I never expected my life to take this turn. Then again, I guess nobody expects life’s turns. But my turn was much sharper. Here I was. Standing in the middle of a bank. A hostage's neck in my left hand and a gun in my right. The barrel pointed at his temple. Tears streaming down his face begging not to shoot.
Then there was the other two people in the current situation. The two cops standing across from me, guns pointed, yelling at me to drop my weapon. They weren’t supposed to be there. They weren’t a part of the plan. The hostage though? He was. He was in on it. His name was Richard, but we called him Rich, only he wasn’t rich we called him Poor Rich. Except he was really crying. Not because of the fake gun I had pointed at his head but because of the real ones pointed at us even though they were meant for me.
Then there was me. Standing with a fake gun in one hand and Poor Rich in the other. Wondering how my life took this sharp turn.
Getting laid off wasn’t even the first domino in this lineup of problems. I guess the first one was way back over 6 years ago when I dropped out of high school when I first turned 18. I didn’t even finish my junior year. But I was never good at just sitting still and listening. I was a worker bee since the day I was born. My dad had felt the same way about education and his life. Even he himself hadn’t finished high school. So he got me a job at the tile factory he managed. Day after day for the past 6 years, I worked the lineup cutting the plaster tiles.
The next domino to fall was my father dying. A sudden heart attack struck him on a Sunday afternoon after church. There wasn’t much to his death other than that. Just seized him while reaching for a beer in the fridge. It sent me into a terrible binge. Drinking myself to sleep, not showing up to work days on end.
“Pete.” Sat across from me was Jim. He was a friend of my dad’s. He attended the memorial not over a month ago.
“You haven’t been coming to work”
The bags under my eyes spoke more than my mouth and tongue.
“And when you do, you’re hungover and I have to ask you to leave.”
I knew where this conversation led.
“Pete. I have to let you go. I don’t have much of a choice.”
I knew where the conversation led, I saw the end of the tunnel and it wasn’t light, yet my body refused to move.
Maybe it was the hangover.
It was that afternoon, I spent sitting in the bar, shooting back beers with Poor Rich. I slurred my words talking about how I hated not having a job. He slurred his words about how he hated his job.
“Who does that to a man? Kicks him to a curb after his fathers died. I mean, he didn’t even give me a warning. Aren’t you supposed to warn them first?”
“I bet you could sue for that! That could get you enough money maybe. Do you need another beer?”
I swished the bottle around.
“Nah. You know what I need?”
Poor Rich’s eyebrow raising quizzically.
“Money. I need money and I need it bad.”
“Well I got tons of that back at my office. I work right in front of a room full of it! Just lying there as I slave away waiting for more.”
The gears in my head may have been slow and drunk, but they were turning. An idea formed in head in the time it took Poor Rich to leave our booth and come back with another beer. He plopped into the seat across from me. I looked at him in the eyes. He was drunk. I leaned in to whisper as if the other three people that were in the bar were cops.
“We should rob the bank you work at.”