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Stuck

16 Oct

Dwight is stuck. He thought he’d be able to make it through the ventilation duct of the First National Bank of Wanakigi. But there were two important factors Dwight failed to take into account.

One. The size of the vent.

Two. The increased size of his girth since the last time he robbed this bank 10 years ago. His last job before his retirement.

Dwight lies in the vent and tries to figure out what to do. He could call her. Shelly. She would know how to get him out of this mess. Oh but she would laugh. She would laugh loud and long. She would poke his belly with her long-nailed finger. “Not quite up to it any more are you gramps,” she’d howl. “Least you widened the vent for me next week.” No. He was not going to call. He was not. Shelly had been his protegé. He’d taught her everything he knew and now she treats him with disrespect. It makes Dwight’s blood boil.

Dwight finds himself regretting the hamburger he ate before entering the vent. At the time he just thought, “Need it for the energy. Been a long time.” And he’d super-sized his order. Long gone were the days where his policy was, “Always do a job on an empty stomach. Keeps you sharp.”

Dwight attempts to edge himself forward and realizes that he has sweat himself into a suction of sorts. “God in heaven.” The humiliation. He imagines himself found in the vent the next morning, snoring. His snores reverberating over the entire bank, startling tellers and customers alike.

It all started with a chiding bet. “Betcha couldn’t do it, gramps,” Shelly teased. She’d winked at him, pointing an index finger in the direction of his stomach. He’d sucked in. He’d grown angry. “I can! And I will!” he argued. She’d kissed him on the top of the head and said, “No one will ever deny you were the best in your day. No one.” He’d slapped her. Left angry. Left determined.

Dwight farts and it echos through the vent. Dwight imagines the night guard, alerted by bizarre bellow and strange smell calling the ventilation maintenance company. Someone opening the hatch which lies just 7 feet behind him and saying, “Hello. There appears to be a pair of feet here…”

Dwight rests his head on the cool surface of the crawl space. A tear trickles out of one eye. Behind him, he hears, “Oh Gramps. You’re lucky you have me.”

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Wanted

14 Oct

It runs, and runs. Over, and over, and over. Like a movie.  Twenty times? Back-projected on the inside of my lids. A hundred times? More. Jessie rattling pans in the kitchen becomes smashing glass. Again. The reversing van outside summons the screaming alarm. It wasn’t meant to be that way, it wasn’t supposed to happen. Each time it spools, the same excuse. The same accusation, the same feeble recrimination. Each slam of a door and I find myself, again, ears suddenly full of cotton wool and hissing static, and somewhere, distant, the faint underwater screams.  Each time, holding the empty gun.

I can feel the chill sweat sitting in the nape of my neck, and the small of my back. The muffled screams crystalise; Jessie singing over her baking. I smell brownies, incongruous through the lingering cordite. I grip the cold enamel sink beneath my fingers, anchoring myself here, and now. But leaning over I see his reflection not mine peering up at me from the basin, eyes wide, glassy, reaching out to me even as I recoil, silently mouthing my name. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t. An empty mantra. He bought the gun. He planned the job. He knocked over the chair. All I did was trip. But I can’t say it to his face, I see his eyes and it withers on my lips.

The first few hours were easier; plenty of adrenaline, plenty to do. Crash out through the back, drive fast but not conspicuous, torch the car, ditch the gun, lose the clothes. Put some distance between myself and the scene, but not too much, so I won’t appear to be fleeing. Stick to the plan, think methodical, look ordinary. But then the waiting began. Noting else to do, fate out of my hands. The niggling doubts – did the mask slip? Did a traffic camera spot me? Did I remember to wipe the gun for prints? The police would be milling around like ants, looking, checking, measuring, threading together the shreds of the afternoon. No job is perfect, there are always traces.

Scratching through the channels, hoping there’ll be something, hoping there’ll be nothing. News reports, all chewing over the same sparse details. Then the hacks find a name; a younger Danny stares out from a slack-eyed mugshot, taken the first time they put him away. No trace yet on his face of the wrath, the panic. Next to him a greyed-out silhouette, the wanted man. Does it have my chin? My nose? A press conference, the stone-faced DCI, speaking in precise, clipped tones. Laying down the facts, piece by meticulous piece, hinting at leads. No begging aimlessly for information, body language very much a hound with the scent. I can’t run, I can’t hide, all I can do is wait.

Early in the Morning, Late in the Day

7 Oct

The sound of an electronic –Chirp!– woke Dwight up.  He opened his eyes, slapped at the clock. Four. By tonight he’d be a rich man if all went accord- –Chirp!– -according to plan.  He slapped the clock again.

Up and out of bed. His legs were stiff, his back was stiff, his shoulders ached and he took  extra time washing his face because the water was so soothing on his fingers.

When he’d hit 50 he joked that crime paid, but not enough. Half a dozen years later he was acutely aware how much he’d slowed down. But today was the creme de la creme, a bank job, and if it went as planned he could retire. –Chirp!–  That wasn’t the clock.  What was that chirp?

