Nelson Haskell’s Dilemma—George Davis
Barry Keene, Nelson Haskell’s oldest friend asked, “You wanna do something fun, Nelson?”
“What’d you have in mind?”
“This would be a good day to rob a bank.” Nelson laughed. Barry was serious. “We can do this, Nelson. I’ve plotted this thing in my mind for two years. With you, or without you. I am going to rob the First Nation Bank of Bickford, Maine.”
“Barry, are you serious?”
“Never been more serious in my life. I’m tired of working day in and day out for a paltry wage. I’ve got big plans, Nelson. I’m gonna be rich.”
“You’re going to prison, Barry. The police will have you in custody before the end of the day.”
“Not if I’m smart, and I am clever, Nelson. I’ve got it all planned out. The old guard, Jim Nevers looks half asleep at his post most days. He’s in his seventies. It will be easy to take him out.”
“Why, Barry? Why would you want to do this?”
“Well, Bro, I’m tired of working for nothing. At the end of the week, I am broke. Nothing to show for all the work I produce.”
“Why haven’t you asked your boss for a raise? Maybe he will give you a sizable lift.”
“Henry Pendleton, a raise? You’ve got to be kidding. I haven’t had a raise in two years. He’s tighter than a shrinking rawhide rope.”
“He must make a pretty good profit. Maybe if you butter him up, he’ll come across with a nice raise. You need to try, Barry. Robbing banks is not your style.”
“I’ve sweat in that store of his for ten years. He claims his profit margin is only 23%. I question that, Nelson. Does he recognize my work? No, he says it’s my duty.”
Barry, you can’t be serious. I mean this could net you twenty years in prison.”
“I’ll take my chances. Tomorrow is the big day. The paper mill payroll will be in around nine-thirty. You see, Nelson. I have planned this down to the last letter. It is foolproof. In and out in less than five minutes.”
“You make it sound so easy, Barry.”
“It is. Five minutes and we’ll be very rich, Nelson. I need you for a lookout. You won’t have to rob the bank. You’ll be my watchdog and wheelman.”
“You have planned this out. You even know the criminal’s jargon, wheelman.”
“Are you in or out?”
“I’m in, but only because you are my best friend, actually my only friend, Barry.”
Eight o’clock the next morning, Nelson and Barry met at the Wayfarer Diner for breakfast. The two took a booth near the rear exit where they could discuss the robbery, and no one would hear them.
“At nine-forty-five, I will enter the bank after Brinks brings the payroll. You will stand on the sidewalk in front of the bank and keep your eyes open. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Just think, Nelson in no time, we will go from underpaid servants to independently wealthy.”
“I sure hope it goes well, Barry.”
“It should go off without a hitch. It’s all in the timing.” Sitting in the booth at the diner, they could see the bank’s front entrance. “Won’t be long now, Nelson.”
“I’m nervous, Barry.”
“So am I, but when you think of the end result it should make you happy,” Barry said.
“Ok, there’s the Brinks truck. When they leave I’ll go into action. You be ready when I say go.”
“More coffee, fellas?” Winnie the waitress asked.
“No thanks, Winnie, we’ve got to go pretty soon. Big day ahead of us.”
“What’re gonna do, rob a bank?” She laughed. Nelson coughed. When Winnie went back behind the counter Nelson said, “She knows, Barry. Winnie knows what we’re up to.”
“Don’t be foolish. She was only being funny. There is no way she could know. Now calm down. You’ve got a huge job ahead of you.”
“Okay, but I’m still scared.”
“You’ll get over it. Just stay calm and all will go smoothly.” The two men left the diner and headed over to the bank. Nelson did not wear a mask. It would have been too obvious. He stood stark still, only his head swiveled back and forth. Inside, Barry was relieving the guard of his pistol. “Stand over there, and don’t make a sound if you want to live.” The old guard was nervous. He never expected to be involved in an actual robbery. He wasn’t prepared.
“Fill up this bag,” he said to the blond teller. She was extremely nervous and fumbled the bag, dropping it to the floor. “Pick it up and fill it with bills. None under a twenty. Got it?” She nodded.
As Barry backed out of the bank he shouted. “No one move for two minutes. If you do, you will not live to regret it. Is that clear?” They all nodded.
“Okay, Nelson come on.” The two ran around the corner and disappeared down the alley between the bank and the hardware store.
“I told you it would be a cinch, Nelson. Let’s go over to my house and count our booty.”
The total amount was ten-thousand eighty dollars. “Nice haul, Nelson.”
“How we gonna split it, Barry?”
“Well, since I did the hard part, we’ll split it seventy-thirty.”
“Fair enough. Nelson pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed Barry to death. “Now we won’t have to split it, Barry. I’ve got it all. Thanks for your participation in this endeavor. I am eternally grateful.”
Nelson didn’t keep the money long enough to buy that new car and move to a better apartment. It seems Winnie was watching out the diner window and saw everything. She reported it to the police, and within two hours of the robbery, Nelson was behind bars, arrested for robbery and the murder of this best friend, Barry Keene.
This futile meaning, 'crime pays.' If crime did pay, Barry Keene would have fulfilled his heart's desire for riches. Instead, his crime was rewarded with death, not his affluent life style to which he strived.
Nelson, who never did anything illegal now, by allowing evil to enter into his mind, killed his best friend. the Bible says, 'The love of money is the root of all evil.' And that day, evil came over Nelson Haskell. He no longer was the timid soul he'd been all of his life.