The Bank Robber (Working Title)

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Here is another work in progress:

“Grandma, can we get ice cream before we go home?”

This from eight year old Caleb who leaned over a picnic table bench as a grey haired slightly overweight woman packed picnic fixings into a wicker basket.
“Caleb, you just finished three hot dogs and potato salad! Are you sure you’ve got room for ice cream?”

“Sure do, Grandma.”

“Me too! Me too, Grandma!” This from freckled faced Jeannie who jumped up and down in her excitement.
“Oh, okay, then. We’ll stop at the Dairy Queen on Front Street before I take you kids home.”

“Yay!”

“Yippee!”

The little group made their way to the older, dark blue sedan that Joyce had owned since new. She made sure the kids were buckled into their seats before she started the car and drove in the direction of the ice cream shop.
After they had got back in the car, the kids happily licking their cones, Joyce made plans.

She dropped the kids off at their house.

“Were they good, Mom?” asked her daughter.

“They were absolute angels, Andrea. I couldn’t ask for better grandkids. Anyway, I’m off to play bingo. See you later.”

Back in her car, Joyce Parker checked her hair in the rear view mirror, patting her perm. She liked to keep her hair short and neat. Like her little house and her yard too. On the other hand, her purse was a mishmash of items, and now, before she drove away, she checked for the important things she would need that afternoon.

She murmured to herself, as she pawed through her handbag.

“Facial tissue, lipstick, comb, cloth bag, ski mask, gun.” Joyce smiled into the rear view mirror, zipped up her pocketbook, and then started her car. She drove carefully, as always, obeying the traffic signs and stopping for pedestrians.

She arrived in the next town a little after three o’clock. The bank would not be very busy, she thought, since it was a Wednesday, not a payday for the average person, and in a small and sleepy town. Robbing it would be a snap.

This wasn’t the first time, but Joyce resolved to herself that it would be the last time. She’d been lucky three times now, in not getting caught. But she didn’t believe in pushing her luck. It was bound to run out if she didn’t stop.

She pulled the car into the alley next to the bank and pulled on the ski mask. She tucked the gun into the top of her purse and exited the car. As she entered the bank, she noticed that the security guard was nowhere to be seen. Good. Probably on a bathroom or smoke break. There was one till open, and three people in the lineup. She pushed past them and shoved the young woman standing at the till out of her way. She stepped up and said, “I want the money!” She pulled the gun and the cloth bag out of her purse, as she spoke. The girl behind the till began to tremble. Her pony tail quivered. The girl took the money from the till and put it in the bag Joyce had thrust at her.

Joyce looked around as the girl handled the money. Still no security guard. Good. This was all going according to plan.

The girl pushed the now bulging bag at Joyce, and Joyce picked it up. She stepped back from the counter and kept walking until she reached the bank doors. She turned then, and ran. She got into her car and drove off down the alley, onto Green Street and then past the cemetery. As soon as she was out of town, she tucked the gun back into her handbag as she drove.

At home, she dumped the bag of money on the dining room table and then, after making herself a cup of tea, she sat down and began to count the haul. It was good. After she’d counted it out, she leaned back in her chair and smiled. There was enough here for the grand kids’ college tuition and enough to pay for Max’s surgery.

The next morning, Joyce sat at the table in the kitchen nook, light from the sun shone in the high narrow bay windows, glimmering over her hair as she sipped her coffee. Max, who she thought seemed even more crippled up today than usual, limped over to the table and sat down opposite her with the cup of coffee he’d poured, before he spoke.

“Joyce, you say I don’t have to worry anymore about the surgery costs. What do you mean, my girl?”
Joyce smiled at Max. She loved how her neighbor liked to call her his girl, even though she had about five years on him.

“Max, I’ve got enough money saved up that I can lend you the money for the operation on your back. What do you think of that?” She took another sip of her coffee and looked at the grey haired man. His eyes were especially blue this morning, she thought. She certainly was getting involved with him, more than she had realized until this moment.

Max said, “Joyce, I probably couldn’t ever pay it all back, so no, I won’t borrow money from you.”

