“Really?” a melodic voice was released into the air as the woman traced a red shape with the tip of her cigarette. The blue-eyed male gave her a simple nod in reply.

“No,” his dark eyebrows furrowed as he shifted his weight against the brick wall behind him.

“Etiénne,” the woman let her jaw tilt lips curling around the cigarette. “Don’t be an ass.”

“I’ll try,” with that Etiénne allowed himself to stand upright and begins his descent down the alleyway. He shot a glance over his broad shoulder toward the woman, the universal gesture for “You coming?”

The click of her high heels on the damp cement became apparent as she scurried after him. The feel of her thin arm gripping his own became apparent, he welcomed
it. “Bryn?” his features filled with question. “Are you sure you want to do this?” it was obvious through his mousy tone that he asked this merely because he himself, did not.

“I do,” Bryn spoke with an exaggerated excitement. Bryn gave his lean arm a squeeze and tried to flash him a warming smile; Urging him to keep going forward.

They walked in silence for a good two blocks before they finally stopped.

The pair exchanged nervous glances.

Bryn gave Etiénne another smile in attempt to cover up her bubbling fear. He did nothing, barely even giving her recognition. It would be impossible to cover up the sheer terror that seemed to fester within him.

“Got ’em?” Bryn’s teeth chattered. The pair standing still in front of the building labeled “Bank.”

“Right here,” Etiénne reached around to his back pocket of his jeans and retrieved two black bandannas. He extended his arm to hand her one already beginning to tie the other around the bottom half of his face. With an exchange of nods they began their climb up the marble stairway.

“Bryn!” Etiénne exclaimed as he opened the broken door and stepped inside the dilapidated apartment. “I’ve found a way for you to get the house on the beach,” a wide charismatic smile adorned his features. The girl did not react, fiddling with loose strands of string on the hemline of the flat mattress on the floor. His eyes were wide still with excitement even without her answer. After the small pause he continued, “Aren’t you going to ask me to elaborate?”

“No, but you will anyway,” Bryn allowed her eyelids to flutter open and glance toward the far wall. The sickly green wallpaper was chipping from the unpainted walls. Curling from deep heated moisture, bits and pieces of it falling to the ground. It repulsed her.

“Money,” Etiénne began, making a gesture of rubbing his calloused fingertips together in slow minute circles. “Makes the world go ’round, correct?” he quirked a brow. Bryn did not answer, assuming most of his questions were rhetorical. “So why is it allowed to just /sit?” his face darkened with passion toward the statement. “The Chemical bank.” he shot forward moving so that he was kneeling in front of her. He slipped his hands to the edges of the curled poster in his hands, letting it unfurl in her lap.

“Where,” her vocal filled with disbelief, “Did you get this?” she questioned once she began to look over the bank’s blueprint in front of her.

“I found it.”

“/Found it?” Etiénne nodded to her, his face bright like a child in a candy store.

“You always said crime might be our only answer,” his words went somewhat sentimental, a certain sadness existing behind that memory. He reached out, letting his palm cup her cheek, the rough edges of his hand were chilling to her.

“I never meant robbing a bank E,” the nickname sounded out of place in her voice’s flood of worry.

It hadn’t taken much that night to finally convince her. The mere mention of Bonnie and Clyde got her giddy. It was final, two months was their time frame, and they’d gotten what they needed done in two days. All they could do was wait. The passing days and weeks had showed a shift in spirits. Bryn was still just as excited as the beginning day, but Etienne’s enthusiasm had died and become dark within him. He feared the endless list of flaws and consequences; but whenever he voiced this Bryn quickly shushed him with a comforting: “It’s perfect.”

The pair stepped inside.

The marble floor sparkled under the yellow aura that seemed to warm the bank. Their reflection signified that the janitor could not have waxed them any more than ten minutes prior. The eggshell coloured walls were decorated with intricate white designs, and lead to the towering ceilings. Being located in such a ritzy neighborhood it did not surprise them that each ceiling panel was part of a biblical mural, that much resembled the works of Leonardo Davinci. Etienne’s eyes scanned the painting, seeing Adam grasping for an apple, a serpent strangling at him. Hooks met with chandeliers. They illuminated the regal-style room, their diamond trims glittering in reflection of the ricocheting lights. If pure fear had not become Etiénne’s every aspect he would’ve been transfixed by this beautiful view.

“E?” Bryn spoke giving him a shove in attempt to receive some reassurance that he was still with her on this.

“Ready,” he nodded sternly as he kept his eyes on the crowd congregating near the teller’s desks. “Hands up! Nobody Move!” he shouted. The boom of his deep voice filling the room quickly.

Everyone reacted.

Screams came from the person’s as Bryn retrieved a silver handgun from her purse. She held it tightly. They both rushed forward, almost at a jog.

“Down to the ground,” Bryn barely had to utter the command as most did this when they first saw the weapon. Etiénne approached the desk, hitting the round silver bell as if needing to regain the teller’s attention.

