The Legend of Jack o' Hearts Grubb

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The legend of a rather unlikely bank-robber with a rather unlikely modus operandi.

Submitted: June 09, 2014

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Submitted: June 09, 2014

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The Legend of Jack o’ Hearts Grubb


There was a man –I can assure you there was, for I am no liar- a man that took a
certain city by storm like a hurricane in a bathtub, a man called Jack o’ Hearts
Grubb. They feared him, and rightly so, for he was nigh rapist nor serial killer, but
a man after their money and their livelihood. They say he used no guns; had used
no knives; they even say he was a coward without his weapon of choice, for in his
line of work, fear is the deciding factor, fear and awe. They say he was a gambler,
but I know he was no such thing, but it was true that it was an unusual application
for such a device.
They say ol’ Jack robbed a bank with a pack of playing cards, as normal a pack you
might glimpse in the back of the kiosk where you buy your daily pack of cigarettes
on your way to work, a pack of cards he used to steal millions. But as any great
star, he burned out too early -or not early enough if you were a law-abiding
citizen- thanks to one even greater than him.
It all started many a year ago –don’t ask me when, I can barely remember my own
name or who you are or why I’m telling you this- when an unassuming young man
walked into a bank with brown hair and brown eyes and brown suit and brown
shoes (tie a stark white) and stood at the centre of the floor space. A nervous
teller leant himself forward in query, but before he could utter a splutter young
Jack trust a hand into his coat. People shrieked, thinking it was to be a hold-up-atgunpoint,
but started laughing as ol’ Jack pulled from his coat the pack of playing
cards he had purchased that morning.
“This is a hold-up!” he said loudly. The manager walked out, not at all impressed
with this jest in poor taste, and bore down on ol’ Jack like a bull at the helm of an
old iron train. He opened his mouth to speak, and before he could, Jack flipped
open the pack and held the cards to his chest. “Pick a card.” he said simply. The
manager stopped dead in his tracks, rather disarmed, and could barely recall what
he had wanted to do. “Uhm…well, all right.”
The manager thought for a second, and nodded, and without even a moment’s
pause ol’ Jack Grubb pulled from his deck the ace of diamonds. The manager let
fly a gasp, followed by the rest of the bank as they glimpsed his surprised face. He
turned away from the stunned manager and looked at the teller. “Pick a card.” he
said again. The teller gulped and nodded, and with that ol’ Jack pulled from the
deck the four of diamonds. The trick soon spread throughout the bank, not a word
from ol’ Jack nor anyone else, as they had all chosen their cards in advance, and
would have theirs shown to them as Jack strolled past. Those who received
diamonds revered him like a god; those who received clubs would faint and slump
forward; and the ones who received hearts gave up theirs to Jack in true
Stockholm adoration, the ladies giving him his name the Jack o’ Hearts right there
and then. But it was not until the last soul in the bank got his turn that the fourth
suite showed its face and true power. “I don’t believe in this shit!” cried a horrible
man of six-feet plus, “It’s nothing but trickery and hustle! There ain’t no way
you’re guessing my card!”
Jack cricked his neck and adjusted his white tie as the others looked on in curious
composure, for they couldn’t possibly conceive of what would follow, now could
they? Jack o’ Hearts walked over to the man behind the desk, and placed himself
squarely before him, looking up into the pudgy face of the final teller. “Pick a
card.” said ol’ Jack o’ Hearts to the giant of a man, who snorted.
“Ain’t no way you’d guess mine, you magic-spewing hillbilly retar…”
Jack let loose his hand and smacked the man across the face in a mighty show of
marksmanship, sending him tumbling to the ground like a bag of wet rice. He
walked away calmly as several people ran up to the victim and rolled him over to
sneak in a peak, and when they found the blood-soaked and crumpled Ace of
Spades stuck to his cheek, knew he had chosen the right card.
They brought Jack the money he asked for as he held up the deck like a gun, with
cards as deadly as bullets, equal in their speed and lethality. He slung the bag over
his shoulder and gestured for his Ace of Spades, which the manager handed him in
great hesitation as if it were lit dynamite, and with a final smirk, left in a hurry.


