"Stay with me now, don't give up... We're nearly clear."
I looked up at my older brother, blood dripping down the side of my mouth, and laughed. Nearly choking as I tried to rise. But whatever strength left in me was seeping away.
"It's no use, get Jaime and get outa here."
A woman wearing a Frankenstein mask rushed up to the two of us and tugged at Julian's arm.
"C'mon, c'mon, we can't do anything for 'em now. He's lost too much blood."
"I can't..." He said through burning tears dripping down his face behind his own Dracula mask. The smell of acrid plastic and sweat mixing together. "We can't, god I'm so sorry..."
He started to back away, half being dragged as he stumbled backwards into a run, following Jaime.
I watched helplessly as they rushed into an old blue Toyota van with a sliding side door. They tossed the cash inside and ripped outa of the drive way of a Vancouver parking lot. They'd just knocked up a provincial bank and it would be only moments before the tailing cops found their switch up location.
Their other car, the getaway vehicle, was what I was leaning against. I could hear the sirens blaring outside the car park. Screeching tires and a pounding headache was all I can make out. How'd it all come to this... I wondered... What the hell was I thinking getting involved. This was Julian's shtick. I'd never held a gun in my life before this.
If it weren't for Jaime.
Two months prior.
"Aw c'mon. You know your the only person your brother trusts. We could use your help on this one. You've always been the better locksmith." Jaime was resting her head against my knee as she pleaded.
Both of us were born into locksmithing. But during the last few years, Julian had gotten into shadier stuff. Stuff an honest to god fellow like me strayed away from.
But their was just something about Jaime that muddled your mind and opened up your mouth and your wallet. She'd been in the biz for as long as he'd known her. Red Riding Hood is what they used to call her because she liked to play with danger.
She hated that name. She always pointed out the real girl was Blanchette nothing close to Jaime. But to them there was no difference. She's conned con men, held up convenience stores, strip clubs and even dental offices. And she do it with a winning smile.
She wasn't like your regular robber. She was polite, quiet and confident. So much so, she reminded him of a villain straight out of a comic book. She'd probably seduce Bruce Wayne, make Superman cheat on Louise Lane and give Black Widow a run for her money.
But it was all a façade.
"Are you ever gonna quit it, Jaime. You've enough money to make a small fortune of it. Why do you keep robbing places."
She smiled at me with that smile and shrugged looking distantly at the olive walls of my apartment. There was little in the way of adornment. And that was what she loved about me most, I kept things simple and clean.
"Don't you ever want to do something exciting in your life. Let the adrenaline take you away?" I shook my head at her ridiculous notion and she continued. "You've never felt the highs I've felt. There's nothing like getting away with it, you know."
"Nah, you're right I don't know." I said scratching the back of my head. Muddling over the thought to help them or not.
We were family and I always had a huge crush on Jaime since I was little, but there was nothing I could ever do. Julian was handsome, smarter and easy to get along with. They made a perfect pair. And Julian loved her.
"Show me the pics of the locks, I'll see what I can come up with." I asked.
The few words in my life that I ever regretted saying.
Bringing the back of my palm up to my mouth, I brushed away a bit of blood that smeared across my face. Sweat was profusely falling down my brow as I peeked around the corner of the front of the red Mitsubishi Lancer and cursed when I saw them.
An RCMP vehicle had just rounded the bend and stopped. Their occupants drawing guns and yelling something at me, but I was to busy trying to formulate a plan of action to even hear what they had said.
"Step away from the vehicle, and put your hands on your head." Yelled one of the cops. This I heard clear enough.
Do I turn myself in, rat on my own brother just to save my pitiful life, I wondered. Tears welled up at the edges of my eyes as I thought about all the moments Julian had been there for me.
The first girl that had broken my heart and left me in shambles. He was there to play video games with and joke away my depression. When I was diagnosed with OCD. He'd comforted me and made sure that I wasn't different from everyone else. And if I was, it made me better for it. And finally, when it came down to it.
My brother was always my role model. He was kind-hearted, empathetic and funny. He'd brighten up a room of social awkward people with manic depression simply because he was fun to be with and easy to get along. He'd never made an enemy in his life. Nor did he think poorly about any other person.
It's what made the pair of them so effective. They were too trustworthy. Julian genuinely. Jaime justifiably. And if you weren't fooled it only means they'd done got you good.
But I chose this. With my good arm, I pressed against the smooth pavement and lifted the gun in my hand. I've neve shot a person, never wanted too.
"Put your guns down," I yell back at them. "I'll come out but if any of you raises a firearm, I swear I pull the trigger."
"You are surrounded. You don't have to worry we won't shoot as long as you put your own gun away."
I curse under my breadth. As I remembered to turn off the safety of my gun. It's loaded right, I thought for a moment. Jaime wouldn't give me a unloaded gun. They robbed places with the real thing right? Damnit these are the things you shoulda of thought of before hand. I scolded myself. But I would have to find out.