“Oh, but you will. If you don’t,” and Joyce hesitated then went on, “I’ll tell everyone about your daughter.”
This was a low blow, but Joyce was determined that Max had suffered with his bad back long enough.

“You wouldn’t do that, Joyce! Would you?” Max looked at her, his eyes wide.

“I would. I realize it could end our friendship, but I would do it. So you had better just accept my offer and let it be.”

Max shook his head in amazement.
“You are one tough bird, my girl. I hate to be in pain, that’s true. And I don’t want anyone to ever learn about Cindy’s drug use and jail term. She’s got a brand new life here, and she might lose it all, if people found out. So, I guess you win.”

Joyce sipped her coffee and grinned at Max.

“Are you mad at me?”

“No, just a little put out about being blackmailed.”
“Okay, then. Let me get those cinnamon rolls and we’ll have one each with some butter. Then we’ll plan your next doctor visit, so we can get things going for your surgery.”

Joyce got up and put the cinnamon rolls on yellow plates, then brought knives and the butter over to the table. Max dove in, and Joyce smiled in satisfaction, as she helped herself to a roll with the butter too.
They munched in companionable silence for several minutes.

“Joyce, I’d marry you if you’d promise to make these cinnamon rolls a few times a week.”

“Max, if I made these treats that often we’d both be overweight, you and me.”

“It’d be worth it,” said Max, between bites.

“No way. If we got married, I’d be feeding you salads and fruit and all those healthy things that we are supposed to eat. Keep us both slim and living into our golden years.”

The cinnamon rolls dealt with, the two set about planning when Max should make his doctor appointment, and Joyce, as usual, said she would be happy to drive him to the meeting.

“I sure wish I could drive,” said Max. “I hate having to rely on other people to get into the city.”

“Never mind, Max. If the surgery is successful, you’ll be able to do all kinds of things that you’ve had to give up, and that includes driving.”

Max smiled at Joyce. “And then I could take you for a night on the town, dinner, dancing….” Max trailed off.
“If it’s successful! Think positive, my friend.”

About a month later, Joyce and Max went into Carson. The city confused Max, he told Joyce, and he didn’t think he would ever be able to live there. This was where his daughter had moved after high school, the place where she had got into drugs and worse.
“Well, Max, we’re here.” Joyce pulled into a parking stall and turned to face her friend.

“Now, you don’t have to hang around, while I wait to see the doctor, you know. Maybe you’d like to shop, or go to the museum…” Max’s voice trailed off, and Joyce felt that little stab of emotion again. Max was quite endearing in his way.

“Now, you just never mind. I am going to that waiting room and I’ll be there to hear the good news about your surgery when you come out, okay?”

Max grinned as the two of them left the car and went into the building. It was a ten storey brick building and Max told Joyce that he was glad that his doctor’s office was on the main floor. He couldn’t do stairs anymore and he was rather frightened of elevators. They made him feel nervous, and claustrophobic.
The two made their way into the doctor’s waiting room. There were big rectangular windows in the room, making it bright and airy. It was a spacious area, with comfortable dark green seating placed in rows that faced a large television. The TV was tuned to a news channel, something that pleased Joyce. She loved to keep up with current events. While Max checked in with the young receptionist, and then joined Joyce.

She was about to ask Max if he wanted her to accompany him into the doctor’s examination room, when something on the television caught her attention. A news reporter came into view, a familiar looking building just behind her.

“And so, the police chief thinks he has finally got a lead on the current situation,” she said.
Joyce caught her breath, as she listened, Max forgotten now.

The police chief was introduced by the reporter as Captain O’Neill. He said, “The perpetrator is believed to be an older woman, or a man, with a wig. The hair color is gray, and the wig or hair, is a medium length, and curly.”

Joyce ran her hand over her hair. This was bad.
Max was called by the nurse just then, and Joyce nodded to him, as he told her he’d be out in a bit.
She listened, as the chief said, “Furthermore, we think this same person is responsible for at least two other robberies, in Shasta and in Colborne.”

