Sparky was licking the ground as if there was something tasty there. The kids were playing in the backyard with the plastic pool I got them for Christmas. My wife was at work on a Sunday, and I was sitting there staring at my dog, licking the floor. I wish I could say it was a good day, but the thoughts that haunted me made it a dizzy and scary afternoon.
“I’m home! Wake up!” a lovely voice shouted in the distance, then suddenly I woke up.
“What do you want for dinner?” said Martha.
“Oh anything is fine.”
I looked around the room. I was on the couch, I must have fallen asleep. I looked at the clock. It was 8:37. I stood up and went to my room. Mail was stacked in one pile on my desk. They were mostly bills and payment overdue notices. Then I realized.
“Joseph!” I shuffled the piled envelopes to look for one thing: A reply from my friend. I looked on the table and read through all the envelopes, but it was not there. I finally looked under the table realizing it was stupid not to. There was a blue, small envelope with dirty handwriting. I snatched it and opened it. It read:
Thank you for your letter. I think I will be able to make it. I am sorry for the loss of your cat. I hope your daughter feels okay. It has been a rough time for me too, and I look forward to meeting you in two weeks.
Thursday the 23rd, that was the day, I remembered. He could have written a little more thinking how much I wrote in my letter, but whatever.
The week I waited until the day I met him took ages until suddenly, I found myself sitting at the corner table with my old friend, Joseph. At first it was awkward like any other friend you have not seen in months, but it gradually became interesting like I wanted. It felt like talking to Joseph made my mind clear, like wiping a foggy window. I told him everything that happened in the last 10 months that we had not met, how our dog died, how I lost my cat, and finally, the cancer.
“Oh my God, that Nevaeh? That’s horrible. I’m sorry, Michael,” Joseph sighed, “I’m tight on money too.”
“I know. We have to win a lottery.”
“Yeah… oh, do you remember how we used to joke about getting to the J&B Bank next to the burger place?” Joseph smiled.
“Are you thinking what I am thinking?” I said jokingly.
“…,” he looked at me, with ‘the look’, the look you give when someone unwillingly makes a reference to you and your friend’s inside joke, the look you give your friend when someone is being annoying as hell. The universal look.
All of a sudden, the joke from our youth started to spin in my head. The following two hours, we talked and talked and talked.
“You really want to do this? I mean, if we are doing it, we can’t talk here.”
“You’re right,” he sighed, and we started walking out.
By the time we were ready to leave the cafe, the half-joke idea was actually going into shape. We went to his house.
“Come in,” Joseph opened the rusty door and gestured me in. The house was rather small, there was a dirty couch, a table, and a TV.
“This isn’t much but make yourself at home,” I sat down on the couch and contemplated what we were about to do. About a minute later, Joseph came back with two beers.
“Okay, to start this we will need some help. I know these twins that own a mechanic shop. I’m pretty close with them and I think he can get us a van,” Joseph smiled and took a sip of his beer.
“Can you trust him?” I said skeptically.
“Of course, I mean he’s in it too,” he said with a dull face.
“Well, it is all or nothing,” I sat back and relaxed.
I thought it was too good to be true. The first few hours we were slow and did not know what to do. Progress on developing the plan was slow. Joseph had called them and told them to come over. Then about three hours later Joseph’s friends, Mark and James, came rushing through the door with notes and rolled up maps of the bank, the town, and the escape route.
“We prepared a bit, and thinking that you guys don’t have that much experience, we planned out a general outline,” James grinned and the twins sat down.
They helped us a lot. After the twins showed us the general plan and what we needed, we started to pitch in. I started to believe that everything was going to work out. And finally, after two days straight of planning, we figured out a decent plan and what to do in most possibilities. So here it is:
We park in the back of the bank, and there is a back door meant for an exit. we quietly approach with our guns hidden but masks on. We only have two real guns so the others will be airsoft replicas. James (with a real gun) will round up all the customers in a corner and kill the security guard. Joseph will take all the cellphones from the customers and take the youngest person as the hostage. Mark (with a real gun) will shoot in the air to scare the hostages. I will point the gun at the clerk and get the money. James will then go to the ATM and blow it up with a small-size TNT and get the money inside there. When Mark and I are done, we rush out first with the money, then Joseph will take a hostage and follow us. James will be in the back making sure no one will follow us and shoot anyone that might be dangerous.
Part 2: We get in a minivan and drive through a back alley 30 miles east. We release the hostage early at an obvious point so some cops will fall back. There will be a checkpoint where we switch cars to try to avoid the cops. After 40 miles north, we go to an abandoned farm where we change clothes and cars again. We have stolen a total of four cars in the last three weeks of our preparation from completely different places. There will be two extra checkpoints just incase the cops chase us to the closest one.
The day has finally come. It was the day that will either destroy or greatly better my life. We were all nervous when we ran in. Mark shot in the air.
“Hands up and in the corner now!” James yelled. Our masks made our heads look bigger, I guess that was good. Joseph took the cell phones from each person and taking their bags and wallets. I pointed the fake but heavy gun at the clerk.
“Put the money in the bag and I won’t kill you,” I tried to sound as scary as possible.
“Please sir, don’t kill me!”
“I said put the money in the bag! Or I’ll bust your head!” He did as I said. Man, I am good at bluffing, I thought. He handed me the bag full of the beautiful money and I shivered when I saw it. I took the bag. Then the clerk suddenly grabbed my hand pulled it towards him. He punched me, took my mask off, and threw it across the room. I took my dagger and stabbed his face. I scrambled across the room trying not to show my face. I picked up the mask and put it on. By that time, James was done with the ATM and we headed to the door. Joseph was holding the hostage. Her hands were tied by a rope and Joseph was pointing a gun at her head. We got in the car and drove away.
After we released the hostage, changed our clothes and car, we went to James and Mark’s old cabin near the mountain.
“Wooh! We did it! We’re rich!” Joseph yelled as he poured all of us a glass of wine. Joseph turned on the TV and started watching a football game. James passed out on the couch, but Mark and I were eager to count the money. We had gotten about 2 million dollars and we splitted it four ways. I had half a million and I was rich. I was dreaming what I was going to do with this money when I heard my phone ring and I went outside to answer it. It was from Martha.
“Is that you on the news?!”
“Wait, I can explain,” I said quickly and switched the channel. It was my face on the local evening news. First I thought why the hell I am in the news, then I remembered what I have done.
“Jesus Christ,” Joseph said. Everyone was breathless.
“You told me you are gonna get us the treatment money, but not in this way,” she was crying, “I thought you were better.” And the phone got cut off. That was the moment I knew my life was over.
Ever since that day, Michael has been a wanted fugitive. His wife took custody of his children and changed her name. For the rest of his life, he has to live in the shadow along side of crimes. The bad thing he did for a good reason turned into his worst nightmare.
By Riki Hernandez