He grabbed the black daypack with his gun, hacksaw, gloves, drill and was out of the house by 4:15.

He picked up his favorite protege, Milky, who got in the car and pulled a package of women’s pantyhose out of his shirt: “Got your knife?”

“‘Course I got my knife,” Dwight snatched a switchblade from the cup-holder, flicked it open and handed it to Milky.

“Robbers’ masks, two for one!”  Though he meant to cut the legs from the underwear part in a swift slice instead Milky initiated a fight with them. The harder he pulled on the nylon the more viciously he had to saw and it was just not cutting. -Chirp!– “What’s that chirp?” he said.

“I don’t know and it’s bugging the hell outa me,” Dwight said.

They parked around the corner from the bank so the cameras couldn’t see them. –Chirp!–

Milky was still hacking at the nylons, “Well that chirp needs to stop!”

Dwight took the knife and stockings away from Milky, loosened the slack and cut them easily. “Ignore it. After this job we’ll be able to pay a team of specialists to find it and kill it!”  He handed Milky his stocking and they each put one over over their heads.

“I can totally recognize you,” Milky said.

“Milky, what size did you get…?”

“They’re Millie’s.”

“Millie’s big.”

“She’s awesome!”

“Yeah, she’s awesome but she’s big.  The whole point of the stocking is it’s gotta be tight. Mash up your face.”

“Well we need a Plan ‘B’ then I guess,” Milky said.

“It’s a disguise not a veil of mystique!”

“I’m sorry then!” Milky said, –Chirp!– “What is that chirp!?”

“Maybe we can fix it,” Dwight twisted around fast, rooting through the junk in the back seat. Then he froze. “Ah! My back – it’s spazzin’!”

“Ease out of it!” Milky said, “Don’t tense up, you’ll make it worse!”

“Find that damn chirp and kill it now!” Dwight groaned, turning slowly forward, relaxing into the backrest and taking a deep breath. “Gimmie a minute,” he exhaled slowly – -Chirp!– “What is that?” and closed his eyes.

Dawn was breaking. Dwight and Milky, nonchalant,  strolled up the alley to the back entrance of the bank.  Each had a black stocking over his head stuffed with rumpled white fast-food bags, a little knot tied at the bottom to keep the contents from falling out. Commuters were driving out of their garages now, down the alley. If the effort was to be unrecognizable they’d met the mark but, not by a mile if the desire was to be inconspicuous. –Chirp!–

“It’s like it’s following us!” Dwight whispered hard, “What is that chirp!?”

At the back door of the bank, Dwight squatted, set the daypack down, unzipped it, slipped on his gloves then took out the drill to remove the lock. He squeezed the trigger but the bit didn’t spin, just a weak hum and a whimpering, –chwrrrp– then nothing.

Milky looked at him, worry behind black nylon, the bulges of paper in his stockinged face making crinkling noises as he winced, “…low battery…”

Dwight spoke low, “…Chirp,” he said as the pink light of daybreak hushed through the crack of dawn.

No Way Out

3 Oct

Dwight opened his eyes as he lay on the cold marble floor. He was pleasantly surprised at the fact that he felt no pain from his fifteen foot fall through the skylight in the rear room of the First Mutual Bank.

“I guess this was easier than Plan A,” he said to the empty room, letting out a groan while pushing himself up onto his knees. He looked above him at the iron-framed glass skylight door, creaking as it continued to swing. After dusting off his shirt, he saw his prize less than fifty feet in front of him: the wall of safety deposit boxes.

Dwight ran out of money weeks ago and had pawned and hitchhiked his way to where he was now: the crème de la crème of banks, rumored to be the secret spot that some of the United States’ most rich and famous hide away their jewels domestically. And he was here, all alone, and with no one with which to split the rewards.

He knew the drill: while in the shadows, put on the mask. Spray the cameras with spray paint and use the high-powered magnet to temporarily turn off the motion sensors along the wall of deposit boxes. Using his decades of lock-picking experience to bust into each drawer, then with a gloved hand, take all of it. Every last bit.

He stood up and grinned a grin of pride, happiness, and relief. He reached down next to his feet for his duffel bag so he could get to work… and felt nothing. Dwight looked at where he had fallen and his bag – mask, spray-paint, gloves and all – was nowhere to be seen. Unable to move from the corner of the room without the cameras recording his unmasked face, he pushed himself against the wall as his eyes frantically darted around the room.

Dwight slowly looked up, knowing what he would see: the duffel bag, hanging over the opening of the skylight, 15 feet over his head.

prompt: Dwight

2 Oct

Use one or all the elements of the prompt. It’s completely up to you!

  • Name: Dwight (56)
  • Profession: Bank robber
  • Wish: That he was more nimble
  • Location: Breaking into a bank

If you have any questions about Character Project, contact me.

See upcoming prompts here.

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