Friday, 26 February 2016
The Bank (part 4)
The Bank had been constructed in 1850, originally intended to be a Finance Exchange station for the adjacent docks. In 1956, on the closing of the docks from regular use, the Bank had been bought by a private consortium who converted it into a fully functioning bank. As well as upgrading the pre-installed vaults in the network of corridors at the rear, they completely redid the interior of the bank’s ‘factory floor’. Tearing out the old wooden panelling and the patterned carpets, they brought in marble slabs for the floor and white tiles for the walls. Rather than some steampunk library, the Bank was instead made out to look like some sort of mausoleum. And so the interior stayed for sixty years, until one fateful day.
Bullets had smashed the white tiles and blood had stained the marble. Muddy boot prints led up past a pair of boots and a gangly body to the face of Alderman. His eyes were burning up, demanding the policemen to challenge him. He pressed the barrel of his gun into the pedestrian’s head. “Right then,” he shouted at the coppers, “this is how it’s going to work. You three are going to remain where you are. My friends and I are going to take some purses, some wallets, then we’re going to get out of here. But before any of that, I want an answer to my previous question. Which one of you shot Morricone?”
Alan went to open his mouth, went to provide some smart answer, but Bob silenced him with the slightest shake of his head. Bob stared at Alderman and said, “It’s Johnny, isn’t it? Johnny Alderman?”
“You’re Robert.” Alderman said. “Robert Barnes, is it?”
“That’s right.” Bob said. “How many times have you been nicked over the years, John? How many times have I slapped cuffs on you?”
“Too many, Barnes.” Alderman said.
“Yet, you’ve never gone to jail, and that was the one thing I could never get my head around. How come you kept getting off?”
“I was innocent.”
“We both know that isn’t true, Johnny.” Bob edged a step forwards. “And, we both know how this is going to end. You’re going to drop your guns, then you’re going to be slapped in cuffs and taken down the Nick. I don’t know if you’ll get off, I hope you don’t, but that is in the future. What matters now is that we both know what’s going to happen to you. So, why don’t you make this a little easier for yourself and drop the gun? Let the woman go.”
Alderman pressed the gun harder against the woman’s head. “No. You try any tricks, this woman splatters, okay? This is going to be in and out, simple as that.”
“You’re not going to kill her.” Alan said.
“Oh really, lad?” Alderman said. “Why’s that?”
“So far, the only crime you can be charged for is possession of a lethal weapon. Any lawyer worth his damn could get you off that, and you know it as well as I do. You shoot her, you’re down for murder, and there’s no getting out of that. So, drop the gun, walk out whilst you can.”
Alderman laughed and turned to Khan and Jones. “Funny that, innit lads? The work experience boy don’t know how this game works. We’re criminals! Do you think we’re scared of some poxy teenager who han’t even started shaving?”
“You’re scared of Morricone.” Alan said.
“Morricone’s dead! Now, when will you tell me which one of you lot killed him?” Alderman demanded. He jutted the gun into the woman’s head again, causing her to give out a little scream.
“Gov!” Khan cried. “Let her go! Don’t you think there’s enough corpses?”
Alderman turned to Khan. “You’re making me doubt you, boy. Be a shame if you got caught in the crossfire.”
Colin took the shot. Whilst Alderman was distracted talking Khan, he’d allowed his side to show. It was the opportunity he needed. Colin had always been the best shot in the academy. He wasn’t exactly a crack shot, else he would have got a job with the Trojan Squad, but he knew his way out of the gun and could hit within a few millimetres of the bullseye four times out of five. The bullet grazed Alderman’s side, sending him stumbling. The woman, free, leapt out of the way, and it was a good job too. Jones fired straight and hit Colin’s shoulder, winging him and sending him to the floor. Alan began to shoot, sending Khan and Jones scrambling for cover. Alderman charged at Bob, shooting and shooting. Bob realised he didn’t have time to pull his gun from his holster, and so instead ran forwards, tackling Alderman to the ground. They wrestled on the floor, Bob trying to smash the gun out of Alderman’s hand. Alderman struck forwards, smashing his forehead into Bob’s nose and breaking it. Blood spurted across both of them as they wrestled with each other, rolling over and over. Knees and elbows smashed into the white marble, blood splattering onto the white surface like Peking sauce spilt on the Reservoir Dogs DVD cover. Their struggle was like something from a Greek myth, a God and a Titan fighting their personal battle in the heat of battle.
