by Jason Allen

The gun in your pocket is a toy water pistol but it was all you needed to rob the bank, and now that you’re parked in the deep snow in your driveway, fat flakes still gliding and swirling in the wind, the money pouch cinched tight between your stomach and belt, you don’t know what you were thinking, you can’t believe you went through with it, even though you’d planned the robbery for weeks and disguised your face with the false nose and fake beard, even though you’d rationalized it dozens of times, rationalized that your family was about to be tossed from the home where you’ve lived these past four years, for every moment of your oldest boy’s life, and no one is hiring, and after all the interviews and applications, even after attending one of those three-day seminars on how to make more money than you ever dreamed, the only two things you’re sure about in life at this point is that your wife and kids deserve better and that there’s no way to make an honest living anymore… And you see her silhouetted in the front window, standing with her back to the drapes, and you can’t pry your hand from the steering wheel, not yet, not at least until the falling snow accumulates enough to blanket the windshield and side window, not until you can calm the full-body shivering and blot out the images of police clamping handcuffs around your wrists and hauling you out your front door and your hollow apologies called out through the blur of flakes, but these snapshots and sound-bytes may not fade unless you confess, but if you confess you will have given up on any chance at a normal life, and that’s really all you want, a normal life, a quiet life, and now that the engine has been off for a while your breath billows out white and surrounds you in a cotton-like haze, and you hear a voice you don’t quite recognize, a whisper, and the whisper has said, “I’m not a criminal,” but then your full voice amends that sentence with the loud thought, “I am,” and just when you begin to feel condemned to die in the driver’s seat of your car, the Christmas lights around the front window wink to life, multicolored and blinking, and your wife opens the door, and you see her call out to you, but you cannot hear, you don’t want to answer anyway; you turn the key, the fan belt squealing, and shift into reverse, and when you swing back into the deep-snow on the street and shift into DRIVE, you look to the side and through the streaking snowflakes you meet her eyes, and your hand raises and then hangs there in a frozen wave, and the engine sputters and then cuts out, and if there were any other cars braving this blizzard, you’d be stuck at just the right angle to block both lanes.


Jason Allen owns a 1939 Remington Rand typewriter that is heavier than Rush Limbaugh’s jowls and way more interesting to listen to. He hopes to one day buy Tom Waits a cup of coffee and shake his hand.
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