Joyce looked around the waiting room. She saw that the four people who sat in various locations in the room were either talking to each other or reading magazines. She felt so vulnerable now, for what if one of them looked up at the television screen? For now, the reporter said, “We have a sketch of the thief.” And she held up a drawing that looked like Joyce, in her mask. The gray hair was evident in the picture even though her facial features were hidden.Why, oh why had she robbed that last bank? She should have been content with the money from the first couple of places. But no, she had been greedy. Instead of getting enough for Max, she had thought she needed more – enough for the kids. That had been her downfall, she supposed. What to do now? She thought for a minute, and then sighed.
And as she watched, the station proceeded to show video footage from all three banks. In each shot, Joyce saw that she had been caught clearly in the camera’s eye.

The news channel now shifted to the weather forecast, and Joyce relaxed a little. Maybe she would be safe. There was no use in worry for nothing. She would have to dispose of that mask, though. She resolved to do that as soon as she got home.

A Short Story

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I originally title this piece, “The Suit” but some readers were rather distracted by that title.

 

The first thing that I noticed about the boy – he couldn’t be more than twelve or so – was how poorly the dark blue suit fitted him. It was too wide in the shoulders, and the sleeves were too long. They reached to his thumbs. His hands were almost covered by the fabric. He had tousled blonde hair and bright grey eyes that had a sort of glow. There was a light there that spoke of hope and promise.

“Excuse me, young man, may I help you?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah – I mean yes, I am looking for someone.”

I opened my register as he spoke. “Okay, how about giving me a name.”

I was about to turn to the first page, when he said, “I – I don’t know for sure, maybe George Adamson, or Gordon, it might be Gordon.”

I sat back in the chair.

“Look, son, I need a lot more information, and accurate information at that. Can you tell me when this George or Gordon Adamson arrived?”

“Well, not really.” The boy hung his head. “I just know it was in the last couple of years, but I don’t know when.”

I sighed and looked at the boy, not angry at the interruption of my work, but rather sorrowful for this young man who seemed, now, a bit lost.

I ran fingers through my brown curls as I thought for a minute.

“Look, I’ll search for you, but it’s going to take some time. First, give me your name and birth date and then you can go sit over there in the waiting room. I’ll call you if I find anything.” I gestured to the empty seats that lined two sides of the room. The chairs were elm wood, with purple and blue cushions.

“Okay, I’m Jordan Adamson. I was born on March 27, 2003.

I jotted down the information in my register.

“Now go have a seat.”

“Thanks, um – I don’t know your name, I’m sorry.”

“It’s Dariah,” I said.

“Dariah, okay, thanks.”

The boy walked to the nearest chair and sat down. He swung his feet back and forth and and he tapped the chair arms with his fingers.

I began to look down the list of names. To go back two years was asking a lot of me, and I wondered what little magic the child had worked to make me wish to help him.

I took a sip of my bottled water. I scanned the list, and then I found Gordon Adamson at last. It showed that he had died on September 12, two years before.

“Hi there, young man. I’ve found him, I believe.”

The boy got up and walked over to my desk.

I read the details out to him as he nodded.

“Yes, that sounds like my Dad alright.”

“Then I will call him now to come and escort you the rest of the way.”

I turned to my microphone, and pushed the button.

“Will Mr. Gordon Adamson of September 12 please report to the Admissions office immediately.”

The boy rocked back and forth on his heels and toes. He smiled a wide smile now.

“Thanks so much, ma’am. I really wanna meet my Dad.” He hung his head a moment and then said, “I never got to meet him when I was on earth. He left my Mom when I was little. But now I have a chance to know him, right?”

The door opened, and in strode a tall man, dressed in a white suit. His hair was blonde like the boy’s and he had the same grey eyes.

“Hello there, I’m Jordan,” said the boy.

The man took a step back.

“Jordan? My son Jordan?”

“Yes, Dad, it’s me.”

“Well, my lad, we have much to talk about then. Will you come with me?” Mr. Adamson held out one hand.

The boy grasped it. The man led him to the door, and pushed it open. They left the room.

I turned back to my desk, took another sip of bottled water, and flipped the register to the last page. I wondered who would enter the room next. Curious, I took the small blue earpiece from where it rested on its side and listened for a minute. I nodded, then replaced the device.
I glanced at the huge clock on the wall across from my desk. It was nearly time for a group of people to arrive. They had been in a bus rollover. I was going to be busy for quite some time.

