Can You Truly Change?

Submitted into Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends by circling back to the beginning.... view prompt

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The tall building was just one of many that scraped the clouds. My polished shoes squeaked under my feet and the dress shirt was tight against my chest, not as loose as it had fit previously. The deep gray color of my slacks were also pulled tight against the thick muscles of my thighs.

The change in professions may have been hard and much more work, but at least it helped me out in that sense.

I looked down at Emily, who was gripping my hand tightly and slightly tucked behind my leg. I couldn’t help the genuine smile that flooded my cheeks at her innocence.

She was the spitting image of her mother with blazing green eyes and shiny brown hair. Her small glasses perched on the edge of her nose—that one a gift from me. Her innocence brought such a welcomed breath of fresh air to me.

Emily finally noticed my staring and looked up with a toothy grin. She was missing her front tooth and another tooth on the bottom row, the evidence of a new smile poking in through her pink gums.

Rachel was unable to get off work in time to come pick her up, but I really had no problem with bringing Emily with me.

Rachel had recently found out she is pregnant with our second child and we both decided it was time to get a larger home. Our credit was outstanding and there were never any problems with our bank, so coming in was just a formality.

“Come on, Emily. Let’s go meet Daddy’s friend. Then we can go get something for mommy.” I squeezed Emily’s hand, returning her smile full-forced.

I had never been so happy.

Emily bounced up the steps, hand still firmly grasped in my large mitt. She counted the steps out loud and beamed when we stopped, proud of herself for keeping track of our advancement. She squealed in excitement as I led her to the round door, its thick dividers rotating in circles. She hopped in one of the wedges and pushed on the door, giggling when it moved from her push. Well, and my push.

I grabbed her hand again as we entered the amazing structure. The walls stretched high, giving a grand entrance to the spacious building. The walls were punctured with large frames of glass, letting in the natural light just before dawn as it glinted off the walls and floor.

Heels and dress shoes clicked against marbled floors and a bustling noise filled the air, but not overwhelmingly so. There were accountants lined along the counters at the entrance, offering smiles and exchanges with all who demanded their attention.

Scanning the signs and instructions, I located the offices before pulling Emily after me. We could get in and out quickly.

“Everybody get on the ground now!” A loud voice hollered, raising above all the other murmurs. I ignored the threat and tightened my jaw, pulling Emily in front of me and picking up my speed to the offices.

“I said everyone on the ground!” The voice called out again.

Bang! Bang, Bang!

The gunshots shattered the glass just near the door before a couple shots sprinkled glass from above on our heads.

I immediately hunched over, pulling Emily under my body and completely covering her with my large frame. Her shrieks shook my eardrums, destroying them with her high-pitched terror.

The sound of falling glass ceased and I lowered to my knees, grabbing Emily’s small face in my huge hands. Her eyes were wide with terror.

“This is a robbery” The voice called again, not giving me a moment with my daughter. “If you move, you get killed.”

I saw tears sprout to Emily’s eyes and her bottom lip trembled, but luckily she didn’t make a sound. A spark of protection shot through me and furry bristled my spine. How could they endanger my little girl?

I kissed her lightly on the forehead, tears slipping from her innocent eyes. “I’m sorry, baby. It’s going to be okay,” I whispered as her legs gave out, sending her small body to the ground.

I caught her around the middle, lowering her slowly to the ground in a sitting position. “I love you, baby girl. Stay here.”

Fury burned deep in me and I stood straight, my fists now clenched at my sides.

I caught the attention of the men instantly. There were just three, all with clear masks over their faces. The thin layer of plastic warped their features, but not so much so they were indistinguishable. Thick, black weapons were perched in their hands, a clear sign as to where the previous shots rand out from.

Their heads snapped at my raising action and I saw the one closest to me point their gun at me. “Don’t try to be a hero. I said get down.”

“What is wrong with you?” I smirked, making the scowl deepen on their faces. “I heard you, dimwit. You were kind of loud.”

The men shared a glance between the three of themselves before the man closest to me narrowed his eyes. “We’re not joking, man. On the ground now or we end you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I dismissed, taking a step forward. I excused myself, stepping over a dormant body flattened to the ground. He looked at me with wide, scared eyes before focusing on the marble tile again. I shrugged, looking back at the men with the gun. “You are all going after this all wrong. I’m assuming you took out security, right?”

The man furthest from me took a threatening step forward, thrusting his weapon in my direction. “Last warning,” he seethed.

“Alright, I won’t insult you. So you took out the security guards, probably shut off their radios as well. Turned off the cameras, right? And your getaway car will be here in…” I pulled back my buttoned sleeve to check my watch. “Eight minutes? Is that right?”

The deafening silence held an awkward atmosphere. The men looked at each other again before turning their attention back to me.

“Good! Now you have graduated preschool, idiots. Let me tell you what you missed. The very large windows are wide open for anybody on the streets to see and the doors are not locked, allowing anybody in and out of the building. There are staff members not in this room that can hear what is happening and the staff that is in this room have all been trained for things like this and know of the emergency buttons. When activated, all the vaults lock, and 911 is contacted. Regardless of which route is being taken right now, we can all be sure that the cops will arrive in…” I checked my watch again, whistling at the time I was killing. “Two minutes. Give or take. I mean, I’m no expert.”

