Guest Post: A Bank Heist, a Short Story by Leon Moss
Thank you to everyone who submitted work for the December Short Story Contest. The 1st place featured entry is:
A Bank Heist by Leon Moss
Leon Moss is a retired engineer. He enjoys writing and painting in his retirement. Enjoy his musings on aging at his website: exceedinglysenior.com.
Leon’s entry was based on this writing prompt:
A Bank Heist
Try It Before You Write It
The whole stupid thing started when we decided to enter that writing competition. Margie and I saw an item on the internet: “Free Writing Competition! Write a story about a bank heist. 3,000 words. $3,000 to the winning entry. Closing date – noon on December 31st.” I read it aloud to Margie and she thought for a moment and then said. “Let’s do it. It’ll be a nice break from the book. I have to tell you Joe, the book is getting me down. We must have re-written it five times already. You want me to recite page 342 to you? I know whole pages by heart. How much longer does it go on for?”
“I agree. Let’s take a break and hit a bank.”
I fired up my computer and raised a blank screen. “Okay we’re on the way to a bank job. You go first.”
“Joe, you know I’m not good at opening lines. You go first.”
“Okay. Here goes!”
That was the moment when the two of us shifted into bank robbery mode. We were prepared to write about anything as long as it paid good money. The last time we had an idea was when we walked uninvited into our publisher’s office and said, “If you pay all our expenses, we’ll write you a best-travel-seller about ‘Our Year in China and India.’ They fell for it. Wrote us a fat check in advance so we could get started at the travel agent.
So here we are in the bank to deposit that check plus another one for some housewifery magazine articles that were snapped up. As usual the line was long and I looked around the banking hall, the people, the staff and anything else I could use to kill the boredom. I saw a couple of other would-be depositors with the same problem, eying Margie. I agree. She is gorgeous!
“I reckon we could knock off this bank and walk away with quite a haul,” I whispered as I noticed an odd deficiency in their security system.
“How do you say we drop the book, hold up this bank and head for India and China anyway?”
“Don’t even think about it, Joe,” she replied. “I’m not a bank robber. Not any kind of criminal. Neither are you. We’ve been together for 3 years and now you’re undergoing a full-blown personality change! Writer to bank robber in one easy step?” “It’s an easy job, Margie. You see all that exposed conduit piping? It means they must have added the security system after the building was complete. Everything is exposed. You can see where every wire goes. It’ll take seconds to change things – a simple rewiring job. I did many
jobs like this when I worked for that electrical contractor. Before I became a writer, that is. And before I met you. And not in banks, of course.”
She gaped at me. “Are you serious? You really think you can rob this bank?”
“It’ll take the two of us. I’ll need some help.”
“And you can get into the safe or the vault where they keep the money? The serious money, I mean.”
“Um, I don’t know where the vault is. I can’t see it from here. Hang on a sec, I’ll do a quick tour to look for the bathroom.”
The first stroll around revealed no vault. Then I asked one of the tellers and she said ‘downstairs’ and pointed to a corner of the banking hall. I made my way there, found the stairwell, took a look at an electrical switchboard at the top and made my way down, following the battery of conduit pipes fixed to the wall all the way down and dividing at the bottom. Some to the left and some to the right.
Toilets on the left, kitchenette to the right and in the middle, a big stainless steel vault door. And not a soul in sight. I crossed the floor to the vault to look at the locking system. I bent down and ran my hand over the door to the edge. Hell, the door isn’t closed properly! I gripped the edge and pulled and the heavy door swung open on well-oiled hinges. I leaned over and peeped inside. Piles of cash in stacks on shelves. I pushed the door closed and ran upstairs.
“Margie, the bloody door is open!” I whispered with my hand over my mouth. “I’m going to get my golf bag out of the car. Stay in line!”
I shot out of the bank and ran to where I had left the car. I shook the contents, shoes and all, into the trunk, flattened the bag by stamping on it and then pushed it up under my sweatshirt and headed back to the bank.
“I’m not feeling so well, Margie,” I said. “I need the bathroom again,” and made for the stairs. Downstairs was deserted. I pulled the vault door open, stepped in, pulled it closed and switched on the light. The fluorescent tubes hummed in the silence as I inspected the shelves. Stacks of ones, stacks of fives, stacks of tens. What I wanted was further along. Stacks of fifties and stacks of hundreds. I took a few stacks of fifties but left a few intact. Then I turned to the hundreds. Must have been thirty or forty stacks. I tried to do quick arithmetic in a brain that had never coped with arithmetic. If there are a 100 bills of $100 in each stack, how much is that in money? Four noughts per stack? Ten thousand? I took 10 stacks. One hundred thousand! I squashed them into the bag, treading on it to get everything in. Zipped it closed and walked out carrying it. I tried to look casual, one hand in my pocket and whistling. No sound came out but I kept whistling. Margie was busy with the teller and I waited at the exit door. Finally she turned around, her eyes
sweeping the hall. She spotted me and walked over. She looked at the bulging bag and raised both eyebrows to question marks. I nodded and held the door open for her.
“Joe, you took money?”
“I haven’t counted it yet. Wait till we get home.”
“I mean is it a lot or just a few?”
“Um, I think it’s quite a lot. Enough for India and China. And we can throw in Hong Kong and Singapore if you like. And Australia too!”
“Hell, Joe! Just like that?”
“Just like that. A supermarket job. All the goods are displayed on the shelves and you take what you want. We want that cash so I took. I left a lot too…”
“And you’re planning to tell the bank, aren’t you?”
“Are you kidding? Tell the bank? No way!”
“That would make you a thief, Joe, a criminal. You understand? With a criminal record and everything…?”
“They can never find out who took – took, not stole – their money. They left the door open!”
“ C’mon Joe, you stole it!”
“Well, we’re off to India tomorrow and that’s the end of this story.”
“You can go if you like. I’m not traveling on stolen money with a thief!”
I went. Alone. First to India. Then to China. Then on to Australia and from there to Singapore. I’ve been here for 6 years now and I’ve written 6 bestselling thrillers about bank heists. A little practical experience makes my books ‘zing’ and my fans asking for more…
Margie? She answered my letter of apology. Said she had won the prize of $3,000 for the best bank heist story. She deserved to win. She had almost been in one.
Enter the Contest
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