Aileen walked into the bank. It was pretty simple. No mask. No gun. No threat. All she had to do was act like an eighteen year old who wanted to transit five-hundred dollars for a mall-stop. She usually twisted her hair with her fingers and used the words "like" and "umm" excessively. But today she wanted to go big with a uniform, a mask, and the whole gig.
Aileen wasn't doing this for the money. It was more for the news. One day, her mom would think about her. One day, her mom would see her on the news and rush to the crime scene panicked, hopefully, angry like a real mom. This had started in Junior High. In the eighth grade, Eileen would steal whole racks of pickles, watermelon gummies, and craft supplies with Sierra. She would open her window at 11 pm on Wednesday nights and smoke burnt cigarettes on the streets. Hoping. Praying. That her mom would realize that she was missing. She would act as rebellious as possible, refusing to eat the soggy TV diners that her mom would put out on the counter before "going out". She would refuse to go to school. But her mom would just nod, "Okay,". Relaxed and simple.
The worst thing that Aileen had ever done was to throw a party in the ninth grade. She had brought alcohol on purpose. Not to drink; she didn't care for looking cool. She poured the alcohol into classic red cups and left them on the table. She made as many snacks as possible, deli meat crackers, spiked punch. She wore so much makeup, you couldn't tell the difference between her face and a sparkly dress-up dress. So orange, dark, and fake. She invited the whole school. From ninth to twelfth grade. Sierra and her, screwed speakers into the wall, big, black, and booming. She wore red go-go boots from a seventeen magazine. At one, the party was busting. There were windows broken. People were stumbling. At two, half of the people were knocked out in the front yard. Sharp glass scattered the ground. At two-thirty her old German neighbour called the police to shut it down. The police and her mother arrived at the same time. At two forty-five, the police were giving out tickets and arresting twelve-year-olds who had snuck in. Aileen felt a wrenching feeling in her gut, vomit started to creep up her throat. What had she done?
Her mother came in, words were slurred and her eyes were sliding from left to right like a Simpson's cartoon. Her dark brown hair was frizzy and tangled from the back and mascara was on her cheeks.
She said nothing about the party, except in her slurred voice as if she was talking underwater she suggested, "Get out! Have the party elsewhere." Nothing worked. So instead, she decided on becoming a kleptomaniac.
Aileen had hired a group of "associates" to help make her "scheme" look bigger, scarier, and more planned. She wore a black mask that had slits for her eyes and nose. Every time she widened her eyes; she could see tethering fabric on the rim of her view.
"Everybody down!" she yelled, her voice cracked towards the end. Nobody sat down. She took out a big black gun from her pocket.
"Everybody down now! Or else I'll shoot!" This threat came out much smoother. For a second, she thought that people would distinguish a toy gun from Dollarama to a real one. But they didn't. She masked it in courage; so that no one could see through.
The five black-clothed robbers in circles made circles around the bank, leaving enough time for a section of people to be sitting without surveillance. That would be enough time for someone to call the police. She watched as someone dialled the numbers. 9-1-1. He muttered into the phone; all she could hear were whispers. Fifteen minutes later, an army of police came. A bulky man with pale skin held her by her shoulders.
"You're coming with us." he groaned.
A skinny, dark-skinned woman with dark pantyhose pushed the microphone in the police officer's face.
"Biggest one we've seen yet. Isn't it?"
"Yes. Yes. The biggest job I've ever been in, well in, Greenway." The police officer seemed to like the attention.
"Tell us more." the woman smiled.
"Well - er-"
I interrupted in a quick high-pitched voice, "This...this is being broadcasted on all tv channels right?"
"Yes. On the news channel." the woman nodded genuinely.
The news channel would always cut through Friends for 5 minutes. Tori smiled, her mother watched tv at 12.
The conversation went on for approximately 30 minutes. A normal mother would rush to this location at the exact second she saw her child on the tv. A normal mom would feel a flurry of anger, disappointment, and worry all at the same time. But that would be because she would care. A normal mom wouldn't be cool with this.
Tori kicked the police officer's knee and ran. She dropped the gun with a hard clack against the pavement. Her knees felt week. Her eyes were rimmed with rubies. Her throat ached, sore from screaming through the loud storm that swept through the streets. Rain pattered hard on her back. Her shirt was soaked onto her back. She pulled off her mask, letting her vivid red hair fly with the wind.
When they were twelve, Sierra always complained about her mom. How she wouldn't let her stay up past nine-thirty. How she wouldn't let her wear thick foundation and meet friends in the Brook, thirty minutes away. Aileen would always pity Sierra. But now, she wished she could have a mom like that. Any mom that wasn't hers. She would love to have a mom like Sierra's who would speculate about her clothing choices and make her clean her room weekly.
She picked up her dial phone and clicked on the taxi digits. Minutes later, a bright sunflower yellow taxi emerged from behind a stream of cars. She had been running for hours. The sky was speckled with white and the rain has lightened to a drizzle every few seconds. The wind raced like horses, passed her face.
She plopped into the taxi, giving him all the money she had left.
"Here's an extra fifty. Drive through the night," she added.
Then she stared through the window, the police cars were circling the parking lot which looked so far away. Red and blue spangled the plaza. She was going to call her mom once. In an hour. She was going to tell her mom that she was three hours from home. That she had just run from the police. Maybe then her mom would come for her. And if not, she would leave. Cross the border. And hope one day, her mom would be disappointed.