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I was the most determined I had been in a long time as I glanced down at my watch while waiting in line in the small lobby at the bank; not out of impatience, but anxiety.


5:24 p.m.

Six o’clock brought the promise of a new opportunity I had hoped would happen for several months. A promise that was down to its final strike. I had known her since college. I had been there throughout her ”shitty male encounters” – she always was the dramatic one. As a matter of fact, I was the one who told her that her last boyfriend had cheated on her at one of the hot spot bars.  Maybe I was taking advantage of a vulnerable situation, but a girl like Cassidy doesn’t stay single for long. Besides, I’m tired of being nothing but the shoulder. I want to prove to her that some guys aren’t going to be “shitty”. Some of us can make magic out of thin air.

I had to rearrange a rain check twice. On my way to pick her up the first time I was involved in a fender bender – there wasn’t too much damage, but the person was adamant that the police respond because the last person took off on her. I tried to explain the situation, even offered to leave my insurance information. Hell, I ‘d have paid her at that point to just let me go, but nooooo. “The last person’s license plate was stolen and the police couldn’t find them, so I had to pay for everything myself. I’m on a tight budget and I can’t afford to do this and I’ve got three kids at home and my ex doesn’t pay child support and blah blah blah…” And the part that pissed me off the most was that she hit me! It just so happened that the police were at the barricade on the news on the south end of the city. Guess how many were going to leave to respond to a fender bender?

On the second go around, the fire department shut down my only exit from my town home complex because a woman at the opposite end of the cul de sac had been found dead in her running car in the closed garage - an obvious suicide, right? Except they found evidence of petechial hemorrhaging, which, an officer told me, meant the victim was possibly strangled prior to being found in the garage. To make it worse, the suspect, her husband, ran from law enforcement once they confronted him about it. The complex was already surrounded by the police, but he managed to slip into the shadows. He had not breached the outer layer of police, so they, so they shut the entire complex down, forcing me to make another call of shame.

Tonight was the night, though. I had finally convinced her that I was not purposefully cancelling our dates because I was not interested, so she gave me one more chance. If I cancelled this one, I was finished. I made it out of my complex an hour ahead of schedule, and purposefully went to the bank three blocks from her place to take out money. In order to make the time pass, I decided to walk in. The cool air in mid-Autum was soothing to my nerves, and I needed to see a friendly smile – even if it was a plastic one.

The doors opened behind me and two men walked in, one holding the door for the other. They wore polos, one turquoise and one orange, and jeans. Nice-looking men; groomed, attractive features. Each went to a seperate table on either side of the back of the roped-off aisle to fill out slips - I couldn’t tell if they were deposit or withdrawal – and began filling them out. The guy in front of me, who looked as if he had just come out of the gym, had been moving around impatiently. He took a glance around and then quickly abandoned the aisle, speed-walking toward the hallway to the right marked to lead to the restrooms as if secretly his life depended on it. I chuckled a bit as I watched him go and decided to save the man’s spot if he came back in time. Hell, I’d been there before, and there was only one person in front of me. The lone teller, a pretty woman looking to be in her mid-thirties with glossy brown hair, finished with the couple in front of her and called for the next person, flashing her routine greeting smile as she met eyes with the man in front of me wearing a dark colored plaid shirt and khakis.

And then a single gunshot sounded from behind. I flinched, whirling in shock and disbelief. The two men behind me had clown masks over their faces – the kind the bank robbers had in The Dark Knight. The one in the turqoise shirt on the right had a pistol pointed toward the ceiling in his hand. The left one in orange had his  pointed towards me and the couple that were on their way out.

“Everybody get down! Now!”

Are you fucking kidding me?

I had to swallow my heart back down as I dropped to my stomach on the cool, tiled floor and covered my head with my hands. The pit of my stomach churned with fear and despair as I thought about my plight. Why today, of all days? Why did I have to go to this bank? Why didn’t I decide to just use my credit card? I glanced up toward the bathroom. Surely the man that left heard the gunshot and would have called the police. A few moments passed and I saw his shadow approaching the end of the hall. Mentally, I told him to stop. Turn around, go back into the bathroom where it was safe. How could he have not heard the gunshot? When he reached the end of the hallway, I felt my heart stop. He had a clown mask on and a pistol in his hand. He was in on it! He took two steps out of the hallway and faced us. The doors to several offices behind him were closed and the rooms were dark thorugh the windows. The only way out was through the two at the front doors.

“Fill it up!” I heard the man to my left say.

It had to be the man in the plaid shirt. One of the two at the front turned to face the doors; the other had his gun pointed towards us. I watched from my position on my stomach as the teller complied, pleading for her life. Behind me I could hear the frightened whimpers of the female, followed by the man gently shushing her.

I heard the sirens coming from the distance. The robbers at the exit backed to the walls along the doors. The one at the counters jumped behind it, threatening the squealing teller to keep quiet with his gun. The one that was focused on us shot out one of the windows of a closed accountant’s office and climbed inside. Red and blue lights flashed through the windows. The sirens died as cars took up strategic positions around the bank. It was not long before the demand was made.

“This is the police! You will only get one chance to come out with your hands up.”

The robbers made no moves to comply with their demand. I brought my arm down to glance at my watch.

5:30 p.m.

Cassidy was never going to believe this. Maybe this was a sign.



Bio: J. K. Miller II was born in Mountain View, CA. As a military brat he has traveled and lived in various countries including the Netherlands, France, Germany, England, Tunisia, and Italy. He first took an interest in writing in high school as a journalist. He has had several short stories published and his first novel is scheduled to be released in Spring 2012. Follow J. K. Miller II on Twitter and Facebook.


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