Inadvertent Smile (part two)
by Nancy Ames
The big automatic moved again, on her head, on her chest, on her stomach.
Maureen made herself turn her back on it unconcernedly and walked quickly
around to the back of the long counter. She saw a canvas bag on the floor
behind a desk and, irrationally pleased with herself, she held it up to
show it to the bank robber. But he had now, apparently, given up entirely
on human language and actually snarled and barked at her.
Miffed, she turned away, leaned under the counter and pressed the alarm
button down there. In the same movement, she was immediately bending over
the limp body of the young teller on the floor, who was breathing shallowly
but was perfectly okay.
Willing the girl to stay down, Maureen concentrated on using both hands to
retrieve the loose cash that was lying all around. She worked hard, shoving
the hateful stuff into the open bag-mouth. Then she stood up and collected
the rest of the money from the cash drawer.
Maureen was thinking to herself that she just might have this bank robber
character`s number. She did have a Master`s degree in psychology after all,
so she ought to be able to handle this particular variety of nut using very
simple techniques indeed, shouldn`t she?
But then she could hear Dwayne`s squeaky baritone voice saying something
about shouldn`t he be helping to pick up the money or something or... and
he didn`t even have the sense to shut up until the big gun went BOOM!
While the single shot reverberated to infinity, all the other people in the
bank started yelling and screaming and herded themselves into a corner among
a bunch of desks and office equipment.
Maureen almost vomited all over the money in the canvas bag. But now of course
the smoking gun was aimed directly at her and the bank robber`s face was
coloured a bright red with purple splotches and his eyeballs were bulging
He roared, "Bring it to me! Now!" His severely strained voice cracked and he
coughed and then he spat copiously on the marble floor. Maureen hoped he blew
a gasket. Nobody and nothing could make her perform CPR on the guy, she decided primly.
Feeling exactly like a life-sized marionette, she stood up straight again. Her
legs moved mechanically under her skirt. One of her hands gripped the bag of
money, which wasn`t really heavy at all. She slowly walked around to the front
of the counter.
When she numbly extended the horrible stuffed object to the crazy man, his hard
bony claw of a hand clamped onto her forearm. The pain surprised her. Physical
contact with him felt like an electric shock.
She heard his voice rasping, "Hurt?"
She whispered, "Yes."
He opened his mouth and grinned and his breath was hideous. Maureen prayed that
he wouldn`t bite her with his rotten teeth. He turned her body around then,
using her arm as a handle, and she was finally forced to look down at the torn
and bloody rag-doll that only seconds ago had been her husband.
Dwayne`s long body was spread-eagled on top of the curly black wig, but it
couldn`t soak up nearly all of his blood. The wig reminded her of a gigantic
squashed spider... she must have seen it in a horror movie some time...
Dimly, through all the buzzing and zinging of the shock-waves, she was able to
identify the awful wheezing and crackling noises behind her as some sort of
laughter. The crazy man must have known all along that she was trying to
protect her husband. He laughed out loud, making a sound like a barking dog.
Then he choked, coughed, and spat, aiming at the body. He missed. Then he
shouted out, clear and exultant, "Ha! Big, ain`t he?" The inhuman words echoed
back and forth inside the building.
Sniggering little jerks shook the murderer`s skinny body. She could feel it,
sickeningly close to her rigid back. One of his hands was still cruelly twisting
her arm but his other hand was gradually lowering the heavy weapon so that soon
it would be pointing at the floor.
In terrible distress, fighting a rising wave of nausea, Maureen closed her eyes
and was amazed by the brightness of the scarlet fog inside her head. When she
opened her eyes again, the world appeared much darker than before. Far away in
the distance, she could hear the wailing of many sirens.
Roughly, he swung her around to face him, pulling her horribly closer, right
up against his filthy overcoat. All she could see were his ugly stained eyeballs
and their empty black depths. An icy wind seemed to pass over her skin and the
bag of money dropped out of her clenched fingers, hitting the floor with an
audible thud. But the stupid jerk didn`t even notice that!
Instead, his scratchy voice deepened suggestively, confidently, and he was saying
into her ear, "So hey, baby, how come you like me so much, huh?"
Up to that point, Maureen had been perfectly passive, so the little creep wasn`t
expecting it at all when she furiously attacked his bulging eyes with all the
long fingernails of her free hand. At the same time, she kicked the gun out of
his loose grip, actually breaking his wrist, and the dangerous metal thing
skidded away across the polished floor.
Maureen almost killed the guy while the screaming got louder and the sirens got
louder and her heart went cold forever.