"Bob, I'm shaking again… I'm always shaking anymore.
It's ninety five degrees out, and I'm shaking. I'm freezing."
"Calm down man, you just need to chill. Really, I
mean, I know shit's been rough for you since the bank, but just
try to put it into perspective. We ended up alright, didn't we?"
"What are you talking about!? Those people could be
dead! Hell, we don't even know!"
Bob, clad in the same blue Hawaiian shirt and khaki
shorts from the party the night before, got up from his poolside
chair, walked to the bar and mixed himself a drink. With his back
still turned to me, as if what I'm saying isn't true, or worse,
too trivial to worry about, he replied by saying "You're focusing
on the wrong things, Art. Look at all this, man. We're living
like kings and all you can do is sit there freaking out.
Seriously, let me mix you a drink. It'll help you calm down."
I met Bob in college. He was a year ahead of me, and
in the same dorm. We met at a party, and struck up a drunken
conversation about how we were both unsure about our majors. I
was an English major, and he was a business major. He also very
good at what he did, but he hated it. His philosophy, as he put
it at a later party, was "What's the point of being good at
something if you're not even going to enjoy it? I mean, I could
be good at losing limbs, but why the Hell would I want that?" I
couldn't have agreed more. Aside from our philosophies on life we
were polar opposites in almost every way, but we had a few
important things in common, specifically a love of alcohol, and a
seething hatred of sleeping; during the night at least. We both
also had the same feeling that we were not meant to go through
the motions like everyone else. We had that arrogant "We're
different" attitude that nearly everyone has at one point in
their life. Neither of us was going to make it through the
semester, and there was no way that, had we somehow made it
through school, we would be able to sustain a regular life.
Something would happen. Something was bound happen. Contentedness
was an impossibility for both of us. Some people can't deal with
closed spaces or heights, well, neither Bob nor I could deal with
life being fine. If things seemed "right" enough, we would find
some way to ruin it. It wasn't that we actively detested harmony;
it was more of an itch in the back of our minds.
The wife and kids, and the nine to five job were simply out of
the question. I would have loved to have it, but we both had some
kind of problem with it. I wouldn't have been able to last a
month in that mold. It isn't a matter of thinking I'm too good
for it; I would love to feel right accepting the average, because
it would just be easier that way, but somehow it doesn't feel
right. The average just isn't enough.
Bob, on the other hand, plain hated the idea of being normal. He
needed to be an anomaly of some sort. To him, the nuclear family
was no more than another way for people to proclaim their knack
for mediocrity to the rest of the world. He didn't believe in
love, in the classic sense at least, so using love as an excuse
to bind yourself to someone for the duration of your time on
Earth was an unspeakably stupid thing to do, and to have kids on
top of it was even more foolish. In his mind, most people should
not reproduce unless they are somehow unique in a positive way.
The word "positive", like most other things, was different in
Bob's mind than it was in the average person's. To Bob a
"positively" unique person had nothing to do with looks (unless
they happened to be female), or personality. There are so many
attractive, interesting people in the world, that Bob had no use
for them. What he looked for in a person was someone that shared
his philosophy, his twisted brand of happy-go-lucky anarchy. He
always watched the news because he could never wrap his head
around the way no one seemed to be able to roll with the punches.
No one could take the bad with the good. He'd always say that
people would never be happy because they only wanted the "good"
(he always used those obnoxious finger quotation marks), but the
"bad" would never go away. The anchor would bemoan a rape, or a
murder, while Bob sat there looking perplexed. It was just
another part of the game to him.
It was that socially unacceptable outlook on life allowed Bob to
pull of the heist that he thought we had successfully gotten away
with. He had no problem shooting what seemed to be a sixteen year
old bystander because he happened to be in the way. That event,
the one that now had me shaking uncontrollably, having
psychosomatic chills over, had no effect what so ever on Bob
because he had no need to rationalize anything. To him, it was
not so much that people were expendable; it was more that death
is as much a part of life as birth, and as such, should be
treated like just another gear in the machine. There was no
rationalization; there was no second thought or lamenting on his
part. There was just the celebration that we had turned our
situation from passable to wonderful.
It was the morning of the seventh of May; it is now the
fourteenth of the August and I was recovering from another night
of drinking and merriment. I was on someone's floor, head half
inside a case that was full of Milwaukee's Best the night before.
