A friendship between two boys is to end in dramatic fashion.
“A man in his late twenties has just been shot during an attempted bank robbery. One officer had heroically put his life at risk to save the Bank Teller and the three other people who were inside. The man had reportedly taken the Bank Teller hostage as a way of escaping. After some heated exchanges, it is known the Officer finally talked him into releasing her. However it is rumoured that the police fired shots during a time when the mentioned offender was not a serious threat to public safety. The identity of the deceased is still unknown as of yet. We shall have a full report on the story in our next bulletin.”
* * * *
Jack looked down at his watch…hmm, the time was only a quarter to eight and the Bank would not be open for at least fifteen more minutes. The passenger seat opposite him still contained a newspaper, which had been there since the previous night. A mini article on the left-hand margin of the front page read
‘Two Friends Reunite Again after 25 Years.’
It was an amusing story of two people who had made a promise to return to a location, which they had last seen, each other. Their next encounter would be twenty-five years later and they had both kept their word and showed up. Jack soon grew tired of the story and turned the pages to read about other news items.
However the article still remained in his mind. The theme of friendship set off some sort of trigger in his mind and it sent him back in to the past. Back to the friends he made in his years of high school. Those years were the happiest times of his life. Back when the world was anything you wanted it to be. So many roads to go down leading to different careers, it made it exciting to be young. He made many friends there and it was a shame that he lost touch with most of them.
Now it was almost fifteen years later and he was once more back in his hometown. One of his closest friends of that time was a guy named Paul Bennett. He had lived next door to Jack for as long as he could remember.
They grew up together and began to trust and depend on one another. They enjoyed the same movies and had the same hobbies. Both liked the same sports and were typical young teens. Academic wise they were very different. Paul was interested in following a career as either a Police Officer or an Army Official. Jack did not know what he wanted to become. He did not really mind as long as it didn’t involve homework or lectures from teachers.
Originally Jack and Paul were members of a close trio. A young man by the name of Francis, made up the three. Tragedy struck however and he had been killed in a freak train accident, along with six other people.
It happened in their final year of high school. It was a horrible thing to happen to such a bright young man who had his heart set on emulating his parent’s success as a doctor. His mother at the time of his death had been five months pregnant and at the shock of loosing her son became deeply depressed and also lost her unborn child as a result.
Jack had not kept in touch with any of his friends once he had left the town. He had dropped out of school early due to his father leaving the family to go off with another woman. He’d simply dumped his children, leaving them to care for their sick mother without any help.
Being just seventeen years old Jack started off working as a labourer. However he got mixed in with a wrong crowd, which lead to him misusing drugs and alcohol. His actions had torn their small family apart and so he felt he had no choice but to leave the town for good.
Having no work experience or a trade he had little choice but to steal as a way of survival. This had resulted in him having another run in with the law and being handed down a jail sentence of four years. Those years were an absolute hell for Jack.
He was subjected to regular physical and sexual abuse from fellow inmates. The prison officers were a joke. They rarely tried to intervene and made half-hearted attempts to stop fights if there were a chance of somebody being killed. There were times when Jack was sent to lock up and there he would stay for up to a month on occasions. He did feel it was a better choice than to have your life threatened every day you were mixed with the other inmates.
Drugs were a big business in the jail and one could say they are more available inside than out on the streets. Substances like heroine and cocaine could be bartered for if you knew the right people. The big dealers never touched the drugs themselves. They know what consequences come with them. It was easy to get the stuff inside. All you needed was a few crooked Prison Officers and as long as they were getting a cut of the deals they did not mind at all if someone was found dead from a drugs overdose.
The worst thing about jail is losing all contact with the outside world. Jack went in as an unlucky boy whose world had collapsed around him. Now being released he did not recognise the world, which was again before him. The sentence had been just four years yet so much had happened in that time.
His mother had died while he had been in prison and he had not even been allowed to go to the funeral. The only other family was his sister and he had not spoken to her in a long time. Even before he’d went to jail they’d had their differences. On one occasion Jack arrived home extremely drunk and beat her severely. While he had been in jail she had left the country to seek a better life and as a result he would never see her again. Jack did not blame her for wanting to get away from him.
Back in his hometown not one person wanted to give him another chance. Who would employ a drug addict with a criminal record? His sister had not even wanted to know him. After all that had happened to him Paul still lived in the town. However Jack refused to go to him for help. They had not talked in nearly five years and he was very much afraid of what he would think of him if he were to show his face and ask for help.
