As I’m finishing my last few bites of food, Stain goes over to the waitress and hands her a credit card. They chat for a while, and she writes something down.

Stain points at the door. He does that a lot; he points. His nonverbal communication skills are extraordinarily effective. I nod, and we walk out together.

I give Stain the ‘you da man’ glance. “Picked up the waitress? Nice!”

Stain looks disgusted. “No way. That’s evil man. You don’t pick up a woman who relies on tips at her place of work. That’s just wrong.”

“So, waitress isn’t the oldest profession on earth?”

“Yeah. Funny. Why did you think I was picking her up?”

“You guys were chatting for a while, and didn’t you give her your phone number? She was writing something down.”

“No. I didn’t give her my phone number. I told you; that’s evil.”

Stain points to a big yellow M down the road. “We’re almost there. The t-shirt shop is right next to the capitalist feeding trough.”

As we’re getting closer, people in the area are starting to move in weird ways. They are frantic but not quite panicked. “Stain, what’s going on?”

Stain points at a cop car, then at a bank. “It’s going down.”

“Stain, man, only one car. It’s just starting to go down. Is this us? Should we be in there saving the day?”

“We’re superheros. We fight for good.”

I nod my head yes. “But, by saving the bank, we might be saving a bad institution that helps aid disparity.”

Stain shakes his head no. “It doesn’t matter. There might be innocent people in there. It’s not about saving the bank. It’s about saving the victims.”

Stain points again. “Isn’t that the guy who almost gave me eye herpes?”

“I thought that was the football team.”

“Funny. I mean the South to go South guy. The fellow without possessions.”

“That’s him.”

The transient walks towards us. “What are you guys doing?”

He seems surprisingly lucid. I look deep in his eyes. “We’re going to stop a bank robbery in progress.”

“Might I be of assistance my good sirs?”

Stain looks at me. “Sure?”

The transient does a little dance. “Wonderful my good man, wonderful. Now, the first rule of hiring a mercenary is he must be paid to stay loyal.”

I reach into my pocket and pull out twenty cents, holding it in my hand.

He grabs the money and starts speaking in a British accent. “20 pence. A very fair wage. A very fair wage indeed. I will provide the much needed distraction.”

The transient runs over to the bank and begins doing a very odd looking folk dance, while yelling: “use the door. Use the door.”

I look at Stain. “Could it be that simple? Would they have left the front door unlocked?”

“Amateurs would have.”

“Who else would rob a bank?”

We hear the transient yell again, still in a British accent. “Use the fucking door before it’s too bloody late, you God forsaken wankers. Hurry now, you tossers.”

I put my hand on Stain’s shoulder. “Let’s go be superheros.”

We run to the bank, open the unlocked door and go in to see two country boys holding rifles. They might be just old enough to drink, and here they are, trying to rob a bank.

I walk up to one of the men, and he quickly jabs his rifle hard into my chest.

I smile at him. “I don’t know much about rifles, but that looks like something you might shoot a racoon with.”

He gives me a very serious scowl back. “This is a 22 caliber. At this range, it’ll get the job done and then some.”

Stain doesn’t waste time. While I’m chatting, he walks right up to the other guy, punches him in throat, takes his weapon, trips him to the ground, then stomps on his face.

I continue talking. “Two country boys don’t come to kill anyone with a couple of farm rifles. Are you even robbing the place?”

“Our father had a loan for the farm. We’re trying to turn it into an organic farm. When daddy died, they said we had to pay up right away or give them the farm. He had 5 years left on the loan. We only missed one payment.”

The sleeve of his shirt slipped up a bit to reveal his wrist, where a tattoo of a smiling mushroom was inked.

I stare curiously at it. “What kind of things do you farm?”

“We farm mushrooms.”

“Shiitake?”

“No.”

“Portabella?”

“Nope.”

“Magic?”

“A man’s gotta make a living.”

“Look. It’s your lucky day. You’re going to walk out of here, and start a new life. You’re going to surrender yourself to the cops. Plead guilty for armed robbery, and you’ll end up doing very little time.”

