Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The man behind me is wearing a ski mask and we aren’t skiing. He just locked the door. All I want is a roll of quarters. The wash is in the rinse cycle and I need three quarters for the drier. The voice from the ski mask tells everyone to get down on the floor and shut up. He doesn’t say, This is a stick-up. If he did I might start laughing. He’s waving a gun. No, I can’t describe it but I’ll take his word for it. I don’t know an Uzi from a water pistol. It’s a gun. I’ve never held one but I know one when I see it in movies. He tells the teller to hand over all her twenties and above. He doesn’t say denominations. I wonder if any bank robber ever used that word. She’s frozen….probably thinking whether she should reach for the panic button. I’m thinking, NO, that will bring the police and I’ll be a hostage, a human shield. I’ve never thought of myself as a human shield before. I’m not fond of near-death experiences. The ski mask is sweating. Give him the money, already, and get him out of here so I can dry my clothes. My pajamas will develop mildew. Maybe he has clothes in his Laudromat. The teller is behind bullet-proof glass, still hesitating, probably wondering if it is really bullet-proof. I’m wondering if I’m being recorded and how I look; I’m overdue for a haircut. He fires a shot at a surveillance camera. I’m impressed. Should I be planning my after-life or at least rehearsing some pithy and pungent last words? He is getting a crazy look in his eyes as if he is up on cough syrup and cappuccino. If I survive, the police will want to know the color behind the squint; sort of grey, sort of greenish blue. They might ask if his jeans were Levis or Wranglers. I don’t know. What about his sneakers? Nikes? Reeboks? I wonder if he has a getaway car. I’m trying to remember if Bonnie was Clyde’s driver or if they did their bank jobs together. I remember a lot of folks got killed. Imagine being an extra in that film, no lines, just a corpse. I wonder how many actors got their start as dead bodies working their way back to life in a long career. It must be hard holding your breath for the close-up or worse with a tag on your big toe laid out on a slab in the morgue. A teller at the merchant window slips a stack of twenties under the glass. I’m thinking, they must be specially marked bills with a GPS embedded in Andrew Jackson‘s mane. The manager next to me on the floor, yells, Now Go, as if that hadn’t occurred to the gunman. He grabs his pile of bills and heads for the door. He steps on my hand and excuses himself. Sorry man. His mother taught him manners. Maybe he just wants to pay off his student loan. I have his footprints in my palm. Exhibit A.