IN FOR A PENNY
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In the middle of Kansas, framed by large cornfields; a beat-up gray car speeds down a dusty prairie road. The gas pedal was on the floor. Hot on its tail is a police cruiser, its blue and red lights flashing, its siren wailing.
“Shoot dammit! SHOOT!” Mick yelled from behind the wheel.
“Quit yelling at me! I’m working on it!” Leo hollered over the sirens.
His torso twisted outside the passenger window, struggling to aim a revolver at the cop car.
They hit a bump causing Leo to nearly drop the damn gun then and there but he caught it with his left hand. He was doing his best not to fall out the window. The revolver heavy and shaking in his hands, he steadied his gaze on the police cruiser and squeezed the trigger twice.
Twin shots roared from the mini-canon.
The first bullet shattered a headlight but the second bullet popped the front right tire of the black and white. Off its axis, the cop car went skidding off into the corn stalks on the side of the road.
“Eat shit, piggies!” Leo jeered, blasting into the sky.
One of the officers climbed out of the cruiser. Yelling obscenities, the cop returned several shots, missing as Mick quickly maneuvered the car into a serpent’s pattern. Soon the gray car was out of sight, hidden by a billowing cloud of dust in its wake.
No one noticed the duck that fell dead from the sky.
“Awww yeah! I think we’re in the clear Micky-boy!” Leo said swinging back into the car.
A typical hayseed, slick with blonde hair; he wore a white-collared shirt and jeans. Presently, half of a woolsack was hanging off the top of his head.
“Watch where you point that thing! You shouldn’t waste the bullets we might need them,” Mick grumbled, his grip still white-knuckling the wheel.
Mick wasn’t quite as dashing. He was a short, round man wearing a green striped shirt and slacks. Small round glasses and a grey cap decorated his fuzzy balloon head. With two large front teeth to boot, he often reminded people of a mole.
“Yeah, well did you have to make so many damn turns? I almost fell out of the damn car!” Leo sneered opening the revolver’s chamber, counting the three remaining bullets.
“Can’t lose the cops without making some turns, idiot,” Mick said four-eyes on the road.
“Lard ass,” Leo grumbled.
They were both silent for a minute before they both burst out laughing and high-fiving each other. It had been a very good score, after all. Burning a hole in the backseat was a suitcase filled with fifty grand in cash.
They had met each other two years back at the tail of ’56 at a halfway house the court assigned had them too. Leo had been the one to introduce himself to Mick one day, joining him as Mick finished off a cigarette and flurries began to fall.
Having been an introvert with his nose in a book for most of his life, Mick thought it was strange that a slick James Dean type like Leo would make friends with a bookish petty crook like him.
Mick had been a former law school student who had been busted conning his peers and their families into investing money in fake investment accounts. Leo had a record of trespassing and armed robbery.
Despite coming from different backgrounds the two of them had hit it off. The roguish Leo brought a sense of excitement to Mick’s humdrum existence while Mick brought pragmatism and stability to Leo’s chaotic lifestyle.
Leo brought the shy Mick out to bars, cards, and women while Mick introduced Leo to authors like Dostoyevsky or Hemingway whose works he quickly became addicted to.
Blue-collar and white-collar together at last.
It was at the library that Leo told Mick about robbing the bank. He had a way of describing it so that to Mick it sure seemed like a good idea at the time. Run in, get the money and get the hell out.
They memorized when the guards in the armor trucks dropped off large deposits when the old-timer security guard who could barely stay awake was on duty and finally a Friday between paydays when there wouldn’t be that many people inside making withdrawals.
The big day came and as predicted the bank hadn’t been much trouble. Leo had gone in with the woolsack over his head while Mick anxiously sat in the car until he saw Leo running out with the briefcase yelling at him to step on it as the sound of police sirens filled the air.
Now they followed the next step off their plan. Parking by the nearest gas station, they crept over and swapped plates from another car. Wanted by the law, the two drove on as far as their gas tank could take them.
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