The television was in my line of sight, and someone had forgotten
to turn it off the before they passed out so it was flashing
commercials by at what seemed like a million sales pitches a
minute, when an advertisement for a car I wanted came on. It was
nothing special really; I just enjoyed the way it looked. The car
had a kind of art deco feel to it, like you would get the feeling
of driving the Chrysler Building if you ever found yourself
behind the wheel. After the thirty seconds allotted to the car
commercial ended, I staggered up and stumbled into the kitchen
where I found a few of the other guests from the previous evening
either looking for something to eat for breakfast or fighting a
hangover; the split was more or less fifty-fifty, and I was in
the latter half.
A short while into my attempt at recovery from the night's
festivities, Bob bursted into the room semi-yelling good
mornings, and random greetings to everyone one in attendance in
his usual loud, boisterous manner, and began passing out the
breakfast he had apparently just bought from some fast food place
from a bulging, brown paper sack like some kind of hangover
fighting Santa Claus. Bob's attempt at surprising the party sent
the less-than-well half of us running to the toilet, and then the
sinks and garbage cans, and finally out the windows.
After I was done being sick, and had finally gotten down a
breakfast sandwich of indeterminate ingredients successfully, Bob
mentioned that he had been awake most of the night sobering up,
and thinking on an idea he had while watching TV the previous
"Well, what is it?" I asked in an irritated tone. Bob was
enthusiastic in the morning, which was one of the areas where we
differed from each other. Ten o'clock was far too early in the
day for enthusiasm, especially after a night filled with nothing
"Remember that car you liked so much? The one that was all bulky
and ugly as hell?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"Well, an opportunity just came up that'd make it a hell of a lot
easier for you to get it."
"Yeah. See, I was talking to my cousin, Iggy - you remember Iggy,
"I think so, from the bonfire at Amy's place."
"That's him. Anyway, I got a call from him a few days ago, and I
guess he and some other guys are planning this, um, let's call it
a "job" at this small town bank just outside campus town. It's
the place we went to for that apple festival like three months
ago, or whatever. Anyway, it's supposed to be a no-risk
situation, man, and I can't stand to let us pass up this
opportunity to really make it, ya know?"
"Bob, you've been up too long. Go to sleep. You'll wake up and
realize how fucking dumb an idea this is. Sleep deprivation is
seriously scrambling your thought process, buddy."
"No man, seriously, this is no joke. It's an extremely low risk
chance to make everything you've ever wanted come true!"
"No, Bob, it's an extremely high risk way to get us both sent to
prison for a long time. Don't be an idiot, get some sleep."
Bob never ended up dropping the idea, and he didn't sleep for
another ten hours. Instead of sleeping, he spent the time talking
to Iggy. I was already supremely annoyed by him by the time I
passed him in one of the guest rooms while he was on the phone
with his cousin, telling him that we were both in for the "job".
All through my life whenever people were asked about the kind of
person I was, the first thing said, almost without fail, was the
phrase "easy going". So, in the way that so many people try their
best to play the role allotted them in life by their peers, I
tried my best to play the role of "easy going". It had always
come easily to me, and I always felt bad for people labeled as
"high strung" or "angry" because they had such demanding roles to
play if they wanted to please their audience in life. However,
after Bob's news, I went out of character, and after exchanging a
slew of angry words that nearly led the conflict in a more
physical direction, we stopped speaking for several weeks.
Life went on for a while; things reverted to the time before I
met Bob. Back then, I was in a daze most of the time. I had
goals, but they were the kind everyone has upon entering college:
getting a degree, and thus a job (hopefully), meeting new people,
and enjoying yourself, which are all well and good, except that
they were all means to something else. It took me several long
conversations with Bob to realize that my goals were simply
stepping stones to other goals, and nothing truly rewarding.
Getting my degree only allowed me to possibly get a job, which in
turn, only allowed me to possibly support myself, and so on. It
was stepping stones all the way down, with nothing to look
forward to but more work. All my life, I'd been lead to believe
that by working hard I could be happy eventually, and meeting Bob
helped me realize how wrong I was. So, I began living the way
I've been living for the past few months because the reward is
instant and real, rather than some far off promise that could
very well never be fulfilled.
And so, staying true to form, I continued drinking. The funny
thing about drinking alone is that there isn't an equally drunk
friend to tell you when you've had enough. Which, when coupled
with my nearly complete lack of discipline, did not go over well.
So I began spiraling downward at a pace previously reserved for
the rich and famous. At first I floated through school, not
really being there completely, but not being wholly absent
either. It wasn't an apathetic float; it was more of a relaxed
wading through the summer classes my counselor had convinced me
to take. I dosed through ancient history, and twentieth century
British literature. I dreamily passed through statistics and
organic chemistry. The grades had stopped mattering to me months
before, so long as no one badgered me about them. That was one of
the few things that stayed the same after my falling out with
Eventually, I lost track of time, which was fine because going to
class based on my internal clock, rather than any concept of
actual time. The difference between classes blurred, and began to
kind of blend together, creating new and interesting courses.
