New to the Job
By Maz McCoy
Inside the bank in the small town of Chapelville, in the absence of any customers, two female bank tellers, Emily Johnson and Louisa Burlington, both in the late thirties, were busy behind the counter filling in forms and bagging up bank notes. Behind them a gleaming new Pierce and Hamilton safe stood against the wall. As the ladies worked, the door opened and four dusty cowboys entered the bank. They exchanged furtive glances before the dark haired leader of the group approached the counter. The blond man moved to stand near the door, his hand resting casually on the butt of his gun, his eyes surveying the bank as he kept an eye on the street. The smallest and scruffiest man moved to stand near the empty bank manager’s desk and the last, another dark haired man, made sure to shadow the leader.
As the group’s leader reached the counter Emily Johnson looked up.
The man smiled, revealing two dimples.
Hannibal Heyes passed a crumpled piece of paper under the grill to the woman. She picked it up and read it.
“What is this?” she asked.
“It’s a note.” Heyes appeared slightly confused by her question.
“It’s not very well written.”
“Does that matter?” Heyes brow furrowed as he peered at the woman through the grill.
“Of course it matters,” Emily informed him. “Young man the use of correct English is an essential part of good communication.”
She was not to be interrupted. “For a start the spelling is appalling.”
Wheat Carlson snorted in amusement and received a glare from Heyes.
“You don’t spell twenties with a ‘d’ that makes it twendies.”
“I didn’t spell it with a d,” Heyes informed her indignantly.
She scoffed. “That is definitely a d.” Emily placed the note back on the counter and pointed at the letter.
Wheat peered over Heyes’ shoulder. “Looks like a d to me,” he stated.
“It’s not a d.” Heyes took a second look to be sure.
“Well, then what’s that?” Emily inquired, pointing at the note.
“That’s a swirl,” Heyes explained.
“A swirl?” Female eyebrows rose.
“Yes, a swirl, you know a flourish.”
“Then it’s a totally unnecessarily flourish. And a confusing one at that.”
“Ma’am, with all due respect just read the note.” Heyes pointed at the crumpled piece of paper.
“And it’s all in capital letters. Don’t you know that’s considered rude? It’s as if you are shouting. Did you intend to shout?”
A cough from over by the door drew Heyes attention and he turned to look at Kid Curry.
“What’s goin’ on?” the blond man enquired.
“It’s taking some time,” Heyes explained through gritted teeth.
“Well, get on with it.”
“Trust me, I’m trying.” Heyes returned his attention to Emily Johnson. “Ma’am can we just get on with this? Please?”
“All right, young man, but please take some advice. Don’t use capital letters for the entire word. They should only be used at the beginning of the word. And avoid flourishes. You also need to add a comma here…” She picked up a pencil and added one. “Oh and it really shows sloppy penmanship not to add a full stop at the end of your sentence.” Emily helpfully added one to the note. “There, much better.” She held it out and read. “Put all your tens comma twenties and hundreds in the bag. Much better.” She smiled and passed the note back to Heyes.
He promptly passed it back. “It’s for you.”
“Oh, of course.”
Curious as to what was transpiring at the counter Louisa Burlington approached. “Emily, is something wrong?”
“I was just talking to this young man about a note he passed to me.”
“Look at this.” Emily handed her friend the note.
The other woman put on her reading glasses and read it. She looked up at Heyes who smiled with false patience.
“Did you write this?” Louisa asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Heyes acknowledged.
“It’s all in capitals.”
“Your colleague has already pointed that out to me and I promise I’ll write it differently next time, but if we could just get on with..?”
“Hmm.” Louisa looked back at the note. “So this is a robbery?”
“It’s trying to be, ma’am, yes.” Heyes was doing his best to keep calm.
“Where’s the bag?” Louisa asked.
“What?” Heyes brow furrowed.
“It says to put all our tens, twenties and hundreds in the bag. I assume you have a bag?”
Wheat looked at Heyes. Heyes looked at the counter. He let out a sigh then faced Louisa once more. “No, ma’am we don’t have a bag. I was hoping you might have one?”
“That makes the note pointless, doesn’t it?” Emily asked.
“Can you just find a bag and put all the money in it?” Heyes asked exasperated.
“And what if we don’t cooperate?” Louisa asked.
“What?” Heyes looked at Kid, then back at Louisa.
“I said what if we refuse to cooperate?”
Wheat Carlson came into view and pressed his face close to the grill. “You refusin’ to hand over the cash, ma’am?”
“I most certainly am.”
Aware that something was not going to plan, Kid Curry walked over to the counter. “What’s goin’ on, Heyes?”
“She won’t hand over the money.”
Kid looked at the women behind the counter. “That true, ma’am?”
“It most certainly is,” Emily assured him.
“You do realise this is a bank robbery?” Kid queried.
“Of course we do. We have the note to prove it.” She waved the piece of paper.
“And did my partner explain what would happen if you didn’t hand over the money?”
“I hadn’t gotten to that part yet,” Heyes informed him.
“Why not?” Kid looked at his partner.
