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There's More then One Way to Catch a Bank Robber: Fiction by Roy Dorman
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Roy Dorman: There's More Than One Way to Catch a Bank Robber

99_ym_bankrobber_lees.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2023

THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CATCH A BANK ROBBER

 

Roy Dorman

 

SALLY  O’

Her name’s Sally O’Malley,

And she lives in the valley,

But doesn’t much care to go home.

Because when she gets there

She’s tied to a chair

To stifle her desire to roam.

 

Pub song possibly written by Sally’s husband, Tommy. 

Circa 1850, Dublin, Ireland

 

 

“I need you!  Need you!  Gawd, how I want you so much!”

Alison O’Malley held the wanted poster in front of her face, staring intently at Robert Weston.

Weston was wanted for bank robbery in four states and the District of Columbia and there was a hundred-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to his capture.

Alison planted a kiss on his photo and carefully placed it on the corner of her desk.

The O’Malley Detective Agency was going to experience a makeover soon, she was sure of it.

The agency actually did more car repossessions and bail jumper work than detective work, but Alison was a dreamer.  Since Robert Weston hadn’t robbed a bank in Florida yet, she figured he would soon. 

And Alison planned to nab him when he did.

***

It was getting on toward noon and Alison hadn’t really done any work this morning. 

Because she didn’t have any work to do.

She locked up her office and headed down two flights of stairs to the street.  She would have lunch at the St. George Tavern and then hang around there for the afternoon to see if she could pick up some business.  The St. George usually drew a pretty good Friday lunch crowd.  Snowbirds mixed with locals, and that in itself sometimes generated a client or two.

“Hey, Conrad.  I’ll have a Smithwick’s Red Ale and a burger and fries, please,” Alison said plunking herself down onto the last available bar stool and opening her laptop.

“So it’s gonna be Conrad today, is it?” answered the bartender, Connie Dugan, with a smile.  Connie was a big guy, over six-five, who ran a tight ship and enjoyed his quirky regulars.

“Yeah, I’m workin’ ‘till four, so it’ll be Conrad ‘till then.”

The handsome guy sitting on the stool next to her chuckled.  “Nice work if you can get it,” he said.  “Takes that working from home thing to a whole new level.”

“Yeah, I’m the boss and the only employee, so I get to make the work rules.  No pesky HR people keeping track of timecards, ya know?”

“I’m Paul,” he said extending his hand.  “You a writer or something?”

“Alison.  I’m a private detective.  Drummin’ up business,” she said, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake.

“Private detective?  Cool.  I went with a corporate law firm straight out of law school five years ago and sometimes I feel a little….”

“Stifled?”

“I guess you could put it that way —”

“Private detectives can sometimes feel a little stifled too,” said the guy on the stool to Alison’s right.  Like Lawyer Paul, he extended his hand and Alison shook it.  “Carl Vincent.  Vincent-Showers Detective Agency, New York City.”

“Hey, guy, we were having a conversation here,” Paul said to Carl, puffing himself up.

“Oh, my bad,” said Carl.  “Didn’t know you two were together.”

Carl made like he was defusing the situation, but actually he was aware that the way he put it could cause trouble.  He enjoyed the small dramas in afternoon bar life. 

Carl was in St. Augustine for a month with his wife, Melinda, to get away from the New York City January weather. He was in the St. George Tavern, the oldest tavern in St. Augustine, which was the oldest city in the USA.  It was a great little bar for people watching.

“We’re not together,” Alison interjected.  “We just met.  Like you and I just met.”

All three now looked at each other in the back bar mirror and Carl was the first to smile.  Alison followed suit, but Paul remained stoney-faced.

Alison was enjoying the attention and said to the mirror, “So, Paul, Carl, your paths ever cross?  In business, I mean.  Not here at the St. George.”

Paul continued to stare at Alison and Carl in the mirror.  Carl turned to Alison and said, “My partner and I don’t get asked into corporate stuff, unless maybe somebody’s having marital difficulties.”

Paul took his left hand off the bar and let it drop to his side.  Alison and Carl saw Paul’s move to hide his wedding band in the mirror and both smirked.

They were thinking that Paul, or more likely Paul’s wife, might be a client sometime soon.

Connie brought Alison’s burger. Alison thanked him and turned her attention to it. 

Paul finished his beer and stood up to leave.

“Here’s my card, Paul,” said Carl.  “Give me a call if I can help with something.”

Paul looked at the card and then at Carl.  “No thanks,” he said.  And he walked out without another word to either Alison or Carl.

“So, you workin’ this afternoon too, Carl?”

“No, I’m down here on vacation.  I enjoy the neighborhood bar scene during the hours from noon ‘til about four.  Meet some interesting people.”

“Like our friend, Paul?” asked Alison with a shrug.

“I was thinking of people like you.”

When Alison stiffened and frowned, Carl quickly held up his left hand to show his wedding band.  “No, no, I’m not hitting on you.  Happily married.  Just meant it might be fun to talk a little shop.”

Alison relaxed and smiled.  She finished her burger and offered Carl some of her fries.

“A couple more beers here, please, Conrad,” Carl said as Connie walked past.

“Comin’ right up,” Connie said with a wink.