****


Now, it might be wise to mention at this point that ol’ Jack o’ Hearts was no Robin
Hood, nor was he a two-bit thug out for kills and thrills. He did what he did simply
because he had to, and I could not understand why, possibly because I never met
or lived anywhere close to Jack. Which might be a good thing, seeing as I’m rather
obsessed with spades because I’m an avid gardener. Before that I used to dig
graves for the mafia.
Anyway, there were many who speculated that Jack’s true source of power was
his deck, and even more who believe John was only a vehicle that the deck used to
control him, imbued with some kind of black magic lust for money, stealing not
because it needed to, but because it had to. And so it was that every bank in town
equipped their guards with packs of playing cards, packs containing only Clubs and
twice as many Spades to counter Jack’s old and worn-out deck of which every
Spade was covered in dried and flaking blood. Guns were useless. Who needs to
stop a bullet that was never fired in the first place?
In the end hundreds died as Jack o’ Hearts repeatedly heisted every bank in town
on a monthly-rotating schedule, holding one half of his deck in each hand as he
ran into the lobby low and fast, showing cards even faster as the guards fumbled
uselessly with their aces and kings and jacks and tens, falling down dead as Spades
seemed to sneak into their thoughts, dead as if shot through the head, for
everyone knew that ol’ Jack o’ Hearts Grubb took no prisoners, but was certainly
partial to taking your hard-earned cash. As for the Diamonds, Clubs and especially
Hearts, they would relieve themselves of their money faster than you could say ‘Is
this your card?’
Jack seemed indifferent to his winnings and never spent it on anything. He always
wore the same clothes; now rumpled and maroon in colour thanks to the addition
of red to the brown fabric, safe for his white tie, which was still just a white length
of fabric that gave the impression of a tongue hanging out in cruel jest. He still had
no car, nor bicycle, nor took taxi rides. People suspected he was afraid of
technology; others admitted their town was rather small and didn’t warrant
anything faster than walking. People soon described him as Stubborn Hood, who
stole from the rich and gave to no one. People would soon also describe him as
‘not a problem anymore’.
One fateful October morning on the fifth of September, ol’ Jack o’ Hearts stepped
up to the front doors of Local International Bank just left of the bakers that was
continuously burning down, and right of the local fire-station always claiming they
had no money for equipment anymore, which was true thanks to him. Jack could
see the guards inside running around behind the bulletproof glass inside the
lobby, and he slid his rock-steady hand into his coat pocket to remove his partner
in crime –and admittedly only friend- and flipped the crumpled pack open,
removing the deck and rifling it as if cocking a pistol. He mounted the steps and
the guards jumped in behind barriers, cards already chosen in vain, and as Jack
kicked in the door, it was business as usual. Four guards in all died; ten laid down
their cards and assumed surrender on the floor. Each and every customer and
employee inside had their cards shown to them, all receiving either a Diamond, a
Heart, or a Club. Until he reached the final teller, a beautiful young blonde woman
with deep blue eyes and a cute strand of hair she probably didn’t know about
hanging down her fringe. Jack cricked his neck and adjusted his white tie as the
others looked on in fearful composure, for they could definitely conceive of what
would follow, now couldn’t they? Jack o’ Hearts walked over to the girl behind the
desk, and placed himself squarely before her, looking down into the delicate face
of the final teller. “Pick a card.” he said simply. The woman smiled and tilted her
head. “No!” she said sweetly. Jack raised his chin in surprise. He had hoped it was
to be a Heart. It was swiftly moving to Spade. “I said…pick a card!” he said
commandingly. The girl raised her chin also. “Or what?” she said defiantly. ‘ol Jack
was blown out of the water. If she chose no card, he could guess no card. Not
even the deck’s mysterious coercion could make her choose one. He was starting
to panic as the other hostages slowly got to their feet, urged into rebellion by this
heroic girl. Jack glimpsed the guards out of the corner of his eye, picking up their
decks again, but before they could, the girl stuck her hand out to Jack. “Tell you
what, Mr Grubb, what you say we has ourselves a little showdown here. You hand
me yer deck. You will choose a card, and I will name it. If I fail, you take yer deck
and yer money and leave. If I win, you go to jail.”
Jack held his deck to his chest. Giving up his deck was like a gunman asking a
police officer to hold his pistol while he nipped off to the bathroom. Jack shook his
head. “No way.” he said firmly. The girl adjusted her red and black bank-teller
uniform. “Two cards then.” she said. Jack raised an eyebrow. Please hold my
bullets while I nip off to the store.

