One Endless Hour

by B. Simon

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© Copyright 2018 - B. Simon - Used by permission

Storycodes: FM+/fm; bank; video; robbery; captives; zipties; bond; charities; computer; virus; alarm; planned; escape; twist; cons; X

I turned to take a quick look at my reflection in the glass wall of the office I was waiting in.  I was a picture of California cool. Dark red lipstick and piercing blue eyes. White flared linen pants and three-inch heels to accentuate my long legs; a matching Chanel silk blouse and a Hermes scarf around my neck. My Prada sunglasses were perched on top of my long red hair as I waited for the office’s occupant to return. 

The sign on the desk in front of me said “Edward F. Maclowe—Senior Vice President Branch Manager”.  I looked down at my watch, it turned 9:05 just as the man behind that name pushed through the door and sat down behind his desk.  I took one last glance out into the bank and could see all three tellers getting ready to start their day.

“Now Miss. Thorne,” Edward F. Maclowe said, reading from a note card on his desk.  “It says here that you wanted to make a significant transaction with us here at United Central Bank and that you would give me the details when we met today.  So how can I be of service to you?”

“Well aren’t you so polite” I said adding a hint of a southern lilt to my voice.  I reached down to the large leather tote bag I had brought with me and took out an i-pad.  “I think if you just watch this little video, it will all be clear.”  I pushed the play button on the screen and I handed him the tablet.

On the screen was the slightly blurred image of two women, one around 40, the other around 14.  Clearly mother and daughter.  They were sitting rigidly behind a kitchen table, their arms behind their backs, each had a red rubber ball stuffed into their mouths that was held in place by a leather strap buckled around their heads. White rope was wound around their torsos binding them to their chairs. Standing behind the two women was a man, dressed in workman’s coveralls wearing a Guy Fawkes plastic halloween face mask and holding a large automatic pistol in his gloved hands. 

“Good morning Mr. Maclowe” the masked man said.  “As you can see, we have your wife and daughter.  Nothing is going to happen to them so long as you do exactly as you are told.  Cooperate and they live.  Don’t and they will die.  Now listen to what our friend sitting with you has to say and do exactly what she tells you.”  The video abruptly ended in a burst of static.

While Maclowe was watching, I had reached into my bag, put on a pair of white cotton gloves and took out a small pistol.  I was pulling down my sunglasses as he first looked up from the video.

“Now darling,” I said smiling and pointing the gun at his chest, “you should know we aren’t in the business of hurting people, we are here only for your bank’s money.  Do you understand?”  He nodded his head.  His eyes were blank, his mouth partially hanging open. “Good, now here’s what you need to do.” I looked down at my watch and said “In exactly ten minutes, you will open the back door of the bank and let my friend in. You will then do exactly what he tells you. In the meantime, I want you to go out there and explain to your staff that the bank is being robbed and that your wife and your daughter’s lives depend on their cooperation. Finally, tell them to all move quickly to the conference room where I will be waiting.  After you have explained all that to them, go and lock the front door and pull down the shades. Now let’s you and me go darlin’, times a’wastin.” I looked down at my watch.  It read 9:10.

Maclowe got up from behind his desk on wobbly legs. I grabbed my shoulder bag and followed him to the door of his office, pushing the gun into the small of his back and whispering into his ear “Don’t you worry.  You just do what you’re told and you’ll be back with your wife and daughter in no time at all.”  As we left his office, he walked rigidly toward the teller area where his employees were waiting and I went to the right and pushed open the door to his executive conference room.

This was the pivotal moment. Soon either the bank’s staff would be walking through the door of the conference room or one of them would decide to be a hero and the phone in my bag would beep a warning telling me an alarm had been activated.  In the meantime, I took off my scarf and retied it so that it covered the lower half of my face.  No need to make it easy to identify me one way or another.  I looked down at my watch.  It now read 9:15. 

When I looked up, I saw all three bank tellers walking through the conference room door.  I smiled behind my scarf, pointed my gun in their direction and said, using my southern belle accent, “Now ladies you all come in and take a seat and close that door behind you.  I assume Mr. Maclowe told you everything that is happening and I know that none of you want to be responsible for his wife and lovely daughter getting hurt.  You are all gonna’ be real cooperative now aren’t you?”  They all seemed to nod “yes” in unison.  I stared at each one in turn and continued, “First, tell me which one of you is the vault teller? Don’t be shy, just raise your hand.” 

One of the tellers, an attractive brunette in her mid thirties tentatively raised her hand.   I swung my gun toward her and said “Well congrats, Sugar, you are going to be the first one here to prove how helpful you all can be. You don’t mind if I call you Sugar do you?”  With that I reached into my bag and pulled out a handful of zip ties and dropped them on the conference table.  “Now all the rest of you, I want you to put your hands together behind your backs.  Sugar, you go and take these zip ties and you wrap one around each of your friend’s wrists and another around their ankles. And then you pull them nice and tight. I want you to make them all real snug, I’m going to go check after you finish.” As the scared teller started tying the first of her co-workers, I looked down at my watch.  It read 9:17. 

At 9:20 my phone made a single quiet beep, the scheduled time for Maclowe to open the rear door of the bank.  A quick glance around the conference room showed that the two of the tellers had been immobilized and I motioned for the third, who I now thought of as “Sugar”, to sit in the chair at the head of the table.  “Sugar, you have done an excellent job so far, now I want you to take out your keys for the vault safes and put them on the table.  Then put your hands behind your back like all your friends here.” I took the keys off the table and another pair of zip ties from my shoulder bag and quickly bound her wrists and ankles. 

