By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
It was even easier than he'd hoped. He hopped the fence, simple; smashed a window (there was no alarm on it then, although there is now--"These things always happen after the horse has left the barn," sighs Jerry McClain, the department's superintendent); and in a closet found the keys to the old three-quarter-ton Chevy pickup. Nearby, he found $67 in petty cash and pocketed it.
He opened the truck and got in, twisted the key, put it into gear and pointed it at the locked entrance to the facility. The padlocked chain-link gate burst like a window, springing open, pulling some of the fence down along with it. He aimed the truck south, toward LoDo, parking near Nallen's, an Irish pub on Market Street, where he swallowed four pints of Guinness, a soothing combination of fortification and silent congratulation. "Okay," he thought. "Stage One has been met."
Sometime after midnight he left the bar and headed south again, driving slowly by his girlfriend's house and then west, toward the foothills. "I wanted to see the city lights and think about things, so I went up toward Green Mountain," he says. "But by the time I got there, the sky was already turning light blue."
He started the truck and headed slowly down the hill.
The Mission fails, of course. Who would have known that the fourth bank, the Diakonia Credit Union on South Federal Boulevard, had been robbed earlier in the day? When you arrive, a little after noon, it has just reopened; if you had hit the bank you'd originally planned to hit, Number Three, the timing would have been all different and you might be on your way to the Greyhound station (the police would be at the airport looking for you--you've already thought of that), then Seattle, then Los Angeles and Costa Mesa.
At first it even seems as if the coincidence will turn out to be extremely good luck. Because the bank had been robbed, it was low on money, and the Wells Fargo truck has just come by with a fresh supply; by the time you arrive, money is just so...available.
But the situation is a little stickier than at the other banks; the tellers balk at first, but you become agitated and jump up on the counter, and that seems to snap them out of it. They throw brick after brick of crisp $100 and $50 bills into your bag until it is so heavy that it lands with a loud whomp on the floor when you pull it from the counter and jump off. (Later you find out why: $182,000 from Diakonia alone!)
But then, almost imperceptibly at first, things begin to deteriorate, as if suddenly you've become this big joke, not a deadly robber at all. ("We've had twelve robberies at this bank, and this one was the worst," the bank president says later. "He was harassing everyone in the bank and threatening to kill people. It was tacky. I didn't really think there was a bomb in the box, but I thought he would hurt someone. I'm not scarred by this or anything. I've kept my sense of humor.") You're becoming unnerved now, and so you order everyone--EVERYONE!--out of the bank, but they're not moving fast enough, and...what's with her?
"I'm sitting there robbing this bank, right? And there's this little old lady--she must have been ninety if she's a day--she's got one of those canes with the four prongs down on the end of it, you know? She's standing there, and I tell everyone to get out, and she turns around and puts her elbow on the counter and gets this grin on her face like, 'I'm not leaving for nothing.' Like, 'This is cool!' She's sitting there smiling at me, and it stopped me for a second, because this old lady wasn't going nowhere for nothing."
Then, for the first time in four banks, some guy--some hero--follows you as you bolt out the door--"a moron with his girlfriend who was walking into the bank and now he wants to act tough"--and you think, briefly, now would be a nice time to have a gun, but you don't, so your instincts kick in and you just want to get out of here, and so you run.
(A few miles away, your ex-wife leaves work on her lunch break a couple of minutes later than she would have preferred and arrives at her credit union to deposit her paycheck only to discover she can't, because the Diakonia Credit Union has been shut down, surrounded by cops. She's furious, and despite your plan to finally be the good guy, you have instead screwed up her life one more time.)
You sprint to the alley where you parked the truck and jump in and gas it, heading north, then bang a right, trying to become invisible in the side streets east of Federal, when you suddenly remember how heavy that bag was when you were bolting out of the bank. So you look down and pull it open and breathe to yourself, "Je-sus Christ."