Zauberman For The Love Of Money
Before I can even blink, the weird man with the ski mask has the business end of a shot gun pointed straight at my face.
“Give me the money”. His voice is low and hoarse, as though he’s just getting over a cough.
I start to laugh while shitting my pants.
Oh god, oh god, oh god, a little voice frets in the back of my head. Should I use humor to get out of this? Maybe if I make him laugh, he’ll drop the gun, and I’ll make a run for it or something. Fuck fuck fuck do something—quickly!
“What do you mean, “what money?” This is a fucking tavern, isn’t it? You make plenty of money off them drunks, don’t you? Plus, you a lady bartender.
What does me being a woman have anything to do with this?”
Oh my god, oh my god, he’s on drugs! Or drunk! Or something! Whatever it is, STOP BANTERING AND FUCKING RUN ALREADY.
“People always pay them lady bartenders more." I swear, I can see a smile cracking from the mouth hole in the ski mask.
"If that’s the case, why is there a pay gap between men and women in bartending?"
My spine clenches, as the man presses the gun closer to my head.
NONONONONO, WHY DIDN’T YOU RUN? The little voice is practically screaming now. “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE NOW, BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T RUN, IDIOT.”
I barely have time to shush the voice, before the man speaks.
“Just give me the goddamn money. And some of your top shelf champagne. I need something to celebrate my robbery with. It’s not every day that a first-time robber like me clears out a place like this, you know what I mean?”
The little voice chirps from its hiding place in the back-skull.
“Why is he being friendly? Is it because he knows it’s my last moments on Earth? Or is it because he thinks he’ll get some money soon?”
He squints his eye, as his finger dances around the trigger.
“If you don’t get me the money in the next three seconds, I will kill you, and anybody who comes into the store.”
His voice is so quiet, so firm, that my inner voice instantly clams up, and goes back into hiding.
My heart pounding, I stop to look up at him.
I gulp, as my feet slowly play between turning and staying put—as though they can’t decide if they want to die a hero’s death or obey my brain’s wishes to survive.
My feet are almost tap dancing at this point, moving forward and sideways, forward and sideways.
Piss runs down my leg as I stare at the robber like a deer in the headlights.
He takes the shot gun and puts it to his eye level. Instantly, I scream and run to the cash register as the bullet shatters the glass bottles behind me.
“GET ME MY MONEY”
I can hear him roaring, the clang of the bullet casings hitting the floor and the patter of his running feet slamming behind, like an elephant jogging on marble floors.
I nod, too terrified to speak, as I pose over the cash register.
Please remember the key code, the little voice whispers, please remember the key code, I swear to God if you don’t remember the key code, I will kill you before the robber has a chance to, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.
I look up at him, and then I look at his gun. It’s emptying cartridge shells all over the place, as well as live rounds. "How the hell does he not notice that his gun is open?"
I want to ask him that so badly—but it would only get me killed. Instead, I jerk my head, and I motion for him to come over, and watch me open the safe.
He follows me, watching my every move.
Watching me put in the key code, pull out an empty drawer.
Watching me remember that the boss took out the money from the tills about an hour before the robber came.
Watching me press the silent panic button.
Watching me turn, and smile, telling him that the boss took out the money right before the guy came, and that I don’t know where it’s at.
I don’t know if he was able to watch himself in the mirrors on top of the alcohol shelves, but I don’t think he’d have been able to see his own jaw. It was practically on the ground at this point, next to all the bullets that had fallen out.
It remained on the ground when the officers came and cuffed him too. It would have made my night too, had I not been paralyzed with fear, and barely able to tell the officers what happened.
It's lucky for me, that he didn’t speak. Not a word to me, not a word to the officers, not even when they were taking statements and reading him his Miranda rights.
He probably won’t even say a word to the judge or the jury at the rate of monkish silence he was going at.
I don’t want to know what would have happened if he had asked me where the boss had taken the money. I don’t want to know what would have happened if the police hadn’t come as quickly as they did.
I don’t want to know how badly I would have been injured by the bullets, or even killed. It would be too much to process at this point.
But what I do want to know is this.
Why us? Why tonight? Why me? Why even rob in the first place?
Maybe he’ll answer it in court—I hope he does, actually. It would give me a crap ton of closure, that’s for sure. But, we’ll have to wait and see about that, I guess.