Just as I had finished, the conference room door was pushed open by the manager followed by a heavy set man holding a pump shotgun with a cut down barrel.  He was wearing a pair of coveralls similar to those worn by the gunman in the hostage video.  However, rather than a Guy Fawkes mask, he was wearing a full over the head latex Halloween mask in the likeness of an attractive blonde woman. He held a large workman’s canvas tool bag in his free hand. “Hello Marilyn” I laughed.  “Right on time. Why don’t you finish up securing our guests while I go and empty the vault.”  He nodded at me and gestured for Maclowe the manager to take the last empty seat at the conference table.  I reached into “Marilyn’s” tool carrier and pulled out a folding duffle bag.  “Be back in a flash with the cash,” I said as I walked out of the room.

I quickly stepped out of the conference room but instead of moving toward the vault, I went back into the manager’s private office.  I found my i-pad on the desk and I put it back into my bag.  At the same time, I took a small thumb drive out and sat down behind the computer.   As expected, the machine was on and already logged into the bank’s system.  I took the thumb drive, inserted it into an open usb port and hit download.  The program was specially designed to download in less than a minute, but it felt like an hour.  When the screen read “download complete” I hit the run button and then pulled out the thumb drive and put it back into my bag.  This program, if it worked as promised, was going to make us a lot more money than whatever was in the vault that day.  I pushed the chair back from the desk and left the office.

I stood in front of the conference room for a minute to compose myself and then pushed a button on a small box in my shoulder bag that caused it to emit a series of loud warning tones.  As I opened the door to the conference room, I saw the entire staff not only zip tied but now each one had rope coiled around their torsos holding them to their chairs.  Each also had a long strip of duct tape wrapped around their heads, gagging them.  My blonde partner Marilyn was standing with her shotgun at the head of the table pointing it at the staff.  I stared at each of our bound captives and then trying to sound sinister and upset, I waved my gun and said “Someone here didn’t listen.  They set off the alarm.  I pointed my pistol at the vault teller and screamed “It was you wasn’t it?  You pushed a panic button when you handed me the keys!  Bitch you are going to pay!” I began to pull back my finger on the trigger, when Marilyn shouted out at me “No time.  We have to get out of here.” He pushed me out of the conference room and then through the bank’s back door.  A plain blue Honda Civic was parked outside.  “Marilyn” climbed behind the wheel, I hit the backseat.

As we drove out of the bank’s parking lot and past the last surveillance camera, my partner leaned down and pulled the mask off his head. He then pulled down the top of his padded coveralls to reveal his pale pink button down shirt. In the back seat I pulled off my scarf and sunglasses and the long red wig I had been wearing all morning. I picked up a blue LA Dodgers baseball cap from the floor of the car and put it onto my head, popped out the blue contacts I had been wearing and put on a pair of dark tinted aviator glasses.  I wiped the lipstick off my face and pulled two silicon breast forms out of my bra.  I took off my high heels and put on a pair of converse low top slip on sneakers. As I looked up in the rear view mirror I saw the image of two skinny guys, one Asian and one white.  All traces of this morning’s bank robbers were gone.

“Think we fooled them?” Danny, my partner asked. 

“Hell yes” I responded.  “In six months thanks to that little virus you put together, we will be living full time on the beach. If it runs for a year we are going to be very rich for a very long time.” 

“And how long before they figure out that the video you showed the manager was totally computer generated?” he asked. 

“Probably as soon as Edward F. Maclowe calls home and find out the wife is there and his daughter is at school.  Still, how much time will they spend investigating a robbery where nothing was taken?” I smiled as Danny turned the car into a multi-story parking structure.  He pulled the car into a dark corner on the third floor.  The camera on that level had already been disabled. 

Danny got out of the car, shed the rest of his coveralls and popped the trunk of the Honda.   I took off my top, unhooked my bra and put on a polo shirt that I grabbed from the trunk. Danny pulled out a motorcycle helmet out and went over to a Triumph motorcycle parked across the floor.  He waved as he started the engine and headed down the parking ramp. I took all of my girl clothes and Danny’s mask and coveralls and stuffed them into the tool bag we had brought to the bank.  I walked over to a black BMW three series convertible, threw the bag into the back seat and pulled out of the garage.  I looked down at my watch.  It was 10:00.

Six Months Later…

I was sitting by the pool at my new house on the Big Island of Hawaii.  My girlfriend was lying on her back tanning next to me.  She had just quit her job.  “Do you think you should have stayed on longer?” I asked her. 

“No way” she replied.  “They were thrilled that I was leaving to marry my tech start up millionaire, and I was tired of going in everyday and smiling at the customers and that creep of a manager.  Besides, they were never suspicious.  Hell, they gave me a $5000 bonus after the robbery for being the one to hit the alarm.” 

“Well technically it was your panic button, but Danny and I triggered the alarm. You were a little tied up at the time as you recall.” 

“Oh yes, I certainly do recall” she said. “And if you are a good boy, maybe tonight you can make me helpless all over again.  I brought a pair of handcuffs.” 

I smiled at her and in my fake southern accent said “Most certainly, Sugar, but only if you let me wear my lipstick and my heels.”




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