“You remember the plan?”
John nodded and tried to ignore his shaking hands. “I do. I will go in while you wait here in the car. I will find the manager of the bank and then tell them that their money is counterfeit and needs to be confiscated. Then I will take the money and bring it to the car. Once we have it there, we will drive away and make our escape.”
Officer Peter nodded. “I wish it did not have to come to this, but we have to do this.”
John nodded and walked inside. He tried to walk with confidence, but his legs shook almost as much as his hands and his armpits were damp under his police uniform. He stepped inside, holding the door for an older lady and then surveyed the room.
Three clerks were at the front desk. One stood arguing with a lady, something about not being able to take out a loan. One of the other clerks was eating a lunch that smelled decidedly fishy, but the last clerk was not busy.
John walked over to the clerk. The clerk looked up and immediately straightened. “Officer, how may I help you?” The man smoothed his hand down his unwrinkled shirt.
John cleared his throat. “I need to speak with the bank manager.” He was grateful that his voice didn’t shake as he spoke.
The clerk swallowed. “Alright, but do you have an appointment. Usually the manager only meets for appointments. He is a very busy man-”
John cut the man off and looked around. No one was paying him the least bit of attention, but he knew that it would be long before people started glancing his way. He held up his badge. “I am here, not on personal business, but police business. I will ask you again to get the bank manager and do it quietly. It won’t do good to have everyone worried.”
The clerk nodded and stood. “I shall get the manager right now.” He walked away slowly, looking back every so often with a worried look.
John glanced back at his partner who still sat in the car waiting for the signal in case of trouble.
Funny, John and Peter had always been partners. They had gone on patrol together, had arrested people together, had filed reports together. And now, they were partners in crime. How had they gone from being police officers, esteemed, and feared for that matter, to being criminals. He felt an uncomfortable itch trail down his spine, but the bank manager came out with the clerk and the feeling vanished.
The bank manager stepped forward and extended his hand. “William Barkley. Hello, Officer, to what do I owe this pleasure?” His smile was stiff around the edged and had John not been so uncomfortable himself, he would have noticed how fake the smile looked.
John fingered the edge of his badge, catching the bank manager’s attention. “I am here on police business. If you would show me to a more private place, then I can explain.”
The bank manager nodded and looked around. The others in the room had begun to notice the police officer in their midst, but most pretended that they were not looking. William smiled at a lady, nodded to a clerk, and then turned. “Follow me, Officer.”
Once they were far enough from nosy people and John’s patience and time were running short, John stopped. “I am here to confiscate the counterfeit money from your bank. Show me to your vault.”
The bank manager jerked back. “Counterfeit money, Officer? What counterfeit money? Who told you that there was counterfeit money?”
John knew that there was no counterfeit money, but he continued anyway. “We had someone report that they had been given counterfeit money. Now our job is to take it in for evaluation. If we find that the money is not counterfeit as you say, we will return the money to you. If not…” John touched the handcuffs at his waist and gave the man a look. “Now show me to your vault.”
William moved to acquiesce. “Follow me.”
John followed after him and his breath quickened the closer they came. This was it. This was what he and Peter had worked for. It was wrong, worse than wrong, but it was necessary. Police work did not pay enough for them to take care of their families. This would help them more than anything else had.
Yeah, they would have to move away and send for their families, but it would be worth it. Everyone would see that it would. Now they just had to get the money and get out of here.
William Barkley stopped at a wooden door, like all of the others and entered a pin. The door opened to reveal another one. The manager put in a similar code to this one and then, past that door was the bank vault. The manager looked at John almost angrily and then took a minute to unlock the vault.
John watched in amazement as the vault door was open. Money stacked up and there were…were those gold bars? Yep, they were. Along one of the walls was gold bars like he had only seen in movies.
“I will need a bag to put the money in. It would be foolish to walk out with wads of cash.” The bank manager begrudgingly pulled out a bag and handed it to John. John grabbed the bag and then filled it with as much money as it could hold.
“Do you really need to take that much? Surely you could examine it by just taking a few bills.” The man’s voice was almost a whine.
John turned. “I am taking this much because I have no idea if you have mixed the counterfeit money with the real money.” He closed the bag, his hands shaking even more now that he had the money in hand. This was real now. Once he walked out the door, he would be a thief. Just like the ones he and Peter had put behind bars. He felt uncomfortable at the comparison, but he shook it off. He was doing this for his family.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Barkley. I will get back to you once we find out whether or not this is counterfeit.”
“It’s not,” the bank manager said under his breath, but John did not hear him. His mind was too focused on leaving the bank.
He walked back the way they had come and then walked to the police car, careful to move slowly, so as to not look suspicious.
Then he got into his seat and turned to Peter. Peter’s eyes held the same guilty look that John’s surely had. “I suppose we should go now.” John nodded and Peter began driving.
John turned around to make sure that they weren’t being trailed, though why would they be. They were police officers, so no one would suspect a thing. “Where are you planning to drive too?”
Peter changed lanes and then spoke, “I say we should drive on the interstate since it will be busy enough for us to get kind of lost in the mix of cars. Even though, this is a police car.”
John nodded. “Did we do the right thing, Peter?” He knew the answer before he asked.
Peter laughed. “No, of course not. But we had to. For our families.” Peter scratched his head. “Though I don’t suppose that they will be happy to be uprooted from home. How far do you think we should go?”
“As far as we must.” They would go as far as another country if they had to. John realized that it wasn’t all that worth it. Here they were running from the law that they had helped enforce all for a bag of money. And sure, it was a lot of money, but it wasn’t worth running away from what they knew. Still, it was too late to stop now. The bag of money, dirty, stolen money, was sitting and their car.
As the rode on the interstate, they both kept quiet. Both on high alert. Both nervous and worried. Suddenly, John looked back and saw a police car in his rear-view mirror. “Do you see that, Peter?”
Peter nodded and his hands started shaking on the steering wheel. “I am sure they are just also riding in the same direction as us.”
The police sirens went off and they realized that, no, they were not merely driving in the same direction. “Speed up, Peter, just in case. I am sure that they are not on to us, but-”
He was cut off when the police car was suddenly behind them and he heard the officer say, “Pull over!”
Peter and John traded glances. “What do we do?”
John’s whole body shook now. “I say we just pull over. They probably want to talk about something. Maybe something happened. Maybe they don’t even know about the money.”
They pulled over and the officer stepped out of the car and walked to John and Peter’s car. It was another friend of theirs, Michael. They watched him approach warily. They would do nothing to harm their friend and fellow officer, but they also weren’t going to go to jail. “I know you guys have the money, but I won’t tell the others if you split it three ways. I have a family too, you guys know.”
John and Peter traded glances. John nodded and then Peter said, “you have to promise not to tell, Michael, and we will split it right here, right now.”
Michael fingered his whiskered chin and then nodded. “Let’s step out and do it now. Then we can all run our separate ways.”
John and Peter stepped out of the car and walked to the back, but before they could retrieve the money, two other officers stepped out and handcuffed John and Peter both.
Michael shook his head sadly. “I never thought I would have to say this, but Officer Peter, Officer John, you both are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Then he stripped them of their guns, tasers, and their badges.
Peter turned to John. “At least, we can be cellmates.”
John shook his head and allowed himself to be led into the back of the police car.