Bonnie and Clyde were the infamous 19th century couple that wreaked havoc on the country and now it's Gerard and Frank's turn.
The interior of the car was dark. The leather seats were worn with age and the interior was a maroon color, awkward with the pasty beige on the outside. The car was beaten with miles and the spare tire in the trunk was crusted and stale, useless when needed. It wasn’t even their car, it was the only car that the keys were accessible to, and breaking into a car wasn’t really rocket science. They found their prized station wagon in the dumpster a few blocks from where they were parked, but they treated that piece of junk like royalty. In a way it was; what else would be their trusty stead in their missions?
“Gerard, what is that little fuck doing?” She hissed at her boyfriend sitting next to her in the car. She could see the kid, maybe in his late 20’s, picking at a car that was parked close to theirs. The kid was struggling, definitely struggling. His hands were trembling, fighting to pick the car open. Minutes flew by and her boyfriend stayed silent, staring at the open alleyway in front of them leading to the sunny street. The kid was still working on the car. She was bored, staring at the window, fidgeting with her feet, twirling her hair and chewing on the wad of gum in her mouth. She wanted to turn on the radio, flip through the newspaper, but she didn’t dare make any noise. Not when her boyfriend was in that state. More time passed, flew away, her boyfriend was still quite. The kid was still outside, still no luck with the crappy Honda.
“Let’s go,” he said, coldly and steadily, obviously set in his mind. He didn’t have to tell her anything. She knew what they were going to do. His pace was quick and strong, that of a man with experience, and she was tagging behind like a lost puppy. They passed by the kid, who gave her a quick look then went back to his work, desperate to lay his hand on the steering wheel of the car. They reached the end of the alley, where the dark and the light created a fading line that they were soon to pass. They were in the dark, they were undisguised, the crooks. But once he checked his pockets to make sure he had his hand gun and asked her in an inaudible yet commanding low tone if she was prepared with a gun, they stepped into the light of the sidewalk, they were into their disguises as “normal civilians”. They were no longer Gerard and Jennifer, the partners in crime, they were Michael and Sydney, the newlywed couple who could only afford a rundown apartment in the bad part of New York. They hadn’t run away from New Jersey, they didn’t keep thousands of dollars hidden in the floorboards of that rundown apartment, they didn’t carry guns out in public. No, they were two kids looking for some nicely priced books at the local book store.
The street was littered with people. Some were on the sidewalk, begging for change and throwing away their lives ‘cause they fucked up one too many times. Some were cheap lawyers gabbing on cell phones, rushing past in a blur of a polyester ‘70s suit, trying to get to their appointment with the girl who had a back alley abortion go wrong. But most of them were nameless, faceless, emotionless, clueless. Inside all she could do was laugh at them for being so ignorant. A girl with a head of dark red curls burying her face passed by the two thieves, convicts, criminals, murderers, and liars, and she didn’t even notice. The same with the teenager holding a poorly rolled cigarette, the pregnant woman carrying a kid and holding the hand of another boy, sunglasses hiding her pale face and platinum hair burying her head, the same with the kid out back still trying to pry open the Honda.
Gerard stopped in front of the door, his hand forced in front of her so she would stop, too. He continued with the quiet, low tone of voice that could move mountains. He was so focused because this wasn’t a typical teenage prank for a couple of bucks that, if caught, could get them into the county penitentiary for a day or two with a sad face sticker on their juvy record. This was their living, their job, salary and reputation. Gerard couldn’t get arrested again, not after last time. Jennifer was never a great aspect to rely on with a duty or a responsibility, he trusted a dog with his life more than with Jenn.
“Do you remember what we’re going to do?” He spoke so coldly it sent chills through her spine. He empowered her, she could see that clearly. But she wanted it, asked for it even, she loved the feeling of being important in his life mission.
“Of course I do.” She tried to match his tone of voice but failed. She was slightly offended with his reassurance, she had a brain and she knew how to use it, but she knew that if something was planned, Gerard would make sure each step was taken the right way at the right time.
“Good,” he raised his voice only slightly, barely reaching the level of a whisper for a teenage girl, but he wanted quiet, he needed quiet. This was a good volume for when he needed to be Michael, not too loud. He pulled a wrinkled pack of cigarettes from his jean pocket, pulling out a crooked white stick and pressing it between his chapped lips.
She was about to ask him for a cigarette, it would always calm her a bit before their missions, but he put away the packet and pulled out a lighter without saying another word. She no longer wanted a cigarette from him.
He pushed open the glass door with the rusted handle, leading them into a dusty room littered with posters, statues, books, tables and more books. It was a library of collecting dust, the lighting musty and the air damp. Usually the place was crowded, the sound of coffee beans being ground from the café in the back, or the chatter of college kids looking for books. They came in at the right time, there was only an aging man behind the counter, probably in his late 50’s. Jenn looked at Gerard once more, double checking for his okay, and he nodded.
She stepped up to the man while Gerard stayed behind with the cigarette simmering, looking at a couple of books on the shelf. She needed to distract the man and Gerard mentioned she ask about books, obviously.
“Uhm, excuse me sir?”
The man had turned from his position facing the decade-old computer and gave her a long look, but a crooked smile to show his courtesy. “Hello, young lady. How may I help you?”
“Oh, well I was looking for a book on ADHD, my little brother has it. Could you direct me there?”
