The Final Act

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 26, 2016

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Submitted: June 26, 2016

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THE FINAL ACT

 

All institutions named in the story are fictitious and so are the locations of specific buildings. This is a work of fiction and resemblances to real people, buildings or institutions are purely coincidental.

 

The room was small and empty save for an ancient double sofa, a television on an empty bookcase and a closet which essentially was a niche in the west wall with cheap wooden doors. A window on the wall, on the left of the television was open letting in the cold November air of Manhattan, while letting the pungent odour of cigarette smoke escape.

  George Binn, the sole occupant of the room lay on the sofa, head resting on its wooden hand which was spotted from years of extinguishing dog ends. The television played a week old basketball game where the Miami Heats was leading eight to two against a weak opponent.

  Binn’s eyes were however not on the television but fixed on the damp ceiling which was in desperate need of repair. Lowering his eyes he cast a gaze around the room, analysing every nuance that met his eyes. He reached only one conclusion- I need money, lots of it…

  Twenty two years ago, George Binn had fought his way up to the echelon of the society where he would be respected. He was a carpenter, a very skilled one. His father had taught him the various techniques of working with wood and glass and the secret, finer arts of the trade. Ever since George had built his first bookshelf for their neighbours, his interest and passion for carpentry had remained undiminished.

  When his father’s eyes were too old and his hands too shaky to hammer a nail into the junction of planks, George took charge of the family business. The store was one of the most famous furniture stores in New York at that time and after George started working, it became even more popular. It was then that he met the daughter of a baker, Moira Harrington, who much like George had taken up the family business. What really bound them together, none knew; some said that it was the fact that both were the most creative in their own fields, while others suggested it was simply because Moira’s bakery was on the same street as George’s shop. Irrespective of what anyone might surmise, love was definitely what had forged the bond.

  Soon after the marriage, George took to smoking, a habit his father had despised and Moira too loathed. Then, as if to make smoking least of Moira’s displeasures, George took to drinking.

  Ever since the first swig, the flavour of alcohol had lingered in Georges mouth for days. Finally he bought himself some cheap whiskey and from that very day, the chisel cut too deep, the nail drove into the wrong plank and at worst of times, a frustrated blow of the hammer would shatter a plate of glass. Such was the power of George’s disguised evil that one wrong decision had ruined the age old business.

  The only reason Moira clung to her husband was because she realized that her son Michael needed both his parents. And the only reason Michael hadn’t stormed out of their two bedroom apartment was because he couldn’t bear to leave his son. George wanted to see his son evolve into a responsible man, a person who genuinely cared about his family and never hesitated to take up responsibilities. From the moment Michael was born, George had taken several loans for his son’s education and had worked relentlessly to repay the loans. The same went on till Michael was fifteen and he chose to quit school.

  Michael had understood that his family needed money and had expressed desire to help his mother at the bakery. George had wanted Michael to resurrect his own carpentry firm, but evidently he had a flair for gastronomy. Soon the fifteen year old began helping his mother at the bakery, often producing his own recipes and the best of those dishes featured among the famous pies and breads.

  Things went on happily for the next four years – Moira and Michael worked at the baker and George watched everything from a distance while gaining and losing fair sums on the gambling nights.

  It was when Michael was nineteen, that is to say the present year that things started to fall apart. Suddenly the bakery became less popular and the pastries lay on the tray for more than two days, running cold. Taxes increased and prices of flour and other indispensible ingredients escalated. It was as if all miseries had come pouring down on the family at the same time. It was evident that the family needed money- lots of it. The decline had begun.

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Over the years George Binn had religiously handed over a fair sum of money to his wife Moira at the end of each month. However, neither Moira nor Michael knew the source of the money. George had not only taken to gambling but had delved into the much darker caverns of the so called under-world. He had become a criminal.

  He had walked into shops with a colt revolver in hand and a mask over his face and walked out with wads of bills. Once he had threatened to kill a woman in a dark alley who had hysterically pleaded for her life in exchange for an expensive necklace. Several simple and some risky thefts and threats had managed to earn George a lot of money, most of which he gave to Michael- always personally.

  To George Binn, the meeting he would have once yearned for had turned out to be one of his toughest moments.

  I am lying to him! What if he finds out that Daddy isn’t a good man? He is not like me, but I…his father…

  Those were the thoughts which tormented him, but he had found solace in the fact that Michael was ignorant of the darker ways of earning money.

