Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Bank (part 3)

Around the same time as Colin presented Bob and Allan with coffee and Alderman led his friends into the back of the bank, a man named Smith walked into the front. His legs were shaking beneath his trousers, his knuckles were clenched. His muscles were tense. He felt a bead of sweat run down his head. It had sounded so simple, so easy, when he'd been told the plan at lunch. You go in the front, distract the cashiers whilst the others go and deal with the others. Simple as that. Now, however, it wasn't easy. It was terrifying. Every person who seemed to look at him, every glance that crossed his flesh, seemed to be imbued with a sense of suspicion. It was almost like they knew what he was going to do. Almost like they knew about the cold block of metal in his pocket, loading freshly with bullets.
"Can I help you?" Said a voice from his side.
He had to stop himself from leaping straight out of his skin. He turned and saw a short blonde lady, wearing the cashier's purple uniform, staring at him. She smiled, bearing a row of whitened teeth. "Can I help you, sir?"
"I, er, I want to make a withdrawal." He said, unsure where his words were coming from. He'd never felt so cliched in his life.
"Right this way, sir." She said. "How long have you had an account with this bank, may I ask? We're carrying out a survey amongst our customers."
"Oh." He itched his head as she led him towards a short queue near one of the desks. "Five years."
"Thank you. Can I take your name?" She asked.
"Ian." He said. "Ian Smith."
"Thank you, Mr Smith." She smiled. "Just stay in this queue and you'll be seen to in no time at all. Have a nice day now."
He watched her wander off and, as his eyes followed her, he couldn't help but wonder where she was going. She disappeared through a couple of doors in the back of the bank, into the network of corridors beyond it. He wondered if she'd come across Alderman, Khan, Jonesy and the others. What would happen if she did? She'd know they weren't meant to be there, surely? He realised his leg was bouncing furiously, shaking and wobbling. He put his hand on it, trying to settle it, and turned away from the doors which his eyes had been fixed on. Then he saw something in the corner of his eye and it took his breath away. "Good God." He whispered. "It can't be."
Stood halfway across the bank, at a different counter altogether, was Sergio Morricone. He was a short man, stocky but in an expensive suit, a white flower in one of the button holes. What remained of his hair had been slicked back with gel, his face freshly shaved. Smith thought he looked like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction; a cruel facsimile of the man he once was. He looked so weak standing there, his hair flecked with grey. He didn't look like the cruel demon who'd ordered so many deaths, stolen from so many people, cheated on his wife so many times. He looked like a frail old man just borrowing some money, not a corrupt, manipulative monster in control of half the country's organised crime. Smith didn't know what possessed him, but suddenly he was pulling his gun. He drew the slide barrel and pulled the trigger. Morricone hit the floor, his chest torn up, blood oozing out.
Smith slid the gun away, like some sort of gunslinger after a western brawl. Someone was screaming, several kids were crying. An alarm had been triggered. He pulled his gun again and fired three or four shots towards the roof. "This is a robbery!" He screamed, his throat feeling raw. Instinct had taken over. He was no longer in control. "Everyone, down on the ground and no one needs to be hurt!"
Outside, there was the sudden wailing of police sirens. He cursed under his breath. If the police saw the body, they'd shoot on sight. If he ran, he'd be setting Alderman and his friends up to get shot. God, why did everything have to be so confusing? He realised that he'd already let down his family. What did it matter if he let them down again? He buried the gun in his pocket and ran.
The door swung open and he ran straight out. He screamed as he did, turning towards the three approaching policemen. "He's got a gun, man! He's got a gun!"
The policemen thanked him and ran straight into the bank, allowing Smith to give up his run and instead stroll casually on the outside and shaking inside, into the bitter cold of the morning. He felt strangely free, strangely released. A laugh arose deep inside. Oh, how life was bemusing.

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