betterHALF
Author: Sketch

Chapter 4
‘The Robbery Of 11/02’

chapterFOUR

‘The Robbery Of 11/02’

 

 

 

 

 

 

davidtoERICA

 

November 6, 2002

 

 iREMEMBER waking up to a buzzing off in the distance. Glancing over the bottom of my bed to locate this very unfamiliar noise, I caught a glimpse of the clock sitting across the room on my computer desk—9:15 a.m., I’m late! I had to get up and just go.

I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs in almost one leap, barreling down the hallway, my…guardian’s… voice cracked from  the kitchen, in the highest her lungs could squeeze out,

 “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa slow down! It sounds like a herd of bulls."

Dashing into the kitchen, I ran past my guardian and stopped cold at the door. I’ve got to tell her something so she doesn’t worry. I looked back to her sitting at her old wooden dining room table with the morning’s newspaper sprawled out in front of her.  Her eyes were wide open and alert; her mouth open. She had a bewildered look on her youthful face. My guardian was a healthy old lady. Although in her eighties, she looked not a year over sixty. Her hair was short and gray, but it was always hidden under the colorful scarves she would wear.

There was an instant of silence that filled the room. Within that silence we had a whole wordless, but lengthy and deep conversation with our eye contact. I could see the worry, the hope, the belief and all the mixed feelings I caused in my guardian’s heart. I had to prove to her that I could be someone. I had to prove that I wasn’t a total failure. I could do it. I wanted to show her that she had nothing to worry or fear. She always knew that, but I wanted to show her that she was right.

In the background I heard the TV. I took notice to the commercial.  It was advertising a new movie in which it called “a Tamera Jacobs movie.” It seemed my mom had reached “Steven Spielberg” status. Focusing back on my guardian, frozen, I tried to think of something to verbally say to her...

"I'll be—I'll be back." I said, and then I darted out the door shouting back in, "Big job interview! You won’t be disappointed!"

 

 The train station on Main St. was always empty that time of morning, which is what I was hoping for. I needed a straight shot to the Stafford train station in Wayne Pa. The whole bumpy train ride over all I could think about was not screwing things up.

I got to the stop, fumbled off the train and ran a couple blocks to the car wash on Route 30. The car wash was the kind that the affluent used; the kind that you take your car, drop it off and watch TV in the waiting room while the detailers cleaned every crevice of your vehicle. 

The time was 10:15 a.m. when I arrived. Although I was asked to be there at 10 o’clock sharp, the first action of my particular assignment started at 10:30. An Audi, Mercedes, and BMW were all parked in the cleaning area. 

Is that the Benz? Did it exit already?

My heart was racing. Every possibility ran through my head. I found myself reciting a wish in my mind repeatedly: I hope everything works out—I hope everything works out.

My eyes frantically panned the atmosphere. The air was brisk, with a slight wind passing by. It smelled like autumn air. People walking by with their Macy’s catalogue look were bundled up in their fall jackets.

As the time sluggishly advanced, I watched two cars emerge from their body wash. The man would take the car to a queue-area where it would await the detail team’s attention.

Ten-twenty a.m. approached—10:25—10:30.

The big dark blue Mercedes popped out of the car wash.

Instant relief settled into my body, before a new set of anxieties erupted.

As soon as the worker got out of the car, I put my ski mask on, and jumped in the still-running vehicle. I was told if I had the correct vehicle, there would be detailed directions in the glove box.

There were.

The first instruction was to turn right onto Conestoga Road.

As I drove away, I had a troublesome feeling that I was forgetting something. An idea formulated in my head for a new thriller to write:

‘The Heist.’

I can begin the story with these unsure, adrenaline filled emotions that I feel right now and this character could be—,    

I heard someone behind me shout,

 "Hey, that’s my car!"

 It was becoming clearer to me, that I was a pawn in an orchestrated robbery—or something. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I said that I’d like to earn a few dollars. But again, what did I expect? I knew I was dealing with the shady characters of Philadelphia.

 When I looked back, I saw a large man waving his fists and shouting. I remembered the consequences of quitting on the mission: “being ‘dealt with.’”

