Haven – A Short Story

Some people. Some people are ugly, but I don’t feel that’s specific enough. Some people are ugly with an obvious ugly part, a hook nose, big dumbo ears, or a haircut that makes them look like the fifth Beatle. These people can do something about the ugliness, changing it, so they’re no the worst off. No. the worst are the people who have a resounding aura of ugliness and a face that is ugly without a real noticeable fault, their features just don’t go. I don’t like people like that, people like the insolent body in front of me.

‘Give me the money!’ I shouted, waving my gun. Honestly, you’d think in the era of Dirty Harry and James Bond a simple guy like this will have taken in the fact a gun, with it’s ability to put holes in you, is something to respect, but no, they always try to pull a Bruce Lee or a John Saxon and act the hero. I mean come on! Without a seventh-dan black belt, don’t even try to go near me you idiot! I’ll simply shoot you in the head. But no they try ‘that disarming move’ and die for it. Idiots. I can see a fighter upon entry to the bank, it’s usually the manager, used to getting his own way here, and it’s his bank. They normally become much more agreeable after a good pistol whipping, but you get the odd few who keep on, a kicking normally sorts them out. They can’t be the hero concussed can they?

‘Ok man, just don’t hurt anyone’ what a wimp! Honestly with the crew-cut and tattoos Id be guessing this guy was a fighter, but it seems I was wrong, he’s just a quivering pup, what a let-down. That’s ruined my day now; I was so waiting to crack that guy, just waiting for the frantic charge to be ended swiftly by the mechanical swing of the pistol butt, the sudden total reversal of motion, and the splatter, oh the splatter makes it complete. That and the money are the two perks of the job, huge profits and cracking tough guys.

He coughs up after too much hassle, I’m starting to look patience, but suddenly I’ve got the bags and am on my way out.

‘Have a nice day!’ I deliver the punch line with a smile, that’s right Angus, add insult to injury, they’ll only kill you in your cell faster.

My beaten-up looking Lincoln Packard awaits, with its paisley upholstery that looked good at the time, I’m still paying for the sixties, all these years later. I hop in and the air conditioning provides a welcome release from the humid southern atmosphere outside, take off the balaclava, and jet away, before any pig intervention of any kind.

Looking out at all the bodies as I go past, the resounding image is of their sweaty jowls coughing at my smoke. Why would anyone ever want to live here? You sweat constantly, are kicked out of the mediocre social system if you don’t listen to the fundamentalist ravings of a half drunk preacher who probably has less of an idea what God is than the drug dealer standing on the corner, sweating, just waiting for his business to file out of the chapel. I’m not a God-hating man or a God-fearing man; I just think every institution that tries to regulate faith gets it so wrong there’s no point. If I wanted to listen to the bigoted rants of a person for whom I have no respect, I could just go home.

I cross the state line with no significant problems. If only it was the twenties, this would be the end of danger, no lying low; I would be free as a bird. Me and Al Karpis and Babyface could stand on the other side of the line and wave at the pigs.

Course I was born with the distinct disadvantage of a birth twenty years too late, with all of the real heroes of bank robber lore dead or in Alcatraz. Still though, would have been a hell of a time.

When other kids were admiring Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio I was marvelling at Ma Barker and John Dillinger. Psychologists would say all of this could have been stopped if my fascination had been stopped there, but who was gonna do that? Father-took off when Elaine was showing, Elaine-deadbeat, drunk, Grandparents-probably dead by now. In fact thinking about it my only real friend was our dog, called Shepherd. I don’t know why he was called that, I always thought it was a stupid name, but it was what he was called, and no one tried to change it.

Out of any danger now, just another car cruising. I slow down, relax, there’s no need to worry. I see an all-night diner, the kind of place frequented by insomniacs and truckers. I’m just thinking about pulling in for a coffee when I see a panda car parked outside. No need to dangle in front of their faces now, it’s just messing with the man.

Couple of miles down the road I see another, though this time there is no police car, no danger, unless of course I run into Starsky and Hutch, but I’m prepared to run the risk.

The place is one of those sterile, stainless-steel ridden shacks that guys in leather jackets with gelled hair might go to. The type of guys who called girls chicks. I order a cup of coffee from a buxom buck-toothed ‘beauty’ who was probably voted prom queen in her day but now everything has started to sag, making her look like a troll, rather than the girl who had to fight ‘em off with a stick.

‘There you go hun’ she says, clicking her lips together, presenting me with a cup that doesn’t look to have been cleaned since she was prom queen. I choke the black stuff down, ignoring the fact I asked for sugar. I throw a five down on the steel and don’t ask for change. I’ve got money to spare after all. Haha. I’m still in the numb state where I haven’t actually realised what I’ve done, but I know it will come, it will come with a euphoria unmatched by anything I’ve ever know, the sheer knowledge I outsmarted them all, every last high way patrolman, security guard and obnoxious bank clerk.

On the way out I see a simple play park with swings and a roundabout neatly ensconced behind the shack. Two children are playing there, blissfully unaware of me or probably even the world out side of the fifteen by fifteen three foot high fence. Very nice, like one of the few happy memories from my childhood, going up and down on the swings and round and round on the spinner. I decide to sit and watch, if only for the nostalgia.

The playground is like a haven, despite all of the problems the children may have, any pressures or worries, for the fifteen minutes of up and down and spin spin they’re free to be whatever they want to be. Of only we adults had something like that, a haven, where we could be free and unrestricted, what a concept. But no, the man, he would see to it that never happens, that little dream would be shot down right away, adults are too mature to need to escape life’s hardships, they can handle it. I hate the man. I hate him so much I do this to him. I’d be content to be a normal guy if the man weren’t my enemy, I could handle being a normal body, married to a job a house and a wife, a mortgage, insurance, bills, investment plans, I’d have it all if I didn’t hate the man, but I do, and I rob banks to show it. My own petty crusade, and everyone I shoot, they’re martyrs, glorious in death, the man’s workers in life.

I leave the shack and the haven to my Packard. The air-conditioning whirrs on again, and I’m on the road again.

This is an original Hashmark short story written by Nathan Goreing in early 2006

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Filed under Fiction, Hashmark Fiction, Original Hashmark Articles

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