MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CATCH A BANK ROBBER
Her name’s Sally
And she lives in
But doesn’t much
care to go home.
Because when she
She’s tied to a
To stifle her
desire to roam.
Pub song possibly
written by Sally’s husband, Tommy.
“I need you!
Need you! Gawd, how I want you so
Alison O’Malley held the
wanted poster in front
of her face, staring intently at Robert Weston.
Weston was wanted for bank robbery
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
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
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.
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
“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
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?”
he said extending his hand. “You a writer or something?”
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….”
“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
“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
but actually he was aware that the way he put it could cause trouble. He enjoyed
the small dramas in afternoon bar
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,”
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
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
When Alison stiffened and frowned,
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
“If I tell ya, ya have
to promise not to
“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
“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
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,
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
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
good-bye to Connie.
He felt bad for Alison’s
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
“Alison’s dream came
true,” said Carl. “I’ll have to send a note of
“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.”