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Will Bennie Crack?

Outlaws really only need to observe one law: Murphy's Law.

If there's one thing you can count on in the Gutter, it's for things to go wrong.

Will Bennie Crack? by David Rachels

When Bennie and me got laid off from the turkey processing plant, they gave us enough severance to buy two ski masks, one gun, and zero bullets. It was just as well about the bullets because Bennie said he would go along with it if nobody got hurt, and that meant we couldn’t shoot nobody, not even if we wanted to, and Bennie didn’t want either one of us getting shot either. I told him it wouldn’t be any problem. Banks don’t even have guards no more, so nobody would have a gun except for our gun with no bullets, which meant everybody would be safe. I told Bennie, these days banks are out there just begging you to rob them.

That was most of the bullshit I needed to get Bennie into the bank wearing a ski mask. Before we went in, he was smart enough to check that I hadn’t loaded the gun behind his back, but he wasn’t smart enough to ask me about cameras or silent alarms or dye packs or anything like that. All the brain stuff was up to me. We made it to the middle of the lobby before he stopped walking. There was two customers talking to the tellers, one guy and one girl, and by the looks of them there was no way either one of them had a gun, so I couldn’t figure why Bennie had stopped. Nobody had looked at us yet to see our ski masks, so everything was still normal.

I said, “Keep moving, sir.”

I had told Bennie we wouldn’t be using our names, on account of bank robbers are easier to catch if you know their names, and that was one more thing that made Bennie think I knew what I was doing.

Bennie said, “I can’t move.”

“You better move,” I said. “The money ain’t here—it’s over there.” We still had about ten paces to go.

Bennie was looking at the male customer. He said, “That’s Master Claussen, Trent’s karate teacher. I can’t do this, man.”

“We got a gun,” I said. “You wishing we had some bullets now?”

“Master Claussen knows how to take guns away from people. He’s already taught Trent how to do it. I’m leaving.”

“No, you ain’t,” I said, and then I yelled, “This is a robbery!” I wished I could have made my point by shooting a bullet into the ceiling, but I just had to wave my gun around instead. I looked at Bennie out of the corner of my eye. I thought maybe he would run, but he didn’t.

It was a good thing Bennie told me about Master Claussen because Master Claussen looked interested. He was facing me now, and he was leaning forward on his feet like he was thinking about coming for me. I pointed the gun right at him and said, “You get on the ground right now.” He thought about it for a second, and then he must have decided I really would shoot him because he got down on the ground.

The bank was totally quiet now, and Bennie whispered, “He can’t hear me talk. He knows my voice.” Bennie was shaking like he was really cold. When he was talking, his teeth was chattering together.

I said to Bennie, “I’ll do the talking. Come on, but keep your eye on Mr. Kung Fu. If he twitches, you holler.”

I went to the teller who was as far away from Master Claussen as possible. Bennie followed me, and he stood in between me and Master Claussen, which made him shake even more like he had some kind of shaking disease. I gave the teller a plastic bag. I said to her, “No dye packs in there. I want to see you riffle every stack of bills before it goes in.”

The riffling slowed things down, of course, but a bag of ruined money wasn’t going to do us any good. I kept telling the teller to hurry it up because one of them must have pulled an alarm already, so we had to get going. If we stuck around to get every dime, we’d never get away. I peeked at Bennie, and he was still staring right at Master Claussen, but he was starting to sway like maybe he was going to fall over. Okay, it was time to go. However much money was in the bag, it was more than we spent on the ski masks and the gun.

“Let’s go, sir,” I said to Bennie, and I took the bag of money from the teller. Bennie and me walked backwards out of that bank as fast as we could, both of us staring at Master Claussen the whole way.

Our getaway car was stolen from the student parking lot at the high school. Bennie made me drive it, of course. We turned right out of the bank parking lot, headed back toward the high school, and not a minute later we saw sirens coming toward us, headed for the bank. I looked over at Bennie, and I yelled, “Take off the ski mask!” Bennie did it as fast as he could, and I think he may have poked himself in the eye, his hands were shaking so bad.

There was no more talking till we made it to the high school and I pulled the car back into the spot we took it from. I picked up the bag of money from the floorboard between my feet. I wanted to count it. How long was it till school was out? Did we have time to make the split right there? Now Bennie spoke up. He said, “Hand that bag over here.”

I looked over at Bennie. His hands were still shaking, but now he was pointing a gun at me.

“Guess what?” Bennie said. “This one is loaded.”

David Rachels has published noir fiction in Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Dark Corners, and Pulp Modern. As well, he is the editor of the Gil Brewer story collection Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories.