Unfortunately, love makes you do crazy things.
Those were the words in the back of my head that day.
“We’d be kinda like Bonnie and Clyde,” Marcus said, shaking my arms. He wiggled them so they jiggled like worms, and I shrugged and sighed.
“I don’t know,” I groaned, leaning on the steering wheel.
“Well maybe you don’t have a goddamn choice Jesse, jeez!” He slammed his fists onto the dashboard. I shuttered. “Sorry baby,” he gruffed. I froze. “Just please, please won’t you fucking just do it… for me?”
I shook my head violently. “Okay,” I said. “But just this once.”
“That’s my girl!” He slapped me on the back, harder than necessary.
He pulled his ski mask down and threw me one. “You’ll wanna cover your visage, doll face.”
I fingered the threads of the black mask before pulling it over my blonde curls. Then I left the drivers seat and crawled into the back. Just as I sat down, the front car door opened and a man got in. I jumped in my seat and looked back and forth between Marcus and the man. He was tall, almost hitting the roof of the car with his head. And he had broad shoulders and strong arms. His hair was in waves of brown like a murky sea, and his eyes were pools of chocolate, sweet and captivating.
“Who’s this?” I ask, looking the man up and down.
“Alex,” Marcus snapped. “He’s my buddy I was telling you about. The best getaway car driver in all of Chicago. You should see him; he’s like the fast and furious.”
“Right, right,” I said.
I raised an eyebrow. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt today.”
“They won’t.” Alex held out a pinky finger and After momentary hesitation, I latched on. “Promise,” he whispered.
I felt a chill go up my spine as I pulled away, returning my gaze to Marcus’ piercing blue eyes.
“Let’s go!” He clapped his hands aggressively. “I’d like to be home in time for you to make me some dinner.”
I bit my tongue and took a swig of the flask tucked neatly in my leather jacket pocket. The whiskey burned my throat, but it made me feel alive.
Alex turned the wheel on the grey Fierro hard to the right and swerved down the back streets onto the main road where he hit the highway, zooming down the street until we reached the local convenience store.
Marcus and I climbed out, painted toy guns in hand, and ran into the store.
“Hands up and nobody gets hurt!” Marcus yelled, voice booming. The store was mostly empty, sparing a couple teenagers poking around in the candy isle, and the old guy in a wife-beater manning the cash. Marcus played the criminal while I snuck around back to the cash and started loading bills into a black garbage bag. I didn’t bother counting; instead, I held my breath and shoved them in, handful at a time.
We ran out just as quickly as we ran in, without error or thought. The license plates were blocked out on the Fierro, and the engine was already on, waiting for us to zoom away. We clambered into the back of the car and Alex stomped on the gas, whisking us away beyond the parking lot, towards the sunset.
I took another swig of my whiskey and sat in silence until we reached the motel Alex had been staying at.
“Good work guys,” Marcus said, high diving us like we were players on a soccer team. We clambered out of the car, tucking our bag of money into Marcus’ backpack along with the ski masks and fake guns.
“I’ll stash this stuff in the room. Meet you at the bar,” he said.
Alex took me gently by the elbow and led me to the motel bar where we snatched up a row of three seats and ordered our drinks from the stubby bartender with a wispy grey beard.
I was used to men trailing me around. Ever since I was little, after my mother died, my father used me as his personal waitress, cleaner, and cigarette fetcher. Then in high-school I had a series of not so nice boyfriends who took advantage of my pushover nature. I thought I was free when I met Marcus. He was older, he remembered my favourite colour, and listened to indie music instead of mediocre rap. By the time his true colours showed, I was already incapsulated by his touch.
All my life men had pushed me around, but there was something different about Alex. He didn’t push, he guided me.
“So, Jesse, right?” I nodded. “You’re Marcus’ girlfriend?”
“Something like that,” I muttered. I turned back to my drink and downed half the Old fashioned in one swift swallow.
Alex eyed me softly, eyes dancing around my skin, watching me like I was a piece of art.
“The bruises on your neck…” he trailed off.
“He’ll be back soon,” I whispered.
“Did he do that?”
My eyes fell to the floor as I tried not to cry. I didn’t want to think about Marcus’ hands around my throat or on the back of my head or anyway on my body for that matter.
“Let’s get out of here,” he whispered, grabbing my hand. The chills returned as his fingers graced mine. I looked up into his warm eyes and fell into those chocolate pools with one quick shove.
“Leave Marcus?” I asked. It’s not like I hadn’t thought about it before. I just lacked the backbone to do it.
“I shoved about five hundred of the cash into my pockets when he wasn’t looking. It’ll be enough for train tickets and the cost of a new roof over our head somewhere else.”
The idea struck me like lightening. Leave the abuse? Leave his life of crime? Leave his manipulation? I wanted to follow Alex to the edges of the earth, but I hadn’t made a decision myself in a long time.
“Okay,” I muttered, instantly feeling giddy. A smile climbed onto his face.
“Let’s go,” he said, lacing his fingers through mine. I downed the rest of my drink and hopped off my chair and let Alex sweep me away, off my tired feet, into a taxi and down the night streets to the old rundown train station.
The night was ancient by the time we hopped of the train in the early AMs. We rode another taxi to a motel about an hour away, burning through our money as quickly as the gas fled the exhaust.
“It’ll be safer if we go farther,” Alex said. I believed him at the time. I was so naive.
