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Crime Fiction Thriller

It didn’t seem right, threatening such a pretty young woman, but Harrison’s plan allowed no room for sentiment.

The bank teller—Samantha, so her nametag said—glowed in the fluorescent light. Her dark hair and pale skin, her brick red lipstick and white smile topped with a cheery greeting nearly derailed his resolve, but he refused to melt. He had his note at the ready, simple instructions written left-handed with a number two pencil. He had but to slide it across the counter and wait. Returning her smile, he did just that.

She read it, frowned at it, frowned at him.

Harrison wore a light gray trench coat, partly against the cooling weather, partly so he could do what he did next. He pushed his hand forward in the right-hand pocket to assure Samantha that, yes, he did have a gun. Actually, he didn’t, but she wouldn’t know. He’d practiced in front of a mirror until he knew the lie would convince. Nor could she read or identify him. His eyes hid behind a pair of sunglasses and his head beneath a dark gray fedora from which little tags of fake blonde hair spilled.

Samantha licked her lips and studied him, no doubt memorizing every fake detail of his appearance. That was fine, but Harrison had no time to waste. “Just this transaction.” His voice, pitched false, was like wind whispering through corn fields. “Quickly, please.” He waggled the nonexistent gun. “I’m in a hurry.”

Hands quivering, she complied. Harrison made it easy for her. His note demanded a mere three thousand dollars, about half the contents of her drawer, stashed in a large envelope. She need not move, need not speak, need not raise the alarm until he was away. And moments later, he was.

Warning bells jangled the instant he stepped through the door, right on schedule. Walking casual, he glanced back in surprise. What, had the bank been robbed? The few people nearby registered the same surprise but attached no suspicion to him.

Harrison crossed the smallish parking lot to an eye-catching red Dodge Dart and left the scene at a sedate pace. Someone might remember the vehicle. If so, all well and good, and if not, even better. As he tooled down the road, a pair of squad cars screamed by. He pulled over to give them room.

Three blocks on, Harrison ditched the car—it wasn’t his anyway—at the community park and strolled down the path past the empty playground with its swings oscillating lightly in the autumn breeze. On the way, he casually tucked his sunglasses into his hat along with his fake hair and deposited them in a convenient trash barrel. At the end of the next block, he came to his own car, an unobtrusive gray Chevy Nova, and two minutes later left the little nowhere town of Red Oak, Nebraska.

Despite the chill, he cracked the windows and sailed down the state highway past harvested fields and semi-bare trees, making for the Interstate beneath the crystalline November blue. Thank you, Dwight David Eisenhower! he sang to himself. Thank you,Nebraska! Just last month, the state became the first in the nation to complete its mainline Interstate highways, linking up scores of small towns with their small banks all ripe for the picking. The Red Oak robbery was his first, his proof of concept, and he had pulled it off without a hitch. True, it didn’t make him rich, but Harrison didn’t seek his fortune from just one bank. A few thousand here, a few thousand there, different banks in different small towns scattered across different states, never twice wearing the same disguise, and soon he would be living in comfortable, anonymous notoriety.

Swathed in happy contemplation, he coasted Interstate 80 east toward Omaha, and just after noon crossed the quiet ripples of the Platte. A series of billboards caught his attention, advertising a mom and pop restaurant not (so they claimed) to be missed. Well, he wouldn’t miss it. He could splurge on a meal today. He took the indicated exit, found the restaurant, and parked. After withdrawing enough to pay for lunch, he tucked his ill-gotten gains into the glove compartment and went in. He ordered an open-face turkey sandwich, coffee, and a slice of apple pie à la mode, an early Thanksgiving dinner. And why not? He had so much to be thankful for!

Or at least he did at that moment.

Then he returned to the parking lot and discovered his Nova gone.

-----

Fifty miles east, flying down I80 past the Iowa corn fields, Jack gripped the wheel with his left hand, stretched out his right, and massaged Susan’s neck. He was in heaven. They both were, the perfect couple on a perfect autumn day, young and strong, a devilishly handsome blonde fellow behind the wheel, a sinfully beautiful brunette woman by his side, together having heisted the first of what soon would be many vehicles. She purred at his touch.

“I just can’t believe it,” he said for probably the hundredth time. “I just can’t believe how perfect it is. Thank you, Nebraska! Thank you, Dwight David Eisenhower! All these small towns where nobody locks their doors or remembers to take their keys out of the ignition, all lined up for the taking, up and down this big, beautiful Interstate!” He whooped.

Susan laughed and whooped, too, before chiding, “Too bad it’s only a Nova.”

“Next one will be a Cadillac,” Jack promised.

“Don’t get greedy. Remember the plan. Nothing too flashy.”

“Fine, fine. Modest cars that won’t draw attention, sold by the dozen. We’ll be retired in Acapulco by the time we’re thirty.”

Susan leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I like a man with big dreams.”

He grinned at the road.

“What do you think the guy who owned this hunk of junk dreamed?”

Jack laughed. “He probably dreamed of a better car.”

She opened the glove compartment. “Maybe he left us a clue. Or some chewing gum, at least.”

When Susan neither removed any chewing gum nor closed the compartment nor spoke a word, Jack glanced at her. Her mouth was hanging open. “What is it, baby? A stash of joints?”

She shook her head. “Holy moly, Jack! Look at this!” She withdrew a pile of cash and held it up.

Jack nearly ran off the road. He hit the brake and pulled onto the shoulder, eliciting a chorus of horns behind.

Susan riffled through the pile of bills. “There’s two, almost three thousand dollars here!”

Jack ran his fingers over it, too.

“Damn,” he muttered.

They looked at the cash, eyes glittering.

They looked at each other, ready to hop in the back seat, broad daylight be damned.

Naturally, that’s when the cop car pulled up behind.

November 18, 2020 20:02

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5 comments

05:29 Nov 26, 2020

Good story, great writing and description. The hook at the beginning was wonderful and made me want to read more, it is hard for me to come up with hooks to grab attention but you seemed to have done it effortlessly, makes me wonder if you have written any books. You left off at a good cliffhanger which would naturally leave readers begging for more, you went wonderfully into detail and made it easy to picture the story in my mind. Great work.

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Dale Lehman
03:58 Nov 27, 2020

Thank you, Evelyn!

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Princess Eno
19:29 Nov 24, 2020

Oh oh. Is there a continuation?

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Dale Lehman
04:05 Nov 27, 2020

Not at this point. I suppose I could write one, but I rather like where it ends, with the implication that Jack and Susan are in big trouble rather than actually playing it out. One can speculate that Harrison is, too, since the money from the bank robbery is about to be found in his car, even though he's no longer in possession of it. Justice all around.

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Princess Eno
14:39 Nov 27, 2020

I see what you mean! Really liked the story. Made me laugh when he asked if the bank had been robbed to himself. Enjoying to read !

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