Sitting in a car across the street from Pendergrass Savings and Loan bank, two men were in the midst of conversation, discussing their latest scheme.
“You ready, Dan?”
“Sure am, Dennis.”
The roof of the car—a beat-up station wagon with abnormally tinted windows—began to give off wavy vapors due to the midday heat. Outside in the bank parking lot, a stream of cool water bubbled from underneath the building. It flowed gently over the black asphalt like a fresh mountain stream over volcanic rock.
“You remember the plan?”
Dan, a short bald man with a pug nose and flabby cheeks stared at his hands in silence.
“Dammit. I’m only gonna go over this one more time.” Dennis gritted his few remaining teeth as he tried to calm himself down by silently counting to ten. “Okay, first off, you go in and walk up to the counter. Just like we always do. Now, what do you say to the teller?”
Dan rubbed his chin. A thin layer of grease either smeared from his chin to his fingers or vice versa. With Dan, his whole body was probably lathered with a natural butter-like substance, so it’s hard to say.
“I tell her that I need to make a large withdrawal.”
Dan smiled ear-to-ear. Dennis was all business though and didn’t partake in the little guy’s delight.
“What do you do next?” Dennis’ eyes were boring through Dan, causing glistening beads of sweat to break out on his bald head.
Biting his fat lip and thinking hard, Dan finally answered just as Dennis was about to lose his temper. “Oh, I tell her to fill the bag with cash and nobody gets hurt!”
“Keep your voice down,” Dennis snapped. “No, you idiot. You slip her the note.”
“Yeah, yeah. Sorry boss. The note.” Dan nodded emphatically.
Dennis let out a deep sigh. “Do you have the note?”
Dan’s body stiffened up. “Of course, boss. Of course.”
“No you don’t, you ass. Because I haven’t given it to you yet.”
“I know, I know. I was just playing around.”
“Dennis leaned in close and grabbed Dan by the stained collar of his jacket. It was damp with sweat. “Listen here. This is very important. Okay?”
Dan tried to speak but only a dry rasp escaped his lips, so he resorted to nodding once again.
“Skip the steps. Just go in, give this note to the teller, and put the bag up on the counter.” Dennis let go of the collar and Dan’s lumpy head smacked off the window with a light tap. “Got it?”
“Give her the note. Give her the bag. Money goes into the bag. Then, uh—”
“Then get the hell out!”
“Right, right. Got it.”
Dan flashed a smile but the shaking of his knees betrayed his nervousness.
“Alright, it looks clear. Get in, get out with the money, and for the love of God Dan, Don’t do anything stupid.”
“No problem, boss. In. Out. Piece of cake.”
The sweat was now running down Dan’s face and into his eyes. This caused him to blink rapidly which didn’t help put Dennis at ease.
“Remember, it’s just like what we did in Delaware.”
An unusual look washed over Dan’s face. It wasn’t one of concentration or concern or even nervousness. It was one of relief.
“Nothin’. I better get in there.”
“Right. Make it quick, will ya?”
Dan opened the door and stepped one of his wide, flat feet upon the sizzling asphalt.
“Hey, don’t forget this,” Dennis said, waving the note at Dan.
Dan took it and gave a knowing look. Then he got out and shut the car door. Immediately a foul stench filled the car.
“Oh, that sonuvabitch!”
As was his custom, Dan had let out a silent blast of what he called the “Dan Brand.” This left Dennis struggling to pull his tight t-shirt up over his nose. He watched through watering eyes as the short, dumpy, fat man made his way through the parking lot. But Dan stopped short when he got to the growing puddle of water.
What the hell is he doing? Dennis thought to himself as he watched Dan trotting back and forth through the stream of water like a blissful jackass. Dan began stomping around in the water and Dennis could see him laughing to himself. But as soon as Dan looked back at the station wagon he stopped what he was doing and proceeded to go into the bank—probably realizing a furious Dennis was watching him from behind the tinted windows.
A blast of cool air hit Dan straight on and instantly dried the sweat on his face and head.
“Hi, how can I help you, sir?”
Dan froze. He was the only person in line, but what startled him was the teller. He was expecting some young woman or sweet old lady. Instead, it was a large, barrel-chested man staring back at him.
“Yes. Hi. I uh, need to, um.” His mind became a complete blank. Everything Dennis had told him had become nothing more than a whisper in the wind. Sweat began to build on his head again and his heart was banging in his chest like a drum. “A withdrawal!” he finally blurted.
“Sure. Do you have your bank card?”
Dan startled fiddling around in his coat pocket. If he didn’t want to look suspicious, wearing a coat in the middle of summer wasn’t the way to go about things. But that was the last thing on Dan’s simple mind.
“Lot of water out there, huh?” Dan asked as he continued to rummage through his pockets.
“Crack in the water main I think. Guys from the water company were supposed to come by this morning to take a look at it. But you know how that goes,” the teller said with a chuckle.
“Right, right,” Dan repeated the words a few more times to himself.
With some effort, Dan managed to find the note Dennis had given him. Regaining some inkling of what the plan was, he slid the note across the counter to the teller. Dan’s hands were shaking something fierce so he thrusts them back into his pockets.
“Sir?” the teller said with a quizzical look on his face.
Looking down at the note, Dan saw that the sweat from his gross body must’ve seeped through his pocket and onto the note, causing the ink to smear and making the note all but illegible.
Just then a cheery bell rang as the entrance door opened. Dan whirled around and saw his worst nightmare staring back at him. A man dressed in the familiar blue police uniform that he’d hoped he’d never see during one of these bank jobs.
Dan turned back to the teller. His voice cracked as he spoke. “You know what, I think I left my card in the car. I’ll be right back.”
Without listening to what the teller had to say, Dan put his head down and slid past the man in uniform. As soon as he made it outside he started to run, only to slip on the wet asphalt he was splashing around in not even five minutes before. He crashed to the ground in a heap and from the waistband of his underwear, his small starter pistol skidded across the hot pavement.
He looked up for help only to see Dennis and the station wagon speeding off down the road. A trail of gray smoke sputtered from the tailpipe as the car disappeared over the hill.
“You alright, buddy?”
Dan rolled onto his side and looked up at a tall figure looming over him. Putting his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun, he realized it was the man in the blue uniform. Only, it wasn’t a police uniform. And after noticing a red work-van parked alongside the bank, he managed to put two-and-two together. The man that had scared him off and ruined the robbery wasn’t a police officer at all. He was the guy from the water company.
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