The youth’s hand wavered over the handle of the Wildey pistol, double action, 8 round capacity commonly used in hunting and sport fishing. The thing was a cannon, capable of tearing down a stucco wall.
He had gotten the gun courtesy of his long-time high school friend Grover Adams Jr., now a relatively light-weight arms dealer. He remembered going to Grover’s pad near the intersection of Seventh and T streets, seemed like so long ago but was really only about two weeks.
He recalled the scene, Grover lying back on his bed, hands behind his head groovin’ to tunes with his huge earphones on that looked like two cauliflowers stuck to his skull.
Upon the man’s entry (Grover never cared much about locks and such), Grover removed the massive earpieces and lazily waved his hand to the CD sleeves lying haphazardly on top of his dresser drawer.
“Check this out, Blood,” he said, removing the earphone jack so that the funky rhythms could ease their way throughout his bachelor apartment.
The youth bopped his head in accord with the beats emanating forth from the retro stereo.
“That there is Jimmy McGriff,” said Grover with a wide grin, exposing his acutely polished white teeth. “Electric Funk, 1969. You like?”
“It’s cool”, the other replied.
“Cool? Shit bitch, this is da bomb!” Grover exclaimed with enthusiasm despite his sleepy eyes. “Check this out, see this girl on the cover?’
He gestured to a beautiful black woman on the CD cover in traditional flashy late 60’s/early 70’s blue and red long legged garb. “That is what you call prime pussy. Not that you white boys would know anything about that.”
Grover was always shucking jive like that to him such as, “Blood, you got more guts than brains carrying a cannon like that,” and stupid shit like, “Remember..it’s better to be lucky than good.” The hell was that all about? Like he was some stupid-ass white boy in the D.C. district trying to make rep for hisself?
The gun was in the pocket of his black pea-jacket, obscured from view, always a good thing during a public robbery.
Everything is cool, he reassured himself. I’m gonna do this my own self. I’ve gone through this a hundred times in practice. I will pull this off.
This being his first stick-up, his nervousness showed as he wiped a trail of sweat from his brow while he stood in line awaiting his turn.
He thought about what he was going to say to the woman at the counter. Will he adopt the suave, debonair George Clooney nice guy approach and say, “Hey, you got nothing to worry about… just hand me over the cash, please.” Or was it the more loose cannon, unpredictable Quentin Tarantino type that said, “C’mon bitch! Empty the fuckin’ till before I blow everybody’s brains out!”
He did not want to do that. It just wasn’t him. Quick cash, quick exit. Nobody hurt and no major stories to talk about afterwards.
He nervously jammed the toque on his head, being careful not to make eye contact with that stupid camera perched in the corner with its one red eye blinking like it never went to sleep.
The toque was slightly off-kilter so that only part of his mouth was exposed while the other was covered by the thick black woven material.
“A’right!” he shouted, “This is a stick-up! Don’t anybody panic and no-one will be hurt!”
He imagined Grover shaking his bald black head going, “Stupid white boy.”
“I’m sorry?” asked the befuddled clerk behind the counter.
The youth immediately experienced a throat as dry as Arizona in the summertime, but he was able to at least croak out, “You heard me! This is a stick-up! Gimmee all the cash you got! Now bitch!”
The clerk was a kindly woman in her mid sixties. Not horribly overweight, but probably more that her attending physician would approve of. She cleared her throat politely and said, “Sir, are you aware that this is a public library?”
The masked youth anxiously flicked his head from left to right. He was able to make out three people behind him with materials to check out: some DVDs, others books like Curious George Goes to School or Shopaholic by Kinsella.
“What the fuck?” he hollered.
The woman shook her head as if it were the worst tragedy she had ever heard. “Yes sir, I’m sorry. The only money we have here is from overdue fines.”
The man behind him yelled, “Can we speed things up please? I need to get to a birthday party.”
The robber feverously gestured to the librarian, “I know that! I know that! Just…just gimme all ya got or ……….I will blow a hole in your head..I swear I will do it!”
Rolling her eyes the librarian replied, “Yeah, yeah whatever.” She appeared as though she was watching a rerun of Maude. She pressed some buttons into the cash register and produced a ten dollar bill which she neatly folded onto the counter. “There, young man.”
“WHAT??!??” the thief shrieked.
“Can you please keep it down? Some of us are trying to read!” yelled a senior citizen at a desk. He deeply inhaled on the mask of an oxygen tank leaning against his seat.
“I seriously cannot believe this,” moaned the criminal. “This is not happening. It is so fucking embarrassing!”
The librarian nodded sadly. “Yes, it is happening sir. And please keep your profanity to a minimum. There are children’s programs going on right now. I think what you need, dear, is to enroll in some of our government-sponsored self-help courses.” She produced a small flyer from behind the desk. “Here’s one called ‘Aggression and You’…or perhaps, ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Robbing Banks’?”
“ENOUGH!” the crook hollered, drawing out the Wildey cannon in the open. “Do you think I’m playing a fuc....- a game here?”
Just then a buzzer rang. Startled, the robber turned his head behind him and the librarian snatched the Wildey out of his hands and placed it behind the desk.
Waving her finger at him like a scolded child she said, “Young man, this was not checked out! Do you have a valid card with expiration date?”
The robber screamed and tore out of the library.
Shaking her head sadly, the librarian said softly aloud, “The youth of today have no respect for public property.”
© Copyright 2016 Steve Balsky. All rights reserved.