I even think I remember somewhere within that speech the words, “death or worse.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with either of them. I reached down to shift into fourth gear, but my body was shaking so much, that I found myself losing hand-eye coordination.

 

Fumbling to adjust the gear into place, the car revved high before I finally got the car into gear. My mind began to clutter thinking of all the things I had to do. Get the Mercedes—check. Get the directions out of the glove compartment—check. I struggled to gather my thoughts enough to think straight. 

As I got closer to my destination, with sweaty palms and a heart desperate to pump as much blood to my body as quick as possible, I spotted a huge mansion in the near distance.

The mansion was so big, it looked as if it should be a business facility. It took another minute of driving before I realized the huge mansion was my destination. With the Mercedes, I barreled through the front gate as the directions told me to do. Alarms sounded from every direction.

Something doesn’t seem right.

Speeding up the driveway I saw that the garage was open just like the directions had said it would be. The property was enormous. There must have been about twenty acres of land.

I drove up to the garage and jumped out of the Mercedes. My shaking subsided a little, that is, until I realized all the sirens were still blaring. Where is all of this going to lead?

Standing with my back to the wall and my face towards the garage opening, I noticed the door immediately to the right on the wall behind me. I was told someone was going to answer that door at 11:45 a.m. I also noticed an external door on the left wall.

That will be my escape if all else fails.

There was nothing in that garage that indicated this homeowner did any work in this house. It was almost completely empty except for a couple of shelves filled with books. The car sat in front of me still shining from the thorough wash it had just received, but still slightly banged up from the abuse it had just taken from me.

Eleven forty-five came.

Sirens were still blaring loudly. A man wearing a black ski mask barged through the door with a big black cloth bag.

“Here, here, here! Take this towards the garage opening; there should be a large white van.”

 I ran towards the opening of the garage and there sat the van. Another man with a ski mask took the bag from me and told me to go back and get two more bags.

I shuffled back around the Benz that sat in the way and tried to fist both bags in each hand. The bags weighed on my arms like you wouldn’t believe. I moved a little bit slower with these bags in my hand but as I approached the van, more adrenaline kicked in.

“Get in, hurry.” The man standing at the sliding door of the van said. Then he slammed the door shut and we sped off, ending my mission.

Snapping back into reality, I realized no one had answered the door yet. My watch said that it was now 11:48 a.m. I looked towards the door. The pain of waiting for that door to pop open was immeasurable. I stared down the cracks around the door, imagining someone any second now, would pop out.

Any minute now, some shadowy figure, possibly like the man in my daydream, with a ski mask on like mine.

Any minute now…

I couldn’t fathom going to jail at this point in life. What would my guardian do without me? I was the only thing she lived for at this stage in her life. With each rotation of the sound of those sirens, my anxiety cranked higher, no one is answering this friggin door.

 I noticed trough my ski mask that there were cameras everywhere. Please, don’t fail me now, life. Tell me those are off, or not recording I thought to myself.

Everything in my vision tunneled, nothing was real—it felt like a dream. I need to calm down because I need this money, and quite frankly, I don't know who this guy is, but he has his piece of the pie and now I’m just trying to get mine.

11:50.

At that point, I immediately realized the name on the license plate. "Newman." Instantly, I thought about the man who published my poem. What are the chances it’s Winston? Maybe it’s a distant relative…Yeah that’s it. Plus, Newman is a common last name. He’s not even from the Philadelphia area—I don’t think. He has a southern accent. 

As I tried to convince myself, I heard police sirens in the distance. I remembered the instruction for ‘excused bailing’ was to hit the panic button on the pager. I would have reached for my pager, if I would have known where to reach for. At that point I realized in a flash that I did not bring the pager; I didn't even know where it was.

Also in that flash, I realized that the strange buzz I woke up to was that pager!

Off in the distance, I saw cop cars pulling down the long winding driveway, so I took off out the side entrance of the garage and just sprinted through the large field towards the fence. Trudging through the thick grass, I heard the cop cars getting closer.  I made it to the property’s outer fence with the cops spotting me.

“Radnor Township PD—freeze!”

