“You sure you’re ready for this?” Jenna asked. For once, I’d felt a nervousness in her voice that I hadn’t felt in forever. Maybe she wasn’t through with me. Perhaps me doing anything to gain her father’s blessing made her heart leap with what I could only call love. Whatever it was that changed gave me a sense of purpose. And that purpose was to succeed at anything I did, especially robbing banks. What? It’s not like you never stolen something that doesn’t belong to you. And it’s not like I’m stealing from the poor.
I held her hand tight, brushing my finger across her palm. I’m no palm reader, but her sweat told me she was hiding something. “This is the last one. It’s like saying goodbye to a good friend,” I said. “I’ve never had so much money.”
“Wait, you liked doing this?” Jenna raised a sly brow. “You don’t seem the type to love doing it. I mean, yes, I knew you felt you had to steal, but I couldn’t picture you to want to steal.”
“I figured you’d hate me for doing this, or at the very least, turn me in to the cops for a reward of some kind.” I opened and closed my hands. “I mean, I wouldn’t put it past you.”
“Hmm.” Jenna held her finger to her chin and crinkled her eyes. “Now that sounds like a good idea.” She smiled.
“Wait, what?” I said.
“Kidding. I’m only kidding.”
“Give me a heart attack, why don’t you?” I through my hand to my chest, holding what’s left of my cold heart. “But in all honestly, something is tantalizing about taking from the rich.”
“Have you been reading more Marxist bullshit?” Jenna laughed. “You know that stuff is garbage, right?”
“I took a peek at one of your college essays on the decades of wealth transfer.“
“Woah”–Jenna waved her arms–“I was an ideologue then. I still believe some of that shit, but most of it was trash.”
I shifted my body, turning to her. “But what if it’s not bullshit?”
“I don’t like where this is going.” Jenna rubbed her temples. “It’s my fault; I should have burned those papers.”
“I mean, just listen for a second–“
“The working-class is getting poorer. Look around you. Everyone is out for themselves, especially the bankers. Whatever I take is a drop in the bucket. The sons of bitches won’t miss it. Hell, the bankers rob people every day.”
“Ben, it was college. I wrote that shit in college.” Jenna held my hand tight. “It’s not–“
“But it’s truer today more than ever.” I reached my hand back over her shoulder. “I don’t feel bad doing this anymore. If you think about it, we’re kind of like the anti-heroes.”
Jenna sucked in a deep breath and blew out a sharp sigh. “Okay, so what are you really saying?” Jenna said, gesturing with her hands. “Spit it out.”
“What I’m saying is, why don’t we rob a few more banks and get Jill and Leo a house?” I went from saying this was the last robbery to wanting more cash. But that’s how folks get caught, but I kept that notion in the back of my mind because greed overrode my senses.
Jenna looked down and then turned to me. “You’re so thoughtful.”
I gave her a wink and grabbed the door handle. “I’ll be right back.”
Jenna clutched my arm. “Be careful, babe. Remember, you can always hit the metaphorical cancel button on the operation if it’s too risky.”
“Be right back,” I said, slamming the door. I shoved my hands in my coat pockets and paced through the two large glass doors. The inside looked a lot like the bank on the west side of Seattle. You could mistake this place for a midtown mall. As I stood in line, a security officer locked eyes with me. I gave him a nod, and he returned one. So far, I hadn’t met a teller I knew. But as I closed in to be the second person in line, I noticed my old high school teacher. I grabbed a cloth from my pocket and wiped my forehead. Please don’t let it be you. Please don’t let it be you, I thought of the clerk. An overweight man waddled to my old teacher before I could. I told him to go ahead of me. I slide the note across the counter as I always do, and the clerk traced the message and swooped under the counter. She returned with an envelope filled with cash.
“You go get em’,” she said, giving me a more prolonged wink. “Now get the fuck out of here before someone sees you,” she said loud enough for only me to hear.
“Thank you, ma’am.” I headed toward the car. As predicted, it started snowing. Something about the snow touching my face pulled at something in my sense of achievement. Jenna took off, sliding a bit. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten away with it again. And I didn’t wear a mask or gloves. Maybe that’s where other bank robbers go wrong? Perhaps just being yourself is enough? Perhaps I’m just enough.
“Oh, I’ve got something to tell you.”
“I thought so…”
“I’m pregnant, but it might not be your baby.”
My mouth hung open, not closing.
Read the full novella.