Soon, Tuesday mornings at nine were for organic literature
followed by a titillating romp through chemical Spanish. I don't
know how I got from place to place. I would pass out in one place
and wake up, sometimes with a new bottle, in other places. My
sleep was completely out of whack, and my drunkenness was only
punctuated by rough patches of reality.
I don't know exactly how long I was in that daze, and I don't
know how I ended up in the dilapidated motel room I came-to in.
It was a persistent thumping that woke me up, and it took me
awhile to realize that the brutal pulse that took me from my
sleep was my head throbbing. Several minutes passed before the
room pieced itself together in my mind. Once I had my bearings
about me, I sat up and looked around the room. It was dimly lit,
but I didn't need to survey the place any too closely to see that
it was in dire need of cleaning and repair. The pea green
wallpaper was peeling, and the curtains were stained a grayish
color and tattered from years of neglect on the part of the
sometimes under paid, sometimes non-existent cleaning crew (I'm
I decided to get some air because the "air" in the room hinted at
a decomposing body under the floor. Walking to the door in a pair
of slippers I found next to the bed, I heard what had to be
crunching with every step. I shuddered a little bit at the
thought of the carpet cracking under my feet. After putting it
out of my mind as best I could, I noticed a light on the
bathroom. There were shadows under the door moving back and
forth. So, my curiosity peaked, I decided to change course and
see who the other guest in the room was.
Half way through my trek to the bathroom door, the knob turned
and it swung open, revealing Bob who greeted me with a jovial
I wince, and get out "…Where am I, Bob?"
"Some rundown motel in the middle of nowhere."
"The last thing I remember was telling you to go fuck yourself,
heading back to my dorm and cracking open a fifth of captain, and
now I'm here. How did I this happen?"
"Hahahaha… Oh man, you don't remember any of it?"
"Man, you went on like a month long binge! Seriously, you're an
"Oh… Wow. How did I get here, though?"
"I found you on a bench out on the quad. You were pretty gone,
man, so I brought you here to make sure you didn't get left out
of the job."
"Damn it, Bob, I told you I don't want any part of this thing."
"Well, you're a little out of luck now. See, I had to really talk
Iggy into letting you in on this because of how you acted
earlier. He doesn't trust you, but I convinced him. Anyway, you
can't leave now even if you wanted to for some reason."
"Why? What's keeping me from walking out that door and calling
for a ride right now?"
"Well, Iggy says we'd have to kill you if you left because you
already know all about us and our identities, and all that. I
mean, I told him you wouldn't go to the cops, but he just really
doesn't trust you at all man."
"Christ, Bob. You couldn't have just left me on the bench? I
mean, would it have been all that hard just to leave me out of
"I know you've got your doubts, but what kind of friend would I
be if I didn't try to do right by ya?"
I couldn't bring myself to be angry this time. I knew I should
be, and I wanted to be, but I just couldn't be angry; my head
still hurt too much for that, so I went along with it.
We stayed in the motel room until the next morning. The door only
opened to pay for the two pizzas we ordered for lunch and dinner.
Bob and I ate, and then talked throughout the night about what
had happened since we last talked, and what my job in the whole
scheme of things was. It was simple; I was just an aid, an extra
hand for whoever needed it.
Eventually my headache went away, but I still couldn't bring
myself to be angry. Bob had a way with relaxing people if given
enough time. Sometime in the night we both fell asleep, Bob on
the bed, me on the cot.
We were woken up by a rapping on the door around sunrise. Bob got
up and stumbled in an early morning stupor to see who it was. He
quickly woke up when he saw Iggy on the other side of the
doorway. Apparently we were behind schedule and Iggy valued
punctuality. Within several minutes we were piling into a van
with all of the necessary equipment for the "job". After driving
for a while, somewhere in the neighborhood of a half hour, we
arrived about a block away from the bank. Iggy looked back from
the passenger's seat and gave us one last "pep" talk before
began. We pulled on our masks, and left for the bank.
From the point we stepped into the bank on, everything fell
apart. We charged in yelling, and waving our guns about. The bank
was unusually full that day for one reason or another, and as a
result of our gun waving and screaming panic broke out and we
were charged. The scene brings to mind a stampede of buffalo, or,
and this may be more accurate, the rush of water after a dam
crumbles away. It was disastrous. One of our seven, George, I
think, was trampled, and another guy, they told me his name was
Lyle something, simply disappeared in the bustle.