Work in Progress First Part

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Good morning. Here is another work in progress. It is an introduction to the longer tale as it follows the life of Bevan.

“Jump, Gwennie, jump!”

Three year old Gwendolyn O’Brien turned from the hay loft window to look back at her brother.

“Gwennie yump?” she asked.

She followed Bevan everywhere, so this attempt to convince her to do something on her own, without his lead, was frustrating. Bevan was nearest her in age, of the seven children, just three years older, but he was big – as big as an eight year old, and he resented the way his sister followed him around all the time. He had, like his brothers and other sisters, inherited their dad’s black Irish features – dark hair and pale skin, while Gwennie was light haired like their mother.

“Jump Gwennie,” Bevan commanded, peering over her shoulder, at the haystack far below.

Gwennie jumped.

As she leaped, Bevan saw the pitchfork sticking up out of the hay. How often had his father ranted at his older brothers when they left the pitchfork lying down instead of propping it against the wall?

Dangerous, was what his father said.

Gwennie jumped and Bevan reached out his hand and it caught her blonde hair. A lock came off in his hand, pink bits of flesh stuck to the place where the hair had pulled out of her scalp. His sister plummeted down. Bevan dropped the lock of hair. His hand clenched and unclenched as he watched.

Gwennie’s small body hit the stack.

He leaned out of the window, and he watched as her little yellow cotton dress turned bright red, and he saw the four tines of the heavy pitch fork, sticking up through her body, from her chin to her stomach.

Bevan screamed, and almost fell from the hay loft window himself. He stopped in time, regained his balance, and ran to the ladder. He scrambled down, and raced out of the barn. He expected to see someone, at least one of his brothers or sisters, but the yard was deserted.

“Mamma! Papa! Come quick!” he yelled. He raced to the house.

“Mamma! Papa!” He threw open the door as he shouted, and both his parents rose from where they sat at the big wood table. “What’s the matter, Bevan?” asked his father.

“Papa, it’s Gwennie! She fell. Come quick!”

Bevan turned and ran towards the haystack, not stopping to see if they followed. They ran behind Bevan, and Mamma screamed out when she saw Gwennie. She and Papa knelt beside the little girl. By this time, the other children began to gather around. Mamma started sobbing. A couple of Bevan’s sisters screamed. Papa put both his hands on the pitchfork, and pulled it out of Gwennie’s body. Papa stood up, with the little girl in his arms. Bevan noticed how her arms dangled limp, as Papa ran towards the house. He took his daughter inside, and the oldest of the boys, Carrick, led his wailing mother in the direction of the house.

The other children followed, silent.

Once inside the house, Mamma became quiet. She wrapped the little girl’s body in a blanket. It was Gwennie’s favorite, the blue and pink squares crocheted by Mamma just for her. Bevan caught his breath and thought that maybe he would stop breathing, too, just like Gwennie. He ran to Mamma and put his arms around her knees, where she sat on the wood rocking chair next to the place where Gwennie lay. Mamma patted his head, but it was a slow and absentminded patting.

Bevan gulped and said, “Mamma, I’m sorry Gwennie is dead.”

Mamma took a deep breath. Bevan could feel her whole body shake for a second.

“Bevan, it is not your fault. It is no one’s fault.”

She raised her head and looked at the other children, all standing close to her.

“But Mamma, the pitchfork -” This from Edith, seven years old and always the talkative one.

“Never mind that. We will never again talk about the pitchfork,” said Mamma. She was silent then, tears rolling down her cheeks. She rocked in the chair. Bevan looked up at his mother, and then he tried to squeeze some tears from his eyes, but he couldn’t.

Bevan watched his father’s shoulders shake, the man’s eyes never leaving Gwennie, as he told the older kids to go and get the chores done.

Papa called the undertaker and the tall, somber man arrived a little later, in his big black hearse. He took Gwennie’s body away.

