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Twenty or Thirty Grand

A short story from the book:

What I Know About the Human Race

 Montreal Publishing Company, June 2024 

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What’ya doin?

I thought it might be 24/7.

What’ya need?

Smokes.

I got some. On the dash. Grab me one. He watches her. Jesus Christ, he thinks.

She lights a cigarette and passes him the lighter and the smokes. What’ya you doin? With that chain, I mean, what’ya doin?

He looks around at the 3 a.m. darkness.

She does too.

I’m takin the cash machine.

The what?

The ATM.

The whole machine?

Yeah.

For the money?

Why else?

Why don’t ya just smash it and take the money?

Ya can’t, they ain’t built like that, otherwise, everyone would be walkin around smashin em, wouldn’t they?

Aren’t ya afraid you’ll get caught?

Nope.

Why not? I would be. I don’t think I could ever do somethin like that.

I’ve done it before.

You have?

Yup.

Lots of times?

Enough times.

How much money’s in there?

I don’t know. Twenty or thirty grand.

What if someone comes by?

You mean like you?

She doesn’t answer and she toes out her cigarette. I won’t say anything.

I know you won’t.

They look at one another.

What’s your name?

Daisy.

Daisy?

Yeah, Daisy Chainsaw.

That’s a great name—wait, wasn’t that a band?

Was, but they broke up, and it was available, so I took it.

All right, Daisy, time to step back, and he grabs a length of pipe from the back of the pickup and smashes out the door glass.

No alarm sounds and he knocks away the larger jagged pieces holding to the frame. He steps inside. Pass me the chain.

She does, and staying bent over, she watches him wrap the chain around the cash machine. That’s it? That’s all there is to it?

Yup, and he walks back out the door opening. Smash and grab.

The American way.

They hear a car.

Fuck. He takes her arm and they kneel and together they watch the car approaching. It’s a cop, and he starts to unhook the chain from the truck. She sees a gun tucked into the waist of his pants. If they come this way, you can either run, or jump in with me, your choice.

The cruiser stops, white-blue tailpipe smoke drifting in the early morning dark.

He looks at Daisy. Well?

I should at least know your name.

Jay.

Really?

Yeah, why?

No reason. What about the money?

What about it?

You’re just gonna leave it?

There’s other money.

There is?

There’s no shortage of cash machines.

No, I guess that’s right. We could try another one, it’s early yet.

The cop steps out of the car, shining a flashlight. 

                

He looks at Daisy. You should go, while you got the chance.

They watch the cop walking toward them, the light upon them growing stronger.

Daisy looks at Jay. I’ll stay, if that’s all right?

Ya sure about it?

We could hook the chain back on the truck, and we could just drive away. He’s not in his car, and maybe like, you could ram his cruiser.

He looks at Daisy.

It might work.

He pulls the gun out from the back of his pants. So might this.

She hooks the chain back on the truck. Let’s just go.

The cop calls out, step out where I can see you. I ain’t fuckin around, it’s too damn early, and it’s too damn cold.

He looks at Daisy. Ready?

Yeah.

Stay low, and when you get in the truck, stay down.

She nods.

All right then, and they make a break for the doors.

What the hell, the cop says, and he aims his gun. What the fuck are you doin?

Sitting low in the front seat, Daisy watches Jay drop the truck into gear. He hits the gas, the tires grabbing gravel, the backend fishtailing.

Shit, the cop says, and he starts to shoot, bullets piercing the windshield, the cash machine busting out the front door and the window—glass exploding, the machine bouncing and launching into the air.

Jay looks at Daisy, and he smiles, and as he looks back, he takes a bullet to the forehead.

Daisy’s eyes widen, and she looks back at the cop. She reaches her foot to the brake and hits it, the truck stopping, the cash machine rolling and bouncing, flying over the truck and taking out the cop. Oh, fuck, she says. She puts the truck in park and looks at Jay. We didn’t see that comin, did we? She leans over him and opens the door, and as she does, a Taco Bell wrapper falls from the truck. She leans back and says, it was nice meeting you, Jay, but it’s time for you to go, and she kicks him out. She closes the door and drops the truck into gear. She turns the radio on and it’s George Michael singing Freedom, and she laughs, tapping the steering wheel, and she begins to sing: All we have to do now / Is take these lies and make them true somehow / All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you /And you don't belong to me ... She looks in the rear-view mirror, at the two dead bodies, the cash machine bouncing and rolling behind her, and she turns the radio up, driving into her better days now, singing, freedom.

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Available June 1, 2024

Montreal Publishing Company

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