The Fall Guy

There were five of them, all dressed in black tactical gear with M-4 rifles.

There was Guy, a young man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and hearing aides; Dom, another amateur wearing a Scarface mask; Carano, a veteran wearing a Rocky mask; Sean, a veteran wearing a Goaltender mask; and Manny, the leader, wearing a JFK mask.

The Crew sat in the back of a moving van with Manny by the rear doors, his hand resting on the latch.

He looked at his watch.

‘Five minutes. Go ‘head and chamber.’

The Crew relayed the command to Guy in sign language.

Sean let out a tired sigh as they pulled the charging handles of their weapons.

‘Good,’ he said and signed. ‘Let’s get this shit over with.’

Guy signed back.

‘Me too.’

‘I think we all want this job done,’ said Carano.

‘Don’t be in such a hurry,’ said Manny. ‘If you do it too fast, something will go wrong. Same goes if you do it too slow.’

‘Same goes when you have a girl on your dink,’ said Dom.

Some of them laughed.

‘We got this,’ said Manny. ‘Hasn’t been a single fuck up since day one. We have more money than we can spend—‘

‘More money than we need,’ said Carano. ‘I think there’s enough dough between us to move on, don’t you think, Manny?’

‘Why stop? We’ve been all over the country and not a single pig has caught us. There will always be more banks—‘

‘Yeah,’ said Sean, ‘we get it. Y’know, I like taking my gun out for a rip too, but I always run out of bullets, and that’s when I stop for a breather.’

‘Don’t start this again.’

‘It’s started,’ Guy signed. ‘We want out. We are not pulling another job after this one. You will have to find a new crew.’

‘I got me enough cash to go to school the full four years, twice over,’ said Dom. ‘I don’t need to steal any more.’

‘We don’t even have to pull this job,’ said Carano. ‘We have time. Tell Ricky to drive us back and we’ll never see each other again. It’s too easy.’

Manny pulled up his mask.

‘I’m tired of hearing you shits complain. You got into this thing and no matter what you wanna do after, there ain’t no getting out. I tried to quit after a year, but when I got what I wanted, do you think I could resist getting more? The rush and the cash you take are better than any kind of drug. I’ve been at this for friggin’ two decades and I guarantee you’re gonna keep at it until you’re old and ugly or the cops plug you full of bullets.’ He pulled down his mask. ‘Now shut the fuck up and get ready.’

Manny fixed his gaze upon his watch as the second-hand ticked about the face.

The rest of the Crew looked at each other. Guy placed his hand on Carano’s knee.

‘We are okay,’ she signed.

He nodded.

When the hour struck its mark, the Crew heaved forward as the van stopped with a screech of its tires. Manny pulled the latch and the Crew exited the vehicle.

The building was a monolith of tinted glass on an empty sidewalk. The rest of the boulevard was desolate, no life around the bank, but the Crew that intended to rob it. Manny was the first to reach its revolving doors. They each took a section of the door as they passed inside. There were four marble columns to the left and right. Between them was the lobby floor, sectioned by rope dividers that snaked to the teller stations opposite the entrance in a simple maze.

Manny moved up the center while the others took to the flanks.

‘Everyone the ground! If you’re still standing, you—‘

He stopped himself when he saw the bank was empty, quiet as a graveyard. The others stopped as well.

‘The fuck?’ asked Sean.

‘Maybe they were closed and forgot to lock up,’ said Dom.

Guy patted Carano on the shoulder.

‘Now?’

She shook her head.

Manny peered about the lobby, his hands squeezing the rifle as if to brace himself.

‘Somebody set us up.’

The Crew turned to him.

‘What?’ asked Dom, pretending he did not hear anything.

Manny trained his rifle on Dom, the young man flinching with surprise.

‘Somebody set us-the-fuck-up and I’m pretty sure it was you.’

‘Manny, dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said putting his hand up and laying his weapon down before lying on his stomach.

He turned his rifle to Sean.

‘Maybe it was you! You were always squirrely; ever sense I dragged you out of Toronto!’

Sean was already lying down.

Manny’s breathing quickened when he saw Guy and Carano on the floor.

‘What the fuck did you do?’

‘Bro,’ said Sean, ‘just…’

‘Be cool,’ said Carano. ‘Be cool and this will end without any problems.’

Manny jerked his head towards the entrance.

Lined up on the sidewalk behind heavy black shields were SWAT teams, their rifles pointed at Manny. Behind them were rows and rows of cop cars.

Manny O’Brian!’ blared a man’s voice through a horn, ‘put down you weapon and surrender. Make this easy on yourself and your crew.

‘Do what he says, bro,’ said Sean. ‘You haven’t killed anyone that I know of so it won’t be such a bad stretch.’

‘He’s right,’ said Carano. ‘Jail is the best option you have right now.’

With a shaking hand Manny ripped of his JFK mask. Tears rolled down his red face as he grit his teeth.

‘Was it you, Gina?’ he asked Carano. ‘Did you sell us out? Did that tough Marine-bitch exterior finally break—‘

‘Manny—‘

‘You fuckin’ traitor.’ He grabbed Guy off the floor and held him towards the cops, his rifle barrel resting on his shoulder. ‘Did this little retard convince you to take us all down? Did he fuck the warrior out of you? We could’ve kept going if you weren’t so god-damn weak!’

‘WE ALL SOLD YOU OUT, MANNY! We’re done of this shit; we had our fill and we want out.’ Gina stood, her hands up as she approached Manny. ‘Do you think you can work us like we’re fucking robots? We get tired and exhausted and after five years we’re ready to cash out. When you wouldn’t let us go we had to make a deal with the pigs. Did you know you’re third on the Most Wanted list? They don’t care if the rest of us make it out of here as long as they get you.’

‘It won’t stop!’ said Manny, stepping from Carano. ‘You’ll go home with all your dough and after it’s gone, you’ll go back to what you know to get more!’

‘Yeah, it’s called PTSD, and I brought it back from Afghanistan. But I got it out of me, Manny; I got better and so can you. Just let go of Guy and give up. If he dies, you’ll go away and die in jail.’

‘Just kill him,’ signed Guy. ‘I will be okay.’

Manny jerked him around.

‘Shut up!’

‘This could have ended back in the van,’ said Carano. ‘We told you we wanted out; we told you we were finished with all this shit, but you had to keep at it. The only reason why we followed you in here was to keep you alive.’

‘Fuck you! You think being in prison is the same as living, you dumb bitch!’

Manny and Carano were only inches away from each other.

‘You’re sick. Some time away from all this will help.’

‘I will be okay,’ signed Guy.

‘I said shut up!’

‘Let him go, Manny. If you want somebody to blame, I’m right here.’ Carano stopped moving. ‘Guy had nothing to do with this. It was all me.’

‘You’re god-damn right,’ he said pushing Guy towards her and pulling back behind his rifle.

Carano was fast, rushing past Guy to Manny as she took hold of his rifle. She twisted it away and shove-kicked him into the rope dividers. As he reeled back Manny drew a pistol and put a round in Carano’s shoulder. She dropped to the floor before the cops unleashed a volley into the bank.

A waterfall of glass poured down in a wave of crystal. The bullets sailed over the Crew and grouped on Manny. He remained on his two feet as the rounds ripped through his body. He staggered back, blood gushing out as his organs were set free of his skin and clothes. He crashed to floor, caught by the rope dividers like a hammock.

When the shooting was over Guy crawled to Carano and held her wound. He pulled off their masks, the deaf amateur on the verge of tears. She smiled back and patted him on the cheek, the cops stepping around them to the fleshy mess that used to be Manny O’Brian.

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