The kid stood in front of the bank doors reading its hours of operation and other information: please remove helmets, sweatshirt hoods, and sunglasses; Do not leave car unattended for long periods of time.
He had no car. He had walked the entire way to the bank, his baggy jeans barely hanging onto his thin frame, yet still able to hold the .38 revolver in the center back of his waistband. He could feel the weight of the gun now as it rested there, the four inch barrel just touching the crack of his ass. He reached behind him and withdrew the gun. It felt heavy and powerful in his hand and he tossed it up – just a bit – to get a better feel for it and its weight. He looked back at the sign on the door.
He still had his sweatshirt hood up, his aviator sunglasses still on, but it didn’t matter. The bank was closed. It was closed every weekend and closed weekdays at 5:00 p.m., Fridays at 6:00. It was Saturday and nearing dusk.
He stood frowning at the front doors, his gaze shifting from the doors to the gun in his hand, as though trying to make up his mind. Then he stepped over to the ATM to the far right of the front doors.
He stood in front of the ATM, but back about 12 feet. He planted his feet in a combat stance, raised the gun and pointed it at the glowing screen.
“Okay, motherfucker, give me all your cash.”
The ATM squatted in front of him, its screen glowing and silent.
“I’m not fuckin’ with you,” the kid said. “Get those fuckin’ hands where I can see them and start handing over your cash.”
The ATM’s screen continued to glow in response.
“Okay, fucker,” the kid fired off three quick shots into the ATM screen. The gun bucked in his hand and two bullets hit the screen, one above the other. The third bullet wanged into the metal above the screen, leaving a small, black hole. Pieces of the heavy plastic cover flew out while the rest of it cracked into a spider web. A small spark sputtered beneath its remaining surface, but otherwise there was no change in the machine.
The kid, on the other hand, felt as if his ears had been pierced by ice picks. His head ached and his ears rang as though clapped by a pair of stove pot lids. He shouted his next words as much to be able to hear himself as to warn the machine once again.
“See? I’m not fuckin’ around here. So hand over the fucking money or I will empty this gun into you and fuckin’ kill you.” The kid’s ears began settling down and he could hear sirens, but the ringing kept him from being able to tell how far off the sirens were.
“Last chance,” he warned. Again, the machine failed to even acknowledge the kid’s existence. The kid fired his remaining shots into the ATM, bursting the plastic on the machine and killing its steady glow. The shots also burst his ears back into a faint, whining pain. He ignored the impulse to reach up with his hands to cover his hears. Instead, he held his hands straight out from his body, like a forgotten scarecrow or Christ giving it up on the cross, the now empty gun dangling from the index finger of his right hand.
The first of the three police cars came screaming into the bank parking lot. It slammed to a stop in behind the kid and both its occupants bailed from either side of the cruiser. One cop scuttled out of the driver’s seat and to the rear of the patrol car. The other cop bailed out of the right side of the cruiser, using its front end and passenger door for cover. The driver leveled his pistol at the kid’s back, while his partner rested a short barreled shotgun between the cruiser’s door and window frame.
The two other police cars were soon on the scene as well, bouncing over the parking lot entrance, their tires screaming to a stop. They hung further back and to the outside of the first car. The doors flew open and the two additional officers settled into position with their guns on the kid.
The driver of the first patrol car took charge. He had a small microphone attached to the front shoulder of his uniform shirt and he reached up to squeeze the handset. As if by magic, his voice boomed from the bullhorn of the cruiser.
“Put your hands out away from your body,” the voice commanded –unnecessarily, because the kid’s hands were already in that position.
“Let the gun drop from your hand.”
The kid did as instructed.
“Now put your hands behind your head and lace your fingers together.”
The kid complied.
“Now get down on your knees and do not move. I want to see those hands remain right where they are.”
The kid eased down, the asphalt hard on his knees, but before he had even settled into the position, something seized his right wrist, pulling it down and behind him, while his body was slammed forward onto the asphalt. He barely had time to move his face aside, avoiding losing some teeth to the pavement. His aviator sunglasses clattered across the asphalt. His other wrist was jerked behind his back and he could hear the handcuffs snapping into place, pinching the skin on his wrists. A knee found the center of his back while one of the cops pulled his hood back and grabbed a fistful of his hair. They lifted the kid to his feet and walked him to the patrol car.
“What the hell was that shit?” The cop in charge asked. “What did you think shooting an ATM would get you? I mean, besides arrested?” He slammed the kid over the hood of the patrol car and gave him a quick but thorough patting down.
The kid smiled. “Aren’t you going to read me my rights before you question me?”
“Son, you just shot the shit out of an ATM. There’s enough evidence to prove your guilt ten times over. We’ll let the detention officer go over the Miranda crap with you.” The cop put his hand on the kid’s head and eased him into the backseat of the cruiser. “Mind your head now.”
“What do you think they’ll charge me with?”
