It seems like I was just here. Oh yeah, because I was. As always, I do have something quick to tell you before we get started. Jeff and I wanted to do an anthology, so we recruited two guest authors to help us – Jack Crosby and Morganna Williams. The reason I mention this is because next week, on 5/20, we will be releasing it to the world. At the bottom of the page will be the cover, so I’ll stop talking and get back to The Negative Man.
I gave the teller the checks to deposit. She said it’d take a few minutes, so while we were waiting I opened up with some small talk. “Crazy past few days huh?”
Her green eyes lowered. “Mm hmm, I told everyone that Negative Man guy, he’d be back I told them.”
I looked at her name tag and it said Marge Osteen. “Personally, I wish you would’ve been wrong Marge. Between that and all the happenings with The Aces, the city’s in bad shape again.”
“You don’t know the half of it. Over the past few weeks our alarm keeps going off at random times. Sometimes during the day, sometimes late at night. I’m telling you right now it’s the work of The Negative Man. He controls that sorta shit, mm hmm.” She added the last part with a bit of over-the-top sass. I liked Marge.
I looked back and Heather was sitting on one of the comfortable chairs the bank lobby offers. She seemed content to mess around on social media until the deed was done. Turning back to Marge, “Is anything missing?”
She leaned in and lowered her voice. “No, that’s the weird part. I told my manager I think it’s just test runs before the real deal.”
DL would need to hear about this. The bank manager walked up behind Marge and gave her a deposit slip. She handed it to me and I thanked her for everything. Walking back, Heather saw we were finished and got up. No sooner did we start towards the doors did the alarm go off again. The high pitched squeal took us all by surprise.
The bank manager emerged from the side door leading to the back. “Stay calm everyone, this situation will be resolved…”
A bullet shattered through a window high up and entered the man’s forehead. The bank manager died with no recognition of what happened. As his body hit the cold marble floor, the doors flew open. Eight to ten fully covered men with automatic guns rushed in and ordered us all to the ground. Behind the army of thugs, a man in a red heart mask came in.
Seeing all the customers lying on the ground, “Good, good. Everyone remain calm and we all just might survive this.”
One of the armed gunmen came over to the area Heather and I were and he pointed a gun at me. “No funny business from any of ya, got it?”
All of us nodded and he seemed content. Hearts walked over to the front teller area and knocked on the glass. Marge got up and was shaking uncontrollably. “Y-Y-Yes?”
He dropped a key into the slot. “That will open lock box number 1128. Please bring me the content of that box, plus as much money as you can put in that sack right there.” He tapped the window with his pistol.
Marge nodded and took the key and disappeared from sight. The main door opened again and a guy with a sniper rifle entered. “Yo Hearts, cops are five minutes out.”
“We have plenty of time. Kill anyone that gets too close for comfort.”
The sniper smiled and went back outside. This situation was going from bad to worse fast. Could I do something, anything to get DL down here?
I slowly began reaching down into my pocket. Heather’s eyes noticed what I was doing and they went really big. I tried my best to visually tell her what I was up to, as I didn’t want the goon with the gun to get suspicious. As my fingers brushed the top of my cell phone, I heard the loud voice. At the same time, the awful squeal from the alarm finally stopped.
“You there!” I felt a gun jab my back. “Just what do you think you’re doing?”
Damn! “I’m trying to get my pain meds. The bright lights give me migraines.”
I felt a hand pull me up. “Empty your pockets.”
I did as I was told. I took out my car keys, my cell phone, and my bottle of pills. The thug was just about to do something when Hearts came over. “What’s going on here?”
“This guy had his hand in his pocket. He said he needed his pills, but I think he was trying to tip off the cops.”
Hearts’ phone went off and he pulled it out of his pocket. He paused for a second, obviously reading a message. Once he was finished, he gave a half laugh before putting the device back in his pocket. He then turned back to us as though he hadn’t taken a text message in a hostage situation..
With no warning, Hearts shot the man in the head. Blood splattered everywhere and a collective gasp went over all the hostages. Like nothing happened, Hearts picked up the bottle of pills and handed them to me. “I’m sorry for my former associate’s lack of respect. I understand more than most the importance of taking one’s medication.”
I opened the cap and popped two pills before putting them back in my pocket and returning to my position on the ground. My head was just inches away from the dead thug’s; I could see the bullet hole as clear as day and it made me sick.
Hearts walked back over to Marge who had everything he requested. “That looks like everything. Very good my dear. Please come over to the door and hand it to me. After that, no one else will be hurt.”
Marge disappeared again only to reappear at the doorway, the same one where the bank manager was snipered at. That poor man’s body was still in the same spot. Marge did her best not to look down and handed the bag and box to Hearts.
With his score in his possession, “Let’s go!”
The thugs still alive ran over to him and they backed out with Hearts being the final one to leave. I looked down at my watch; the entire encounter took only three minutes and twenty-five seconds. A minute later the police arrived, but it was already too late.
Officers scoured the scene, taking witness statements and looking for clues. Even as they went through the motions, the officers knew who did it and that they wouldn’t find anything to give away their identities.
I was with Heather over in the corner, she was still in a state of shock. “Hey, it’s going to be alright, we’re alive.”
Her face was white, like ghost white. She gave me a sorta half nod that she heard me, but I doubt anything I said registered. A cop came over to us and I flagged him down. “Do you need us for anything more? I don’t think my friend is really up for anything more.”
The worn out looking man looked over at Heather and sighed. “Yeah, go ahead and get her someplace peaceful. Just make sure one of the detectives has your information in case we need to get in contact with you.”
I did as he asked, giving Detective Lopez both Heather’s and my work numbers. From there, I took her to a small café a few blocks from the bank. She hadn’t said a word in the car, but as we sat down and she took a drink of water, color came back. “Thanks Jericho.”
“Well you tried to be a hero back there and nearly got yourself killed. Then after that, you stayed calm and made sure I was okay.”
I guess I didn’t see it as any big thing. “That’s what friends do you know? They take care of each other.”
She reached over and took my hand. When they first touched, static zapped both of us, which just made her laugh. “See, there’s sparks between us.”
I felt my face get red again. “Sorry, I’m just not used to a woman paying me much attention.”
Her hands closed tighter around mine. “Get used to it hero. You’ll be getting a lot of my attention whether you like it or not.”
I would like it, that much I knew. I would like it a lot.
*And here’s that anthology cover I talked about earlier!
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