ALL PHOTOS ARE PROPERTY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS AND I TAKE NO CREDIT FOR THEIR PUBLICATION
There’s a piece of shit Cadillac in the driveway that looks like it’s been in more than a few crashes. “Whose car is that, anyway?” You may be inclined to ask. But that’s not the point. The point is the journey that car took to get there, in that long driveway, leading up to the rancher home that was typical of houses built in the 60s. Michael Everett was a man who knew a lot of things about a lot of things, but he didn’t know much about bank robberies. He knew how to fix your computer, and he knew how to triple-tie his shoelaces, but bank robberies had escaped his capacity for reasoning. Why is that important? Because that is a part of the reason the car is in that driveway, it’s not the only part, but it’s definitely a part, and you cannot have a whole without all its parts. Summers usually aren’t too hot in Pinole, San Pablo Bay works as a natural air conditioner, but today it was bordering on too hot. It was 90 degrees, by Pinole standards, you may as well have been on fire. Michael grew hungry and wanted a hamburger, or maybe a cheese burger, or maybe a “choose burger?” It’s a burger where you choose all the toppings, so now you know. His friend Adrian is a good guy, but a complete fucking idiot.
“Dude, have you ever wanted a way to like, I don’t know, blow the fuck outta dodge?”
“You mean leave?”
“Yeah, like just say fuck it and go somewhere new. No more stuck up girls, no more lame ass guys. Just no more bullshit, ya know, Mike?”
“How do get to this bullshit-free destination? You got any big plans I don’t know about?”
“Not really. Like, I’ve thought about stuff, but nothing like, real.”
“What about unreal,” Asked Mike.
“Well, if we’re gonna break free, we need a lot of money, but I don’t gotta pussy so you gotta think on your feet.”
“Yeah, but you are a pussy, so it should all work out eventually.”
“Very funny, ‘Dyke Ever Rot’”
“Bringing back middle school trash talk, are we, ‘GAYdrian?’”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“You called me a name first.”
“Yeah, but my uncle’s gay.”
“Then why would you call me dyke if you get offended by gay jokes?”
“Because it’s like the ‘N Word.’”
“Okay, ‘Dyke’ is a derogatory term for lesbians, but your family doesn’t have any gay people in it, so it’s not cool and like, you know, I have gay family members, it’s like I’m a black guy and you just were racist.”
“Shut up, Adrian.”
“You can’t go around calling everyone a fascist. It takes power out of the word.”
“That’s exactly what a fascist would say.”
“So, what if you meet a real, legitimate fascist? Like Nazi tattoos, has a boner for Hitler, that sorta thing.”
“Well, that’s why adjectives exist. I wouldn’t describe this hypothetical Nazi as simply fascist, I’d say he’s hella fascist.”
“Really? The difference between making a gay joke as a comeback to a gay joke and advocating for genocide is the word hella. You’re serious?”
“Shut the fuck up, Adrian…”
“ I just don’t wanna be broke anymore!” Exclaimed Adrian as he rolled his eyes.
“Then do something. Like, you know, get a job…”
“Capitalism is a rapist. You know how I feel about this.”
“Then why do you line up to buy expensive sneakers every other week?”
“Because you know I have to stunt on these hoes.”
“It’s almost been two years since you last had sex.”
“Yeah, but imagine how much longer it would be if my kick game was improper…”
“The only reason why you think that is because, like, a commercial told you that, which is a result of capitalism technically.”
“I just want to look good, man. If I had the option of giving the bourgeoisie the guillotine or giving them the guillotine while wearing some Jordans, the Jordans are always preferable. I’m seizing the means of swag. I’m basically fuckboy Marx.”
“You’ve never even read Marx…”
“So… Fuck it. I don’t care.”
“I’m hungry. Do you want to get something to eat?’ Asked Adrian.
“Sure. Where are you trying to go?”
“I don’t know yet. Let’s get in the car and see where life takes us.”
“We’re going to Chooseburger, aren’t we?”
“Nope. I need more excitement in my life. I wanna spice things up.”
As Michael sat in the passenger seat, Adrian wore a devilish grin on his face.
“Ah shit! Forgot my wallet! I’ll be right back.” Adrian said in noticeably rehearsed fashion.
“I have $54 in my wallet. I can spot you, but you have to pay me back this time…” Said Michael
“No, no, no. I got this. You paid for me how many times? Too many. I owe ya. Be right back.” Replied Adrian as he slammed the driver’s side door shut.
Michael felt uneasy. He wasn’t sure why, but the sudden generosity of Adrian struck him as odd.
