Never Saw It Coming

It’s Pay Day. We like Pay Day. I’m not sure how much is on this check. I’ve got another one coming before rent’s due. I’m thinking I can pay both the power and phone bill this month. Combined they amount to three hundred eighty-two dollars and thirty-seven cents. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll have some left over to play with. I opened it immediately. Turns out that was a Bad Idea. Keep in mind I still have to work my shift. The grand total, minus taxes, was three hundred eighty-four dollars and sixty-three cents. I spent the remainder of my time at work pissed. I am truly a joy to be around when I’m pissed. After work I weighed my options. Pay both, be broke for two weeks. Pay one, eat for two weeks. I went for number three, just say fuck it and get drunk.

I woke the next morning, or more accurately, afternoon on my brother’s couch. My head was throbbing and I had the taste of vomit in my mouth. I was probably still drunk. I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. I sat up and cracked my back. I do this far too often for someone so young. On my drive home I vaguely recollected a three-hour conversation over the impact Alice in Chains had on the youth of the mid-nineties. I got too drunk and we both got far too emotional. My smokes were still in my jacket pocket. Naturally I went for them. Only one left. This day was starting off great. Puffing greedily, I turned into the parking lot of my hole of an apartment. Angry with myself for the previous night and stuck in a hangover haze that a carton of cigarettes and a pot of coffee couldn’t lift; I failed to notice the garbage truck backing out. Now there’s an eye-opener. Most of the damage was confined to the left front quarter panel, which was already ruined due to a previous collision. Nonetheless, it did manage to make a bad day worse.

After getting inside, I checked my wallet. I was amazed to find I had enough to pay one of the aforementioned bills. I opted for power. Who needs a phone, anyway? I had three hours until I had to be at work. Sleep sounded like a good idea. I woke up four hours later. See a pattern yet? Note to self: if it seems like a good idea, don’t do it.

I’d like to say money doesn’t matter, but anyone who can say that and not be lying, has too much. Money is the basic root of my problems. I work, yes, I work a lot. I don’t get paid dick, though. This pisses me off. I drink to forget why I’m pissed, which leaves me a very angry drunk.




Anyway, you don’t care about that. It does however bring us to the crux of this little tale. It’s been two weeks and it’s Pay Day again. Every two weeks I take my meager pittance to the Eastside branch of the First National Bank of Evansville and have it converted to cash form. There is one teller there, I remember her from high school. Her name is Leigh, not Lea, Leia, or Lee. It’s Leigh; make sure you get it right. Don’t misspell, or mispronounce it. She hates that. She doesn’t remember me, or, at least she pretends she doesn’t. Usually she’s the one that is open when my turn comes up. Guys, here’s a little tip. Never fall for a Teller. They already know where you work and how much you make. In my case it wouldn’t matter if I were a made-for-TV millionaire, Leigh’s married. But she is nice to look at.

“Sir?” The cute little blonde over there, beckoning my dumb ass; that’s her. “Can I help you?”

After staring like an idiot for a second, I finally decided to move. “I just need to cash this,” I said, handing her the check.

“Do you have an account here?”

Same routine, same time, different week. “Yes.”

“Did you want to deposit anything today?”


She counted out five hundred twelve-dollars and thirty-seven cents. This check is a little better than the last one. I could get the phone turned back on. But then again I’d have to deal with all the other bill collectors calling.

“Have a good day, Mr. Finnegan.”

“You too--” I looked over at the placard in front of her workstation, pretending not to know her name. “Leigh.”

She gave me a customer-service smile and I turned to leave. I was stuffing my money into to my wallet on my way out. Three men came in, I didn’t notice, being too consumed with my finances.

That is until one of them slammed into to me.

“Hey, Watch it!----” My protest was abruptly halted by a cocked shotgun, looking huge, just beyond the tip of my nose. If you believe in the principle of karma, you’ve probably come to the same conclusion that I have: I must have been a wretched excuse for a human being in a past life.

“Back it up, A-hole.”