The motel was just as shabby as the last one. With brown streets down the paisley wallpaper and mysterious stains on the bedroom floors. But the sheets looked clean, and the mattress was soft, so we crashed like two old dogs, curling into each other’s bodies as we fell asleep. I had never felt so safe.
But then the sun rose, and I was alone. I woke up, rubbed my eyes, and peered around the empty room.
“Jesse!” The door to the outside swung open. “Come outside,” Alex said. He looked like a little kid on Christmas morning.
I threw on his large t-shirt and crawled out of bed.
“Look what I got,” he said, beaming cheerfully. “I have a buddy around here who steals cars and sells them for cheap. I call this one: getaway 2.0.”
He motioned to a silver Prius and my heart sunk.
“I mean we go big, baby,” he said. “No more convenience stores, we go grocery, banks even!”
His eyes looked crazed. But still, I nodded.
I nodded again when he passed me the ski mask and black out toy gun. I nodded again when he parked behind the local grocery store. I nodded again and again every day of the week when we hit a different store; a different set of terrified civilians, a different map of roads to run away on.
“We’re loaded, baby,” he told me a month later. His fingers were intertwined with mine, and his mouth was inches away from my lips.
I couldn’t lie: I had been enjoying being able to eat out at a restaurant and not out of a paper bag. And I swooned over the gifts Alex had bought me; a Kate Spade purse, a gold necklace, Louboutin pumps. Not to mention the money I had saved for myself. Maybe one day I could go to college or buy a house!
The life of luxury motivated me to keep going. So did Alex’s soft lips and the words he whispered, sweet like honey, and his body as it moved with mine, dancing in my flesh like choreographed love.
Until that one June morning when I stared at my tear-soaked eyes in the motel mirror. I had just thrown up for the third time, and I was growing worried. The little plastic test from the motel gift shop only confirmed my fears. I couldn’t keep going; not like this.
“Bigger baby, bigger!” Alex chanted as I exited the bathroom that morning.
I tucked a piece of bleach blonde behind my ear, about to say something. But then I noticed that same crazed look in his eye, the one Marcus always had. Love struck by money and hungry for the thrill.
I realized he wasn’t going to stop. He was no different than Marcus; he may not have been as violent, but his heart was just as cursed and his mind as corrupt. He needed everything, and he wouldn’t be happy until then. If I wasn’t enough, surely we wouldn’t be.
“We’re hitting a bank today,” he said. “Me and you, baby, me and you.”
But it wasn’t just me and him anymore. Things needed to stop.
“Let’s go,” I said flatly.
He didn’t argue. He grabbed the masks and the guns and the bags for the money. Then he grabbed the keys. He drove and I breathed heavily, waiting for it to be all over.
The bank was beautiful. With marble floors and ceiling-high windows. There was a skylight that nearly blinded me and potted plants that made the inside resemble a tropical oasis. Those are the parts I focused on; not the screams or the terrified faces, the crying baby or the elderly woman who fell trying to make her way to the floor.
We got to the vault where the big bucks were, and we took as much as we could carry. And then we ran.
Alex sped off, zipping down the streets faster than a bullet. He didn’t even question when I threw up again in the back seat because the drive was such a rollercoaster.
When we returned to the motel, it was nearly nightfall. He stashed the money and the keys away while I ordered us drinks at the motel bar, an old fashioned for him, and water for me.
I watched the small TV screen as it recounted today’s bank robbery on the news. Security cameras showed us running from the building in all black, jumping into the getaway car with unmarked plates. Nobody’s face appeared though. No names flashed upon the screen. We were safe. We were safe, and folks were traumatized.
“Water,” Alex asked, raising an eyebrow. He slid up onto his seat beside me. “No old fashioned?”
I shook my head. “Not today.” I took a sip of the icy clear liquid. “I have to pee.” The words squeaked out pathetically, but he ate them up as truths.
“Go for it, baby. I’ll be here.”
Our motel room was dark when I reached it. It was neat and tidy, except for the unmade bed where we had lay together the night before.
What was I doing? I thought to myself as I rummaged through our room. Alex would kill me, maybe literally. But this wasn’t about me anymore. I scrounged up my clothes and filled them into a backpack. I grabbed my passport and my important documents. Then I put the money in the bag, and I stole the keys.
I fled the room quicker than a shadow in the night and hopped into the silver Prius.
“911…” my voice was shaking when I spoke into my phone. The wheels of the cars turned out of the parking lot as I spoke. “I’m calling to inform you about a suspect, Alex Vorhees, who committed the robbery at the South Union bank this afternoon. He is currently residing in Paradise motel lodging in room 206.” Then I hung up.
“Goodbye,” I said, looking out the window to the motel lobby where Alex still sat, sipping his old fashioned, unwary of what was to come. I stepped on the gas.
Never again, I told myself. The cycle was done. No more being trailed around, no more saying “yes.” Being weak was in my bones, but you were in my heart. My hand fell to my belly, and I caressed it softly. I always thought I was trapped; escaping was a nuts idea.
But, fortunately, love makes you do crazy things.
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Hi Laura! I’m excited to be your first comment on this piece. I loved this story so much. Partially because I’m a die hard Taylor Swift fan and I totally re read the piece with her song, “Getaway Car” playing in the background and partially because I loved this MC so much. My heart was aching for her and the love she was so desperately chasing. I also wondered about what happened to her after this-does her boyfriend roll over on her? Does she make a clean getaway? It’s beautifully set up for a sequel. Let me know your thoughts on my latest o...
Thank you so much!! ☺️ Always happy to meet another swiftie! I will definitely check out your story :)