Chapter 11

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 For the past two days, I've been praying about the right time and bank to rob. I talked to God, and even though we're not on the best of terms, I felt for once that he didn't hate me. Sure, what I was doing wasn't righteous, but, in my defense, I didn't have a choice. And before you go judging me, remember that I needed Jenna almost more than oxygen. Besides, I did promise her I'd do anything for her, and I can't break a promise. No, I'm not innocent; I'm guilty without my consent. I'm guilty of loving a girl, a sweet church girl, who sometimes plays by different rules.

"You ready?" Jenna asked as we pulled up to the bank. She placed the car in park and turned to me. I got lost in her green eyes, and my second thoughts disappeared.

"What? Of course," I said, shaking my head out of a daydream. "Wait right here. And. Act normal. Don't draw attention to yourselves. I know you like waiving to people, but keep your eyes and conversation between the two of you." I pointed from Jenna to Jill.

"Wait." Jenna grabbed my wrist. "Dad said we need at least ten thousand dollars."

"I'm not sure how much this bank has on hand. I'll try it."

"Be careful," Jenna said.

"Act normal," I said and slammed the door. I took a deep breath and blew out a sharp sigh as I entered the bank. This bank was on the wealthier side of town, so of course, I knew very few people around here. While I stood in line, I noticed people in three-piece suits and short skirts with thigh-high boots. I'd felt I was in a Nordstroms. But this was just another day for these wealthy folks. Being rich must be complicated. I mean, you probably have so many different credit cards to choose from and which summer home you want to visit.

"Can I help you, sir?" a clerk asked. 

"Me? Right, me," I said. "You're talking to me." I slid a note across the counter in the same manner I'd done at the last robbery.

The clerk placed her glasses on the edge of her nose and traced the note with her finger. At first, a large vein bulged in her forehead. And then, she pursed her lips. "Hold on," she said. She swooped below the counter, and I was sure she called the cops or hit the panic button, and I'd be headed to jail to join Robert. Robert probably had a hit out on me already. I snitched on him. But what choice did I have? I scratched the back of my neck and casually looked around, giving other tellers a grin. Jenna said she fell in love with my smile, so hopefully, my smile would at least make the tellers wonder which one of them I wanted to date. The clerk stood upright. And this time, she had a grin. 

"Here, sir," she handed me a money bag with what she whispered was twenty-five thousand dollars. She looked at the computer screen. "You have five thousand dollars left in your account," she said and winked at me.

"Okay, thanks, ma'am. I'm opening another bank account, which is why I need the money." I felt the need to explain.

"Why don't you get the fuck out of here," the clerk mouth under a smile. "And good luck."

I stood shocked. "Right. Good luck," I said. "Thanks." I left as calmly as I'd arrived. I even waved at the police officer, who walked right by me. I opened the door and plopped myself in the seat.

"Get the money?"

"I did. Go!" I said louder than I wanted to. "I got twenty-seven thousand dollars."

"Great!" Jenna said.

"What's my cut?" Jill said.

Up until now, we hadn't discussed how we'd split the cash. I just wanted Jenna's dad off my back. I hadn't thought about how much money was in it for me. I'd realized this was the first time in my life that I didn't ask what was in it for me. But here we are, wondering what was in it for us. I'd come to the belief that we needed to rob more than two banks. We needed to rob high-end restaurants or retailers. Only wealthy retailers, though. We had no reason to hurt small businesses.

"Your cut?" Jenna said. "How about this, you ask that question again, and I'll blow your fucking head off," Jenna said, pulling a gun from the glovebox.

"Woah," I said. "Jenna, think about this."

"I have."

"You're going to kill us?" I said, shaking from the inside. "After all, I've done for you?"

"Oh, please. My dad did more for us than you ever did. Besides, I'm not going to kill you." I let out a sigh I didn't know existed. "Yet," she continued. "I'm not going to kill you yet."

My anxiety returned. "What do you want from us?"

"Well, this bitch just had to go ask about her cut. My dad is going to be homeless if we don't get him the money," Jenna said.

"I didn't know that," Jill said. "I've got a baby to worry about. My husband is in jail because of Ben, and now I need some cash, too," Jill said in a calming, empathetic tone.

"You're right," Jenna said, shaking her head as she shoved the gun in her pocket and drove, passing stoplights and street signs. She held the steering wheel with her hands positioned at ten and two. "I've been under a lot of stress lately is all."

We stopped at another bank, and I robbed it, too. It was as if I were putting in another day's work. An honest day's work if only because I'm convincing myself. The tellers almost seemed to be rooting for me. I didn't get the slightest bit of resistance. People don't know this, but tellers don't make a lot of money. I could picture them sitting there wondering what they do with the cash a bank had on hand. Would they pay off their student loans or put a down on a new home. Or would they pay off their credit cards with some to save for a rainy day? 

We returned to Mr. Jane's office and handed him the cash. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and he slapped his hands together and rubbed them.

"Great job, guys," Mr. Jane said. "I knew you could do it. Now, how much did you get in total?"

I placed my hands in front of my body. "Wait, you're not taking all this money. Jill has a baby, and I've got student loans to pay off."

"Son," Mr. Jane said. "You robbed three banks. I could pick up the phone and turn you in--"

"So, this was all about the money?" I said. My head felt like crushed rocks, and my insides boiled. "Go ahead," I called his bluff. "Call the cops, so I can tell them about how you blackmailed me."

"You're good," Mr. Jane said. He turned to Jenna. "You picked a smart one."

Mr. Jane counted the stacks of hundreds bundled in thousands. We stole a total of forty thousand dollars. I could do a lot with half that amount, but I doubt Mr. Jane would see it from my perspective. I could bond Robert out of jail, but that's a sure death sentence. Mr. Jane reached out his hand. "Here's thirteen thousand dollars."

I counted it for myself. I knew I wasn't done robbing banks. Once you get the thrill of quick cash, there's no turning back. 

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