What would Paul have thought of him if he had seen him now? It was best to leave him alone. All Jack wanted now was for a final resting-place to die. Placing his tired head on a park bench he used his torn old jacket to cover his body and keep himself warm
People hurried by him quickly wanting to leave him behind and out of their lives. Just one man stopped to talk to him. A young priest by the name of Father Callaghan. Jack reluctantly explained his situation to the man and expected the priest to quickly be off on his way not wanting to have anything to do with him like the others. The priest simply placed his arm around him and brought him to his home offering to give him a bed to sleep and food to eat and would help Jack until he got his feet back on the ground again.
Jack was very thankful to the Priest but while he was off the streets he still had a big drug problem. Without the proper medication it would be next to impossible to stay off them. Cold turkey on your own was dangerous and this scared Jack. He thought that if only he had some money then he could calm the habit for a few days.
Taking to the streets one night he spotted a young woman proceeding up to a bank link to take out money. Jack was in a bad way and not thinking straight. Advancing up to the lady he produced a tarnished old Gun and demanded she give him all the money she had. The lady simply stood there completely terrified for her life. Jack became very agitated and struck her across the face with the weapon. She fell to the ground in screams of pain. Ripping the money from her hand, he then began to strike her in the chest with his feet. All the pain he had suffered was coming out in this rage of his. A non-existent childhood and the lose of his family. It was too much to take. His strikes became more and more aggressive.
A voice shouted over. Looking over his shoulder he noticed a young man running towards them. Quickly looking down at the girl he noticed that she remained completely still. Her face was badly bruised and there were many bloodstains on the ground and on his shoes. Jack became frightened. She was not moving and it did not seem the girl was conscious. Without wasting any more time Jack ran for his life leaving her for dead. Jack didn’t care; he had the money he needed. Everything would be all right he thought to himself.
Two days had passed when he began to feel the urge to feed his habit again. He did not fancy going out to steal. He needed to get away from the town. Taking the car belonging to the priest he quickly drove off. He knew he couldn’t go on living like this or he would end up dead. He needed to get off the drugs and fast but to do that he would need money to pay for the treatment. Looking over on the passenger seat he noticed a diary presumably belonging to the priest lying on top of a newspaper. As Jack opened the diary a bundle of cards fell from inside. Picking them up one at a time he studied them carefully. Only one of them looked halfway important. A bank card. Since it was only a small town it meant this was not a particularly busy place and if a person were quick enough, they could get away with a lot of money.
Of course it would have to be well planned out. With nobody to help him it would be a quick operation. But with only a Gun, that contained no bullets to protect him with, how could he pull off such a thing? His craving for heroine was getting very strong and it rushed him into making a decision. He would strike early tomorrow.
* * *
The time was now approaching eight-o clock and the building was just about to open. Looking around him he decided that he had better act now while public activity was minimal. Before getting out of the car he placed a balaclava over his head in case somebody was to recognise him. This was his hometown after all and police were on the lookout after the assault on the girl a few nights ago. Walking up to the door he went inside and strode up to the woman who was turning on the lights.
‘Sorry sir but we are not open quite just yet. If could you wait outside for a few minutes’
Jack continued to walk up and producing the Gun asked the girl to put all the money in a bag. The girl being fearful of her life did as she was told. As she was doing this two other people walked into the building. One female and a male. Jack turned around and demanded they close the door. Once again he began to get agitated.
Turning around he noticed that the man wore some sort of uniform under his jacket, which was half zipped. The man looked as though he were a police officer. Turning to the women he walked up and quickly grabbed her around the neck with his left hand placed the handgun to the side of her head. She was only smallish girl in her thirties and a very easy target. Now that Jack had some sort of insurance for a way to escape he turned his attention to the police officer.
‘Stay the hell back!’
Quickly, Jack tried grabbing the back from the teller and also tried not to loosen his grip upon his hostage. However, as he was attempting this, the girl tried desperately to get away from him. Before she could get away from him he caught her by her long black hair and pulled her back. Increasing his grip on the girl’s throat he quickly turned back towards the officer whom Jack anticipated might try to intervene. He began to slowly try and make it to the door.
‘Stay away from me you hear or I’ll shoot this bitch. Understand!’
