Burn One Down: Jeffrey Cooper
Jack Apple thought he was clever when he broke into someone’s house in order to steal eighty thousand dollars this man took from his friend. But, bad planning, not checking out or doing proper surveillance he enters the house, hopes to get the money out of the safe but his mobster has a set of goons watching over him day and night and the end result is Jack has to run for the hills and when he does that’s when the fun starts.
This retired thief who just got out of prison after being arrested for a bank robbery gone bad winds up in more of a fix than expected when Diane Thomas arrives at the scene of the robbery and hopes to give him what she thinks is the job of a lifetime and enough money to open that gas station he always wanted. The property is up for sale and now Jack just might have the funds to buy it or not! Wait until you see what happens when these two team up to get even with her ex-husband Alvin for divorcing her, not allowing her to be a part of his business deals and having more money that he’ll ever need but just who was he into and who what does he own that he would rather keep under the table or shall I say quiet?
Diane and Jack talk about the robbery she hopes he will pull off giving him 80 percent of the take and her only 20. Listening to the final meeting between Diane and her crooked ex-husband, Alvin we realize that he has money hidden, associates that he does not want revealed and pays her off with lots of zeros to get her out of his life until well you have to be there and see if for yourself. Alvin owns a marijuana dispensary and Diane wants to rob them of their daily take, which is close to 100,000 dollars a day. Promising to not get in the way he tells her to let him do the deal, get the money and wait in the car, which he agrees she would drive when he comes out. But, Diane is impatient and what he does creates so many problems and the end result would be a scene from a Laurel and Hardy movie or the Three Stooges.
Things get out of control when the media arrives and Sheriff Roger Bellquist and his deputy Eddie Pratt try and take control of the situation. Getting the perimeter blocked off was not an easy task as the owner of the lumber yard where this wellness center was located charged vendors, vans, cars and others to park in his lot in order to create more business for himself and hype for the public. But, when Jack and Diane enter the center and meet Bill the manager things spiral out of control and they take several hostages: Susan who is uppity and arrogant and who has a past with Diane’s ex-husband. Antonio and Ana an elderly couple, and Reggie and the would be actor security guard. They are a motley bunch and each one provides different sides to the situation as Jack and Diane fumble through this robbery hoping to escape.
When the media gets in place there are many different takes on the situation as we hear Tina Mishimura focused on her cameraman and presenting the that critics of medical marijuana point to the incidents like this one as examples of why marijuana based businesses face zoning restrictions. Activists in the community or area state that the places like the Hillendale Wellness Center sends a bad message to younger teens and young adults and undermines the message that they are trying to send to these younger people about the dangers of drug use. Next we hear the voice of Bink Weatherby a more seasoned reporter who oversteps the professional boundaries to get the stories out there but he is on the scene and starts by informing viewers about the hostages and begins with, “Marijuana, Violence and Hostages.” Making sure that viewers stay with him saying that they won’t believe what he sees and is reporting as Carlos Garcia is next from Channel 3 and he reports that coming up is his special on marijuana, daytime robberies and more. Jim Gallow is next and he is from Channel 6 and his report will include anything dangerous, anything about the suspects and the situation as the Sheriff is now on hand. Bellquist will milk this for his own purposes of getting reelected and is thrilled that this incident is happening in his jurisdiction. But, wait until you the reader sees what unfolds and the chaos that ensues when the tries to negotiate with Jack and Diane who are unorganized, disjointed and have no idea about what they are doing.
Next we meet activists Kirby Waters who presents his own take by grabbing the people in the street and inciting them about the issue of medical marijuana and then talking about the medical and therapeutic benefits it provides for relief for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or PTSD related illnesses. He injects information about the pharmaceutical industry beginning his take as he sates Misinformation Alert as he watched Tina’s live feed. Bellquist was only concerned that the media and recording devices were focused on him as we go back inside to Diane and Jack.
Reenter Alvin Thomas whose personal life was important to his professional plans and who was tied to a mobster who would destroy anyone that dared defy him and Alvin was now worried that this man Raul would learn about his link to the wellness center. The author shares history with Diane, her wants and her rants as she demands to get whatever she wants. She’s a bit over the top and thinks that no one can deny her anything. The Sheriff checks out the pictures from the cameras and attempts to identify the culprits as the reporters, each in turn update their information for the public. Reggie, one hostage thinks that he is the next famous star on stage and what he demands you won’t believe as all he wants to do is call his agent and get on television to be scene.
Alvin sees that there is so much media there and he calls Bellquist who owes him more than just his job and life to allow him to enter the scene, reminding him of the fact that he has paid for his campaign, gave him money and now Alvin wants to run the show and wants Diane to go free. The Sheriff does not cower light but the next scenes are filled with chaos, humor, sarcasm and disarray.
Things escalate even further as the hostages begin taking a stand against both Jack and Diane and Susan seems to have the edge at times until Diane waves her gun or knocks her down.
Alvin shows up and the conversations between him and the Sheriff lead you to believe there is much more to their relationship and that although the Sheriff and law enforcement are trying their best, Alvin might be the won to win or try harder to get what he wants and just might.
Bill the manager of the center seems bent on trying to escape and allows Jack to see the video feed that was recorded leaving Jack with some wild notion of what he’s going to do with the bag of money that they stole
Chapter 8 reveals Alvin’s past and his affiliation with mobsters and drug lords and why he has to find a way to hide the fact that he owns the center and not have to deal with their wrath but not everything goes his way. Shill companies, fronts, money laundering and Alvin’s monetary worries no longer existed but at what price and what about Diane and her wants and needs. Basically that’s all she really cares about as she is self-absorbed and wants to be indulged.
Tina Nishimura, Channel 12 presented the story right in front of her as things looked peaceful but in reality it was chaotic, violent and out of control. The questions about medical marijuana comes through and its dangers. Should it be legalized? Should recreational be legalized? Why was this center opened up in the first place? The truth lies way beneath the legalization issue.
Carlos describes the police presence and the robbery issue but when each commentator speaks to a spectator no one seems to really have a handle on what the situation is about and some focus on their own issues.
Jamal just got out of prison and wants to make a clean start but the mother of his child is pressuring him for 30, 000 dollars in back support. Hoping to get paid from his boss he gets there and finds the place boarded up and closed. Caught up in the hype of the situation and dealing with buses that are not allowed to run their normal course, Jamal winds up trying to find his way home or back to Michelle and his daughter but the end result is more violence and people claiming the police are arresting him because he’s black.
The paths of so many cross and the end result is quite violent as the spectators listen to Kirby, get all excited about his voice and words dealing with prejudice and injustices to young people, while those inside decide how they are going to escape, leave or in this case take Jack’s odd offer one that you won’t believe.
Just how this all winds up you have to read the final escape, ending, twists and turns as the hostages try to make their own way out without getting caught. Jack and Diane hope to find someplace safe to hide and when they do you won’t believe who helps them escape and who someone really is. Just what happens at the end lets readers know that Alvin is just getting started and that Jack and Diane will have to learn some more hardcore lessons at the hand of someone who claims to hold all the cards. But, what about our Sheriff who plunders on camera and what about his reelection and the fire that burned down the center. Stay tuned for more when author Jeffrey A. Cooper pens the next chapters in the hectic and chaotic lives of Jack and Diane before another person yells for another center to and says these words: BURN ONE DOWN!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine