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    Oliver Dean
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Give me the money - 1. Chapter 1

 

He strode in, the mask tugged tight over his face. It was too small for his round cheeks and uncut hair, and he could feel his heart beat around his eyes. The security guard had his phone out, and his fingers tapped against the screen, a hint of smile on his thin lips. The cashier counted out twenties for a middle-aged woman, who stood with her arms crossed, staring at the floor. In the queue for the counters, a fat man stood puffing, searching for something in his bag which he had swung across his chest, and in front of him an old lady wearing a long beige coat, tugged back her jacket sleeve and checked her watch.


"Nobody move," he yelled, pulling the gun out of his pocket, and waving it around the room.

"What did he say?" the old lady asked the fat man.

"Shit, he's got a gun" the fat man shouted, dropping his bag.

"Shut up," Joe yelled.

The security guard fingered his baton, but Joey ran at him, and cracked his gun against the side of the man's head.

"Anyone else want to fuck around?" he yelled.

He crossed the room to the cashier's desk, and pointed his gun at the head of the middle-aged woman.

"If you don't want this bitch to die, then fill this bag with money," he snapped at the cashier, pushing a plastic rubbish bag into the gap under the bullet-proof window.

"Do you want twenties, fifties or hundreds?" the cashier said into the microphone.

"Everything, you cretin," he roared. "And hurry up, or I'll do her in."

"Don't do that, sir. It's just that the bag won't fit back through the hole if I fill it completely. So I thought, maybe, you'd prefer hundreds. Then, once I've finished with those, I could put fifties, and if there's still room, a few twenties. That way, you can get the maximum amount, sir."

"Yes, fine. Good idea. Thank you," Joe said, looking around, the gun still pressed to the woman's head, her soft brown hair tickling his fingers. "But hurry up, I need to get out of here."

"Do you think you could not push so hard?" the lady said, her voice low and meek.

What?" he said.

"You're hurting me, and I won't try to escape. I promise," she whispered.

"Oh jeez, sorry," he said, releasing the pressure a bit. "I'm just a bit nervous, you see. I haven't done this for a long time."

"You're doing fine," the lady said, and he felt her shivering under the point of the gun. "I'm absolutely terrified."

"Excellent," Joe said, wanting to give her a hug.

"No one move," a voice called from the front door. "This is a robbery. If anyone moves, I will blow their fucking brains out."

Joe spun around, but as soon as he saw the man with a semi-automatic weapon, he dropped to the floor, pulling his hostage down with him.

"Get down," the gunman yelled, pointing his gun at the fat man, who dropped to the floor.

He stuck his gun in the old lady's face, and she lowered herself down next to the fat man.

"What are you doing?" the women asked Joe.

"He has a bigger gun than me," Joe said. "I can't fight him."

"Then can you take your small gun away from my head? It really hurts," she said curtly.

Joe dropped the gun into his lap, and slipped it into his pocket.

"Give me the money," the gunman roared, pointing the black barrel of the gun at the cashier.

"It's bulletproof glass," the cashier said. "You're not as good as the other guy, are you?"

"Shut up," Joe whispered.

"What other guy? Shut up and give me the money," the gunman shouted.

"The other robber. He's much smarter. He pointed his gun at a customer's head. I don't want people closing their accounts because of me. So I packed this bag with hundreds and fifties for him."

"What are you talking about, you crazy bitch? Shut up and give me that bag."

"This one is for the other guy. I don't want my customer killed, or I'll never get cashier of the month. Let me finish packing his bag, and then I'll make up yours, alright?"

"No, it's not alright. I want that one," the robber shouted.

"Well I'm not giving it to you. You'll have to discuss it with the other gentleman. He's down by your feet.”

Joe looked up and saw the large head of the robber looking down at him.

"What the fuck is going on here?" the man said. "Get up."

The machine gun swung down and Joe could see up into the darkness of the barrel. He pushed himself away from the middle-aged woman, who covered her head with her arms, and stood up. He could feel the gun in his pocket.

"Why the hell have you got a mask on?" the man said. "Take it off."

"No," Joe said.

"Take it off, or I'll shoot you," the man roared.

Joe suddenly recognized the voice. For a moment he was fourteen again, his body up against the wall of the boy's bathroom. Blood trickled from his nose, and thick hands held his arms pinned behind his back. He heard a zip being undone, and then something hot and wet dribbled down his trousers.

"Dirty faggot," someone yelled, laughing. "He's pissed himself."

Joe felt the man's hand crash across his cheek.

"Hey, dickhead. I'm talking to you. Take the mask off."

"I'm not taking it off," Joe said, looking away.

"Dammit," the man muttered, reaching out with his free hand.

The gunman disappeared from view for a second, and then Joe felt his pinched ears flip back from his scalp and cold air on his face. The mask dropped to the floor with a soft slap.

"Joe?" the man asked. "You're Joe Pincham, from St Paul's highs chool. How've you been? It's me, Paul. You remember me, don't you, Joe? We were good friends, you and I. So, you're robbing this bank, too?"