The man squinted his eyes shut, thinking in his head about her answer, and blinked them open again. He twisted in the chair and pointed to a section that was hidden by a flight of stairs and a wall. “It’s back there behind the wall.”
She picked the perfect spot to distract him, so he gladly led her there. They were hiding behind the wall, the man looking for a book about living with a sibling with ADHD. He talked, a lot. It was probably something that came with age, the sudden urge to talk about life experiences and their family. She grew up separated from her grandparents, she never grew listening to anecdotes of their former life, she cringed if anybody brought up her or her family’s past. The man dragged on about his first grandson going to college, his younger granddaughter just started high school, and his oldest son just got a timeshare in Florida.
She felt a little sick listening to his perfect family, she wanted to leave. But she couldn’t. In the background she could hear her boyfriend tinkering with the cash register, she imagined the wads of bills he was stuffing into his pocket. She let three minutes pass, exactly, like her boyfriend had told her. She thanked the man and said she’d come back another day to buy it. She started walking back to the front, the man quietly limping back, but once she turned the corner she saw her boyfriend was still at work.
There was a blur, one second she was screaming at Gerard to hurry, the next they were running out of the store, their pockets stuffed with bills, and a young man holding a hand gun pointed at them. They both ran out, frantic for an escape. Their car was too far, they’d get shot before they rounded the corner for the alley. She saw a flash of a crappy Honda, and Gerard must’ve seen it, too, because he dashed toward it and yanked the door open. He was in, the car about to leave, when she shoved herself into it, tightly shutting the door. She didn’t even get the chance to blink before Gerard started yelling at her.
“God dammit! Jennifer we miscounted! We fucking miscounted!” His shouts were vicious and out of control, out of character for him. The driver cringed in the front seat, curiously eying them. Gerard tossed him a look, and gave him a shaky, commanding order, “Take us to a safe place.” His teeth were grinding and gritting, his breath being forced to a calm.
He leaned back in his seat and breathed deeply, inhaling a new cigarette. He muttered to himself to relax his tension, “We got the money,” he took a drag from the cigarette, “we were in and out in five minutes, their crappy security cameras couldn’t see us,” his feet were vigorously tapping on the floor, “this car doesn’t have license plates,” his breathing returned to a clam, steady pace. “They have our car,” the tapping grew stronger, “but we can get it back tomorrow,” he closed his eyes again. “… I’m hungry.” He went back to silence, pinching the bridge of his nose and relaxing his eyelids, inhaling the toxic smoke.
She turned her attention to their driver. The car had an odd pungent smell that seemed a mixture of urine and cheese. The driver wasn’t much more appealing. Her second look at him told her that he was not much younger than her, maybe even older; it was hard to tell with his short figure. The kid was tense, grinding his teeth and his eyes darting back and forth through the street, hard for him to focus. He looked like he was about to shit himself, he looked like he was really high. His pupils were dilated and strings of dark greasy hair fell in front of his face, making only one brightly glazed hazel eye visible to her. She put her hand out and touched his shoulder, he jumped in his seat.
“Wh-what?” He was glancing back and forth between the street and Jenn.
“Kid, relax. Take us under that bridge over there,” she kept that low, calm voice Gerard always used. She looked back at him, who simply glared his disapproval, and she lay back in her seat, following his unspoken commands.
The car was stopped in a shaded region, surrounded by brush and next to a running river. Underneath the bridge was musty, cold, damp and contaminated with graffiti. The kid was leaning on the car, warming himself with the fresh heat of the motor, rubbing his hand and blowing on them to keep the blood flowing. Jennifer was wrapped in her scarf, shoving her hands into her pockets trying to keep all ten fingers on both hands, sniffling with a red, puffed nose. Gerard was standing there, staring at nothing in general, and smoking, smoking until his lungs weren’t able to handle it.
“Gerard?” Her voice cracked with concern.
“How could we have been so stupid? Why the fuck didn’t we think about other employees, it was three in the afternoon, it was probably some teenager working after school. What the hell woman, where did things go wrong?”
“Gerard, relax, it wasn’t your faul-” she received a back-handed slap from Gerard, making her cheek swell and warm up with a rush of blood to her face.
“Shut up, of course it’s my fault. I planned it, it was my fault. Who else’s would it be? Yours?” He was staring her down, his hand red but no hint of pain showed in his face. It was just firm, commanding and angry.
“Right. I-I should’a helped,” she whimpered, rubbing her cheek and going back to sitting on a rock. Time flew, her boyfriend loved to waste time thinking. Her face was blistered and calloused. A trickle of blood came from broken skin near her lips. She blinked in her tears and wiped off the blood.
“What about th-the kid?” she choked out, unsure if she should’ve asked that. But she straightened up and pushed away tears, she wasn’t allowed to be weak, not around Gerard. “Should we kill him?” She tried to get her thinking straight; killing the witness would make sense, right? She could see out of the corner of her eye that the kid tensed, but didn’t move.
“Nah, we don’t need another murder on our hands,” Gerard tossed the cigarette into the dirt and pressed it out with his worn out boots. “Hey kid, what’s your name?”
“Frank,” his voice was rough, a little slow, but steady and firm.
“Well, Frank, as your first order as our new chauffeur, you’re taking us all to breakfast.”