“What I’m sayin’ is, y’already gave the teller the note. You’re standin’ here with a pipe bomb danglin’ ‘round your neck. The things tickin’ for fuck’s sake. Why the fuck’re you gonna take a lollipop, all cool like? What man in his right mind is doin’ this?”
Hoffman adjusted the nylon over his eyes so he could see Quinn better. “Some kinda heat a the moment thing. Stress. I don’t know. One of the tellers said that. The teller came back and the guy was sucking down a lollipop.”
Quinn’ eyes were wide behind his tan nylon. The black and pepper scruff of his mustache poked out in sharp quills. He stared at the counter and shook his head – more in dismay than disbelief.
“Sometimes, Hoff, I think I got it all figured. Then ya hear some shit about some perpetratin’ slob with a bomb around his tie rack, who goes and enjoys himself a sucker while robbin’ a bank. Like he ain’t a participant. Like he’s watchin’ a movie.”
“Ever feel that way? Like you’ve left your body and, like you’re standing off to the side, watching?”
Quinn looked down at his pistol, wearily. “Why’s this thing feel like it weighs a fuckin’ ton alla sudden?”
He put the gun down on the counter. Pulled the nylon off his head and let it drop. The pantyhose turned deep red as it absorbed his blood on the bank floor.
“It’s so hot under those things.” Quinn rubbed the glaze of sweat off his face. “No nylon. Never again.”
Hoffman removed his own nylon and let it join Quinn’s on the floor. The hole in his cheek bubbled with spit and blood and another fluid Hoffman figured for stomach acid. His agita had been bugging him that morning.
He said, “What flavor do you suppose he took?”
“Your askin’ like y’know he took time to make a deliberate type selection. Maybe he just dipped a paw in and took whatever.”
“I’m not going anywhere until I know this.” Hoffman held a palm up to the hole to calm the flow of fluids. “Say he was in on the plot from the start. And his partners told him the bomb was fake. But he didn’t know that. He thinks it’s fake, yeah? So of course he takes his time picking a flavor.”
“Now you’re just confusin’ me. It’s so fuckin’ hot. How can ya think straight? It’s so hot.”
“If I was to guess, I’d say he went with grape.”
A stream of blood flowed from beneath the cuff of Quinn’s jacket and dripped down his hand. He held it in front of his face. Blinked hard to see if it would go away.
“I’m bleedin’, Hoff. Lookit this. Hoff, I’m bleedin’. Christ.”
“Maybe grape’s too obvious. Maybe it was, like a sour grape.”
Quinn let his hand fall to his side and bleed. “No, see I’d think he’d go with a sweet flavor, in this typa situation. Sweet, not sour.”
“Not grape then…” Hoffman turned to the bank teller. “What other lollipop flavors do you guys usually keep in the bowls?”
“There’s, uhm, there’s apple,” she said. “And ch-cherry.”
“What’s the most popular flavor?” Hoffman said.
“Cr-cream soda. I think.”
Hoffman and Quinn clapped in unison. Blood splashed off of Quinn’s hands, sending flecks onto Hoffman’s face.
“There it is,” Hoffman said.
“Cream fuckin’ soda,” Quinn agreed. “Right on.”
The men’s smiles faded. Hoffman nodded at Quinn, slow and knowing. Accepting.
The cop, his pistol still trained on them, said, “You clowns remember then?”
“Guess so,” Quinn said.
“I remember,” Hoffman said. “We died right here. Never even touched the money. Never made it far.” More fluid ran out of the hole in his cheek. He gave up trying to stop it.
“I died on my stomach,” Quinn said, a hand to his belly.
“Get on with it then,” the cop said.
Quinn and Hoffman got on the floor quietly, in the pools of their own blood. Quinn lied on his stomach. Hoffman, his back.
“Last great mystery solved, pal,” Hoffman sighed and died.
“Cream fuckin’ soda,” Quinn said with his last breath.