“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
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 evening.
“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 but enthusiasm.
“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, right?”
“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 Bob.
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 guessing).
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 “Mornin’ sunshine!”
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 animal.”
“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 this?”
“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 hours.
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 unanswered.
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 originality…”
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 job.
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 stops.
“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 out.
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.
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