Thursday, September 08, 2005

 

The Resume (A Random Anecdote)

Job #10: Teller at the Trust II

Well, it was a long drive to the remote town of Andover, and the branch office of The Trust, the bank I was working for that summer. I was on my way to meet the mysterious Doreen, who was something of a legend at the bank, seeing as how she was the only teller in the history of the institution to be robbed. It had happened 15 years earlier, and at the very office I was now driving to.

When I arrived in the parking lot, I saw a skinny chain-smoking woman of later years, eyeing my beat-up old car warily. When I stepped out in my tie and jacket, she relaxed visibly and ran to me, hand outstretched.

"Well, all righty!" she said. "I can't believe they sent me a man! I've asked for a dog, I've asked for my own guard. Finally, I said to Marilyn, I said 'Could you at least just send me a man?' I guess you qualify." I was at an age where I was grateful for any woman to recognize me as an example of the male gender, so I accepted her quirky welcome with great enthusiasm.

But Doreen made the mistake of continuing to talk. "Yessir, I've read all the reports of bank robberies. Male tellers almost always get shot more than women." She paused and lit another cigarette. "I'm sure glad you're here," she said again, in a jubilant spray of smoke.

She may have been glad, but all of a sudden, I sure wasn't.

"Well, look," I said, as she unlocked the branch office and made me go in first. "Maybe you ought to tell me what happened with this whole robbery thing so I know what's going on."

She laughed. "The girls told you I didn't like to talk about it, didn't they? Well, they just don't like to hear it. Scares the pee out of em!" Despite the fact that Doreen seemed to regard me as some kind of human decoy, I already liked her immensely. I couldn't help myself. Once we opened our cash drawers and took care of two customers who came over from the general store, she lit another cigarette and told me what happened.

"His name was Bart Lovering," she began. "Sounds like a Wild West outlaw, don't he? I known Bart for years. He went to school with my kids and always knew him to say hullo to. But he had always been just a half-bubble off plumb, you know? Not bright so's you'd notice. Lived with his ma right til he growed up and began working down the lumber mill. The Loverings never had much money--most folks around here don't of course, and even as a boy he liked to come down the bank here and watch me handle the cash. I remember once he even applied for a job at the bank, but this boy couldn't count his own four cheeks if you slapped em one at a time."

Doreen paused to take a steadying drag of her cigarette.

"So. About 1972 this was, and Bart's ma passed over. Diabetes she had. Bart was in his 20s or so and stayed in the house, but he couldn't really manage his affairs. Nor his money. Had the power turned off for not paying the bill. Let part of the roof cave in on him. Was getting up to his eyelids in back taxes. It weren't like he didn't make good money at the mill, but he was always peeing it away on some foolish nothing--another beat-up car he thought he could fix, scaffolding and equipment for a painting business. Like that.

"For lack of anything else to do, he still came down to the bank, regular, every morning. But after his ma died, he was different. Eyes was different. And I didn't like his sense of humor. He started saying, 'Doreen, how much cash you keep in your drawer, anyway? Is it worth robbing? I've got back taxes you know.' And then he'd laugh like this was the funniest joke.

"Months this went on, same kind of jokes. He'd come in to cash a check and say 'Oh, and give me the rest of the money while you're at it.' And laugh. But it weren't funny to me, no sir. And then one day in the spring, the town finally got his house and land for taxes and he lost everything. I didn't know this at the time. But that afternoon, here comes Bart, bold as brass, walking from around the store." She pointed out the window in front of us, where I could see the Andover general store across the street. "And he's got something cradled in his arm. His ma's shotgun, it was."

Doreen pointed to the door now. "I saw him coming, but there was only one door in or out of this place back then, and I couldn't get out, nor lock up without him seeing me. He knew I was in here anyway. So I just stood, calm as a lake. Bart walked right in through that door right there, holding the gun under one arm and looks at me.