As Michael sat in the car, he looked to his right and noticed his neighbor, Irv, a South Boston transplant who moved to Pinole “fah the weatha” watering his grass in nothing but underwear, sandals, knee-high socks and three gold chains tangled in his thick chest hair.
“What are ya starin’ at, Mikey? It’s fuckin’ hot out here. You wanna take a pitcha? It’ll last longa.
“No, I don’t want to take a picture, I just…”
“Then avert ya fuckin’ eyes. You think I wanna be out here in just a little more than my birthday suit? No. I don’t.” Shouted Irv.
Andrian opened the back passenger door and tossed a large duffle bag into the backseat.
“Nice chains, Irvin!” Shouted Adrian as he slammed the backdoor shut.
“Fuck ya motha, Adrian!”
“Only after you!” Adrian replied with a smirk.
“Are you excited? Adrian asked as he began to backout of the driveway.
“Excited for what? For Chooseburger?”
“No. Excited for the adventure we’re about to go on!”
“And what adventure is that?”
“I don’t want to ruin it.”
As Adrian turned onto I-80 East toward Sacramento, Michael realized that they really weren’t going to Chooseburger. His uneasiness became a nervous curiosity.
“Seriously, where are we going?”
“Will you stop acting like such a little bitch? I’m trying to surprise you and you keep acting like a little bitch! We’ve only been on the road for what? Five minutes?”
“I’m not acting like a little bitch. I just want to know where we’re going. Are we going to Crockett?”
“Why do you think we’d be going to Crockett? There’s nothing in Crockett.”
“There’s the Fish Skeleton.”
“Yeah, but the Fish Skeleton is overpriced. And remember, we’ve been there before. This is an adventure.”
“Last time we went on one of your adventures, we literally just sat in front of your ex-girlfriend’s house while you played “Love the way you lie” by Eminem on repeat as loud as you possibly could before her mom called the cops on us.”
“Could you stop mentioning that? She really fucked me over. I’m still get upset thinking about it.”
“You cheated on her and she caught you!”
“Well, with her sister, so technically they have the same genetics. It’s like getting a blowjob from a different version of the same person.”
“That’s not how it works, Adrian.”
“Well, it should. Do you have a five-dollar bill?”
“Because we’re crossing the bridge.”
“Because that’s where our destination is.”
“Where are we even going?”
“Just give me five dollars, fuck!”
“I thought you were paying.”
“For the food, not for bridge toll.”
“You never told me we were crossing the Carquinez Bridge.”
“Because you’d bitch about it. Which you are. So it was good that I didn’t say anything. Now are you going to give me five dollars or are we going to risk getting a ticket for not paying? Your choice.”
“You’re a fucking dick!” Michael said as he threw a crumpled five-dollar bill at Adrian’s face.
“Thank you for your gracious donation, Mike.”
Adrian sped past the toll plaza without paying.
“What the fuck!?!”
“Calm down, I have Fastpass.” Said Adrian.
“Then give me back my money!”
“Jesus! Will you chill the fuck out? We’re just going on an adventure. What’s the big deal?” Inquired Adrian as he handed Michael back his money.
“So, what’s in Vallejo anyways?”
“It’s not about what’s here, it’s about what’s not here.”
“Is that supposed to be philosophical?”
“Nope. Very literal. You’ll understand soon enough, my young padawan.”
“I’m older than you by 6 months.”
“Could have fooled me with that baby dick you have between your legs.”
“You’ve never seen my dick.”
“Yeah, but you have baby dick energy.”
“You have baby brain energy.”
“At least I don’t have a baby dick.” Said Adrian with an audible chuckle.
“This better be good.”
“It’s going to be an experience, that I can guarantee. Good and bad are completely subjective. I’m not in the business of perception.”
“Will you stop saying weird, indirect shit?”
“You’re no fun.We’re almost there anyway. See? Springs Road. That’s our exit.” Said Adrian as the car roared off the interstate with a speed bordering on 80 miles per hour, only to abruptly halt at the stop sign.
“What is your problem, dude!” Michael screamed as Adrian slammed the breaks.
“Nothing, just following the rules of the road.” Replied Adrian.
“Who taught you how to drive?”
“Well, she didn’t go a great job!”
“Are you dead yet?”
“What do you mean ‘yet’?”
“I mean, we’re all going to die, but your death hasn’t taken place yet. In other words, my driving hasn’t killed you, so quit bitching.”
The car continued on Springs Road for just under a mile before Adrian pulled into a sparsely populated shopping center. Other than a few shoppers, the area was almost empty. An unarmed security guard scanned the parking lot. He leaned back against a pillar outside of the East Vallejo Credit Union with visible boredom as he chewed on cold lumpia he had purchased during his lunch break from a nearby Filipino eatery. Adrian put the car in park while his eyes focused on the lone security guard.