“Whatcha working on?” Carl asked pointing at Alison’s laptop.

“If I tell ya, ya have to promise not to laugh.”

“Something offbeat?  My partner, Julie, and I love the weird cases.  Beats the hell out of slinking around shooting Kodak moments outside hotels.”

“It’s a dream.  Maybe a fantasy.  Ya ever hear of Robert Weston?”

“The bank robber?  Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

“Well, I’d like to bring ‘em in,” Alison said, looking at the mirror.  “Nuts, huh?”

“Not nuts at all.  Somebody’s gotta get him some day. Could be you.  So, have ya got a line on him?”

“No, but I’m doing research,” said Alison.  “One thing I’ve found is that he doesn’t have a pattern.  Different times of the day.  Different days of the week.  Nothing I’ve found so far to help me anticipate his moves.”

“If he’s doing that on purpose, that in itself tells you something about him,” Carl mused.  “He’s a smart guy.  If he plans the times of his robberies that carefully he probably also plans his escape route closely too.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

“And there must be quite a few banks in the St. Augustine area,” said Carl.  “Can’t just stake out a different bank each day, right?  We’re gonna have to catch him after he does a job.”

“There are about 25 banks, including branches, in the area.  And what’s this ‘we’re gonna’ business?” Alison said, looking Carl in the eye.

“I’m not trying to horn in on your dream, Alison.  Just professional curiosity.  I always get enthusiastic at the beginning of a case.”

“Well, I guess I could use any help I can get with this if it’s gonna be more than a dream.  My little agency could really use the money and ….. Connie!  Connie!  Turn up the sound on the TV!”

“…. and Memphis Police say Robert Weston is now in custody.  He was captured after leaving a gas station on Interstate-40 outside of Memphis after an employee recognized him.  The employee, Tammy Sue Rogers, had this to say: “I saw this guy and right away knew it was him.  I don’t have any idea what I’ll do with all that money.  Assuming I get it, that is …..”

“No, no, no!” Alison yelled.  “He was mine!”

Connie turned down the sound and came over and patted Alison on the hand. “Don’t worry, honey.  There’ll be other bank robbers.”

Alison slammed her fists on the bar.  “I don’t want another bank robber, goddammit!  I wanted him!”

On her way to the restroom, Alison knocked over a couple of bar stools.  From the restroom came a crash as the waste basket was the recipient of her wrath. 

It would be a while before she was fit company.

Carl put a twenty on the bar and nodded good-bye to Connie.

He felt bad for Alison’s lost dream.

***

Back in New York City, Carl was at the office catching up on paperwork with his partner, Julie Showers.

“Didn’t you say you ran into a private detective in St. Augustine when you were down there with Melinda?” Julie asked.

“Yeah,” said Carl.  “A young woman named Alison.”

Julie held up her phone.  “Listen to this,” she said, reading from her phone.  “St. Augustine Police say they have captured Ronnie Dawson after he robbed the Chase Bank on King Street in downtown St. Augustine.  Police say Dawson robbed the bank and was headed out on the A1A Byway.  At a stoplight, he rear-ended the car belonging to St. Augustine Private Detective, Alison O’Malley, who recognized him and drew her Glock when he stepped out of his car to survey the damage.  O’Malley held him there until police arrived to take him into custody.  O’Malley is eligible to receive the fifty-thousand-dollar reward for Dawson’s arrest.”

“Alison’s dream came true,” said Carl.  “I’ll have to send a note of congratulations.”

“Catching bank robbers pays pretty well,” mused Julie.  “And the publicity from catching one has to be great for business.  Maybe we should devote one day a week trying to snag one ourselves.”

“You’re a dreamer, Julie,” Carl said laughing.  “You and Alison would work great together.”

THE END

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near to the Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, and a number of other online and print journals. Unweaving a Tangled Web, published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel. 




Lonni Lees is a multi-award-winning writer in both fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  Her stories appear in Hardboiled magazine, Yellow Mama, A Shot of Ink, Shotgun Honey, Black Petals, Einstein’s Pocket Watch, All Due Respect, and in the anthologies Deadly Dames and More Whodunits. Among her numerous writing awards over the years, she has award-winning stories in Felons, Flames, and Ambulance Rides, Battling Boxing Stories, and her published short story collection, Crawlspace. Broken won first place and is her 4th published novel. Her first novel Deranged won the PSWA First Place award for best published novel. Her next novel, The Mosaic Murder, was followed with a sequel, The Corpse in the Cactus, which won First Place and was published in the U.S. and UK. She won several other writing awards for her short stories, including Grand Prize.

 

 She received both art and a nonfiction Creative Writing Awards from NLAPW, California South branch, an organization of women writers, artists, and composers, and she served as President from 1982–1984. She is a current member of Sisters in Crime, PSWA, and Arizona Mystery Writers, where she was the first writer to win two consecutive awards in their annual short story contest.

 

 Twice Lonni was selected as Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook, a writer’s retreat on Whidbey Island. After living in four states and visiting many countries, she’s settled in Tucson, AZ. She fills her spare time showing her art at WomanKraft Gallery, reminiscing on all her travel adventures, illustrating stories for online magazines, and dreaming up new tales to tell.


In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023