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Sometimes we can all have a bad day. Sometimes we can have a very bad day. Tyrell Lomax? His day came straight from the cosmic fumes of hell. Started out okay: Picked up his partner, Melvin Harwood, on Mother Gaston Boulevard, headed south for the Belt. Harwood was his usual all-nerves self. He fumbled through the pink Conway’s shopping bag on the floor, checking its contents. Two pieces–Smith & Wesson 9 Pro, Charter Arms Bulldog–and two ski masks.

“Far to go?” he said.

Lomax shrugged. “Nothing unreasonable.”

“Have to get back in time take my mother to the doctor.”

“Now what?”

“Her back. Her knees. Diabetes. Pressure. Just glad she’s got her red, white and blue.”

“Her American flag?”

“Medicare card.”

Harwood kept talking about his Moms for the next half hour, not stopping until they got to Rockville Centre and pulled into the parking lot behind the Poughkeepsie Savings & Loan. Lomax had scoped the place two days ago. He’d been able to answer all his questions but one: What was a bank named for a town in upstate New York doing on the south shore of Long Island?

They got out, walking easy, and casually slipped the masks on just before they got to the door. Nice and snug.

They went in large, Lomax fast-shouting, spraying the place with his AK-47 of a mouth. “Go easy! Go easy! Everybody go easy! Everybody shut the fuck up and go easy!”

His audience: Two tellers, four customers, nobody at the ATM in front. Justly perfect.

“Get down! Everybody get down! Hands and knees! Everybody get down and kiss the floor!”

The customers complied. Nobody said a thing, going down with no noise. It looked like a prayer meeting at a mosque.

Harwood carried the Conway’s bag to the tellers while Lomax covered the customers with the Bulldog. Three women who’d been on line, a man with tinted shades who’d been heading out the back way. All of them with paper slips shaking in their hands. All of them finding ways not to look directly at him or Harwood. I couldn’t see a thing.

Behind him he heard Harwood doing a calm, steady teller-chant. No nerves now.

“Very simple. No alarms. Drawers open. Stacks in the bag. No marked bills. Nobody gets hurt.”

Everything going smooth, thank you thank you. Lomax’s body eased to the point where he could smell the Pine-Sol on the floor. This was the third bank they’d done in a month’s time and it always went level. Thing at a bank is, they teach tellers how to get robbed. No shit, they take courses in what to do–don’t resist, do what they say, give ’em what they want. Where else can you find that level of cooperation? It was part of their job: Keep trouble to a minimum. What you call risk management.

Course that only applies to the help. The customers, who the fuck knows what they can get in their heads? You needed to watch special for them. They had no captive discipline. You can never tell what they’ll try.

Like that tight-faced woman in the middle. Look at her, slowly inching her handbag closer to her body. Subtle. What was she doing, protecting her wallet?

Or going for her phone?

Lomax pointed the Bulldog at her. “Stay still. No moving. I don’t want anybody moving around.”

“I was just…”

“Quiet! Keep it quiet and be still. I don’t want nobody moving, I don’t want nobody…”

Something was wrong. Edge of his eye he could see movement. The guy by the back way, the man with the tints–he was sliding his arm down to the bottom of his leg.

For a moment Lomax didn’t know what he was looking at. Then he did.

Ankle holster.

Off-duty cop.

Fuck me.



About Richard Sanders

I worked as an Executive Editor at Entertainment Weekly for 11 years and (in two separate stints) at People magazine and for 12 years. I often speak to young journalists and try to use myself as an example for inspiration—a guy who spent time in jail, rehab and a psych ward and somehow went on to become a successful editor at Time Inc. and managed to stay sane and alive. I’ve tried to reflect those experiences in my books. View all posts by Richard Sanders

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