“Put the money in the bag,” he had only just realized the lack of any item to place their gained money within. To him, it did not matter, she could pick her own carrying case.

“S-Sir…” thhe teller, a fire-haired woman in her thirties, spoke as she lifted her hands, palms facing toward him. “We Just trans-”

“Money in a Bag!” Etiénne cut her off sharply through his teeth, not listening.

“There is no money,” the woman looked fearful, though there was a sort of absoluteness in her voice. Etiénne remained ignorant to the statement, his lanky legs shifted as he pressed his hands against the counter and vaulted over it.

“Take me to the safe,” he barked, grabbing her upper arm violently in warning. The woman did not protest, allowing herself to lead him immediately to the back. They traveled down the winding stairwell with haste.

The Vault Stood before him.

He should’ve seen a sealed door.
He saw the open cylindrical aperture.

He released the teller and stepped inside. The safe, had to have been larger than his apartment. The shine on the silver walls was caused by the long row of fluorescents lights. The shelves practically disappeared, made out of the same materials as their surroundings. His hands shot to the black follicles clutching tightly his short hair. His stiff eyes became softened as it hit him.

This metal encasing, the dream he’d created, the “Perfect plan…”

Miscalculation was a good word for it. As he and Bryn had approached his peripheral vision had in fact caught a glimpse of the armored trucks driving away.

There wasn’t a bill in sight.
The safe, was empty.

Etiénne allowed his frame to turn as he stared toward the teller in disbelief.

“We’re closing, switching locations,” her voice no longer held fear. Etiénne did not answer or argue in any way, he simply allowed himself to glide across the room in a hasty run back toward the staircase.

Bryn was still there, by the glow of her eyes Etiénne could tell she was smiling. Yet this faded, as she glanced him over. His hands empty.

“The money?” she looked him over again, his rough features, his skin pale as if there was not a single drop of warmth left within him. If it hadn’t been for that disguise, she would’ve been able to take in the quivering of his chapped lip. Something was wrong.

He let his bony fingers grip her forearm and began, in an immediate rush, toward the door. Before Bryn could question why it was that he had nothing from the safe she fell to her knees.

They had not been welcomed by the empty street that the two had assumed. A plethora of police cruisers faced them. Officer’s standing behind open doors, guns drawn.

“Down on the-” before the chief could finish a shot was fired.

Welcome Frenzy.

Bryn hit the ground, instantaneously her skin drained, even paler now than Etiénnes. The bullet, or so he could assume, had sunk into her chest. Although she was face down the small puddle began to grow around her. Motionless.

What he should’ve done was cradled her.

What he did, was run.

In the rush of “Who Shot who?” he got away. Etiénne’s blood pumped roughly as his muscles ached to get him farther and farther away from his nightmare.

Half expecting to wake up at any moment.

He had not woken up. The reality of it hitting him only days passed. The search for the notorious unsuccessful robber was given up. They had only two ways of tracking him, appearance and money spent. His mask had taken care of the first.

Two years passed, and still he could not forget that moment. He feared sleep, knowing that Bryn’s cold cadaver would haunt his dreams. Etiénne had also excluded himself within his apartment, only leaving if he needed parcels from the grocery store or a drink. He’d since learned to abuse the euphoria of liquor.

Etiénne sat on the edge of his sunken mattress, it remained unmade since all that adorned it was a crusting sheet. His short hair had become a mess of curled tresses, his prominent chin now home to uncut stubble. He moved so that his tall body was in a standing position and outstretched his arms. His bare stomach had become concave, his ribs protruding sharply.

It was the anniversary of her death. Every time this macabre holiday came around, he had vowed to do the one thing Bryn truly loved.

Purchase a lottery ticket.

He had gotten dressed as he left the apartment, heading down the aged road, his long feet moving forward at a slow and almost reluctant pace. His hand reached around the knob as he arrived at his destination. The convenience store in which he often shopped.

The cashier watched him curiously as he headed toward the counter. He must’ve smelt dank from the lack of personal hygiene.

“Lotto Ticket,” Etiénne gave little recognition to whom he was speaking to, opening the cracked brown leather wallet to retrieve the appropriate amount of money.

“Number choice?”

“Surprise me,” Etiénne set the amount on the counter, he knew it’s cost to the cent.

“I chose Four, Nine, Sixteen and Thirty-Five for you,” the cashier returned, holding out the square paper toward Etiénne. He snatched it with a nonchalant expression, hasty to get back to his apartment knowing that the drawing was at some point that night.

Back in the apartment Etiénne slipped out of his shoes and headed towards the near-broken corduroy recliner. He flicked on the ancient television set and once the static had faded the man in the suit that Etiénne half dreaded became clear. He held the ticket in his hand as he sat back lazily.

What he should have felt was excitement.

“Four,” the suited man spoke, the spherical white ball being set on the appropriate platform.

“Nine,” again.




Amber Kipp

Key West, United States

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