I raised my hands to the ceiling and fired a shot. It rang out uproariously as it echoed along the walls of parking lot. Trigging a car alarm, it to added to blaring sirens and exclamation of the officers around him.
"Step away or I swear I shoot again!" I yell. "Drop your guns!"
I didn't know what I was doing. I was just biding time, I thought. The blood in my hip was soaking my underwear and crusting now. The pain excruciating. I wondered were Jaime and Julian were now. If they were thinking of me.
"Alright, alright. We'll lower our weapons if you step slowly away from your vehicle. We mean you no harm."
I begin to laugh manically at that.
"One of you shot me for Christ sakes." I yelled back.
Then I remembered something. I looked out to the open air of the side of the building. It was one of those car parks with a half wall separating you from the streets below. They were on a higher level. But just maybe.
Relying on my memory and dumb luck. I bolted from the Lancer holding to my bleeding wound. I leap off the side the building. Gunshots fire from behind me as I do so.
The fall was brief. I held out my hands before me as I landed on a joining walkway between the office building next door and the parking lot. My gun bouncing free and landing on the road below. Without any hesitation, I bolted to the other side. I don't know where I found the energy or the perseverance through the excruciating pain. But I leap through a window.
Cops behind me, a screaming office lady beneath me as I scramble to her door ahead of me and run down the aisle of cubicles. The commotion brings all the eyes on me as I rush by. Knocking over a man holding a prototype to scale miniature building.
Must be some architectural workplace, I thought briefly as I scanned for the exit. I notice a green elevator sign above one hallway and rush past more office workers.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry." I apologize as I brush by them. The elevator was rather old. I pressed on the button several times but I could hear the cops behind me. I turn to the stairwell door and book it again. Skipping the staircase two at a time, tumbling and falling at the bottom floor leaving a trail of blood all the way behind me.
I burst into the streets.
If you've never been to Vancouver. There's really only one thing you'll most likely take away from it. And that is, it rained a hell of a lot here. Luckily this was exactly what I needed. The cool rain water washed away some of my pain and everyone around me had heavy coats like my own.
Reaching up to my mask, I tore it away and threw it to the curb. A cherub face Casper the Friendly Ghost smiled up into the cloudy sky as rain water ran along it's smooth plastic surface.
"I just have to lose the cops." I told myself as I made my way into a crowded alleyway. There was a whole bunch of shopping carts an air mattress, dumpsters. Homeless people abound. Once again I found my self apologizing as I hobbled by them.
Turning to the left then to the right, I remembered a homeless tent city was just a block away. He could find cover there. Running along the sidewalk I noticed broken glass scattered along the pavement and wondered what it was meant for or why there was so much of it before I reached the park.
It used to be a baseball diamond for residents, but now the hobos had taken it over. I rushed in and asked the nearest person for help.
"God's your bleedin', my dude. You should call the ambulance." She said with a drawl.
Through panting breadths I said...
"I can't... Robbed a bank."
"Oh you don't say?" She said looking at me curious of course why I had no money bag or anything.
"Look if I survive you can have half my share." I pleaded as I allowed myself to rest.
"You looking real pale. Stay by the fire, it'll make you feel better." I didn't know how to refuse or what to do. I suddenly was feeling light headed.
She helped me lean against an old dresser they had been chopping up for fire wood.
"You gonna be alright?" She asked. Another homeless man came out from a tent and scolded her.
"He's gonna bring trouble why you keeping him here?" He asked as I reached for my cell.
Sirens were heard in the distance. I knew I shouldn't be calling him, but I did anyway.
"Bro!" My brother's voice surprised and overjoyed yelled out. "Did you get outa of there?"
"Ya," I said through a haze. "I gotta away with it."
I smiled for a moment. As suddenly the cell felt very heavy. I let it fall to the ground and it slowly slid away from my hands. Rain falling down my fingertips as I tried to reach for my phone to no avail.
"Bro, oh my god. I love you man, I knew you'd make it. I swear. Where are you, me and Jaime will pick you up..."
"Is he alright?" Jaime's voice came in the background.
"I don't know? He's not answering."
"Bro please say something..."
A man breaking down on the other line as he begins to weep. I could hear shuffling.
"I shouldn't have brought him. I had a bad feeling about this one. Julian please forgive me. I'm so sorry." Jaime's voice came through just barely.
Some more shuffling and a sharp sound before Jaime's voice goes on the line.
"Jasper, Jasper. Oh god, Jasper I should've not of dragged you along. But you were the only one who could open the deposit boxes. You've the best feel for locks. God, I love you too Jasper. Please say something."
I continue to cry as I lean against the cupboard. I can't speak and everything is getting darker. I only wished that I could have reassured them then.
If only for a moment.
But I knew it was too late.
A hand passed over my eyes as I gave in to the wonderful feeling of letting go.