“That’s up to the prosecutor’s office, but let me see,” the cop feigned rubbing his chin as if in deep thought over the issue. “Well, there’s attempted robbery of course, destruction of property, illegal carry of a firearm, illegal discharge of a firearm within city limits, probably illegal possession of a firearm…hell, I haven’t even began to go into what the feds will do. Should have stuck to robbing quickie marts, Paco.” He looked over the top of the cruiser to his partner. “Any other charges that come to mind, partner? I’m sure there’s a shit ton of others.”
“The biggest one that stands out to me,” his partner said. “Is illegal employment of massive amounts of stupidity.”
The two cops laughed as they pulled from the parking lot, leaving one cruiser behind to secure the scene of the attempted robbery.
The kid sat in the backseat of the cruiser and smiled.
The two officers stood on either side of the kid and led him through the back door of the station house, down a long gray hallway, down a flight of stairs, and into the booking room. Beyond the booking room a row of 12 jail cells stretched to the end wall and then made a 90 degree turn with four more cells. For the most part, the inmates in the cells were quiet. The drunk drivers, drug addled, and homeless made up most of the residency, however four of the cells contained inmates arrested on more serious charges. Three pairs of arms stuck out between the bars of three cells, their tattoos illustrating stories that only the inmate could tell with certainty.
The kid said nothing, but continued to hold his half-smile. The officers led him past the booking agent and to the front of a holding cell to give the kid a more thorough search.
“So this is the badass bank robber I heard about over the radio, huh?”
“Yep. Shot the shit out of an ATM. If you take cards up your slot, you could be in danger with this one.”
The detention officer laughed. “If you’ve given him the once-run, bring him on over here and we’ll get him booked.”
The first officer directed the kid to the desk, his hand on the kid’s elbow. “How about we do a handoff here and you can finish up?”
“Oh no. You are officially the ‘arresting officer of record,’ so you get to stick around with me so Dan Dangerous here doesn’t go all kung-fu on my ass. Your partner can go book the gun into evidence and get a head start on your paperwork though.”
“Great,” the partner said. “I’ll catch you upstairs where the humans still dwell. No offense D.O.”
“None taken. Give the land of the living my regards.”
The arresting officer walked the kid to the detention officer’s table, which was bolted to the floor. He unlocked one side of the handcuffs and locked it to a steel ring set into the table.
“Okay,” the D.O. said. “Empty your pockets. Put everything on the table here and we’ll do an inventory.”
The kid smiled as he dropped his wallet on the table, some coins, and a single key.
“You’re a happy little bank robber, aren’t you son?” the D.O. said. “What were you trying to gain by shooting the crap out of an ATM? You do know it’s a machine right? And that it can’t listen to what you tell it to do?”
The kid met the D.O.’s eyes, but only widened his smile.
“That’s okay,” the D.O. said. “I prefer the strong silent types myself. It beats listening to the same old bullshit from every suspect. Let’s see who we have here.” He flipped open the wallet, took out a few small bills, and then removed other cards, pieces of paper, and a single condom. “Well, at least he’s a safe-sex bank robber, which is good. We wouldn’t want the ATM bandit here to be reproducing.”
“So who do we have here?” said the arresting officer.
“One of those from the southeast side. You know those apartment complexes that look like a city within the city, only they smell a lot worse? That’s where Bandit here hails from.”
“Shit, that would have been my first guest,” the arresting officer said. “I should have tried to bet you before we found out for sure.”
“Those asshole spics come out of the womb with a knife in their hand ready to rob and rape their own mothers.” The D.O. looked over to see if he had struck a nerve. Usually, any comments towards an inmate’s mother got some kind of reaction, but the kid simply kept his smile on the D.O.
“Can I ask, sir, how long you’ve been doing this job?” The kid said.
“This is my twelfth year.”
The kid looked around at the gray painted walls and jail cell bars. “And do they let you out into the daylight much? Hell, you’re as much in jail as any man here, except you draw a shitty paycheck at the end of the week and probably go home to a fat wife every night. Does anyone really even know who you are?”
The D.O.’s smile dropped. “Okay, smartass. We’ll get you fingerprinted and get your mug shot and then you can make use of one of our exclusive accommodations. There won’t be an ATM for you to fuck up, but there’s a television in the corner. If you can’t see it from the cell, you can listen to it and try to form mental images in that pea brain of yours.”
The kid smiled. “I appreciate that, sir.”
“Yeah, whatever. Now pull out your shoelaces and give me your belt. We can’t have a world-class bank robber going for the easy way out, can we?”
The D.O. inventoried the kid’s belongings, had the kid sign a receipt for the items, finished processing him, and then felt an even greater sense of satisfaction than usual when he slammed the cell door shut. The kid’s cell was in the middle around the corner and he could see most of the other cells and their occupants.
“You just rest easy Bandit,” the D.O. said. “The prosecutor will have your charges drawn up sometime Monday morning. Meanwhile, enjoy your lovely cot with single pillow and blanket and your exposed commode. Try not to shit on yourself if you use it.”
The entire time the kid said little to nothing, but held his pants up by gripping the front waist and continued to smile. The D.O. walked back to his desk with the arresting officer.