We were all caught off guard, but Bob seemed to regain his cool
the quickest and proceeded to go forward with the job. He grabbed
me and we made our way through the crowd to the tellers. During
this time Iggy and some of the others had been working on
controlling the crowd, which had mostly dissipated by then. There
were still a decent number of people in the bank, but they were
being handled. The others had them on the ground, and silent,
while Bob and I got as much cash as humanly possible. Once we had
all we could get with the bags we brought, Bob gave the signal
and we made our way back outside to the van. On our way out, some
of the more "courageous" bank goers decided to try to do
something about our heist. This was a bad decision on their part,
because Bob was a bit of a hair trigger when he had a gun in his
hand. By the time one of the other guys and I dragged him out of
the crowd and around the corner, he had shot eight people. The
whole process took somewhere around ten minutes, but it felt like
We made it to the van and took off before the police found us.
Luckily, all of our masks stayed on, and none of our voices were
recognizable. The only loose end is the guy who ran off. We all
decided to get away and gather ourselves before we worry about
him. Our van pulled back into the parking lot of the ratty motel
we left from earlier that morning. After a while of
congratulating ourselves on a job well done, we decided to split
up and meet at an apparently earlier agreed up location to
celebrate properly. So Iggy left alone, two of the other guys
left with George and were stopping off at a hospital somewhere
along the way to drop him off, and Bob and I left in his jeep. I
honestly have no clue where he got it, but at this point I
decided that any questions I had about its origin were best left
On the way to the hotel where we were meeting the others the
weight of everything that had happened finally caught up with me.
My stomach began to knot up, and I kept wondering what was going
to happen. Thoughts were flying through my head. I always got
like this when I had time to think. I always assumed the worst
possible outcome was the most likely. And so, in keeping with
tradition, I started thinking things like:
"Surely the police were after us, and surely our license plate
had been taken down by someone. Then again, I suppose it doesn't
matter because one of the guys was supposed to torch the van
anyway, which, if we're caught, only adds arson to the list of
crimes we'll be convicted of."
I was convinced we were dead men after a few minutes of driving.
We still had around ten hours to go before we got to our
destination. Bob filled me in on where we were going part way
through. He was just trying to take mind off of my worries.
Apparently, I was being more than a little obvious. The
directions Iggy had given Bob said that we were supposed to meet
in some tourist resort an hour or two below the border. Upon
reading it all I could think was "Oh, Iggy, you're not much for
Nothing much happened the rest of the ride. The road blurred by,
and the wind burned our faces. Bugs splattered against the
windshield in ways that would've make Pollock envious and music
gave our ear drums little quakes of pleasure. It rained
sometimes, other times it was blisteringly hot. We took turns
driving according to a set of directions Iggy gave everyone on
The only constant was my cycle of calm and mania throughout the
trip. Bob was always on watch for it, and when I would start
losing it, he would always jump in and do something to calm me
down. It was never anything too obvious, and he never directly
acted like he was doing any of it with the purpose of calming me
down in mind, and with Bob that was a real possibility.
We finally made it to the resort. Bob and I got to the front desk
and made our way to the suit that had reserved for the seven of
us. Iggy was the only one there when we got to the room, and we
proceeded to celebrate correctly upon greeting each other. Most
of the night after that was a blur. I woke up in the morning, and
after recovering I began having another bout with mania. That
more or less brings us full circle.
Bob turned away from me to mix me a drink, after trying his best
to calm me down. It hasn't been working as well as it had in the
car, but the drink probably will. I take a gulp of the concoction
he just handed me, and wince a little as it goes down. The drink
tastes sickeningly fruity, and has an obnoxious pink color to it.
In the short time we've been here, Bob had taken to mixing these
fruity monstrosities. They taste less like fruit than they did a
liquefied pixie stick.
Bob hasn't stopped trying to simultaneously chastise and liquor
me into being calm. Neither of them have been working
particularly well. The drinks just amplified my fear, and the
chastising only irritated me, which only worsened the situation
when mixed with alcohol.
There is a hard knock at the door, and everything we're doing
"Open up! Policia!" come the words I'd been dreading in half
broken English, half Spanish.
"Fucking Lyle!" snaps Iggy, and he looks frantically for a way
Bob had never before demonstrated his complete lack of fear for
the consequences more than this moment. I couldn't move fast
enough to stop him from drawing his gun, and firing at the door.
The police immediately burst in, and fire.
I'm hit, and it all goes blank.