The family gathered that evening, around the fire and Papa read the Bible. Bevan liked some parts of the Bible, especially when God punished the bad people. But tonight Papa read about Jesus and how everyone would be with Him in Paradise. Bevan wasn’t sure he would like to live there. It sounded boring. Papa said a prayer for Gwennie and then the children took turns praying.

The day of the funeral dawned bright and sunny. It was going to be another hot day, with dust blowing across the Kansas prairie. The children, as well-dressed as Mamma and Papa could afford, piled into the old wagon, huddling together. Papa sat in the driver’s seat, and Mamma sat beside him, Edith and Nora sandwiched between her and Papa. Bevan pushed at his brother Hiram, who was elbowing him.

“Stop it, you!” said Carrick, smacking both Bevan and Hiram on their heads. He sat next to Hiram, and Edith sat next to him. The others crowded into the back of the wagon.

They pulled up to the little church and they went inside. The tiny white casket was at the front of the church. There were flowers all around it, picked that morning by the ladies who ran the Good Wives Society, Bevan thought. He didn’t like the ladies. Sometimes they met at his house, to talk and pray with Mamma. They smelled of old age and perfumes that made him sneeze.
The minister droned on, then Carrick got up and said that everyone would miss little Gwendolyn, and then he cried. Mamma began to sob. Bevan tried again to bring tears to his eyes, but they remained dry. He kicked the seat in front of him, and his big sister Helen turned and glared at him. He shrugged his shoulders and made a face at her. Bevan wondered if Helen would jump from the hayloft if he could convince her to come up there.

To be continued….

Work in Progress Part One

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It is July 7th and time to post something for the week….

Okay, so she isn’t really that good a friend. In fact, I hadn’t seen her for about five years, when I literally bumped into her in the local bookstore/ music shop. It’s a small town, and some of the stores try to sell a little bit of everything so they can make a go of it. Anyway, I was backing up from the cash register, after paying for my CDs when I hit something, or rather, someone.
“Watch where you’re going,” I snapped, as I stepped back from the girl who was now in front of me.
“Why, it’s Emily Oliver! How are you Emily?”
I studied the girl who stood there. She had dark hair, and a tiny mouth, which was now stretched into a smile as she looked at me. I didn’t have a clue who she was.
“I – I’m sorry but,” I hesitated a moment before I continued to speak, “Do I know you?”
The girl laughed.
“I guess my contacts instead of glasses disguise is working, eh? It’s me, Savannah.”
“Savannah?” I looked closer. “Those contacts make a big difference alright. I would never have recognized you, not in a million years. When did you get them?”
“Right after I started my music degree at college. Couldn’t be a singer with big ol’ owl eyes, now could I?”
“A singer?” This was going from bad to worse. I peered at her from behind the glasses that I wore. I’d thought about getting contacts, but the idea of putting them in my eyes made me squeamish.
“Yes, I’m in a rock band called “Ocean’s Wave”.”
“I’ve seen ads around for that band. I had no idea you were in it. A singer, you say?” I was getting more jealous by the minute. How on earth did this so called friend of mine end up a singer, when that was the one big secret wish and dream I’d had since I was about twelve? Never mind that I hadn’t gone to college. Couldn’t afford to anyway. Never mind that I’d never even looked into it. I resented Savannah, and it’s a good thing I can act or she’d have seen my resentment.
“So can we talk sometime? I’ll call you if you give me your number.” Savannah smiled at me again, and I thought the eyeliner and mascara she had on was a bit heavier than it should be, but I wasn’t going to criticize her. No, I’d take the high road and let on like we could still be friends. Big laugh. Never. Not a chance.
We exchanged phone numbers and Savannah told me she was in the shop to buy some music for the band. And a new CD or two, so the band could increase their repertoire.
I managed to extricate myself from her happiness and got out of the store. I stalked angrily down the street. A singer? How dare Savannah become a singer? Not once had she ever hinted to me, all through high school, that she had any interest in music. Oh, I knew she took piano lessons, and then played a guitar, but a singer? Geez, and all I had to show for the last five years was a miniscule bank account with money I’d saved from working at the truck shop as a shipper, receptionist and accountant. They didn’t even let me do the real accounting. That was handled by Meg, who was a tad over forty and raised Scotch Terriers. She came in part time and did all the end of the month work, while I was allowed to do the preparation and record keeping so it would be all ready for her when she did come in to work.

