did you do that? We’re only two guys, what are we gonna do with all that space?"
"Well," Robo said, exasperated, "where else are we gonna keep our stolen paintings?"
Amazingly enough, the agent actually kept his word. The house was old, dirty, and it sagged to one side, but it was indeed a two-story house with an attic and garage.
"Holy smokes, Robo," Mobo said, staring up at it in awe. "You actually did it."
"I’ve always wanted a house like that," he replied, beaming. "No more tenements, no more apartments. Now nobody can bother us. And we even got a backyard, big bro!"
"I’m kinda surprised. You’re always raggin’ on Badville, why not get a place somewhere out of town?"
"Out of town?" Robo said, staring at him. "What’s the matter with you? We don’t know what’s out there."
"Hey, Robo. I got a surprise for you."
"A good one?"
"Mm-hmm. It’s a special assignment."
"Oh, yeah? Gimme the goods."
"I can’t. It’s a surprise, remember? You’ll just gotta see it when we get there."
They sat on one of the girders of the Eiffel Tower, their legs dangling over the edge. Far below them, tucked away in the middle of Paris, the lights of police cars sparkled red and blue.
"How was it?" Mobo asked. "I thought you’d like the Louvre."
"How the hell did you get us a job in France?" Robo laughed. "Who put you up to it? You can say, right?"
"Do you wanna know a secret?"
"Yeah, tell me, for God’s sake!"
"Nobody," Mobo said. "I just thought I’d spring it on you as a present. Happy early birthday, bro."
"What?" Robo blinked. "You just went and did it? Why?"
"Why not? You kept sayin’ you wanted to go to Paris."
"Yeah, once we hit it big," Robo protested. "Once we got the money to spare. But not now."
"We have the money, bro,” Mobo explained. “Since we paid off the house I’ve been puttin’ cash aside, enough for the plane tickets and the hotel room and everything. Really, it was nothin’.”
Robo looked at him for a long, long moment, and then turned back to the glittering skyline.
"We made it, didn’t we, big bro?"
"Yeah, little bro. We made it."