“Everybody flat on the floor if ya don’t wanna get plugged!” The kid waved his pistol at the glum, threadbare crowd lined up at the teller’s barred window. Compliance came with murmurs of irritation.
“Jesus Christ,” said Gunselle. “I just bought this dress, and I don’t think the floor’s been swept since Coolidge was President.”
“Cut the wisecracks,” said an unshaven older man by the door. He pushed his hat up off his forehead with the barrel of his pistol. “And get down before I put you down.” He tossed the kid a leather satchel.
Gunselle set her handbag on the floor, then dropped to her knees after lifting the hem of her new dress, a pink shirtwaist model with black buttons. It wasn’t her bank. She’d driven a safe distance to Sausalito to exchange a couple dozen fresh C-notes for twenties. Something done for a printer when she didn’t have a contract to fulfill. She already visited two banks. She kept twenty percent.
The kid ran around to bust through a gate at the side of the teller’s cage. The other robber kept lifting a window shade to peek at the street. He was as nervous as a man jumping into murky, shark-infested water. The kid started throwing things around. He sent the middle-aged teller and two glowering clerks out to lie down with the others.
“Hey, Glamour Puss,” said the older man, pointing his revolver at Gunselle. “I told you to get down. On your tits.”
“I’m okay here on my knees,” said Gunselle, “but these are silk stockings, and it’s gonna gripe my middle kidney if I get a run in one of ‘em before my lunch date.”
The man walked over to stick the barrel between her eyes.
“I’m telling you for the last time, Doll. Get prone. And quick. One slug from this gat will ruin that pretty face of yours. Forever.” As a second thought, he cracked her on the side of her skull with the butt of the grip.
Gunselle fell to her hands and knees. The blow hurt, and she could feel something oozing down around her left ear. She just had her hair done. Fifteen bucks. Washed. A permanent wave. Then the man pushed her over with his foot.
“Some gunman you are,” she said, lying on her side. “Scared to pull the trigger?”
A customer not far from the door scrambled to his feet and darted outside. The bell made a happy ding-a-ling sound as the door closed behind him. Gunselle chuckled.
“Aw, shit,” said the man who just clobbered her. “Huey, let’s go. The cops are gonna be here any minute.”
The kid seemed to be taking his sweet time filling the satchel with cash. The bank must be flush. Gunselle heard him slam a drawer closed.
A voice blared into the bank from outside.
“Drop your guns and come out with your hands up!” The escapee must have found a policeman stuffing finger buns into his mouth at the bakery next door. A siren wailed in the distance.
Gunselle could see the shadow of the officer’s cap at the bottom of the window shade. A real thug would just blast the squatting fuzzy through the thin lower panel of the door, then skedaddle. The siren had to be ten blocks away, but the stupidity of men rarely surprised her.
“Now you’re screwed,” she pointed out.
“Get up.” The man grabbed her arm, pulling her to her feet. His hat fell off as he jerked her into the teller’s cage. Huey cowered there, his gun shaking. The older mug pushed her down against a cabinet door behind them. She could feel her right stocking give way.
“God damn it,” she said. It was an ugly run.
“What’ll we do?” the kid asked his partner.
“Better send the others out,” Gunselle suggested. “It’ll be the gas chamber if one of ‘em gets drilled in the crossfire. Don’t worry, though, boys. They’ll let the cops know you’ve still got me to deal with.”
“Everybody outside!” screamed the older man through the teller’s window. The lobby emptied in a hurry. “Now what?” he asked Gunselle, settling down to face the door again.
“Thanks. I was hoping you had a better idea.”
Gunselle reached into her purse for the little Savage .32 she carried to protect herself against the vagaries of the day. After shooting each man in the side of his head, she emptied half the contents of the satchel into her purse, moved Huey’s revolver to the hand which corresponded with his new bullet hole, sighed at the dark spots on her lovely pink dress, put away her pistol, then scrambled out of the cage, across the lobby, and into sunshine.
“It’s all over!” she screamed, clutching the purse tight against her chest as officers hurried her away from the horrible scene. “The damn fools had no idea what to do, so they just up and blew their brains out.” After a gentle cop helped her to sit on a bench outside the bakery, Gunselle pulled up the blood-stained skirt and lifted a shapely leg to expose the torn stocking. “There I was, minding my own business. Running errands on a pretty day. It wasn’t my fault the bank got stuck up.”
“No,” said the officer.
“Do you think they’ll pay for a new outfit?”
“I bet they will,” said Gunselle, getting to her feet, trying to remember where she parked her car.
About the author:
Russell Thayer received his BA in English from the University of Washington and worked for decades at large printing companies. He currently lives in Missoula, Montana.
Free flash fiction on the first and third weeks of the month.