“A pizza shop, a Filipino restaurant, dry cleaning, an auto body shop, a liquor store with bars on the windows and a small community bank… This is what we came here to see? This is the adventure? Are we on a tour of America’s saddest looking strip malls?” Michael asked sarcastically.
“No.” Replied Adrian as his eyes remained fixated on the security guard.
“Dude, what’s going on? You’re legitimately weirding me out.”
“So, you know how we were complaining about how shit never changes, Mike?”
“We do that everyday.”
“Exactly. We do. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m willing to do anything to make our miserable static into something dynamic.”
“You could just say you want to make changes without going fully autistic English major on me.”
“Fortune favors the bold, Mike. So, I’m going to tell you why we’re here. We’re going to rob that bank over there… The East Vallejo Credit Union.
“Shut up.” Said Michael in disbelief.
“I’m not kidding, look.” Said Adrian as he reached into the backseat to pull the duffle bag onto his lap.
“Your bullshit is actually starting to annoy me.”
“I’m not bullshitting.” Replied Adrian as he unzipped the main compartment of the duffle bag and pulled out a 9mm pistol.
“I got an AR15, too. It’s not loaded like the pistols, but it’s a big ass gun. Really intimidating shit.”
Michael paused and stared at Adrian. His heart began to pound. He wanted to be anywhere other than this parking lot.
“Where the fuck did you get a gun!” Screamed Michael.
“Guns, plural, I have more than one. And calm down. There’s a reason why I picked Vallejo. There’s no police. Like, the entire fucking city is too broke to afford police. It’s not like we’re doing this somewhere that matters.”
“Are you retarded? Are you literally fucking retarded? I’m not robbing a bank. I want nothing to do with this or you. I’m done.”
“Mike, you’re robbing this bank with me. And even if you don’t, you’re going to be an accomplice in the eyes of the police. Also, I didn’t pay for bridge toll. I don’t have a Fastpass. We already look suspicious”
“I thought there weren’t any police! Now in the eyes of the police, that apparently don’t exist, I’m an accomplice? Fuck you, Adrian.”
“Even the cops that are here ain’t shit.”
“Who the fuck told you that?!”
“And where is Mac Dre?”
“I don’t know, probably The Crest Side?”
“No, he’s not. He’s fucking dead! Do you want to fucking die, too?”
“Really? Mac Dre’s dead?”
“Are you fucking serious? Yes, he’s dead, he’s been dead since 2004. He also went to prison for 5 years. Guess what for. FOR ROBBING BANKS, STUPID! Where have you been your entire life?”
“Okay, I don’t know if Mac Dre is dead, but you’re really bringing me down. I need to verify this online before I just go around believing anything you tell me. Either way, you’re going in with me. If you don’t, I’m going to leave you here and you’re going to have to deal with whatever happens.”
“Nope. I’m going to call those police you don’t believe exist and tell them what you’re going to do. I’m not getting in trouble for this stupid shit.”
Adrian bashed in Michael’s nose with the butt of the gun. Blood began pouring from Michael’s face. As Mike placed both hands over his nose, sobbing in agony, Adrian dug in Michael’s pockets to find his cellphone.
“I’m sorry, but I had to do that, Mike. Your energy was really killing my vibe. Think about the bright side. We’re splitting the money.” Said Adrian as he pulled Michael’s cell phone from his pocket.
“Give me my fucking phone. NOW!”
“You’re not the one making the rules. I am. Now, this is what’s going to happen, I’m going to give you the AR because it’s unloaded and I know you’re mad, so I can’t trust you with a loaded weapon. First, we’re going to approach the security guard and force him into the bank. I’m going to hold him at gunpoint while you get the money. See that Honda over there? That’s the getaway car. We’re leaving this one here.”
“This is your car, if you leave it here, they’ll trace it back to you. Let’s just go home.”
“This is a stolen car belonging to someone in El Cerrito, so there’s no paper trail attaching it to me. That Honda is stolen, too. Don’t recall out of what city, though. It doesn’t matter. We’re only using it to get back to our side of the bridge. There’s another car waiting for us on Cummings Skyway. It’s all mapped out. Don’t worry about the guns, either. They’re untraceable. Stolen out of Nevada, serial numbers have been removed. The perfect throwaways. At this point you know too much. If you don’t just follow my rules, I’ll kill you. I’m sorry, but I have to do this.”
Adrian calmly placed a ski mask on Michael’s lap.“Put it on.”
END OF CHAPTER 1