Why Today?

Travel Log Mtl Old Bank 20110822

I wasn’t going to go to the bank today. I was going to wait until Friday. Why the hell did I go today?

The man with the blue-and-white-striped ski mask keeps telling us to “Shut up!” but no one is talking. I hear whimpering though. I think it might be coming from the woman in the red dress I saw walk in last as I waited in line. I wish she would stop. She’s going to get herself killed.

I’m terrified right now!

I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared in my life. Well, maybe on that damn roller coaster at Disney. That was pretty frightening. My boyfriend insisted it was going to be one of those life-changing moments riding that loop and plunge. That wasn’t a life-changing moment. This definitely is.

The middle-aged man lying beside me is trying to say something. I don’t want to talk. One of the robber guys is just steps away from me. I can see his heavy black boots. I wonder if he’s military.

I close my eyes. I hope the man sees but he keeps “psst” –ing me. “Please stop,” I mouth. His eyes are motioning to his cell phone sticking out of his pocket. I think he wants me to reach for it. “No way man,” I try to say with my face.

“I swear that’s all there is,” the cheerful blond bank-teller tells the ringleader in a panicked voice at the counter. I know it’s her even without looking because she has a very distinct cheerful voice. It doesn’t sound too cheerful right now. The Boss man doesn’t seem to believe her. He keeps urging her to check all the drawers.

I hope he doesn’t shoot her. I don’t think I could handle witnessing that.

There’s a rustling behind me. I can’t turn around without being spotted by the guy with the boots. I don’t know what it is but it’s getting louder. I hope no one’s trying to reach for anything. “Dear God please…”

“Crash!” the sound of broken glass from the back of the bank startles everyone. Boss man tells guy with silly blue-and-white-striped mask to check it out. Who wears something so ridiculous to a robbery? Wasn’t he taught how to rob? You always wear black or something non-descript otherwise the witnesses remember. What a dud!

Striped ski mask returns. I can’t see him but I guess he shook his head because Boss man says, “Okay.”

There’s a young girl at my feet. Her eyes are closed tight. She looks to be about 10. I hope she’s not here alone. I gently nudge her shoulder with my foot. She opens her eyes and I smile. She forces a smile back and then closes her eyes again.

I wish this would be over. I need to get back to work. I begged my editor Sarah to let me run out to do a quick banking errand. She’ll never let me go early again after this. I bet she thinks I’m hanging out at a coffee shop or something. Won’t she be surprised when I get back to the office and tell her the truth.

The three guys are packing up I think. Oh crap! I hear sirens. On TV that always makes the robbers jumpy. “Check the door!” Boss man shouts. Boots guy leaves his post and rushes to the glass doors. I can see him now. He’s big, really big but he’s wearing a red ski mask. God, these guys are stupid. I mean did they just reach for whatever hat they had lying around at home and throw it on?

As the guys discuss something in heavy whispers by the glass doors, I can hear footsteps behind me. I slowly turn my head and catch sight of a black uniform sneak behind the main counter. Is that a policeman or one of those SWAT guys? God I hope so!

Sweet bank teller is trying to talk the three guys down. “You’ve got everything. Now please just go. You can get out before the police get here.” I slowly turn my head back to try and see her when there’s a loud “Pop!” sound. Oh my GOD! Was that gunfire? I hear a thud. Did someone just shoot the teller?

All of a sudden there’s rushing and shouts.
“Hands up! Now!”
“Drop the gun!”

There’s scurrying and then the glass doors are open and several uniforms are rushing in.

“Ladies and gentleman it’s over. You can get up,” a calming voice declares. I look over and see its Boss man lying on the ground. He’s wiggling in agony. At least he’s not dead. I mean no one likes dead.

I’m thrilled it’s him though and not friendly teller-lady. She’s all frazzled talking to one of the policemen behind the counter. Three medics are moving through the crowd to check all of us. I wave my hand that I’m fine but direct them to the lady in the red dress. I think she hurt her foot.

When all is settled and our statements are taken, I hurry out and run down the block back to my office building. As I make my way into the newspaper, Sarah’s standing there, her arms are folded. She looks mad. “You will not believe what just happened to me?” I announce. She’s uninterested and walks away.

Paula Antonello Moore, Fiction. Copyright: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Writing Challenge: “You are a customer lying face down on the floor during a bank robbery. Describe the robbery from this vantage point,” from 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Image: The Royal Bank of Canada branch in Old Montreal, copyright: The Canadian Press

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