His sneakers slapped against the wet pavement, echoing in his ears. When he jumped off the curb, his left foot slipped a little, throwing him off balance. Damned sweatshop shoes. The bubble-vest he had donned earlier in the evening flipped behind him wildly, the zipper stinging him, as it struck his back. His hand was heavy with both the Magnum and the cash, which was wrapped up nicely in a Ruby?s bag. Roy and Alan were in the Camaro a few yards ahead of him, Roy hunched over the wheel, Alan in the back, jumping around excitedly. Alan was such a God-damned bush-leaguer. It wasn?t as if Eric himself was a pro, but he was at least cool about the whole robbery thing. Roy acted like a mute, grunting to signal approval.
Eric ripped off his ski mask, reaching the door. He yanked the handle up, opening the door. He threw the sack and the gun on the back seat, next to Alan. He hopped in the passenger?s seat. Roy had the car going even before Eric could get his arm around the door to close it. With the burst of speed, Eric was slammed against the seat, the wood beads cutting into his lower back.
?God damnit, Roy! Ease up! The damned kid was so scared he won?t trip the alarm for another ten minutes.? Eric screamed, hooking his forearm around the outside of the door, slamming it.
?Look, last time was a little close for me, and I just don?t wanna get caught.? Roy said, his eyes never leaving the road. Of the three drivers Eric had used in his short time as a robber, he had discovered that Roy was the most careful. Never listened to music while he drove, never took his eyes off the road. Alan was a kid from high school who Eric felt sorry for. Seldom did he cause trouble, just took his share and kept quiet. ?We?re fin-? Eric was cut off by the sirens behind them. Alan went from calm to overdrive at the sound. ?What the fuck was that? You said the kid wouldn?t trip the fucking alarm! You said the fucking kid wouldn?t–?Alan was cut off by Eric?s open palm across his cheek. ?Just chill. There?s a fire station near here. It?s an ambulance. Calm down.?
Roy turned left, onto a quiet suburban road. The night was brisk, but not cold. It had rained earlier in the evening, and the reflection of the streetlights off the pavement made Eric think of his childhood.
Eric let a wry smile slip. ? So I walk in, right? And there?s this little dipshit behind the counter, lookin at me with stark amazement. So I says, ?Howdy, got any cheez-ballz?? and the kid?s all like, ?um, yeah, in the back, by the condoms.? I was gonna buy them, but when he mentioned the condoms, I decided not to eat. Just get to the thievery. So I go to the back and make like I?m lookin? for the cheez-ballz. The kid turns around and goes back to his stroke book, and he?s all into it. So I sneak up to him real quiet, my hand around the handle of my gun.–? Eric was cut off.
?It?s called the butt. Not the handle. Sound?s like you?re messin with a fuckin? drill.? Alan said, still looking out the window.
Roy grunted. He knew Eric had only asked to hear himself speak. Eric waited a moment, then, knowing he wouldn?t be receiving a reply, started up where he knew he had left off. ?So I?ve got my hand around the butt of the gun…..you hear that Alan? I said butt just like you wanted me to. And the kid?s all really into his stroke book. I think it was Asian porn. Something like Yellow Pussy Yum Yum. And he?s so into it he don?t even hear me when I knock over the Zinger display right by the counter. I knocked those things all over the floor.?
Roy pulled around the corner, making the bald tires screech against the wet pavement. As they passed the corner, Alan saw the street sign was pulled from the ground. It read ?DEAD END?. After the tongue lashing he had received from Eric moments ago, Alan decided not to tell the pair. He checked his jacket pocket once again. The gun was there, like it had been since he had found it behind the bowling alley. Still there, and still loaded.
Eric continued. ?And so I?m all like about to run outta there; just skip alla that fuss, but the kid doesn?t even flinch. So I just kinda freeze, seein if he?ll move or not. He sat there like Lot?s wife, y?know, pillar of salt? I decide to go ahead and do it. I move the gun up to the back of his head– not close enough for him to grab; I remember what happened last time I did that– and pull the hammer back. He hops a little, I guess cause the noise was so close. But he still don’t turn around. So I fire into the Cheri Magazine rack in front of him. The magazines go everywhere; I guess I hit one of the supports. The kid takes notice, and turns around. His eyes are real big, and he just presses the cash register and it opens. I thought he was goin for the alarm, so I?m right about to empty into him when the cash comes rollin out. I takes my makes, slap it in the bag, and I?m almost out the door. Then this greasy-ass bitch comes outta the back room, with a fuckin baseball bat!! Can you believe that?? A baseball bat! Like she?s gonna hit the bullets away!?
Eric took a moment to figure out who was speaking. ?Yeah. It was some shitty brand too. Like Wal-Mart or something. I don?t even hesitate. I just shoot her. Right in the head. Just like that. It didn?t even explode or anything. Just a little hole. Then she fell. I was kinda let down.
I was all concerned that the kid behind me would have pressed the alarm, but when I turned around, he was right where I had left him, only his pants were wet. Actually, I couldn?t see his pants, but his apron was soaked through. So I?m feelin all Dirty Harry and shit, so I says ?on the ground, Mother Fucker. Next to your dead friend.? The kid jumps on the ground and doesn?t move. Then I come out here.? Eric stretched out his arms on the vinyl seats. His shoulder popped.
Alan took a drag on his cigarette, then tossed the butt out onto the street. He let his arm dangle out the window, palm out so he could catch the cool breeze. Something under the car banged loosely against the wheel well.
Roy spoke up. ?Fuck! The street just ends up here. It?s not wide enough to turn around, either. We gotta back up the entire way.? Roy cursed under his breath as he put the car in reverse.
The car shuddered as it was thrown into gear. Roy had once again neglected to apply proper force to the brake when he shifted, annoying the transmission.
Alan heard the sirens before the rest of the group. His stomach fluttered a little, then returned to its normal state as he settled back into the realization that tonight was indeed his last on earth, and he was ready to take it on with guns blazing, as it were. He had left his door ajar at the store, so he could vacate as soon as the proverbial shit hit the hackneyed fan.
Sergeant Hodge was hunched over the steering wheel, over-excited at the prospect that they would finally catch the bandits who had been robbing the Ruby?s chain. 3 hits in two weeks. On the first, they had slipped and almost gotten caught by a brazen clerk who took the leader?s gun, but had split before the clerk figured out how to take the safety off. The second one had gone off without a hitch. The third, tonight, had been successful, but they had been caught on the video camera installed the day before. It had captured not only the face of the leader, but the license plate on the beat up Camero they were driving. An Ambulance on its way to a scene had sighted the car and reported. The Serge had hopped in his Duster and lead the chase.