It was hot, a burnished copper, scorching kind of day when the sun blazed so fiercely it changed the color of the sky. It was August: the month of lethargy, intense passions and violence.
Cicadas buzzed their song as the midday hour chased folk indoors. The town lay quiet, the empty streets baked as the mirages shimmered above the asphalt.
Sam entered the small coffee shop, breathing in the aroma of fresh brewed java, savoring the icy blast of air that fanned her face. Her cheeks were flushed and she welcomed the sudden chill.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” the barista asked politely. The place was deserted; she was the only one in the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
“Um, so, can I have an espresso, please? And one of those,” she pointed at a chocolate brownie in a glass bell jar. There were many other treats besides the brownies, but Sam played it safe. A brownie was predictable.
“What brings you to our neck of the woods?” the barista inquired, curious.
“Oh, I’m just passing through,” Sam said evasively and tucked a strand of long brown hair behind her ear.
“Well, here you go then, here is your coffee. Cream and sugar are on the counter behind you.”
“Thanks,” Sam said, handing her some cash. She held out her hand for the change and then tipped the barista a dollar who smiled at her and nodded, “Thanks, enjoy your coffee!”
Sam sipped her espresso and toyed with the brownie. She had just put down the cup and it clattered in the saucer as the sound of multiple gunshots startled her. As if on cue, she grabbed her purse and walked out the door, leaving the half-eaten brownie surrounded by chocolatey crumbs on the white china plate.
She walked swiftly then checked herself, slowing to an unhurried, seemingly carefree pace to a car parked around the corner just down the block from the restaurant.
“Get in, get in, let’s go!” Wade urged her.
“No, don’t be stupid, they will be chasing after every single car that looks like it is trying to get away from the bank,” she said.
“Did anyone follow you? You know there is only one teller at the bank and she is not the athletic type – she is hardly likely to have followed you around the corner!” Wade made no reply.
She turned her head to look at him. His short blond hair and sharp features gave him a feral appearance.He grinned, revealing sharp pointy teeth and his narrow lips curled back so that his nostrils flared. Heavy lidded beady eyes stared at her, uncomprehending.
“You shot the bitch, didn’t you?” she paused.
“You fucktard!” she said deliberately, then added, “Take off your shirt, here, put this one on, and let’s go and get a beer. No one will be looking for you at a bar!” She laughed suddenly, a hard bark that matched her determined jawline. He was so stupid, the perfect foil, the perfect tool for her wild scheme.
A faded blue Joe Boxer backpack was on the back seat and he grabbed it, then stuffed the bank notes into plastic grocery bags that she had saved. “Gimme that bag,” she demanded, and pulled the wig off her head and shoved it into the backpack. Rivulets ran down from her temples and she wiped the side of her face with the palm of her hand.
“Are you going to toss this?” he asked.
“Not now, dumbass,” she scoffed.
Sirens were blaring in the distance but Sam ignored the cacophony, driving slowly away from the sound, two blocks down and then five across. She dumped the backpack in the trash can in the parking lot and they sauntered into the bar, ordered a beer each and sat down in a booth. In the dim light they looked like an ordinary young couple.
“How much?” she asked.
“Dunno, probably a few hundred…”
“You killed a woman for a few hundred?” she said quietly. Her nose ring flashed as it caught the light.
“I had to Sam, she was going to press the button!” he said, his voice panicked.
“Fuck.” Her mind was racing.
“Gimme the gun,” she said, her voice dangerously low.
He passed it under the table. She waited until the bartender went to the back and she got up, stood behind Wade, and said, “So long, moron,” under her breath. He half turned to look at her, and she fired.She walked out, fast, her flip-flops slapping a tattoo on the wooden floor. She glanced back and saw the bartender fumbling with his phone.
Clearly, there was going to be no vacation in Cozumel this year.