“What about the mushrooms?”

“We’ll take care of that for you.”

“No more life of crime? What if we choose not to surrender? I’m the one with the rifle.”

“You’ll have to shoot me.”

“Fine.” His hands begin shaking. I’m still, but my heart rate increases. All sound has left my ears. I look right in his eyes. That moment lasts. It lasts forever, almost.

He stares right back at me and says: “ok,” grabbing the barrel of his rifle with one hand and handing it over to me. “I trust you.”

Stain hands him a paper and pen. “Write down the address of your farm.”

“You I don’t trust. What did you do to my brother?”

“The same thing that Sappho just did for you. I’m just faster.”

The farm boy writes down the address. “So, what now?”

Stain looks at me. “Yeah, what now?”

I walk away from the farm boy to have a private conversation with Stain, handing him the rifle in his free hand. We look out the big window to see that the cops are filling up the street fast.

I shake my head at Stain. “Who robs a bank? Ridiculous. Nobody does that. We have to act fast. Here’s the plan. We all go out together. I think there are probably around 10 people in here, 3 or 4 employees, 2 robbers, 2 superheros, and 2 or 3 customers. We all lie down on the ground, face down, hands out. It’ll minimize anyone’s risk of being harmed. Before we do that, you hand the rifles to one of the bank employees, and get her to secure them, where ever.”

“Employee break room?”

“Perfect.”

Stain is about to walk off, but he spots Lily, hiding in the customer waiting area. She gets up and runs towards him. She grabs the front of his shoulders, jumps on him and straddles him with her legs. He’s still holding the two weapons, but he wraps his arms around her the best he can. They start kissing.

Farm boy looks at me, perplexed. “What’s going on?”

“They just fully realized that they love each other. This might be the single greatest moment that either one of them will ever achieve.”

“I thought we had to hurry.”

“You can’t hurry love.”

Farm boy starts singing, in a very melodic way. “No, you’ll just have to wait . . .”

Stain spins Lily around. He’s truly elated.

Suddenly, I see shattered glass all over the floor, and my ears are ringing. People say that time moves slowly at a moment like this, but there’s no such thing as slow motion time. A person’s mind can’t always process a traumatic moment, so it grabs single frames from an event, which are later pieced together by false memory. It seems slow because you actually miss most of what happens. I see a blank distant look on Lily’s face. I see everyone lying down on the ground. Some look like they’re crying; some look like they’re screaming, but I can’t hear them. Stain is huddled over Lily. He weeps uncontrollably. Her eyes are vacant, face on the ground, with a pool of blood under her head. He starts hugging and kissing her, but it just looks gruesome, not sweet or sad. His hair, hands, and shirt are dripping with blood. The farm boy starts vomiting uncontrollably, and I think one of the tellers has wet her pants.

I hear a gun shot. I wake up out of my daze. “We’re not safe in here. We have to move. The cops are shooting in at us.”

Everyone, except Stain just stares at me. Stain just keeps kissing Lily on the mouth, even though blood is leaking out.

I yell, loud, deep. “Everyone out. Now, now, now. Move, move, move.”

The farm boy gets up, grabs his brother, who is able to move despite his injured face and neck, and starts heading for the door. Everyone but Stain follows.

I grab Stain’s shirt collar, and start pulling him towards the door. He goes into rage mode and starts hitting me in the chest. We get outside, and the cops surround us and the other people from the bank.

We see the cop from last night. He looks tired. He walks up to us. “I know you guys. I’ll bet one of you is the shooter.”

I look at the cop with a look of serious concern. “One of your cops shot into the bank.”

“Good luck telling that one to the judge. Your buddy here is covered in blood and human remains. Looks like he was dumb enough to shoot someone at close range.” The cop points his finger in Stain’s face.

Stain punches the cop as hard as he can in the face. “I’ll kill everyone one of you blue suited bureaucrats.”

More cops come over and start beating Stain. I jump in to help, but the two of us face a football team worth of guys with billy clubs.

Son of Sappho Stain and Sappho , , ,

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