By Jeffrey Scott Hunter*
The night before the score me and my crime partner, Dave, had seven dollars between us, and had been sleeping in our friend’s driveway in my van. With the seven bucks we decided to go to a pizza parlor and get a pitcher of beer while we discussed our future.
At this time I was still on state probation for an assault, an ounce of coke and a pound of pot. Dave is out on bond under a different name from another state.
A month before, I was still in the good graces of my girlfriend and staying at her place. Then I get a collect call from Dave telling me that he’d just been picked up in Florida under another name and he needed to get bonded out before they found out who he really was. As it was winter, this was the northeast, and me being a roofer, I was skating by on fumes. Every now and then I’d pull a rabbit out of my hat betting on a football game, but nothing over a hundred bucks. Lucky for Dave the Super Bowl was the next day.
So I tell him, “Yeah, I got you. Don’t worry.” He’s happy when we hang up, but as for me, I’m like, `What the fuck, how am I going to get the cash to bail him out?’ Then it hits me. I’ll call my bookie and make a Super Bowl bet. I think I’ve got all the answers. So I make the call, and tell him that I want to lay two grand, and he’s like, “Are you fucking nuts? How are you going to pay if you lose?”
See, he knows me. I drink in his bar and he also knows that I’m a roofer. Without hesitation, I answer “I have some new construction coming up and they have to have a roof on so they can sheet-rock it.”
Finally he gives in and lets the bet ride. Long story short, I win the bet by one point. Girlfriend’s so happy, she’d hugs me and says, “Now we can take care of some of these bills.” Then she sees that I’m not celebrating her wonderful idea. She pulls back and squints.
“Who do you owe?”
I say, “Nobody, I don’t owe anyone.”
She says, “So what’s the fucking problem, Jeff? We need to take care of those bills.”
“I know,” I say, “but Dave needs fifteen hundred to bail out of jail.”
That was pretty much the last straw and she storms off to the bedroom.
The next day I collect my winnings and send Dave a money order for fifteen hundred, and he jumps on the first thing smoking and heads back home.
Now, a month later, we find ourselves flat broke, sleeping in my van and planning to hit a bank. One good thing in all this is that we’re still free. We leave the pizza parlor confident about tomorrow’s score. We’ve already cased the bank and were we’re going to get a hot box — a stolen car. So we drive back to our friend’s driveway. But I forgot to tell you that I have a nine a.m. court date for the next day. As if I didn’t already have enough to worry about, I got to be in court, too.
Later that night, we go and steal the hot box, change the plates and park it behind our buddy’s place in an empty lot.
Nine a.m. rolls around pretty fast, and I’m being awakened by Dave who’s saying, “Hey, Jeff, don’t you have to be in court at nine?”
My eyes pop open and I spring up off the van floor, grab a gallon of water, splash my face then brush my teeth.
Outside the van the morning is dark and gloomy with a raw nip in the air like snow. I make it to the courthouse by 9:20, seeing as it was only a short drive across town.
Inside, court is already congested. People are huddled up in small groups all over the lobby. I hang around a while until they call my name. The judge starts talking to me like we’re old pals about all of my fines, but I can’t hear a word he’s saying, because I’ve got too much other shit running through my head.
I answer, “In a couple of hours,” then turn and bolt out of the courtroom.
I still have to drive twenty minutes in the opposite direction of the bank to borrow my brother’s car. See, we can’t take a chance in driving away from the hot box in my van after the score, because it’s way too noticeable. My van looks more like a death mobile. When people see it they always give it a second look and we couldn’t have that. That’s why I need my brother’s car: it’s plain, and blends in nicely with the other cars.
So here I am tearing through the crowded courthouse lobby when I see the scum bag that ripped off my now-old girlfriend’s CD player. And the dirt bag is with his mother, and she looks half in the bag. I stop inches from him, death in my eyes. See, for the past two weeks I’d been hunting him, every since Pam asked me if I had her CD player. I even beat the shit out of his brother in hopes of him coming after me, which never happened. So for the past two weeks we’d been playing cat and mouse. I knew that it only a matter of time before I caught him in the right spot, and on any other day this would have been it. Seeing me, he thinks he’s safe but from the look in his eye he’s not so sure. Who in their right mind would assault someone in the middle of a crowded courthouse. Little did he know that I was pressed for time or I would have stomped him right there, but today I had a bank to rob. I didn’t need the cops following me to the bank, know what I mean? So he gets to live to get his ass kicked another day.
(Order Jeffrey Scott Hunter’s crime novel, Paragon, available on Kindle at Amazon.com.)
Still, I say, “You’re a piece of shit for stealing Pam’s CD player after she let you and your sleazebag girlfriend stay at her place.”
He answers back: “It wasn’t me; it was Kathy, she stole it.”
I move closer to him and the bank starts to disappear from my mind. All I want to do is tear him to pieces when I hear his mother say, “Not here, boys.” I give him one last nasty look and burn off.
When I hop back into the van, Dave notices my change of attitude and asks, ” You look a little wired up.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I say, “I just ran into Bobby in the courthouse. His day will come.
Forty minutes later, we park the van back in our friend’s driveway, Dave hops behind the wheel of my brother’s car and I get the hot box. Now we drive the thirty minutes to our prearranged switch spot, park the clean car and make a pass by the bank in the hot box.
For weapons, we managed to scrape up an old .38 and a 30-30 lever-action rifle, with no extra ammo.
On the second pass we decide that it’s go time. We pull into the bank’s parking lot and pull down our ski masks. I’m so jacked up that I go blasting into the bank before Dave can even get out of the hot box. Inside I start screaming and yelling for everyone to get down on the floor. They’re bewildered and so as I say. Dave comes in and handles everyone in the lobby while I vault the counter, push the tellers to the floor and clean out every drawer within sixty seconds, stuffing all the money into a laundry bag. There’s no slow motion on this one. I’m so pumped up things are moving at a thousand miles an hour. The slow motion would come later as I matured as a bank robber.
In time, I learned to slow everything down instead of flying around a bank like a nut. I learned to take my time but also hurry up. I also learned the number one lesson: never use out of state plates. When in Rome, do as the Romes do.
But for now the only thing pumping through my veins is pure adrenaline.
A short distance away, we pull off our masks, park the hot box and change vehicles. I tell Dave to lay down on the floor in the back seat, because the cops will be looking for two guys. We make the thirty-minute ride back to my van without seeing one cop. At the van we hop into the back and dump out the cash to count our winnings.
Dave and I both freak at the huge pile of money and Dave says in a dazed voice, “Hey man, that looks like a lot more than five grand.”
The final count was a shade over twenty-nine thousand dollars — that’s fourteen-five a piece. Dave gives me back the fifteen hundred that I sent him to bond out with — so my take was sixteen thousand dollars, when just earilier I couldn’t even rub two nickels together.
I count out two hundred dollars for my court fines and put away the rest. I still had to go back to court, then drop off my brother’s car.
When I get up to the court clerk’s window, she tells me “Mr. Hunter, you ran out of the courtroom so fast you didn’t hear what the judge said. He dropped one of your fines. You only owe one hundred and fifty dollars.”
Was this turning out to be a great day or what?
By the time Dave and I dropped off my brother’s car, it was pushing 3 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten since 6 p.m. the night before. So we go straight to a steak house and chow down.
Being an adrenaline junkie, I soon was hooked on doing banks. Dave, being a gambling degenerate, had to do banks. So we kept on, robbing them until 1992, when we became suspects in a bank robbery. And then the chase was on. But that’s a whole other story.