Jack was not beginning to feel very well. He could hear his heart pounding and the blood raced around his body at a furious rate causing him to sweat precariously. The people around him had a terrified look in their eyes. With so many people to concentrate on Jack was beginning to get nervous himself. The presence of the officer made it more difficult to come up with a solution to escape. He had a gun but no ammo. The chances of him surviving would be slim. The officer took one step towards Jack causing him to take on step backwards. Slowly raising his hand the officer began to speak for the first time.
‘May I ask you sir how you’re going to get away with this? My partner is outside in the car waiting for me and if I’m not out soon, then you’ll be in a lot of trouble. You don’t stand a chance of getting away so why don’t you let the girl go and we can sort this out.’
‘Yeah like that’s gonna happen. As soon as I let her go I’m gonna have a couple of bullet holes in me.’ You must think I’m stupid.’
But the fact was that this was Jacks only choice. To give up or face the consequences of trying to get out of the building alive. The room had become silent again for a moment before being interrupted by the Banks telephone system. Jacks nerves were now on the edge. His hands were beginning to sweat and it was increasingly difficult to maintain a grip on the handgun
‘Who the hell could that be?’
He could not stand much more. He roars to the Teller and asks her to ignore it. Eventually the phone ceases to ring. However the sounds of police sirens can clearly be heard outside of the building. The police were surly outside and any chance of an escape was now clearly dashed. Letting go of the lady Jack turned on the bank teller and grabbing her by the neck pointed the gun directly in her face.
‘You hit the panic button didn’t you…you bitch I’ll fucking kill you.’
The officer spoke quickly sensing that Jack was about to snap.
‘Hey man calm down…you can still get outta here alive if you just put the gun away.’
‘Come on you can’t win. You’ve got nowhere to run. You step out of the door and you’ll lose a head…they mean business…come on give me the gun that’s all you gotta do let me take care of the rest.’
Realising the truth Jack puts the gun down by his side. The only thing he could hope for now was to go back to jail and if he was lucky never to be released. The jail he had lived in for the past three years had become his home and the world which existed outside of those walls he did not know how to live in.
Jack looked up to see a friendly smile in an otherwise terrified room. The other people had now got behind the Officer and were crying on the floor. Looking down at the people, they reminded him of his sister and the night he had attacked her. He only now realised the damage he had caused to her and to these people. He had become a person whom he did not recognise anymore. He felt he deserved to go back to jail. No, he felt he deserved to die.
Suddenly the door broke open and one armed Police Officer rushed inside. Seeing Jack holding the gun and his hostages lying on the ground the gunman turned to him and open fired. Two shots tore through his body and he collapsed to the floor in a pool of blood.
At this sight the remaining people fled the building outside to where a large group of people were now standing. An ambulance crew brought them off for an examination.
Jack lay on the ground. Everything was numb. Moments before he was sweating where as now he was feeling stone cold. Blood flowed from his body and with it he could feel his life ebbing away. The voice of the Officer whom Jack had been speaking to could be heard.
‘Good job Paul I thought he was going to crack there for a moment. Right get somebody in here to drag this piece of shit out. I for one ain’t, I just had this uniform dry cleaned.’
Staring up to the ceiling Jack could spot in the corner of his eye the face of a person whom he knew instantly. A face which reminded him of his happier days of childhood. He was staring into the face of his High School friend Paul Bennett. Unable to speak, Jack tried to move his right hand. It was difficult but he just had enough energy to do so. Suddenly the sound of another gunshot could be heard in the bank. Everything was silent for a moment and when Paul opened his eyes he looked down at the body of Jack. He had taken a bullet straight in the head.
‘Jesus, that was a close one. The bastard was still alive. He was going for his gun. Good thing I spotted it in time.’
Paul bent down to examine the body and searched it for identification. Paul noticed that the body concealed an object of some sort. It had only been a wallet and not the gun, which his partner had said he was reaching for. Upon opening the wallet the only thing to be found inside was a torn and faded picture of a group of people gathered around a barbecue. Written on the back of the photograph were the words ‘Happiest Day of my life!’
Crushing the picture in his hand he dropped it on top of the body and began to walk out of the room. An officer looked at Paul as they were taking the mask off of the body. Paul just stood there with his back to it. The officer remained looking at Paul trying to understand why he was acting like this. Acting in a way, which looked like he almost, knew whom to expect.
‘What’s wrong with you sir, you should be proud we disposed of another scumbag. It’s not as if the guy will be missed. It seems to me that you already know what face to expect behind the mask.’
‘Oh I will recognise the face, but as for the person behind that face……………………………’