David the Mayor
"Don't drive so fast, David," Mrs. Gladys Keating said to her son. "Are you trying to get into an accident?"
David's hand's tightened on the wheel as he pursed his lips and let out a low sigh of discontent.
David Keating was 42 years old and the mayor of Stapleton. David was a pillar of the community who loved his mother very much, but she could be quite a pain. Gladys was 73 years "young" as she would put it. And she was also a bit senile. David didn't like it when she looked upon him as a child in the shoes of an adult.
And she did most of the time.
"The speed limit is 25, David."
"I know that, mom, okay!"
She didn't say anything to this, but only looked straight ahead as they approached a parking spot off of Main Street. He parked the car and shut it off. He looked at his mother and decided that he wasn't going to get all in a huff. It wasn't worth it for one and secondly a part of him liked taking his elderly mother out to eat every week.
Gladys had been without her husband, his father, for five years now. And David didn't like the way she had been looking. Lately, when ever he asked her how she was feeling, she said, 'Fine, fine.' He could see it in her though, the forgetfulness, the mood swings.
He had passed it off as nothing because of the recent campaign he had been in. He just didn't have the time. But she didn't have anyone now except him. He wasn't going to let the petty bickering or the memory of when she thought she was stung by a bee at his post election gala; she had run off in a scare and caused enough of a commotion to turn heads away from one of his speeches that night. He wasn't going to let it get to him, or the urge to have a drink or two or twenty.
He let out a deep breath and smiled at Gladys and said, "You ready?"
"Why did you have to park so far away?"
David's face went slack at this and he said,"There are other cars parked here, we can't always park in front."
He could now just imagine what she'd say to him about having to walk that far, and so on, and so forth. 'I'm an old lady. There should be more senior citizens parking in front.' And of course, 'You're the MAYOR now, David, you should get that changed.'
David Keating the Mayor of Stapleton got out of the car and shut his door a little harder than usual and walked around to help his mother out. She already had the door open and was easing her varicose vein and support hose covered legs out onto the ground. He stepped down off the curb to help her, but she waved him off.
"I'm not dead yet."
He watched her as she slowly got out and soon was steady on her own feet.
'No you're not dead,' he thought to himself. 'And yet you are.' David was instantly appalled at this. Gladys closed the door, but it didn't shut all the way.
"Oh, it didn't close all the way," he said in some ambivalent manner, still half thinking on what he had thought, and the other half trying to mean well.
"Sorry, dear," Gladys said as she looked as the curb in preparation for the assault upon it like an expert mountain climber.
He got the keys out of his pocket and moving around his mother, unlocked the door. He then hit the power lock and closed the door.
He whirled around and saw that his mother was on the sidewalk proper and was being spoken to by a man in very tattered clothing. He had a five day beard and was holding out his hand to her.
David was quickly at his mother's side and asked the derelict, for that's what he looked like, what it was he though he was doing. He held a plastic bag filled with God knew what and looked then at David.
"Got some change?" The homeless guy looked hopeful. David was aware of the homeless problem in the city; it was actually one of his campaign platforms. So he wasn't shocked like his mother was at being asked this.
"Sure, yeah," David said reaching into his pocket as his mother began to move behind him. "Here you go."
Just then the transient reached into his bag and pulled out a snub nosed revolver. David couldn't even comprehend it as the guy pulled his mother down the nearby alley, the one that led to the back of Morton's Appliances. In the alley the guy was sufficiently shielded from Main Street and his light brown eyes were wild. Gladys let out a short scream before her mouth was shut by the guy's hand.
"All right, hold it right there man!" The guy spoke. "Get over here." Gladys' eyes were bulging as she looked from David and over her shoulder to the guy. David the mayor looked down Main Street as a little girl crossed at the cross walk on her pink bike.
The guy was sweaty and he meant business. David could see this and he hoped against hope that this wouldn't turn ugly- no, he didn't think it, but felt it to the bottom of his guts.
"What," David stammered. "What do you want?"
The guy smiled a smile that made the blood run cold in David's veins. He then said, "It's quite simple . . . David."
David looked to his mother and knew somewhere deep inside that this would be the defining moment of his life.
"I want you to go down the way and rob the 1st Federal Bank."
David's mind lit up like a Christmas tree; did he hear him right?
"You heard me," The guy said as if answering David's thoughts. "You will rob that bank and come back over here and give the money to me."
"I . . ." David was trying to talk, but it felt like someone had up ended an entire bottle of glue into his mouth.
"You see that trashcan there next to those pipes, David?"
It took David an eternity to answer and when he did it was a question rather than an affirmative. "What?"
"I want you to go over there right now and get what's inside of it."
David just stared in utter disbelief.
"Now," the guy commanded as he put the gun deeper into the neck of David's mother. David did as he was told and opened the lid to the trashcan. He didn't find the gun or weapon he thought he would find, but a cell phone. As David picked it up he saw that it was actually a two-way radio, the kind he has seen construction crews or rent-a-cops use.