“Nope.” he said firmly. The woman discovered the strand of hair covering her face
and started batting it around like a cat trying to get a piece of sticky tape off its
ear. “Three cards then.” she offered. Jack rubbed his chin as he observed the
guards behind him, on the floor again, fearing Jack’s returning confidence. Excuse
me officer, wait here while I go make a phone call.

“I’m still not convinced.” he said. The girl sighed. “Fine. Four cards. I can do four
cards. Final offer.”
‘ol Jack smiled. Wouldn’t you like an ice-cream, officer? I’ll hold your gun while you
go get us some.

“Deal” said Jack simply. The girl smiled. “Good, it’s a good deal. Now if ye please,
hand me them cards.”
Jack took a deep breath as he handed the crumpled-up deck to the girl, who
grimaced, wishing he’d wash it more often. She rifled the deck as she kept his
arrogant gaze, narrowing her eyes, flaky blood dropping from the deck. “Bet ye
think ye’r the best, don’t you?” she said. Jack raised an eyebrow and indicated the
rest of the bank personage still on the floor. “I think they think that as well, missy.
Tough as diamond I is.”
The girl seemed to manoeuvre a card to one end of the deck with her pinkie,
keeping it there with her polished nail. “I’m sure they do. In fact, you seem to
swoop in here like a club every damned Tuesday.”
Jack smirked. “I think I can do one better than that, missy.” he said, indicating the
four dead guards still bleeding on the floor. The girl smirked, busy manoeuvring
her third card to the back of the pack without even looking down. “It would seem
so. For someone who makes a lot of bodies you dig so few graves. Squeamish?”
‘ol Jack seemed taken aback, but regained his composure. “I think you forgot
one.” he said. “Oh? Which one would that be, Mister?”
Jack stepped up gallantly. “Why do you think they call me the Jack o’ Hearts, lil’
prissy missy?”
The girl grinned as she selected her final card, the counter beneath the deck
covered in red flaky dandruff. “I also know that they call you Grubb, mister, and I
also know that I can do one better than a Jack.”
The girl smacked the four cards down on the counter in a cloud of red powder and
fanned them out. “Why do you think they call me the Heartbreaker, Mister
Grubb?” she said as ‘ol Jack staggered at the sight of the Queen of Diamonds, the
Queen of Clubs, the Queen of Spades, and finally the Queen of Hearts, which
broke his little tickler like a smashed clockwork toy. Grubb fell over backwards as
the girl leant over the counter and threw the rest of the pack at Jack’s lifeless
corpse on the scuffed and splintery floor, covering him with crumpled playing
cards at last defeated. The entire bank jumped up and ran to the scene in
disbelief, rejoicing at the unmoving body of the long-feared Jack o’ Hearts Grubb,
at last dead and gone. The girl was praised and honoured, she smiling kindly
without a sound. She discovered the errant strand of hair again and put it away,
before putting on her cream-coloured coat, placing her hands on the counter and
jumping over onto the floor space as surprised people made way for her, and as
she straightened her legs out, she plunged both her hands into both the pockets
of her coat, and removed two brand-new packs of playing cards. “Everyone get
down on the fucking ground!” she yelled with a pack of playing cards in each hand,
and in a frightful voice, added “But not before ye’ve picked a card!”


© Copyright 2020 John Cap. All rights reserved.

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