Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Bank

It was raining, but then again when wasn’t it nowadays? Alan could almost remember a time when the wet weather came in November, so that the snow could claim the world for Christmas day. Well, global warming had screwed all that up, hadn’t it? Looking out of his window now, he could see the rain splashing off piles of slowly dissolving snow. It was halfway through January, but people were only just beginning to kick out their Christmas trees. A cafe was awaiting the bin men to turn up, their christmas tree drowning in the rain, lying above a bag of rubbish. Half a dozen seagulls had come along to inspect the tree, but none of them had taken the bait. Alan sighed and turned back to Bob. ”What did your Mary get you for Christmas then?" 
"A lateral thinking book." Replied Bob. He ran a hand through his slowly thinning black hair and gave a cough that was a mixture of the Winter Bug that was going around and twenty years of chain smoking.
"What's one of those when it's a home?"
"That's what I said. The introduction, I ain't never read a book with an introduction before, said it were to make you think sideways. Around problems."
"Around problems? What's skirting ‘round problems gonna do to solve them?"
"Beats me." Said Bob. "Still, I gave it a try."
"You a genius now?" 
"Not quite yet. There was a thing about a midget in a lift, but the one that got me was this other one about penguins."
The back door opened and Colin climbed in, handing out coffees to Bob and Alan and taking a sip on a Hot Chocolate himself. He had one of those cardboard trays that, when empty, became rather pointless. He checked it over and then stashed it into the door pocket. "What's that about a penguin?"
"His Mary got him a puzzle book for Christmas." Alan said.
"What's that got to do with a penguin?” Colin asked, wrestling off his jacket. Even beneath it, his jumper was speckled with rain drops. 
"Well, the penguin was one of the puzzles." Bob said.
"Well, let's hear it then. I love me a puzzle.”
"Right, here goes." Bob shuffled around so he was facing both of them; Alan in the passenger seat and Colin on the back seat. ”So, there's these two blokes who haven't seen each other for ages, right?"
"What are they called?" Asked Colin.
"I don't know! Let's say, Steve and Garry. Anyway, Steve and Garry, Gazza to mates, haven't seen each other in ages. They go to an exotic restaurant to catch up. Steve orders Roast Penguin, Gazza has a bear lasagne."
"As in a good lasagne?" Alan asked. “Y’know, bare lasagne?”
"No, as in a lasagne made from Bear."
"Don't be telling my Shelly that!” Colin cried. “I got her one of those sponsor an animal things for Christmas and she chose a bear! Loves it she does. I don't see the point. They send you a cuddly toy, saying the proceeds go to helping the endangered animal, yet they neglect to mention the starving African child who made the toy in the first place!"
"What a con." Said Alan.
"What, Shelly's present?"
"No. The restaurant. I mean, you can't just go and cook penguins. That's got to be illegal."
"Well, in this story, it ain't." Bob said. "So, anyway, the food arrives. Steve takes a bite of his penguin, frowns, pulls his gun, shoots Gazza and then shoots himself."
"What the hell?" Said Colin.
"What a psychopath!" Alan cried. "I suppose there's no law against shooting people in this story too?"
"No, not quite. It's perfectly illegal. The puzzle is, why'd he shoot Gazza and then himself?" Said Bob.
"I worked that out!" Cried Colin.
"What, the puzzle?"
Colin groaned. "Look, to be frank, I don't think neither of us will get it. You may as well put us out of our misery."
"You sure?"
Alan and Colin nodded.
"Right then. Steve and Gazza and Steve's son were once on a boating holiday. Their boat crashed into Antartica- that's where they have penguins right?"
"Do I look like a penguin expert?" Said Alan.
Bob shrugged. "Anyway, their boat crashes, the son is seriously injured. They struggle on for a bit, and the only signs of life they find are some penguins. Cute as they are, they aren’t at all helpful when you’re stranded and half are you are ill. One night, Gazza and the son taking first watch at the time, Steve is sleeping. When he wakes up, Gazza tells him that his son has died. Steve's upset, so Gazza breaks the good news: he caught and killed a penguin, so they can eat for a bit. Only problem is, the meat that Steve remembers eating tastes completely different to the stuff he's eating in the restaurant. The only logical conclusion?"
"He must have eaten his son!" Colin cried.
"Exactly!" Bob said. "Shoots Gazza, shoots himself, game over for all concerned."
There was silence for a few moments, then Alan said, "That is the largest pile of nonsense I've ever heard."
"Oh, tell me about it." Bob said. "Least you didn't get a book of a hundred riddles for Christmas!”
“Nah, I just got bankruptcy from Shelley’s present.” Colin said.
"Hey up, lads!" Bob cried. "Look through the window."
They did just that and saw the wailing alarms on the front of the building, screeching and casting their red lights in every direction.
They all straightened their ties, and Alan and Colin drew their guns. Bob grabbed his radio and said, "This is Tango-Alpha, come through."
"Can hear you loud and clear Tango-Alpha. Go ahead."
"We've got eyeball on the Bank. We can hear the alarm. Permission to enter?"
"Granted, Tango-Alpha. Stay safe."
Bob grinned, hanging up the radio. What a job to be his last? He twisted the engine of; it was already on, as to keep the heater going. He flicked on the blues and twos to give the robbers a fright and then jumped out of the car, guns raised, in the direction of the Bank. 

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