"You have ten minutes, David, or I kill this fine young woman," the guy smiled. "And that starts now."
The guy looked at his watch to ram the point home.
"How . . ." David said as he felt pure and unabashed horrors run through him.
"I don't give a shit how you do it, Mr. David, just don't get wise. Nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds."
David looked back through the alley toward Main Street and tried to imagine what he had to do two-hundred feet away.
"I call you in five minutes just to see how you're doing," Gladys let out a moan through the guy's hand. David looked into his mother's pale eyes and said, "I'll be right back."
David emerged from the alley looking like a divine angel with a mission sent straight from the Almighty. What was going through his mind couldn't really be called thinking, but something else entirely: It was mortification of the brain cells. His mind was a flurry of images that made him want to fall down and die. The fear that ate at David's soul couldn't be measured. David then looked at his watch.
It read: 11:53 AM.
"Nine minutes," David said to himself as he J-walked across the street. He floored in more ways than one.
It was early April and surprisingly warm outside. David didn't really mind it that much because he sweated very little, but he was now. Mayor Keating entered the 1st Federal Bank of Stapleton and welcomed the cool blast of the air-conditioning on his body. He did not welcome what he was about to do however.
The bank was filled with perhaps twenty people not including the tellers. David put the estimate at thirty-five to forty people. David saw the massive vault set into the wall off to one side, behind the tellers. Its main door was open; the inside was shielded by bars. He got into one of the shorter lines moving ahead. He looked at his watch: 11:55 AM.
The line next to the one David was in got shorter and soon petered out. David now moved in front of the teller named Diane. She had red shoulder length hair.
Hello," she said with a smile. "How are you today?" David simply stood there thinking of something to say; he was mocked by that carefree smile she exuded upon him. He was even more afraid.
As if sensing this, Diane, her brow creasing, said, "Are you alright?"
David looked around as if in a horrible dream he couldn't wake up from. He was relieved to see the bank president was now there not twenty feet away. He had emerged from an office with a young couple and looked to be wrapping up his business.
"Excuse me, please," David said turning back to Diane. David then made his way over to Nasgrow's office at a pace that would cause anyone seeing him to take a double take.
The bank president was also an acquaintance of David's. His name was Jim Nasgrow. David had known him since the bank accepted Nasgrow to be president seven years ago. Nasgrow was a member of the city council six years running and had been an avid supporter of Mayor Keating during the election.
"Jim," David breathed as he came up. "Jim, I need your help right now."
The couple stared at David and then Jim said, "We'll work it out and I'll keep in touch." He did this with eyes still on David. Then he turned back to the couple smiling and gave his goodbyes.
David wiped his brow.
"Mayor Keating, David," He said now with his full attention devoted. He could see the Mayor was in some kind of situation. "What's wrong?" As it would turn out Nasgrow would never have even imagined what could be wrong (and how severely) until he had invited Keating into his office so they could talk more privately.
"You aren't serious," Nasgrow said afterward, his mustache bristling. It wasn't a question, but a statement of everything Nasgrow thought the world to be; it was a fact and nothing else. He was going to find out how wrong he would be.
David looked like a man about to have a heart attack, his voice rising. "I'm serious goddammit, this isn't a joke," the Mayor shook his head as if he were very drunk. The eyes seemed to want to jump out of their little sockets. "You have no choice, I have no choice."
Nasgrow stared into David and didn't say anything. David looked at his watch: 11:57 AM.
"My mother has five minutes left to live, Jim!" With that he burst out of Nasgrow's office and looked around with wild abandon. 'He's going to call me,' David thought. 'He's going to call me and he's going to kill mom. He's going to kill mom.'
David could hear Nasgrow getting up from his desk and calling him. He appeared in the door and grabbed David's arm.
"Don't you dare do anything stupid, David," people were beginning to look at what was transpiring.
"I have no choice!" David spat and then the radio in his pocket began to call him. Its electronic chime set him into action. He ripped away from Jim's hold and ran toward a teller. The man that had been talking to her now backed away, his checkbook and pen sat idle on the counter as David approached.
The ringing gnawed at his brain. He stared right into the teller named Sue and answered the call.
"David, how are things going over there?" The voice was unmistakable.
"I'm here," David managed.
"I want you to give the phone to the nearest teller." David did as he was told.
The guy on the other line could hear David yell at the woman, "Just do it!" There was a pause and then the kind, but confused voice of Sue, "Hello?"
David watched as Sue listened to what was being said to her. Her eyes kept getting wider and wider.
"I . . . I understand," she trembled.
She took her ear away from the little speaker and looked at David.
"He says he wants to talk to you," her voice was shaking.
Time drew out like a knife.
"I want you to kindly ask the lady for 185,000 dollars," the voice was clear, there was not even a stutter.
"I . . ." David began to say, but stopped as a hand fell on his arm and gripped it tight.
David turned into the face of one of the bank's guards. He was big and armed.
"What are you doing, Sir?" The guard said to David, his eyes piercing. David saw the name tag on the guard's uniform, his name was Albert.
