Two Gents

Thu, Dec 22, 2011, 00:00


Nick waited. Reid was motionless. “What?” he whispered. An old lady in a paisley head scarf watched them over a brochure detailing the now defunct post office saving’s account.

“Get the gun out. I’ll do the shouting.” Nick found himself whispering too.

“Maybe we should wait until we’re at the top.” Reid squinted as he nodded at the five customers in front of them. Low sunlight had gathered at the end of the post office in a labyrinth of gleaming surfaces.

“Fine, we’ll wait.”

Nick felt claustrophobic, Reid was almost standing in his shoes. He edged away. Reid followed. “Nick, I’m scared.” Another customer stepped to the counter. They shuffled closer to their destiny.

“Stop talking.” Nick siphoned the words out of the corner of his mouth.

Reid glanced around the ceiling snapping his head down. “They have a camera!”

“What? Where?” Nick’s head jerked in frantic birdlike movements.

“Don’t look at it!” Reid kept his head down. They moved two steps forward in the manner of penitents as a man carrying a rolled up newspaper ambled past.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” The scuffed workboots in front of Nick edged out of sight. There was now one customer between them and the cash. “I don’t know about this.” Reid said.


Like witnesses to their first solar eclipse, they raised their eyes to the sheet of toughened glass where hints of sunlight lay captured in its shallow marks and scratchings. Nick stepped forward and matched his feet to the faded blue footprints on the floor. He tried to find her eyes in the sharpening bright crescendos where metal and glass conspired to carve the sunlight. He forgot his purpose. He raised a hand to shield his sight, tried to speak and lost the words. He felt the beginnings of a headache take root.

“Yes?” She yawned and he found himself counting the fillings that peppered her teeth.

“Hi, sorry, yes, this is a stick up.” There was no response. “Did, did you hear me?”

He sounded like a lost child asking for directions. She beckoned towards the holes bored in the glass. “You have to speak through them.”

Nick leaned forward, “Hi, we, em. . .”

Reid’s feverish face joined Nick’s.“Is that camera recording?”

“One person per counter!” Her voice boomed out of a hidden speaker. Reid jumped back behind Nick. “There are customers waiting. Do you want to post a letter or pay a bill?”

“I forgot the bullets.” Reid whispered. Nick groaned, he longed for a more confident friend. He cleared his throat and leaned in.

“I, I mean, we, we have a gun.” It was less a demand than an apology. She sighed. “We don’t deliver guns. Next,” and beckoned to the mother and child behind Reid. He dutifully shuffled aside.

They left in silence. Waiting at the bus stop, Reid said, “I vote we try plan B.”

“We are not doing a bakesale.”

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