"Yeah," Joe mumbled. "I guess I am."

"Well, isn't it just a small world. Hey Joe, remember how me and the boys used to give you a hard time about being queer? I hope you didn't take that stuff personally."

Joe felt his face redden.

"Of course not, Paul," he said.

"Hey, boys, your bags are ready," the cashier called.

"I'll take those," Paul said.

"No, the other gentleman first," the cashier said. "He was here first, and fair is fair."

"I'm taking them both, lady," Paul said, pointing his gun at Joe. "And I have my gun pointed at someone now, so you have to give them to me."

Joe felt his breathing quicken. His slipped his fingers into his pocket, and ran them over the cool metal of the gun. He would probably never see Rick again, he realized. Never feel his warm body tightly pressed against his in the morning, or hold his hand as they walked down by the sea. Rick, who waited for him for five years while he lay every night curled up in a ball on his cold mattress in a prison cell, guards down the corridor. Rick, his love, who five months after Joe was released, cried with pain on his shoulder as cancer ate into his bowels, and who didn't know Joe still owned a gun, let alone would use it to rob another bank to pay for the medical bills.

 

"I need my share, Paul," he said, staring into the tall man's masked face.

"Are you nuts? You're not getting shit," Paul said, poking the gun into Joe's temple.

"Shit, that really hurts," Joe said. "I need the money, Paul. My boyfriend's sick."

"What? You have a boyfriend? I knew you were queer," Paul said, throwing back his head in a loud guffaw. "And after you took it so badly when we called you 'fag' at highschool. Some people."

"Paul, I really need that money," Joe said, fingering the gun.

"Not a chance, fag," Paul said, pushing the gun harder against Joe's head.

Joe remembered the hot piss cooling as it dripped down his trousers, the cruel laughter, and the blows to the back of his head as the gang of older kids walked away. He hid in a cubicle all afternoon, weeping silently, until long after all the kids had gone. Then he crept out, glancing briefly at the reflection of a messy-haired boy with red eyes and dried blood under his nose. In the corridor, Miss Evans saw him, helped him get cleaned up, and took him home in her car. They drove through the wet streets, and the car purred softly and she ran her fingers over his face.

"You know, Joe, you need to tell your parents about this."

Joe sighed. "No one listens to me. My dad told me it's my fault. He said I need to be more aggressive, less like the little queer they accuse me of being."

"No, Joe, that's rubbish," Miss Evans said. "You need to report them. I'll help you. If you don't, it won't stop with you. They'll go on bullying other people their whole lives. It's not just about you, Joe."

"I don't want to tell anyone," Joe sniveled. "Because it's my fault. I am a little queer. Last month, Paul stole my bag. My diary was in it. I write everything in there, including which boys I like. I shouldn't have brought it to school, I know, but I did. He cornered me after school, and asked me if I liked him, too. I told him I didn't. He punched me in the guts, and the next day, the bullying started."

The traffic lights changed and Miss Evans pulled away.

"It was very brave of you to tell me that, Joe," she said. "I'm on your side if you want to go to the headmaster about this. You always have a choice with bullies, Joe. You can take it, day after day until you want to explode, or you can do something about it. But if you don't want to, I understand, and I'm always here if you need anything."

As the gun pushed against Joe's head, he felt rage build in his belly.

"You didn't just call me a fag, Joe. You ruined my entire school life. You tried to break me with your words, and your piss and your punches, and you almost succeeded. But I'm not a kid anymore, Paul, and I'm not going to take your bullshit. Rick made me realise what I am, and what I want from life, and you are not going to steal that from me."

Even as he said it, Joe knew it wasn't true. Paul had ruined his life once again. His face was on the cameras and they knew his name.

"Look who's a big man, now," Paul said. "I'm taking that money, Joe, you little queer. And there's nothing you can do about it."

The pressure of the gun against his head loosened as Paul pulled it back. Joe knew he would crack it against his temple, breaking his skull and opening a wound out of which his life would pour onto the floor in a large, crimson puddle. Joe pulled the trigger in his pocket, and Paul tumbled to the floor, his hands clutching his belly, his mouth wide open as he screamed.

Joe grabbed the money from the cashier who smiled as if approving his action. He looked around the room at the unconscious body of the guard, the fat man sitting on the floor with the old lady's head on his shoulder, and then ran out into the street. Black and white cars surrounded the entrance, and policemen in blue uniforms jumped to attention.

"He's got a gun," someone yelled.

He fell back, a policeman’s arms around his chest. Something pounded into his face, and through the spray of blood he saw windows reflecting limping clouds, and a moist, winter sun splashing cold light overhead.

Copyright © 2021 Oliver Dean; All Rights Reserved.
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A tragic end to a tragic life.  The description in this story was very good.  I could picture what was happening clearly.  

Since you like writing short stories, you should consider participating in the GA anthology.  Guidelines can be found in the Anthology section of the Writer's Club.  

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