I’m not censoring my shotgun-toting friend here, he actually called me an ‘A-hole.’ Nevertheless, he got his point across.

“All right,” the obvious leader of the group spoke up. “Everyone stays cool and nobody gets dead.” He said calmly as he produced a pistol, a Beretta .22 to be more exact. “Ladies,” he swept the barrel across the teller’s stations. “Let me see your hands.”

They did the smart thing and complied.

“Who can open the vault for me?”

No one answered. The shotgun was still pointed at my face.

“I don’t like waiting, people.” He let the words hang in the air. “Tito, crowd control; Jermaine, waste’em one by one until whoever can get me into that vault speaks up.”

“Where do I start, Janet?” the shotgun asked.

Janet? Calling a man with a gun Janet didn’t strike me as the wisest thing to do. Then it struck me. Janet was the more masculine of the two obvious choices for the leader of this little comedy troupe.

Janet, the Beretta, looked back at the bank’s patrons corralled into a corner. He picked out a woman who looked to be about six months pregnant with a scared child clutching to her leg. “That one.” He turned back to the branch’s employees. “Make the kid watch.”

Jermaine, the shotgun, shoved me back with the stock, then grabbed the woman by the hair and tugged her and her child to the center of the lobby. “On your knees, please.” The woman complied, crying softly. “Junior, over there.” He pointed at the floor in front of the woman. “Watch Mommy’s head go splat.” The child was crying uncontrollably. The woman was trying to calm him.

“It’ll be alright, sweetie,” she said through her tears.

Jermaine cracked her in the back of the head with the shotgun’s butt. “It isn’t gonna be all right, bitch! You’re gonna fucking die unless someone opens that fucking vault!”

“Christ, somebody do something!” It came from behind me. It was a shrill cry; it could’ve been a man or a woman.

“You wanna take her place?” Jermaine bellowed in the direction of the voice. He waited a couple seconds. There was no reply. Jermaine cocked the twelve gauge; dumping a live round on to the lobby floor. The shell landed with a thump on the on the semi-industrial grey carpet. Jermaine, in his excitement, had forgotten that he already had a round chambered. I studied the shell on the floor. I was hoping for a Winchester Red Super-X load of birdshot. What I saw was a three inch olive drab shell. Four-buck, or worse, double-ought. These guys were serious. I looked up at Jermaine. His finger was on the trigger. If I tackled him, he might miss the woman, but I was as good as dead. The other ten or so people in the lobby might make it. Of course, they might just decide to execute the lot of them and carry on with the robbery.

A sickly looking man of about fifty saved me the decision, standing among the employees. He had a too-large head perched on a scrawny body. “Okay,” he cried out, “okay, just don’t hurt anyone!”

Janet looked at the woman, still on her knees. “Thank him.” He turned and stalked to the man and grabbed him roughly by the arm. “Move it, Egg-head. Jermaine, clear the cash drawers; Tito, get their wallets.” Janet motioned at us.

Tito was packing a snub-nosed revolver. He produced a trash bag from a pocket and began moving slowly down the line, toward me. With every wallet that dropped into the bag, I moved one step away from fear and closer to rage. Five hundred twelve dollars; I wasted two weeks of my life for that and this Fuck was gonna take it from me.

Tito held the bag out in front of me. I didn’t move.

“What are you waiting for, Jack-hole?” He shoved the gun in my face, holding it sideways, like an idiot. “Put it in the bag!”

Jack-hole? What the hell does that mean? What kind of bank-robber doesn’t curse?

If I gave them that money, I’d be evicted, my insurance cancelled. I’d have to sell my rattletrap car just to eat. “Fuck you,” I said quietly.

“What?” Tito laughed.

“I said, ‘Fuck you.’ You ain’t getting my wallet.” I snarled at him.

“Hey, Janet!” Tito yelled over his shoulder, “We got a tough guy!”

“Then kill him.” The voice drifted from the vault.

Tito looked at me and shrugged, “Sorry ’bout ’cha.”

They say you never hear the one that gets you.

They lie.