Sunday, December 20, 2009

Money & Opportunities.

Money - Pink Floyd


In the vault. Counting money. How did I manage to end up here? “Trust me,” he says. “You do know you’re supposed to trust your family. You do trust me right?” Talk about the blind leading the blind. More like the blind leading the deaf, mute and dumb. There are three armored cars accompanied by nine armed guards outside waiting on this cash to be transferred into our capable and greedy hands. The only advantage: No one here knows we’re robbing the bank.

You have to take big risks to win big.

What they don’t tell you in that mantra is that you run the risk of losing big as well. Let’s take it back a little. It all started when the stock market took that little ol’ tumble last year. Not only did we lose everything, our homes and what little money we had in our personal accounts, we lost any hope of getting back again as well. Desperate times will do things to a man. Makes you dream big and think small. What do you do? Scheme.

We’ve entered the bank from the front doors carrying badges, and using the protocol as instructed to the guards in the event of a transfer of funds. Banks don’t move mass amounts of money very often, so it’s quite the occasion here today. In addition to the armored cars, there are a handful of unmarked police vehicles and several in plain view with officers to spare in the street waving off pedestrians who stop to look or linger too long. We've paired off and each taking a separate path through the bank. The manager walks quickly to greet the lead pair who has headed towards the rear in the direction of the vaults.

One night, so many months back, the four of us are sitting at Mike’s place hanging back talking. Which just so happened to be our typical hangout since West started squatting there a few months back. The usual 'tired of being broke as fuck and considering taking action' conversation never quite makes it to a serious level. West has a security job working at a bank, which provides countless stories of amusement to the group. Today’s mishap: A little old lady brings in a jar of pennies and drops it, shattering in the middle of the bank where it stops the hustle and creates quite the uproar of confusion. The bank manager and three tellers are on all-fours scooping up countless little coins as this old lady has a fit. The entire fiasco is caught on tape for West’s purpose of review when there aren’t any other distractions. Which brings us to the next point; Bryan looks at West with a funny smirk, “So you have tapes of everything? Including the vault and shit like that?” West nods. You can see the inner clock working in Bryan’s head. But it takes a few more beers to get the courage for what came next.

The bank provides us with the basic equipment needed for transferring the cash. There are four steel containers with multiple locking compartments which stand about 4 ft tall 3 ft deep and 2 ½ ft wide. Easily maneuverable by an interlocking wheel system that allows these oversized containers to move stealthy across any surface in rapid succession. Bryan and I enter the vault from the front side and Mike and West proceed to the rear entrance. As per the protocol the containers are in the center of the vault and unlocked. The bank manager instructs us to the open cages where there is an unbelievable amount of cash just stacked along the wall. He motions to West to secure the perimeter of the cage and looks at his watch. “You have twenty-five minutes to get this in the box and out of here before anyone figures out what’s really going on. The next set of guards will be removing from the next cage and so forth. Only take from this area. Remember, my share is to be left at the corner of March and Harris at exactly 2:43 am tomorrow morning or I make an anonymous call. Understood gentlemen? I mean lady too, sorry Maddie.” I smile as Bryan motions me to the cage to start counting and moving the cash.

“No fucking way dude! There’s no way you’ve got a tape of the bank manager with one of the tellers in the vault.” Bryan slobbers in a drunken retort at yet another West re-enactment of bank shenanigans. Lucky me, I guess I’m driving my drunk brother home again after he picks a fight with our friends. West laughs as Bryan topples out of his chair onto the floor, “PROVE IT!” What are the odds this isn’t going to end badly? West not only can prove it, but he has copies uploaded on the web for the amusement of others. According to the boys this is how you ensure job security. I think its called blackmail. Bryan sobers up and starts talking about how you can see the interior of the vault and that the security guards aren’t watching aside from West taping this unsavory event. He asks if there are more tapes of the bank. West nods and gets up to open a metal cabinet behind the couch, revealing a plethora of exposure.

“Maddie, are you almost done?” West looking out the front whispers quietly to me as Bryan is locking the compartments on the steel boxes one by one. Mike is still watching the rear entrance. I nod and look nervously towards Bryan to get his approval. We make eye contact as he takes the last bundle from me and locks the last box. The bank manager waves us clear as we exit the vault. West and Mike take the first two boxes and Bryan and I follow up with the remaining pair. The police escort is waiting at the doors to make sure we make it to the armored car. Almost free and clear.

It took Bryan exactly one hour and thirty-five minutes to come up with this plan, but drunk or not, it made complete and total sense. Once we'd all had a few more beers and watched a couple more tapes, Bryan pauses one. “What’s this?” There are a handful guards coming in and out of the vault with steel containers on the TV. “Yo. How often does this happen?”

West is more than mildly irritated with these drunken random questions. “Bry, chill out, it’s nothing. That’s just when they transfer large amounts of money from the bank. It doesn’t happen that often. In fact there’s three trucks scheduled to move funds next week. Have another beer and shut the fuck up. ”

After several attempts to subtly spring it on us, Bryan gives up and says, “We should rob the bank.” West shrugs and holds back another laugh. I roll my eyes. Mike high-fives Bryan for this ridiculous brilliance. “Look, you have tapes of the entire place. Your manager is fooling around in the vault. We can find a way to force that to our advantage.” West isn’t entirely convinced. But Bryan continues to work out this irrational scheme and soon enough we are all in agreement. West always wanted to hold one over on his boss. Mike was in, just because he was in. Call it stupidity, but I couldn’t let my brother go down alone. Next morning rolls around, I’m armed with a copy of the tape and a handful of interesting photos for my appointment with the bank manager. It takes me less than five minutes to convince him to see things my way. We’re even on a first name basis.

“Thanks, Frank.” I whisper quietly and wink as we pass the bank manager, who isn’t happy at all and looks like he's about to internally combust. Bryan shoots me a dirty look. Mike and West are already out the front doors and nearly to the car. We make it to the door and my hearts racing. I can’t breathe. “This is really happening,” I whisper to Bryan. He nods and smiles to reassure me, then puts a finger to his lips to tell me SHH. The doors open. The street is full of people despite the blockade and police motioning them away from the scene. The next armored car is moving into place. It seems like an eternity before the steel boxes are on board. Bryan puts me in back with Mike and the money. The car doors shut behind me. Are we free? The vehicle moves. Clear? Stop.

Police. “There’s been a radio distress call from inside the bank. We need to have you remain here for another five minutes.” West and Bryan are calm logic as I’m sweating bullets in the back. Mike is remarkably silent for a change. The officer returns, “Apparently someone is having a heart attack in the bank and the remaining transfers will delayed and continue shortly after an ambulance is let in here. We need to make an adjustment to your exit route and then you are free to go.”

2:39 am. March and Harris. I’m dropping off the satchel of money. There’s no one here. It’s quite a wonder though, especially after that last minute switch earlier. I’m relieved. Not a second thought. As instructed I place the money under the bench at the bus stop. Leave.

This is one of the few that were written specifically with friends in mind. It was up back in August originally. This one borrows a pretty bad joke about 'robbing banks.' Which is between friends and goes no further. At the time, it was a slight departure from what I had been working on. Anyhow... Enjoy? kisses. m.

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