As I climbed the fence I heard shots fired, and the clank of bullets hitting the steel fence. I somersaulted over the fence landing flat on my feet like a cat.

After I got up off the grass from actually landing on my back and ripping my shirt on a less than graceful trek over the fence, I ran into the woods across the quiet back road street and took off my clothes all the way down to my boxers.

With the crisp, cold, air crashing against my bare body, I balled up all of my clothes and ran with them in my hands. After bowling through the bushes like a running back, I finally broke through to the other side of the trees scraped and scratched. Disoriented, I heard the police and possible dogs ruffling through the patch of trees behind me.

Starting back into a sprint I struggled to get regain my bearings. Once my feet hit pavement, I realized that I ended up back at the car wash.

There were three police cruisers there, but I was behind the building. I needed to get across an extremely busy Route 30, naked—in broad daylight.

I collected my wallet and things out of my pocket and threw my clothes in the sewer. I didn’t know what I was going to tell my guardian. I just couldn’t imagine the conversation. Standing in front of her, half-naked, she would definitely know something was up.

“I went to an interview, and the funniest thing happened...”

  After playing a dangerous game of Frogger across Rt. 30, I walked back to the train station and sat on the ground next to a bench. As I gasped for air, my heart kept racing. I hadn't taken a shower the night before, or that morning and due to the run, I was sweaty and sticky.

As people passed they dropped coins next to me. How fitting, lets kick him until he’s at his lowest and then let’s all finally have pity on the boy who just can not do one thing right.

My phone rang.

All the people around gazed at me with puzzled faces. Without shame, looking homeless, I answered the phone,

"Hello." 

"It’s Carlos, dee you get away?" he asked very calmly in his thick Spanish accent.

 "Yes, just barely."

 "Alright, dee they see your face?"

 "No.”

 "You were late, so we call the assignment off early, your pager shoulda wen off this mornin, but after we saw the police on the news speedin down Conestoga Road, we figured you mussa forgot it."

I couldn’t deny to myself, what an idiot I was. I kept apologizing to him.

He continued, "Don’t worry, no one got caught, no one got hurt, and everything is on schedule for next week—“

"Carlos—“

"David, you’re not included this time, I could tell by talkin to your friend Ronnie, dat you were not ready for this. You shouldn’t have done what you did. Go find what you need to do son. No more assignments, Ok? Danks for your effort."

He hung up and I thought I’d never hear from him again.

 

***

 

David and Erica sat in the room that Erica had checked David into. Their rooms were joined, hers being right next door. Erica was taking notes ferociously. It was now 12 a.m. and David’s eyes were beginning to become heavy.

“That’s it?” she asked.

“That’s it.”

“That’s all that happened that night?”

“In regards to the robbery, yes.”

“So your robbery wasn’t a single person effort, as they may attempt to make it out to be?”

David yawned as he replied,

“No, it was supposed to be a group project.”

“And you have no knowledge of anyone dying that night?”

“Not in the least bit. No clue.”

“Ok. Again, you’re not lying to me are you?”

“No Erica! I’m a changed person. I don’t lie anymore.”

That was a lie.

“I think you’ve got a case here.” Erica said, shuffling through more papers. “I’ll continue to do some research into this. I can get you out of this. I believe Carlos is going to be on the witness stand tomorrow; we’ll build a case around him, and then flip the script. I want to know, also, about the second time they went to the house; I wonder if that happened. For now, Dave, you go ahead and get some rest. I’m going to go to my room to get ready for bed.” She got up and went into her room.

Lying there, David’s thoughts jumbled. He had what he wanted—Erica. And he didn’t really need “Tim” to help him anymore—really, ever. If he hadn’t acted on impulse, he thought, he wouldn’t be in this predicament. Still, curiosity got the best of him, as he wondered what she thought about him. Why did she fly all the way from Los Angeles on his behalf?

That’s love, he thought to himself.

David logged into his social networking site.

::Erica Wilkinson is online.::

 Her message popped onto the screen, creating a loud popping sound. He scrambled to mute the volume on his laptop before responding:

<Hey./>

 

erica’sPOV

 

Erica went into her room and after undressing, she fell backwards bouncing onto her mattress. What am I doing, she asked herself. The allure of this man, she felt, was going to get her in trouble one day.

