Don’t panic

The first step is not to panic. Even though you’ve been planning for weeks, it’s hard not to throw up the first few seconds you get out of the car. But take a deep breath and swallow it; it’s what the best do. Any sign of nausea, even with a mask on, ruins your credibility, and the whole job goes to hell.

But really, take a deep breath and look around. You have four other guys, and they all have guns like you, and they all know what their jobs are. As you run to the door, stay calm and get right in there. The key is execution, and not to panic.

You already know Craig is going to hop the counter, and Willie is going to subdue the guard to the right of the door, because he did MMA for a couple of years and he knows what he’s doing. Your job is to stay at the door, to keep ’em in and keep ’em out. You’re doing it right when the people in line are all scared out of their minds, and they’re all on the floor, with one of the ladies trying not to cry out loud because you know she’s loaded, but you’re not concerned about the customers, just the cash.

James is busy keeping everyone’s attention, and Sergio is already in the break room making sure the ladies on lunch aren’t calling the fuzz, because James said they all have the police on speed dial and the most horrible way to start a job is to have a cop car sitting outside right as you finish the take. But you know it’s going well because everyone is where they’re supposed to be. Skippy, like Willie says; as smooth as peanut butter.

Now we’re moving, you say to yourself. No one is trying to play hero; everyone is still on the floor, and you haven’t even put your hand on the trigger yet. Craig is already on teller number two; there’s only three up, because James said the best time to do the job is around lunch, before too much cash is passed out, and four or five tellers is just too dangerous. Odds are that the manager is out to lunch too, but you can’t really tell because you’re still at the door.

You take a quick glance outside. You don’t see anyone approaching. Someone came out of the salon next door, but she didn’t even see you. Another guy is getting out of his car and heading into Safeway, but he’s not a threat. He can’t really see you either.

Now James is yelling at someone. One of the guys on the floor went for his phone, and James is just trying to scare him and everyone else there. You think it’d be a great time to shoot someone, but it’s not, because if the job goes to hell, you don’t want any evidence, and you really don’t want someone dead. James still seems pretty calm, which is great, because he said not to panic, and if you show signs of panic, you’re screwed because someone is going to notice you’re scared and start trying to play hero, and that’s when things get dicey.

Craig is finishing up with teller number three, and you start to relax because you know the job is almost done. Sergio is coming back out of the break room, but now you’re starting to believe something is wrong because he’s running up to you at the door, and James is telling him to stop but he’s not, and he goes to push you but you don’t move. He’s really upset now, but then you realize that Sergio’s gun is gone, and that’s around the time James panics because he sees a guy come out of the break room with Sergio’s gun, and he shoots James in the head right before Willie shoots the guy in the leg. His shoe goes flying, and you realize he has no foot now and there’s blood all over the break room door.

And that’s when you remember that James said to leave the safety on in case something like this happens, because any fool can pull a trigger and shoot someone, but it doesn’t matter because now James is dead and the guy from the break room is screaming, and everyone else is screaming.

Craig knocks over the first teller getting back over the counter, and the other three of you are already out the door heading to the car. Sergio is supposed to split off with Craig, but James is dead and Craig is running like a crazy man trying to get to the car with the take. Willie starts the car, and it’s like Craig is running in slow motion but no one is coming out of the bank after him and you start to think that even though James is dead you might actually get away with this.

Craig is in the car now and Willie gets out of the parking lot no sweat, and none of us are talking, and you’re pretty sure everyone is panicking, even though this is our third job already, but you’re probably about seven miles from safety. Willie makes a huge left turn, around some other cars and nearly spins it out, but the back wheel hits the curb and Willie is really punching the gas. James hired Willie because he figured he had the most guts and he keeps a pretty level head in all situations, but you’re sure he’s starting to lose his nerve because he’s all over the road. Even when the job goes to hell, you have to keep your cool because you can draw a lot of attention to yourself even when you’ve got the take and you’re getting away.

But now you know you’re not getting away because there’s a patrol car at the next intersection, and you know Willie doesn’t see it, or maybe he does and he doesn’t care, and he blows the red light and now the patrol car is tailing us. Willie tries to speed around some traffic after the light, but you’re near a mall, which was part of James’ getaway strategy to get lost in the traffic in case someone saw you leave the bank, and it doesn’t take long for the patrol car to get closer to the car. Sergio is on the floor next to you in the back seat, and Craig starts yelling at you to shoot at the cop because you’re the one with the gun.

Remember, even if you’re panicking, to never shoot at the fuzz, because they’re going to shoot back and they’re probably a better shot, and if you get caught, James said it’ll increase your jail time quite a bit and bail is not happening. But Craig doesn’t care and he’s already halfway out the passenger window shooting at the cop like he’s a gangster in a mob movie. Willie is yelling at him to stop, and Sergio is just yelling while you duck down, and at this point you don’t have any idea what’s going on because you’re just hearing gunshots everywhere with your face stuck to the leather of the back seat.

Then you’re pretty sure Willie loses it because you slide across the seat into Sergio and you feel something hit the other side of the car really hard, and glass is all over your pants and in your shoes. There are at least two sirens now, and you’re not moving, but Sergio is scrambling for the handle and rolls out of the car, but he’s not running very far because the cop tackles him right there in the grass about eight seconds later. You look up and see that Willie isn’t doing very good; his neck is sideways and there’s blood pouring out of his nose and one of his ears, painting his shirt like water colors, and Craig is trying to get the door open too, but he still has a gun in his hand and you have no idea how.

James said that whenever you do a job, there are guys like Craig who have guts and play hero whenever something goes down, but you realize that guts can sometimes mean stupidity, because it’s obvious that this job is over, but Craig is outside behind the door shooting at cops and they’re definitely shooting back. The rear windshield is starting to turn into Swiss cheese now, but when it looks like the thing is going to shatter, the shooting stops and you notice Craig is on the ground, and it looks like he got hit in the shoulder but he’s still alive. The cops are all over the place now, and you know it’s done, and you’ll probably be out of the car in just a minute.

When you do a job, you need a guy that makes the plans and knows what he’s doing, but make sure it’s not you. When he goes down, it’s up to you to make some decisions on your own, and that’s the point. You know the payoff is big, but you have to know when it’s over before you make any stupid mistakes and more people end up dead, including yourself. You have to know when to quit in order to stay alive and get back in the game when you get out.

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2 Comments

  1. Riveting. I want more! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Amy. πŸ™‚

    Reply

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