“Fucker keeps on with that weird smile,” he said. “Put that with his shooting up an ATM and you’ve got a mental case for sure. Now his lawyer will step in and use that to get him off. Then we repeat the cycle. Load, wash, rinse, repeat. Fuckin’ head job.”
“To protect and to serve,” the arresting officer said. “It’s the code I live by. But tonight I think all I did was serve to protect a mental deficient from hurting himself. It’s times like these when we should stay the hell out of the way of Darwin and let these kind kill themselves off with their stupidity.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what the ATM video shows. Who knows? Maybe there was an accomplice,” the detention officer rounded his desk and sat down with a sigh. “Although it’s kind of depressing to think there might be some others of his mental caliber out there in this world.”
The kid sat on the edge of his bunk, looking down at his lace-less shoes. He slept restlessly the night before and the day had dragged by. He had passed on the food that was served.
“Going on a starvation diet?” A new D.O. had come on duty, but the kid found him as snide and condescending as the first. “That’s going to gain you about as much as shooting up an ATM.” The D.O. had laughed and some of the other inmates had joined in. The D. O. seemed to like having an audience and since the kid said nothing, he became an easy target.
The jail was full. Over the course of the night the kid watched four drunk drivers go through processing, each one managing to get someone to come bail them out and take them home. A vagrant also came through, but had both pissed and shit himself at the beginning of processing. The other inmates were quick to show their disapproval.
“Oh, come on now,” one said. “Do not put that guy in the same fucking building as us, let alone in one of these cells.”
“He’ll probably get a better place to stay by pulling that off,” another laughed. “Maybe we should all shit ourselves.”
“Go ahead, asshole,” the first answered. “They’ll just leave you to sit in it until Monday.”
The kid had no idea where they took the guy who had shit himself, probably somewhere with a strong hose.
The television played constantly. Apparently, the other inmates were used to the incessant noise, because the kid heard more than a few snoring off and on through the night. He couldn’t see the television from his cell, but it was tuned to some classic television channel that ran a marathon of situation comedies, the canned laughter beginning to scrape along the kid’s nerves. The irony of the television’s tuning wasn’t lost on the kid.
The news had come on three times since the kid was placed in the cell. There was one report of an attempted home invasion, which earned one of the inmates a smattering of applause, but there was no mention of the attempted ATM robbery. The kid wasn’t surprised. You fuck with a bank, it’s federal, and they don’t broadcast any federal shit until the feds had the whole thing sewed up as tight as the stitching on a baseball.
Still, he stayed awake and through the second night kept his ears open to any change on the television.
Just before breakfast on Monday, the news came on again. The newscaster presented a few pieces of national news, but then her tone changed and the kid knew this was it. He stood and stepped to the front of the cell. He held one of the bars with one hand and held his pants up with the other, straining his ears to hear.
The announcer’s voice came across, feminine, suddenly light-hearted, but consummately professional.
“In other news, a local bank robbery with a strange twist. The suspect, a young Hispanic man, approached an Automated Teller Machine as you can see in this film from the actual ATM. Watch what transpires in this strangest of armed bank robberies.”
Other inmates began to point towards the television beyond the kid’s sight, shouting to him and laughing.
The inmates fell silent as the sound came from the ATM and through the television video. “Okay, beeeeeeeeeep, give me all your cash.”A pause.“I’m not beeeeeeep-ing with you. Get those beeeep-ing hands where I can see them and start handing over your cash.”A pause. “Okay, beeeep.”
Three muffled pops came from the television. The inmates remained silent as they watched the scene on the screen unfold.
“See? I’m not beeeeeping around here. So hand over the beeeeping money or I will empty this gun into you and beeeeeeping kill you.”
Another pause and then, “Last chance.”
The next three pops sounded and, although the kid couldn’t see, the picture blurred and diagonal lines waved through it. The other inmates watched the video as the kid spread his arms out, the gun dangling from his right index finger. The picture froze and recessed into a background shot behind the newscaster.
“The video, now being dubbed as the “Armed ATM Bandit” surfaced from police evidence and has since went viral, garnering over six and one half million hits in only 36 hours. The previous record for a viral video pales in comparison and if this one continues, it will surely surpass all previous views for a viral video on YouTube. It is now being broadcast in Britain, France, and other countries throughout Europe and Asia. News agencies and entertainment sources from around the world are already lining up to interview the “Armed ATM Bandit.”
The other newscaster’s comment faded in the murmurs of the other inmates’ sudden chatter. Their voices rose in volume, but then fell to a few furtive whispers.
The cell block lay still for a lone, silent moment…
And then exploded into whistles, applause, and cheers…
The kid, his fists held high, jumped up and down on the balls of his feet like a prize fighter. “Yeah, motherfuckers!” he screamed. “I am fucking international!”
As he jumped up and down, his unsecured pants fell unnoticed around his ankles. The inmates of the cell block cheered as though meeting the latest, greatest rock and roll sensation.