Chapter 48

the sound: Allman Brothers – Whipping Post, Three Dog Night – Liar, The Guess Who – No Time, Joe Cocker – She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, The Who – Pinball Wizard, Procul Harum – Nothing that I didn’t Know, Pink Floyd – Money, SuperTramp – Crime of the Century

“YOU” he shrieked at me…”you get the money bag and bring it here Baby”, His voice raising an octave as he spoke.

Dazed I got up from the floor and staggered up the mezzanine stairs to the bar with Frankie following me. We got to the cash register and I just stood there. He stuck the rifle stock in my back and pushed me a little….”get it get it get it get it get it get it get it get it” he began to twitch.

“I….I can’t…” I paused and he pushed into my back again. “I can’t, I don’t have the key” I said thinking of my grandfather and all the years he’d worked to own that hotel.

Frankie rose up and raised the rifle as if to strike me with the butt and as I shrunk back from him he started to laugh manically “Good one Baby…now open the fucking drawer and STOP FUCKING AROUND” as he turned the rifle around to point it at my head.

In the background I could hear Bennie whining a steady litany of “no no no no no no no no” and the collective breath of all 30 people in the room suck in at once.

In that split second I knew once again that Frankie and Bennie both had somehow slipped over the edge. That although I knew it was them, and they knew I knew who they were, and that they knew that every last one of us in that room knew who they were. I was gonna give him that money or I was not going to live to see dawn.

Once I’d made the decision the rest was easy. I’d loaded the dirty white canvas deposit bag with every single bill out of the register making the rest of the night kind of anticlimactic.

They herded us all into the liquor storeroom and locked us in, telling us that should anyone attempt to leave in the next 6 hours we would die. We all stood as if frozen for a moment and then gradually people began to move about and talk.

I sat on a case of scotch and took in my surroundings. A year ago Frankie and Bennie had build the very square boxlike plywood shelves that lined the walls of the room and now housed all the different brands of liquor from special stock whiskeys to liqueurs to champagnes.

Two weeks ago someone had broken in through the window and smashed a bunch of bottles and stole some stuff and the window hadn’t been completely repaired yet. I could still see the parking lot through the slats of wood Do-all had nailed over the window while we waited for repair.

As I reached into the box labeled “tequila” and pulled out a bottle, cracking it open and raising it to my lips, I heard the voices of Brenda and Peanut as they murmured platitudes to Big Jack who was coming round to a broken jaw. I heard the sound of Penny consoling Amelia, the front desk clerk and assuring her that no damage had come to her unborn child.

I heard the general whispering and twittering of all the people that were locked in that dark room with me but mostly I heard Frankie’s voice as he presented me with the roses earlier in the evening. “I just want to give the pretty Baby some flowers” Frankie had simpered as he leaned towards me and shoved the roses into my beer filled hands forcing me to catch them with my arms. “and to say…..a friend is a friend and family is family….right Baby?” and I knew without any doubt, with absolutely no question at all that this robbery smacked of Do-all through and through.

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