  Putting an end to his thoughts, George stood up and walked to the closet, opened it and took out a black turtleneck pullover and a cardboard box. He carried the latter to the sofa and opened it only after making sure that the front door was locked. Inside, among some old items like a tattered hat, a broken portrait frame rested a rather hideous object. From inside the box, a mask looked up at George. It was white save for the black smudges round the eyes and the black rivulets which flowed down the cheeks to reach a red crescent the ends of which tilted downwards. George lifted the weeping mask out of the box to reveal the colt revolver which lay beneath. Suddenly several thoughts came to him in flash.

  What if Michael ever sees this or me with the gun in hand, a burglar a thief, a remorseless criminal? What will he think of his father?

  With a violent shrug George put an end to his reverie and made sure that the gun was loaded. Everything was set for George who let out a slow breath remembering the dangerous feat he was about to attempt. He was going to rob a bank.

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 At ten in the morning, George Binn stood on the 21st Street, New York in front of the People’s Bank. The bank had opened only a month ago and was not very popular but George knew he would get enough money if he managed to execute what he had planned. He knew that the security guard was a novice and George was counting on the man’s incompetency and incapability to make quick wise decisions. Just as the security guard went in through the wooden doors of the bank probably because he had forgot something, George crossed the road, his left hand reaching for the mask beneath the tight pullover and his right rested over the gun which was tucked into his waistband, concealed by the pullover.

  As he walked up the front steps of the bank he put on the mask and secured it so that it would not fall off. Brandishing his revolver he kicked the wooden double doors open which the automatic door closer swung shut immediately. George was in luck, there were only six people in the bank, three customers, three staff and the security guard.

  ‘You, security guard!’ shouted George in a nasal tone. ‘Throw down the gun and the radio!’ The guard, clearly stunned dropped his gun and radio with quaking hands and kicked them towards George without another thought. All bank staff members were standing with their hands over their heads, terrified as they realised that they did not have an emergency system to call the police immediately. The only communication with the world beyond the bank’s walls was the security guard’s surrendered radio.

  ‘The first person to move will end up dead on the doors. So if you don’t want me to clean my boots on your worthless corpses you better stay still and do what I tell you to.’

  You’re doing well, George told himself. He had known that the bank was too ill equipped but took no chances. ‘Any trick from a bank official and he ends up with his brains in his lap!’ Better, they’re afraid.

  ‘I want you, the fat guy to give me your money!’ George shouted to an obese man who stood a yard to his left at a counter zipping shut a leather bag. ‘Do it fast I don’t have all day to… ’ George’s words were cut short by a bang which came from behind him. He froze, gun aimed at the obese man who fumbled with the bag’s zipper, clinging on to it dearly. George slowly turned around without moving his right arm. Behind George stood a man with a gun in hand which was aimed straight ahead, a black hood over his head, with two holes for eyes. George was relieved that it was not a police, but the fact that another burglar had entered the bank did not help him in anyway. George moved a few steps back so that he was in line with the other robber and had him in his sight. George suddenly saw that he had the chance to grab a bonus.

  ‘I don’t care a shred about what you want but I know that you’re a beginner.’ George whispered calmly, ‘you have your gun and I have my expertise. So maybe we both could just rob all of them and split the sum.’

  After a few seconds of hesitation the other robber nodded his approval. With that George and his new accomplice took every last bill from the customers within two mere minutes and then ran out of the rear exit which both knew about. The entire heist had taken only five minutes and only one bullet had to be fired near the end of the robbery to maintain the tension.

  Now the two masked men ran down the circuitous alleys and narrow lanes away from the crescendos of police sirens. When they reached an abandoned alley, broad enough for only two men to walk abreast, they stopped running and took some rest. On either side were only blank brick walls of two dilapidated houses. Panting and out of breath, George sat down on the dirty cobblestone street, setting down his bag of money beside him.

  ‘Thanks for the help’ said the hooded robber. ‘I’m an amateur,’ a confession, noted George, ‘I guess I’ll stick to the usual department stores.’

  George gave a grim chuckle, ‘You could use a veteran like me. I’ve been in the worst.’

  ‘I guess now that we have a mutual trust, we should see each other’s faces too’, George ventured after a pause.

  ‘You’re right,’ said the other man pulling off his hood. Seeing the face, George sprang to his feet and froze as if he had looked into the eyes of the Gorgon Medusa. George took off his weeping mask and let it fall.

  Father and son stood stupefied in the alley with two bags of money and two shed visages lying on the ground.


© Copyright 2017 Rohit Roy. All rights reserved.

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