by Rich DiPippo

So no shit, there I was.

It was supposed to be a simple armored car job. It’s 7 A.M., and I’m parked on the side of the road in some shit-hole New England mill town, no one else around, trying to look inconspicuous as fuck while my partners rob an armored car that’s refilling an ATM . I’m watching it go down, and shit’s on schedule. No one decides to be a hero.

So why do I feel like something’s wrong?

One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you gotta trust your instincts. You can’t be too careful. So I look around, and I see a woman, just barely. She’s sitting at a curbside table outside a foofy local coffee shop about half a block behind me (instead of going to Dunkin’ Donuts like a normal person).
She’s what’s wrong.

I settle back into my seat and try to figure out what’s wrong with her. She can’t see what we’re doing. Can’t be a cop—doesn’t feel right. An undercover cop would be looking around, would be holding a coffee, a newspaper, something. But she’s just sitting there. Her head’s down, her hands are in her lap. She has bright red hair, just like my mom did. And she’s sitting just like my Mom used to sit when my old man was drunk, which was most of the time. She looks like she’s trying to take up no space at all, like she’s trying not to exist.

Well, last thing I need is to relive my goddamn childhood in the middle of a job. My hands are shaking a bit, so I light a cigarette and I tell myself, you don’t know her, maybe that’s just how she sits. Then a car pulls up in front of the coffee shop and a second woman gets out and sits down with her. Woman Number One barely acknowledges Woman Number Two. Number two says something, Number One nods, just one quick jerk of her head, and they get up.

Then it all goes to hell.

A guy drives up behind Number Two’s car, blocks her in. He gets out, Number One freaks, Number Two tries to stop him, God bless her, but he shoves her down and grabs Number One’s arm. Now my partners stroll down from the opposite end of the street, trying to look like they didn’t just rob a fucking armored car, but I barely see them, ’cause I realize Number One’s trying to do what my mother never could, God rest her soul. There ain’t enough nicotine in the world for this situation. I mean, I can barely breathe. Number One gets away and the guy stops for a second. He’s standing right behind me, about half a block away.

I start the car, the guy turns toward me, and my right hand to God, for half a second I see my old man instead of him in the rearview. I throw it in reverse, and floor it. BAM! I smash into him. He goes down, Number One’s screamin’, Number Two grabs her and runs over, my partners are running over, I reach behind me, open the back door, scream, “Get in!” just as the prick gets up. Both girls pile in, I flip a U-turn—and we’re gone. I see my partners in the rearview, standing on the sidewalk like Christmas just got cancelled.

The hell with them. I couldn’t save my mother, but maybe I can save someone else.


Rich DiPippo is a software engineer by day and a writer by night. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, who gets to read his rough drafts, and three daughters, who will someday be old enough to read what he writes.
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