David couldn't think of anything to say, but he knew that if something wasn't done right now, his mother would surely die.
"I'm here to save my mother!" David screamed as his arm separated from the vice-grip the guard had him in. His hand flashed to where the guard's belt was. The gun in the holster disappeared and was now miraculously in David's hand. The guard pulled away and realized then that he had made a mistake and should have tackled the perpetrator instantly, too late now.
"Alright," David said as he pointed the gun toward its previous owner.
A woman screamed something incomprehensible while everyone else in the bank was frozen to the spot they were standing. David continued not to think as he yelled, "I want everybody down now!"
Some of the people got down before he could even get what he said out. Others stood in mute horror. "I want all of you down, RIGHT NOW!!" David's eyes were so crazy that the man who had left his checkbook on the counter yelped and hugged the floor like he was making love to it.
Albert, the guard, remained standing in blasphemy to David's commands. The gun turned toward Albert as 1st Federal Bank President Jim Nasgrow, from his vantage point the floor afforded him, said, "Don't do it, David."
Albert then spoke up (as he was slowly edging toward David) saying, "Yeah, don't do it." The hammer was cocked on the pistol. "What do you think, David? Please, you'll be ruined!" Nasgrow was in an uproar.
"Yeah, don't-," Albert was quickly stopped as David pulled the trigger. A loud report sounded throughout the bank. Many screamed or wailed abruptly. Albert was on the floor although he hadn't been shot; he trembled under the gaze of the Mayor.
David looked at his watch: 12:00 PM.
David swiveled around, the gun still pointing, as he put his ear to the radio.
"David," The voice said echoing in his ear was almost comforting in its manner. "You may think this is a mistake. We all make mistakes, David-" the voice seemed to hesitate, almost as if he were conferring with someone, maybe David's mother. "David, this will not be one of them."
"I'll find you," David breathed into the radio as he pointed the gun at Sue the teller.
"David . . . "began the voice, but the Mayor of Stapleton lowered the radio from his ear and spoke this: "I want 185,000 dollars and I want you to give it to me in one minute, NOW." Looking down the gun barrel that was pointed straight at her, Sue was more scared then she had ever been in her entire life. Not even as scared as when she was raped, at sixteen, by her first boyfriend in the parking lot of a Seven-Eleven on their second date.
"I'll need Diane," Sue spoke looking at the floor.
"Alright, make it fast," David replied. Diane wasn't in sight, but at David's command she raised up slowly from the floor. Her red hair was in a tousle, the mascara leaked from her watery eyes. Walking away from her booth and digging in one of her pockets, she moved toward the vault. David watched this as if seeing a movie. Diane found the key and fitted it a brass plate on the wall. She turned the key and then entered a code on the keypad above it.
The bars slid away. Not much time now; this was taking too long.
"How much was it again?" Diane spoke from within the vault.
"Okay," she answered.
David made his way around the teller booths and was standing in front of the vault. He put his ear to the radio and said, "It's happening now." The voice on the other end said something.
"He doesn't want bank bags," David said still listening intently. "He wants something else." The Mayor looked around behind the booths and found a backpack. "Can I use this?" The frightened girl on the floor behind the booth only nodded.
David knelt down, putting the radio aside, and quickly unzipped the bag. He poured the contents on the carpeted floor and stood up. He could then see that the security guard, Albert, had turned over on his side and had been speaking softly into his walkie-talkie.
"Okay!" David yelled. Albert knew he was caught. "I want that radio. Throw it over here now!" Albert obliged him. The radio hit the wall near David. It continued to squawk. David threw the pack into the vault and looked at his watch: 12:01 PM.
Diane shoveled the money into the open pack as fast as she could. David looked around the lobby and then outside. No cops, at least not yet.
Diane then came out of the vault and said, "185,000."
The pack bulged crazily with the sum as she handed it to David.
He stepped quickly around the people sprawled on the floor as he made his way to the doors. He turned around, dropping the gun, and said, "I'm sorry."
David was out and on Main Street as he heard the sound of approaching sirens. He dashed across the street and was almost hit by a car. It sounded it angry horn. David barely heard it. The only thing he could think about was his mother.
He rounded the alley way and saw a beat up old pickup truck idling next to the guy. Gladys was still there in his grip, the gun still in her neck.
"Throw it in the bed of the truck, David," the guy commanded. David did. The guy now had his gun pointed at the Mayor of Stapleton.
"Release her dammit!" David pleaded.
"You did well," smiling the guy let Gladys go. She collapsed to the pavement without even a sound.
"Thank you, David," the guy said as he quickly snatched up the pack and disappeared into the cab of the truck. Tires squealed and the truck was gone.
David ran to his mother and cradled her in his arms. She was still breathing, thank God, but she didn't look good. He then heard shouting and the sound of running footsteps. He turned and saw three policemen at the entrance of the alley. They all had their guns drawn and pointed at him.
"Freeze," one of them yelled.
David then said, with tears welling up in his eyes, "She needs an ambulance."