The alarm didn’t sound; there was no time. Guns were flashed, threats were made; fear ran round the bank like contagion. At 11:02, during the regular lull the robbers had observed for four weeks, they entered the lobby en masse, nine of them. The mere presence of so many, and the sheer power of their weaponry, made any thought of reluctance or rebellion idiotic.
But there’s always one idiot.
When the gunfire died down, three were dead. None of the robbers.
“You see? You see!”
“Spread ‘em out!”
Guns were swinging, a baby was crying, Lyla peed her pants. She had only come in to deposit the morning’s receipts so that the creditors wouldn’t get ahead of her. Time. Time was not on her side. It never was. The baby came when they lost the house; the car died when Ted had his heart attack; the coyote came for their cat Winkles after Clarcy their half-wolf mix got hit by a Schwan’s truck.
“I said, spread out, bitch! What’re you fuckin’ deaf!?”
Lyla was for the moment, from the gunshots, her hand in her pocket on her cell. The boot found her ribs then her lady parts. She had the clarity to be happy she didn’t have testicles, then blackness won out.
When Lyla came to, a kind man was stroking her forehead while holding his handkerchief to the back of her head. It felt wet. She managed to ask, “What…” but nothing else followed. Mud and glue, her synapses failed. A terrible clatter of banging cluttered the blurted pangs that were her thoughts as much as her feelings as she chased them all around inside herself to no avail.
“They got all the money,” the kind man said, “but the cops were waiting outside. That’s them now.”
Lyla listened in order to put a name on the sound: gunfire. Lots of gunfire. A gun battle.
Then it went quiet. Then came the shouting. Then the doors burst open and the EMTs were inside.
The man looked down at Lyla. “Just in time, huh?” he said.
Lyla smiled weakly and said, “Yeah, just in time,” as the room became still and opaque.