"'Doreen,' he says, 'I've come for the money at last!'

"I weren't so scared right then. I shoulda been, but I was mad instead. 'Now, Bart, what in hell d'you think you're doing? You go on home,' I says.

"'Can't no more,' he tells me. 'You're a gool ol' girl Doreen, and I won't hurt you or nothing. But I've got me some double-ought right here and it's time for me to get the money as well.'"

Just then, a flurry of customers came in and it was all I could do to focus on their piddling transactions. When they left, I whirled in my chair. "So?"

Doreen lit another cigarette. "Well, sir, I didn't want to push it, and you know we aren't supposed to argue if it comes to a robbery. So I bagged up what I had in the drawer and the vault--I opened it wide and let him lean over the counter to see it was empty. We never had much money here, middle of the week. If he'd come on Friday, he mighta got 10 or 12 thousand. But all he got that day was $3700. He thanked me nicely, then asked me to hand him the phone. I did, and he yanked it right out of the wall and stuffed it in the money bag. Then he walked right out, back across the street and on up the lane."

Two more customers had the audacity to come in. Doreen dispatched them, then turned back to me quickly. I could tell she had warmed to the story.

"Well, sir, I didn't have a phone, so as soon as he was gone, I ran across to the store and called old Ike, who was the sheriff back then. They emptied the state trooper barracks from down to Concord and they had a regular parade up the lane to Bart's house. That's where they found him, loading up his truck like he had all the time in the world. I told you he were none too bright. The bag of money, the shot gun and even the bank's phone were all still sitting there in the cab of his truck, in plain view. They arrested him with no trouble. But he got 15 years for armed robbery. Got one letter from him after he went away, wanting to know why I had to turn him in. Why I couldn't have given him a head start. Can you imagine?"

She shook her head. "I was fine about everything up til that letter. Never so much as a hiccup or a tremble about the affair. But after that letter came, I got the shakes and went straight across to the store to buy cigarettes for my nerves." She grimaced at the smoking stick in her hand. "Been smoking the Christly things ever since."

I wasn't thinking about Bart Lovering's correspondence or Doreen's vices just then. I was doing simple math. "So...he really does get out this summer?" I said, absurdly trying to sound nonchalant.

She nodded. "Oh, ayuh. Could be out right now, so far as I know. I told Marilyn there was no way I was working here alone. And we got all them security procedures in place now just in case. It was cause of my robbery that Mr. Kidder's father set that up. Plus--" she gestured proudly to the wall behind me. "I got them to put a back door in here now. And I made sure it opens out so we can get a good running start."

Somehow, none of this was a comfort.

And yet, a part of me--that stupid boy-detective part of me--was quietly thrilled by the possibilities this situation presented. Surely this guy wasn't going to come back and seek revenge on Doreen. But if he did...



NEXT>>

Comments:
Huh, what, you can't stop there!!!
 
Oh, the suspense! :)

Oh, and my father would like to apologize for not replying to your e-mail. He's been backed up with all sorts of stuff, he's finding it hard to do much.

And he says that no, he isn't a Red Sox fan. Although he did grow up in that region. (I am. XD Even though my hat paid dearly.)

Keep up the great writing. I wanna know if you get robbed or not! :D
-Flip
 
Good story, MM. But I think I may have been living here too long...I imagine all of your characters speaking with a Wisconsin accent even though your story is set in New England. Looking forward to the rest of your tale.
 
Great piece as usual. I also wanted to invite you personally to this Blog Flash Mob thing I'm organizing for tomorrow. I know I know your busy being a contributing member of society. But, (cue violins) for a little unemployed web padawan box with a raging drug problem who lives with a potential homicidal maniac and a manic depressive with anger control issues this is all I have. Don't worry about the target site. It is a Weber Grill blog that spammed one of my loyal readers last week. I'm sure we can all agree that spammers are vile individuals no? Anyway details at the site. Have a nice day!
 
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