“It’s all going to be okay!” Alan cried at Colin. “It’s all going to be okay.”
Blood was spilling out of the wounded man’s shoulder, screams spilling out of his mouth. “Please!” He moaned, writhing in pain. “Please. My Shelly. She needs me.”
Alan fired furiously, his bullets slicing through the air and smashing the white tiles of the wall, or disintegrating as they hit the bulletproof glass of the cashier’s desks. Jones and Khan had somehow managed to get behind the cashier desk and were shooting blind through the air holes in the glass. Their blind shots smashed the windows at the front of the bank, causing Alan to duck constantly as they sailed past them.
He saw one of their hands reaching for an open till and shot at it, but the hand and a wad of cash was gone before the bullet found it’s mark. He looked down towards Colin, saw his face becoming the same shade as the milky coffee he’d bought that morning. “Hold on, man.” Alan cried, firing another shot. “We’re going to get out of this.”
“Please. My Shelly.”
The customers tried to stay as low to the ground as possible, not wishing to gain the fates of either Morricone or Colin. They didn’t know what was going on, didn’t want to know what was going on, but for years afterwards they would be reminded by constant memorial services and new revelations broadcast on local news.
And so there was the battlefield. On one side, reassuring his wounded comrade, was Alan, firing shot after shot and reloading when he ran out. His bullets chased over the bloodied marble, where Bob and Alderman were two titanic forces from ancient battle, united in nothing but their mutual hatred and old age. Finally, those bullets smashed into the counter, where Khan and Jones were firing back, traumatised at how wrong everything had gone.
Alderman smashed his bloody forehead into Bob’s face once more, long enough to cock the hammer of his gun. Then Bob was on him again, forcing him onto the ground. Fists struck through the air, fracturing Alderman’s cheeks, breaking his teeth. Screaming, Alderman pointed the gun straight up and fired. The bullet shot upwards, straight into the holster on Bob’s belt. The gunpowder in the loaded bullets ignited and detonated, tearing a huge chunk of flesh out of his side. Bob fell backwards, smashing his head into the marble, blood oozing from his wound. His head, the blood already become black and matted in his hair, bounced. He was dead before it landed.
Alderman let out a scream of triumph, laughing in Bob’s head. He sat up, his Frankensteinian features victorious and creepy, and screamed, “He’s dea-“ A stray bullet sliced through the air and punctured his skull. It wouldn’t be remove until a pathologist went searching for it two weeks later.
Alan saw Bob, dead on the floor, and then Alderman dead beyond him. Screaming, he emptied his last magazine at the counter and then turned to Colin, slamming his hands into the bloody remains of his shoulder, holding pressure and stemming the bleed. “Your Shelly is not going to be a widow! Not yet!”
Khan and Jones stopped firing. They saw Alderman dead, Bob dead beyond him and Morricone long dead beyond that. They looked at each other and then grabbed as much money as they could, filling their pockets with the material. Then, they leapt up and raced towards the exit. Jones looked towards Alan, where he was desperately trying to save Colin’s life, and considered shooting him. Some part of him, some foolish part of him, decided that it was the wrong thing to do, despite everything. Instead, he just chased after Khan and left the Bank.
Alan cried as he kept pressure. He looked over his shoulder at the three corpses and found four words cycling through his head, the mocking mantra of some omniscient observer. The words came in Bob’s voice, that rich, velvety thing that he’d never hear ever again. One last job, lads. One last job.