I lifted a lazy finger towards their faces. “And your masks? Probably bought off amazon for a dollar a piece. Next time get real masks because we all know what you look like. I know you only have one gun loaded—the other two are for decoration and you probably took them from daddy’s shed without him knowing.”

I rubbed my hands together, eyes bouncing between the culprits. I rose my finger, pointing at the one furthest from me. “You have the loaded gun. But you have already used three shots and that small gun only carries six bullets. Yet, I doubt you have any extras with you.”

The blank faces blanched. “Let me guess, your first rodeo? And you chose this bank? Next time stick to McDonald’s. Oh yeah, that’s right. You have no next time.”

I saw the one furthest from me raise his gun, leveling it at my chest. Without hesitating, I pulled the midnight handgun from my waistband and countered the action. Just as a shot ricocheted off the stone surroundings. The loud noise of shattering glass once again filled the room and everybody covered their heads, even though it was just another window. I dared a glance at Emily, who had followed everyone else and covered her small head with her thin arms, even though it didn’t cover much in her tiny body.

Even more anger burned my veins at her terrified look. Luckily, the window that shattered was not around her, but I knew it still scared her. I rose my own weapon, barely needing to look down the barrel before squeezing the trigger. The man who fired off the shot screamed and fell to the ground, his hand immediately going to his shoulder. The sound was loud as he dropped his gun to the ground, now lacking the motor skills to grip the deadly weapon from his injured shoulder.

His buddies cursed loudly and took a step to him, but I clicked the safety of the gun. They froze instantly, hearing my movement.

“Now, now. There are families present. No use in using such language.”

I smirked at their stupidity, although I was mostly annoyed with their lack of planning. It’s people like this that give villainizing a bad name.

I bit my tongue, wanting to call them out on their stupidity again. I clicked the safety off again, this time cocking the gun and pointing it at the next man. “Now, tell me one thing you have learned from your lesson today.”

“Who the heck are you?” He quired, his voice honestly coated in awe and curiosity.

I pulled the trigger again, another bullet lodging in his shoulder, identical to where his friend’s went. “Wrong. Not a relevant question for our lesson today.”

I swung my weapon on the last man, the one closest to me. His weapon was on the ground, his hands in the air as if taming a raging lion.

I snorted and cocked my gun before pulling the trigger again. He screamed as the bullet lodged in the same spot on his shoulder.

I halted my gun before sauntering forward, excusing myself as I stepped over the bodies of those still cowered on the ground. They flinched at the closeness of my presence, their eyes wide and mouths gaped open. None of them responded in the deafening silence, the only noise my apologies and the curses of the men writhing in pain on the floor.

I collected their guns on my path before making my way back to the door and tossing them in a pile just at the doorway

In an instant, red and blue lights flashed out the glass panes and decorated the shattered glass patterns. A series of shouts and demands erupted from outside, alerting us of the police’s presence. I checked my watch, noticing it had been four minutes.

Man, I was getting rusty.

I stumbled back before going back to where I left my little girl. Her eyes were just as wide with shock and fear as everyone else as fat tears fell down her cheeks. Guilt and pain stabbed my heart at the vacant look her green eyes displayed as they looked through me, fear overtaking her as she scrambled back on her hands.

“Baby, are you okay?” I asked her, my voice lowered in a soft whisper, a starking contrast to the voice I just demanded respect in.

Emily sniffled, the fear slowly morphing into a different level. “Daddy? Why did you do that?”

I shook my head, hearing the police swarm the area around me, but not caring about their yells and demands. “Emily, come here, sweetheart.”

Emily barely stood up before slinging her tiny body into my outstretched arms. I hugged her tight against my chest, raising from the ground so I was the only thing touching her.

Just the thought of leaving her unprotected or alone made my gut twist. I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t that person anymore.

I patted her light brown hair as my pressed white shirt collected her elephant tears while I whispered soothing words into her ear.

The police had finally apprehended the three men, their cuffs restraining any further movement before they called in the medics. They immediately started tending to the gunshot wounds on their shoulders.

I stood up again when everyone else did and flocked towards the doors. I didn’t hear the police’s orders and demands, instead I just focused on keeping Emily as calm as I possibly could.

As soon as we broke out of the building, Emily pulled her head back to look at me. I froze when her small hands sandwiched my freshly shaved cheeks. “Daddy, don’t do that again,” she reprimanded.

Gosh, she was so much like her mother it hurt.

I instantly had a longing to hold her with my little girl in my arms, my protective streak shooting through me. “I won’t, baby. Daddy promises.”

Years ago, I was once the most wanted villain in New York. For six consecutive years. Six years of well-planned executions, underground operations, and notorious crimes. I had been internationally famous for my attempts and actions to “take over the world”. You know, what the “bad guys” do.

I had no interest in that now. My life in crime would not lead to a good lifestyle for my family. My girls were my world. I didn’t need to take over anything—I had everything I needed right here.

And I’d be darned if I let my baby girl in on the life I left behind.

May 15, 2020 20:21

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1 comment

Tori Routsong
05:41 May 29, 2020

That was a great story! I really enjoyed reading it!


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