By Lavinia M. Hughes
BOSTON SEACOAST MAGAZINE, Nov. 20, 2020
An Analysis of A Wasted Life
Vincent McNulty never did like to work. When he was in grade school, he figured out that he could pay his younger brother to do his homework for him. Vincent was cagey about copying off of his classmates’ papers and passed tests regularly. Somehow, despite his lack of scholarly ability, Vincent developed excellent verbal skills, and his dark good looks and gray-blue eyes charmed and mesmerized everyone he met, at first. His parents were in their own little worlds or they would have noticed his younger brother constantly doing homework and Vincent doing none.
Vincent applied to a community college when he graduated high school and was accepted, even though it meant he had to arrange for financing. It would have behooved him if he read the fine print, which listed the amount of refund one got when dropping out of college. Instead, bored with student life, he decided to leave college the day after the last day that a student could get any kind of refund. So he owed a chunk of money for school and didn’t even complete one semester.
He figured he’d get some kind of job so his parents would get off his back. His dad was friends with a contractor who built new homes and was open to hiring an apprentice. Vincent showed up in pressed khakis, a button-down shirt, fun socks, loafers, and he failed to bring a tool belt like he was told on the phone. When the contractor looked him up and down and snorted in derision at his sartorial choice, Vincent took offense and left in a huff off the job site without having completed one minute of work. Word got around to other contractors about his attitude and there was yet another road that Vincent would not be taking in his quest to make money without having to exert himself.
Vincent didn’t want his lack of money, ambition, or any kind of strategy to cramp his style. He asked out Tamara, the prettiest girl in his circle of friends. She was fond of him, finding him handsome and amusing, but time marched on. He stuck her with the bill for numerous dinners out, movies, and concerts—asserting most sincerely that he would pay her back later for his half. After a few months of this and a greatly reduced bank account, Tamara the prettiest girl decided she had enough and kicked him to the curb. Word got around to their circle of friends and pretty soon Vincent was spending Saturday nights alone or watching Jeopardy with his parents.
He finally got a job as a telemarketer where, if someone realized that they really should update their Google listing, they would press 1 and be connected with a representative. Vincent felt like a big shot being labeled as a representative of anything. He assisted people adequately for a few months early in the job, but when they started to get demanding or just gave him crap because Google kept calling long after they had already updated their listing, he started to give it back. He got more and more sarcastic over the phone, thinking he was clever with his quips, until one day he got into a screaming match with a customer.
This upset the other telemarketers, who probably still had some sense of dignity despite the utter futility of their jobs, and the guy sitting next to Vincent reported him to the supervisor. Of course, the supervisor was not surprised, having routinely listened in on the various representatives’ calls with his listen-in-from-the-supervisor phone feature. The supervisor roared over to Vincent and fired him on the spot. Vincent spat out the old “you can’t fire me because I quit” cliché and stomped out the door.
He had managed to work there for a good three months—a record for him—and had some savings since he lived rent-free at home, drove his parents’ extra car—a beater long in need of servicing—and obviously didn’t spend any cash on dates. This circumstance played right into his lifestyle. He’d get up about noon, have his mom cook him breakfast, then he’d read the paper online, go out for a walk, play some video games with intensity because when you are doing nothing with your life at age 19, it is so important that someone rescue the princess, then watch TV for the rest of the day. If he was retirement age, he’d be all set for a full day of activities. He tried calling Tamara a few times, but she saw his number on her cell and ghosted him.
After a few months of indolence, he started to run out of money. Video games weren’t cheap and neither were the steak dinners he treated himself to, having no current girlfriend enthralled with him who would pick up the tab. And he was bored. A life of idleness, even for a layabout like Vincent, was starting to pall. Plus he was starting to gain weight from his chosen path. In a rare moment of self-reflection, he started to have doubts.
He consoled himself by watching old movies all day. His favorites were Bonnie & Clyde, The Brinks Robbery, and The Town. The violence didn’t seem real to him; instead, he found it glamorous. He had purchased several guns when he still had savings, registered them, and practiced daily at the rifle range, being schooled in gun safety and protocol by a young strapping ex-Marine named Rusty. His parents never questioned what he did with his day, having given up on him long ago and focusing their attention on the homework-doing younger brother.
One day, after watching hours of movies on TV, he had an idea. Why not take his newly minted marksman skills and rob a bank? He didn’t have to even shoot the gun, just wave it around. If he typed a note instead of writing one—deeming a handwritten note the sign of an amateur—and chose the best time for his caper, he could be in and out of the bank in 30 seconds. That’s all. Thirty seconds and he would have enough cash to live large. He could buy a new car, rent a place of his own, and continue his lifestyle, never having to work again, which was ironic since he never worked much to begin with.
Vincent started to observe the busy times and quiet times at his local bank. He kept notes and started to put together his plan. This was probably the most strategic thing he had ever done in his short, useless life. After a few weeks of this, he planned to hit the bank at 10:30 a.m. on the big day. He purchased enough ammunition for his M-16, a gun that would intimidate the bravest of bank personnel. He packed a small suitcase with his few belongings and put it in the back of his parents’ extra car. He dressed in jeans, construction boots, a tee-shirt, and a navy blue hoodie—an outfit so generic it would be forgettable by any witness, except he foolishly added a baseball cap with his high school’s distinctive boxer logo on it. He would have what he needed in his little suitcase and a pack of money to begin his new life.
Vincent was too stupid to be nervous. He entered the bank, which was empty, and went up to the window to give the teller, who turned out to be a high school classmate of his, the note saying “Give me all your money.” The teller recognized both him and their high school logo on his cap, and thinking he was joking, said “Vincent, do you have an account here?”, not having seen the gun, which, inexplicably, Vincent was holding underneath the counter.
“No, I don’t have an account here. Give me all YOUR money.” He waved the gun in front of her.
Her eyes grew wide and she finally realized it was actually a robbery. She discreetly pressed the emergency button, then said “Yes, Sir,” as she pulled all the cash out of her drawer and put it in the laundry bag he gave her. It might have been nice if he remembered to take his dirty laundry out of the bag before re-purposing it for a robbery, but it was always about him.
He grabbed the bag of cash and headed for the door. No one stopped him; the cops hadn’t shown up yet and there was no security guard. His car was conveniently parked out front like in the movies. This also made it convenient for the teller to describe the car to the police. He threw the money in the front seat and headed over to Interstate Route 91 to Vermont.
There was usually little traffic in small-populated Vermont. He planned to keep driving till he reached the Northeast Kingdom, a remote section of Vermont where one could live as one pleased, forgetting that he had always done so.
As he got onto Interstate Route 91, he turned on the radio and was surprised to hear a news report about the robbery, already naming him as the robber. He slowed down to observe the speed limit so as to not bring attention to himself by the Vermont state police, when he looked to his right. There was a car keeping pace with his. Driving it was none other than Rusty, his rifle range instructor. Next to him was Vincent’s old girlfriend, Tamara, who was snuggling up to Rusty in the most affectionate manner. Both Vincent’s and Rusty’s car windows were open. Both car radios were tuned in to the breaking news.
Rusty and Tamara looked straight at him and recognized Vincent immediately. Her cell phone swiftly appeared from her voluminous purse and it was obvious that she was calling the staties to report that they saw the robber on Interstate 91, heading north. And they knew who it was.
After Vincent was arrested and charged with armed robbery, he was booked at the nearest police station in a holding cell until things got sorted out. As he was led in shackles to his cell, he noticed the Sergeant had the movie Raging Bull playing on his small TV. Vincent heard Robert DeNiro’s voice saying “He's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig, and he’s a mutt!”
# END #