(view the novella on Wattpad)
I started to worry that Mr. Jane would ask for another “loan,” as he called the bank money, which, in a sense, was true. But technically it’s robbery. Mr. Jane paid his bills, but I’d felt he wasn’t cautious, and braggarts ruin good robberies. People who flash the stolen cash raise the suspicion of authorities. The truth is Mr. Jane had a prostitute problem. No, he didn’t prostitute himself; he visited several, though. It didn’t help that Jenna didn’t know. I mean, I saw him on 3rd and Lincoln waving a young lady in his car myself.
I didn’t have it in me to break the news to Jenna. She would have been mortified. I told myself I only needed to rob a few more stores to get enough money to stop. I’d wanted to stop stealing altogether, but the addiction to quick cash consumed me. The last bank of the day was on the west side of Seattle: a Chase bank. I didn’t see any security guards or CTV cameras at the entrance of the building. So, I carried out this robbery as I had the last five.
I had my hands shoved in my pockets, whistling as I walked passed the island counter to the teller. I slid a note across the table. Heat rushed through my face, and my stomach tightened.
“Sir, this is a grocery list,” the teller said, returning the letter across the table.
I reached in my pocket, but I couldn’t find the note. So, I wrote it on a piece of paper and slid it across the counter. She held it in the air close to her face. “You want twenty thousand dollars?” the teller asked.
I scratched the back of my neck as others turned their head in my direction. I usually write on the note for them to not say anything, just do what I asked. But I’d forgot to do that this time. My hands became cold to the touch. “I’m opening another bank account, so I need to withdraw money,” I said, scrambling to scribble more information onto a piece of paper.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re here to rob the place,” the teller said.
“Me?” I pointed at myself. “Do I look like I need to rob a bank?” I glanced at my clothes. “Don’t answer that.”
“I’d say you could use a few dollars,” the teller said.
“Look,” I said under my breath. “I don’t have time for small talk.”
“Fine, have it your way. Folks never want to chat anymore. Everyone is always on the go.” This store must be used to getting robbed because this woman is fearless. I mean, I was there to rob the place. I didn’t come for a social call. And I didn’t want to know anything about this woman. I just wanted to get the money and get the hell out of there. “Here, you go,” the teller said as she pushed a thick envelope across the desk. “I hope you like your new bank, sir.”
I gave her a tight-lipped smile and headed for the exit when I noticed two police cars out front. The officers had their guns drawn. The teller must have hit the panic button to alert the cops. I didn’t want to die like this. I wanted to check more things off my bucket list. At 40, I still hadn’t been to a New Found Glory concert or visited the Church of the Nativity. And I hadn’t gotten married yet. But just when I felt like there was no way out, a janitor whisked me through an emergency elevator that went above the building.
“Thanks,” I told the kind janitor. “But why did you help me?” I don’t think I’d have it in me to get involved in something like this, at least not before I met Jenna. Now, I’m doing this all for her. I watched her father dig himself out of debt with what little time it took us, me, to rob the banks. I realized that I didn’t want to be impoverished, nor did I want to depend on Mr. Jane. But now Mr. Jane had this to hang over my head until my dying day. Mr. Jane’s life was a facade. He made good money that part is correct. But he didn’t manage his money well, and he had a gambling and prostitute problem. So, instead of being worried, we have to mooch off Jenna’s dad for the rest of our lives; we have to worry about keeping his mouth shut.
“I’m sick of seeing the working class get the short end of the stick,” he said. “Hell, if I had the balls, I’d rob a bank, too.” The janitor lit a cigarette. “If I had the balls, hell, I’d rob a thousand banks. Anything to get me out of this hellhole.”
We both sat on the cold concrete, waiting for the cops to think I’d made an elaborate getaway. To my surprise, after three hours of searching the area, the cops left. I was hiding in the one place they didn’t think to check.
“I’m actually a police officer,” the janitor pulled out a badge.
My stomach tightened. “Look, you can have the–”
“Stop,” the officer said, waving his hand. “I’m not going to arrest you. I was. But I can see you need the money, which doesn’t excuse any of this, but I won’t say anything if you don’t. Now hand me a thousand dollars.”
“That way, you know I won’t tell. I mean, I’ll have some of the money, so I can’t turn you in, or I’ll lose my job and possibly go to jail myself.”
I opened the envelops and counted out one thousand dollars. “Here.”
“Now, get out of here. I know the cops will be patrolling this area tonight. I placed the envelope in the small of my back and made my way to the first floor. I hopped a few subway trains to Jenna’s house. I emptied the envelope on the kitchen table.
“Twenty thousand dollars,” I said.
“That’s enough to pay off both our student loan debt and give Jill some.”
“Are we done robbing banks then?” I asked.
“Just one more,” Jenna said. “Just one more.”