She couldn’t help it.

She logged onto her computer,

::Tim Sullivan offline.::

She sent him a message, <Hello./>

::Tim will receive this when he’s logged in.::

She slipped into her night clothes, as she wondered what was going on with David.

Her computer popped.

<Hey./>

Tim.

</How are you?/> She asked.

<I’ve been very well./>

<Guess where I am?/>

<Where at?/>

<Philly./>

<Really?!><Where at in Philly?/>

<Why should I tell you? You could be a murderer or something. :-P />

<Well how do I know you’re not some hairy old Chinese man named ‘Imakill Yu,’ who is stalking me?/>

<LOL! I guess you don’t.><No, I’m just here on business,><defending my friend David./>

<Oh, so you came all the way down here to defend David huh?><Do I smell leftover feelings?/>

She slyly responded, <Do I smell jealousy?/>

<No,><I’m just saying,><no one flies across America for something like this, unless there are feelings.>

            Tim is really jealous, Erica thought. If it came down to it, would she have the heart to meet and attempt a relationship with Tim?

What about David?

She then thought about the story David just told. If that was all true, then that was the longest he had gone without telling her a lie. She felt new feelings about being in the presence of a David who wasn’t lying to her.

Erica walked to the conjoined door and opened it, secretly hoping to find David half-dressed. She ran into the room and cannonballed onto the bed, sending his computer bouncing towards her direction.

“Whatcha doin, silly?” She said, as she grabbed the laptop. She couldn’t help but to notice the horrified look on David’s face.

“Were you looking at porn?” Erica asked in a silly manner.

“No, I’m watching T.V.” David said, pointing. “This show is absolutely hilarious. Can I have my computer please?”

She looked at the T.V.,

“It’s the encore of the evening news, goofball.”

“I know…but these newscasters—hilarious—they’re always bickering n’stuff.”

Something wasn’t right.

Erica thought, maybe it’s the fact that she barged into his room recklessly and unannounced. Maybe he was hiding something. Did she want to know what? Does he have a girlfriend?

Was it the computer?

Was he looking at porn?

 “Hmm—” She said, taking her eyes off of the T.V. She repositioned herself so that David couldn’t see the computer screen anymore.

“So, have you been working on that manuscript?” Erica asked, while debating in her head if she wanted to look at what was on the computer screen.

David tried to put his hand out to fetch the computer,

“I’m actually trying right now and you’re kinda messin up the flow of thoughts.”

It was time. Is he a liar? What’s going on?

“Write it down,” Erica said playfully, “let me see what’s going on here.”

David froze as Erica’s eyes moved down to the computer screen.

Erica’s brow frowned up, “David.”

Still locked into suspicion limbo, David responded with a faint, “Huh?”

“What’s this?” She handed him the laptop, which had a dimmed low battery icon sitting in the middle of the screen. David extended his shaky hand to take the laptop.

In a much more natural tone, David said,“Oh, battery is dying. It’s saying I gotta shut it off.”

He clamped the laptop closed, and sat it next to his bed. “I must have a virus, I’ve been having stupid issues with it lately; battery power being one.”

“You were looking at porn.” Erica laughed.

David chuckled out a response, “And if I were?”

 Her playful heart-pruning eyes looked dead center into David’s. “Oh, ok. Well, that’s it. I didn’t want nothing.” She said, “I just came over to tuck you in. Get some sleep, David, we have a big day tomorrow.”

She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Somehow this isn’t the typical client-lawyer relationship she thought.

On her way back into her room, she heard on the TV, an entertainment news show was advertising their next episode:

“Is David Summers entertaining a romantic relationship with his lawyer? Does he have dishonest internet activity? Find out on the next, Extra.”

Tabloids, she thought. They think they know. They don’t.

When Erica got to her computer, she checked on Tim. No new messages from him.

::Tim Sullivan’s activity is idle::

<Have a good night, Tim.> she typed him, <Wish me luck./>

She logged off.

The next day was another day. She needed rest. 

 

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