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Flour Dusted And Pan Glossed
About the Author: Robert Mangeot’s fiction appears in ALFRED HITCHCOCK MYSTERY MAGAZINE, THE FORGE LITERARY MAGAZINE, LOWESTOFT CHRONICLE, MYSTERY MAGAZINE, MWA’s ICE COLD, and the Anthony-winning MURDER UNDER THE OAKS. His work has three times been named a Derringer finalist. When not writing, he serves as a chapter officer for Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime Middle Tennessee.

This would all work out great, cops outside or not. I felt it sure as we were standing here in the Maritime Federal Bank and Trust. It’d been the today’s signs and signals, the blue sunshine since morning. No joke, the sun came out as I’d snuck in some pre-job fishing off the North Beach boardwalk. Onshore wind, swell tide, and I’d caught flounder nonstop as if nature herself declared, “Easton, you have this, child.” We had sunshine and fresh-made nuggets I’d brought along and the tellers on the floor acting collected. Bonus gin, too. The branch manager’s stash, and no liquor went down finer than the free kind. Around here, you took omens as omens.

I said, “We’ve got this easy as quick batter. Don’t we, boys?”

Alejo glanced away from the squad car perimeter lights flickering through the blinds. He shot a look heretofore used whenever helping unjam my Glock. Harsh. I refused to let him or a barricade or every bank landline ringing spoil my groove. Yes, the world needed worriers. Which was how come it needed bright siders for balance, same as it needed careful planners like Nate and drivers like Rave and her lead foot idling down Mercer in our getaway Plymouth. That was us, the sharpest bunch working South Georgia, me as their new fourth man.

I said that and how I had a condo complex in mind a stretch north on Fripp Island. Fripp, being swank and an all-important state line away. I would lounge beachside, two poles baited, and get my Vitamin D rocking.

“Will you zip it?” Nate said, his ski mask about sweated through, no matter this ice box air conditioning. Nate took one of his heart pills and went on how he believed the plan had gone sideways and that one among us, likely me, failed to report extra Friday bank staff and thus the silent alarm access. Nate also took issue with my blurting out a Fripp Island location here with the bank folks, who Nate called hostages.

I’d barely accepted his tough love correction when a rumbling came outside and Nate shushed me again.

“What was that?” Nate said. “A tank motor?”

Alejo peeked between the blinds. “SWAT. Full tac unit.”

I’d always wanted to see a tac unit. In action, you know, but I’d been shushed a bunch, so I kept that to myself. I did say, “Calmness, dude.” I’d tacked on a dude not to be flip but because we weren’t using real names until after the getaway. “Have a pull of this gin. It kicks some but goes down liquid gold.”

Nate said, “Nothing the hell else to lose,” and he took one gulp and then another. He was calculating, I could tell. Smart as he was, he would plan himself back around to my viewpoint. Take fishing, for example. Some days you caught nada, but if you kept at it, if you adjusted for tides and things, you filled a cooler. If we kept at this, we would make that Plymouth. In the meantime, we had booze, we had access to necessities, my fish nuggets for snacking, even temperate conditions.

Nate shoved me toward the electrical room back exit, which—to be honest—I’d been supposed to keep monitored. Nate had started groaning an uggghhhhh, and the phones went bbrrriinnggg, and the bank folks coughed, and the cops outside made all sorts of noises like radio squawks and a clomp clomp of tac boots.

I lingered in the electrical room and let that gin fill me with buzz and purpose. Maritime Federal’s back exit was no ordinary door, understand. It was steel from wherever they forged the top stuff. Alabama, I figured. That door could’ve taken an elephant stampede, angry ones, and the drive-up glass was no doubt space age technology that resisted bullets of most any caliber.

Situation in hand, I cruised into the main area with my report.

“Get down,” Nate said between ugghhs. He’d crouched behind the teller counter. Someone outside was speaking into a bullhorn, but it sounded wah wah wah like that cartoon schoolteacher. I shared this thought with the bank folks. One of them, this teller lady, let out a high note laugh and deep breaths all in a row.

“Is that from yoga?” I asked her. “I’ve been wanting to try it. Dog poses and stuff. I don’t stretch that well though. It’s how come rip currents don’t get me.”

“God,” the lady said between her breathing. “Oh, God.”

“Chill, folks,” I said. “We’re soon moving along to environs not nearly within the states of Georgia or South Carolina. Until then, we’re safe behind glass that handles a bazooka.”

“They don’t need a bazooka,” Alejo said.

This story appears in our MAY 2022 Issue
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