Heyes met his friends gaze. “We’ve been a bit busy.”
“Well tell her. Go on.”
Heyes leaned in close to the grill. “Ma’am we’re bank robbers and…”
“What’s your name?” Louisa asked. Heyes looked confused. “What is the name of your gang?”
“The Devil’s Hole Gang.”
Louisa and Emily exchanged a look. “Never heard of you,” Emily informed him.
Heyes bristled. “You’ve never heard of the Devil’s Hole Gang?”
“No. Are you new at this? Is this your first robbery?”
“No! We’re famous,” Heyes assured her.
“Not around here.” Emily looked at her friend. The other woman shook her head in agreement.
“We robbed the bank in Frankling last month,” Kid informed her.
“I didn’t hear about it,” Emily told him.
“What about the train to Medicine Hat?” Wheat asked.
“What about it?” Louisa queried.
“It was robbed! By us!” Carlson told her.
Kyle Murtry wandered over. “What’s going on, Wheat?”
“These women say they never heard of us.”
Now Kyle’s face appeared in the grill between Heyes’ and Wheat’s. “We’re the Devil’s Hole Gang!” he informed them.
“So your friends told us.” Louisa placed her hands on the counter and looked at Heyes. “We are not going to hand over any cash, so what are you going to do now?”
Heyes looked at the ladies, then turned to speak to Kid but came face to face with Wheat.
“Yeah, Heyes, what you gonna do now?”
Heyes moved around him and spoke to Kid. “What are we gonna do now?”
“I don’t know. If this was a normal robbery we’d…”He looked at his friend.
“Threaten them,” Heyes finished.
“You’re the gunfighter. Threaten them.”
“I’m not threatenin’ to shoot ‘em, Heyes.”
“It’s only a threat; you don’t have to carry it out.”
Kid was adamant. “I don’t threaten women.”
“Then what are we gonna do?”
“Guess we’ll hafta come back and open the safe.”
Heyes sighed. “Yeah, I guess we will.” He returned to the counter.
The ladies waited patiently to see what the men would come up with.
“Ladies, if you don’t hand over the money my partner may hafta use violence.”
The women looked in horror at Kid Curry. Kid didn’t miss that.
“What the heck did you just tell ‘em?” the blond man asked.
“I told them you’re the notorious gunfighter, Kid Curry and they should do as we say or you’ll use violence,” Heyes lied.
Furious with his partner, Kid turned to the women. “Ladies I…”
“Who did he say you were?” Emily asked.
Emily turned to Louisa. “Have you heard of him?”
“No.” Louisa told her.
“Can’t be that notorious then, can he?”
Kid didn’t know what to say.
“Do you know Billy Wilmington?” Emily asked the men. Four heads shook. “Well, he’s a notorious gunfighter.”
“Handsome too,” Louisa added.
“Oh, yes he is handsome but then you always like them blond, Louisa.”
“And you prefer the dark haired ones.”
“And Billy is very fast with that gun of his.”
“He sure is. Why they say he’s the fastest gunman this side of the Mississippi.”
“Is that right?” Kid asked, clearly irked.
“Oh yes.” Both ladies nodded.
“Funny you ain’t heard of him, Kid,” Wheat observed.
“Shut up, Wheat!”
Emily turned to face Heyes. “You know when we said we wouldn’t hand over the money I thought you were going to say you’d open the safe yourselves.”
“You mean like Hannibal Heyes would?” Heyes asked.
“Who?” the women chorused.
“You don’t know who Hannibal Heyes is?” Kyle asked.
“No, should we?”
Kyle pointed a finger at the gang’s leader. “He’s Hannibal Heyes.”
Wheat smiled. “Bet you never heard of him either did ya?”
“No, sorry,” Emily agreed.
Wheat looked at Heyes who shot back a glare.
“Charlie Foster would have had the safe open by now,” Emily stated. “He’d have spun the tumblers and listened for the sound inside.”
“Heyes can do that!” Kyle told her. “Tell her you can do that, Heyes.”
“Better still; show her you can do it!” Kid snapped.
“I can’t. It’s a Pierce and Hamilton you need to…”
Emily shook her head. “See, he can’t do it. Charlie Foster could. He’s the best safe cracker this side of the Mississippi.” Emily was clearly impressed by the man.
“Oh yeah?” Heyes bristled.
“Yes,” Louisa assured him.
“Well, I’ll have you know…”
“Heyes!” All heads turned at Wheat’s cry. Carlson stood by the bank window looking out at the street. “The sheriff just rode into town with three deputies.”
Heyes and Kid exchanged a glance. Heyes reached through the grill and grabbed back his note.
“We may be back,” he informed the ladies.
Kid smiled at Louisa and Emily as he touched the brim of his hat.
All four men headed to the door.
A thought came to Kid. “Who does Charlie ride with?” he asked the ladies.
“The Wellsborough boys,” Louisa informed him
“Ha!” Heyes exclaimed. “Never heard of ‘em!”
And with that he strode out of the bank followed by three equally chagrined bank robbers.