I got home. I was still living with my parents. Mom had had to retire early when she got sick, and dad was still working at the grocery store. He was assistant manager, and I knew he’d never get the promotion he dreamed of, to become store manager. Old Mr. Frost would never allow it. His bald and fat son Earl was the manager, and dad had nowhere else to rise to in the store. He was stuck, just like I was stuck. But maybe, just maybe, I could get out of my rut, even if dad couldn’t.
My mom called me from the kitchen as I entered the house. “I’m home, yes, mom.”
“Come here Emily. I have a treat for you.”
I entered the kitchen, which was all white, and glowing. Mom was house proud and she loved to clean I think. The house was always spotless. I helped her clean when she wasn’t feeling well because I knew how much it meant to her to have a nice home. Well, except for my room which is another matter entirely. But she left that cleaning up to me.
Mom gestured toward the spotless white counter.
“I baked a cake this morning while you were gone. Want some?”
“Sure, mom.” I knew mom liked to feed me and dad. And she loved to make cakes. This one was beautiful. It was tall and round and the frosting was a light soft pink. She’d put strawberries all around in a fancy way. She’d taken a cake decorating course at Micheal’s and then come home and put her new skills to good use. Something my weight showed. No wonder I was gaining weight. Oh well. I’d have some cake.
We sat down together and mom cut and dished up a generous slice of cake for me. It was heavenly. My life might be in shambles, but I had a mother who could cook and bake.
After I finished my cake I excused myself and went up to my room. I opened the bag from the store and took out the two CDs I’d bought. Funny, I didn’t feel much like listening to them now. Not when I knew that Paula would probably be singing these very songs at some band concert before long. The jealousy came back with a vengeance. How dare she? I slammed the CDs down on my bed and tossed the bag in a corner. I threw myself down on my bed and buried my face in my pillow.
I cried for a few minutes, then I got up and went into my bathroom and scrubbed my face. I rarely wore makeup. Didn’t see the point when I only saw old Jack and his brother Merv at the shop most of the time. Sure, sometimes the shop door would open and a handsome young guy would come inside, but it was to check on a repair job on some truck, and they weren’t there to meet a girl. I was overweight anyway. And I usually needed a haircut. I kept my hair long, but the bangs I wore grew fast and I never seemed to get around to having them cut regularly. Jack and Merv didn’t mind how I looked. So why should I?
After I washed my face, I sat down on my bed and thought a bit about my future. Maybe I couldn’t ever be a singer like Savannah, but what was stopping me from being a success in some other way? I went over to my little white desk, opened the drawer and rummaged through it until I found a notepad and a pen.
I sat down at my desk. I wrote across the top of the page, “What I Can Do” and then another column, “What I Want to Do”.
I thought for a minute, and started writing. Once I was done, and it took a while for me to finish, I had, under “What I Can Do” a list that read, Get a hair cut that suits you, Wear makeup, Lose weight, Find a better paying job, Buy some nice clothes.
Under “What I Want to Do” was listed: Be a success, be rich, get a boyfriend, get a cat.
I sighed. Maybe this was a stupid idea, but suppose I really wanted to be rich? The easiest way to riches would be to rob a bank. I grinned, imagining myself, dressed in black with a face mask, entering the little local bank and robbing it. Now that was crazy. I set that idea aside for a minute.
I could, though, take money from the truck shop. Nobody would know, because I was smart enough to get away with it. I was given charge of the books until Meg showed up at the end of every month. I was certain that I could hide my theft from her, if I tried. But did I dare do all this?
I grinned. Yes, I was going to set something in motion, because I couldn’t bear the thought of Savannah’s success and my failures.

To be continued….

July!

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Alright, so I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for the month of July. My goal is 100,000 words. I started July 1st with 29,079 words already written, so while this is going to be a real challenge, I hope to make my target.

The 29,079 words are a *lot* of short stories, all started, none finished. So….I am a serial starter, LOL. Most are  fantasy or horror genres, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

Each week of July I plan to post an excerpt from a story. The first will be on July 7th.

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