This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
- Black - Part 7
John's job has gone too far. Jenny Jackson lies dead on the bank floor.
From Part 7
Stranger handed John a Smith & Wesson M&P EZ. “What’s this for?” John asked. Stranger repeated himself. “You might need this. Now, let’s go.”
As they approached the bank, Stranger pulled out the stolen key fob and opened the back door. Using a flashlight, he punched in the code to disable the alarm, and the two were off to make money.
Stranger spray-painted the cameras as he went. He opened the large safe door, and John followed him as he began breaking drawer locks and helping himself to stacks of wrapped bills. They loaded their backpacks, and they were ready to make their way out when John heard a noise.
“What’s that?” He whispered.
“I think someone just came in the front door.”
“What do we do?”
“Like I said, you may have to use that gun. When he comes around the corner, shoot him. It’s either him or you. Make it him.”
Bank Manager, Jenny Jackson, turned the corner and immediately saw the safe open. As she approached, she asked, ”Who’s there?” There was no answer. She stepped in front of the safe. John froze. Stranger, from behind, placed his hands over John’s and fired three bullets, ending Jenny’s life.
“Come on! Let’s get out of here.” Stranger led a shaken John back to the car and drove off. John’s mind started to clear.
“What just happened back there?”
Realizing John was confused and disoriented, Stranger said, “You just killed a woman. Now, let’s get out of here.”
The two ran down the street. Between breaths, Stanger instructed John to contact Charles. He earned more than enough to pay his bills. Then the two parted ways. Police sirens echoed down the street as John slipped safely into his car. but the drive home would prove tense as the police swarmed the area.
A nervous and angry Maureen met John at the door. “Where have you been? And what’s going on? You still haven’t told me!”
“I can’t! I won’t! Your life depends on it. That’s all I’m going to say.”
“John, we can’t go on like this. You’re involved in illegal activity of some sort. That much I know. If my life depends on it, what about yours?”
“I’ll be okay. It’s secret government work and my first responsibility is to protect you and Kent.”
“Kent! What’s he have to do with this? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You’ve put my child in danger? John. You need to get out of this. Quit this ridiculous job. We’ll get by.”
John sighed. “I can’t. There is no way out, but the good news is they paid me enough to straighten out the mess at the bank. I have to pick it up in the morning. Everything will be okay - promise.”
It was Maureen’s turn to sigh as she walked off to bed, leaving John with his thoughts.
The morning sun shone through the bedroom window, rousing John. He needed to hurry if he was to meet Charles on time. He showered and shaved before leaving. Heading for the car, he noticed someone cracked the door open. Carefully, he opened the door further. Inside sat a backpack with a note attached. It read,
Thank you, Mr. Black, for your services. But please be informed, we will no longer be needing you. You are honorably dismissed. There is more than enough money in the backpack to pay your bills and sustain you for a time. Remember, too, not to mention your activities with us to anybody. It will cost them their lives.
An excited John ran back to the house, carrying the backpack. “Maureen! Maureen! I’m done. They fired me! They fired me! I have the money to pay the bank. Will you take it later? I need to go looking for an actual job!”
“So no more of this illegal government stuff? You’re done for good?”
“That’s right. Just take the money to the bank. I’ll be back soon.
John left and Maureen counted out the money to take to the bank. In just a few minutes, she was off.
Maureen stood in Terri’s line. Finally, it was her turn.
“Hi, Terri. I’m here to straighten out John’s and my account. I have the money here.”
“Great! We’ll need to go to the counting room.”
Maureen followed Terri down a hall to the second room on the left.
“Have a seat, Maureen. We’ll count this and get you on your way. Thank you for taking care of this. I know times have been difficult for you two.”
Terri pulled the neatly packed rolls of $50s from the backpack. Her smile disappeared. Maureen’s face turned to concern. “Terri, what’s wrong?”
Terri looked at the bills, rubbing her finger over them. Then she looked back at Maureen.
“I’m so sorry, Maureen. These are counterfeit. I’ll need to check the serial numbers. I’ll be back in a minute.”
An icy feeling broke over Maureen, and her chest tightened. One tear after another fell from her eyes. She pounded the table not just because of her frustration, but because anger was on the move. How could John have allowed this to happen? Terri came back into the room.
“Oh, Maureen. I’m so sorry. Would you like a glass of water?”
Maureen was speechless. Terri said, “I’m going to make a quick trip to the water fountain. I’ll be right back.”
On the way back, Terri stopped to inform the bank manager, Robert Merriwether, of the situation. Together, they walked to the counting room. Terri placed a cup of cold water in front of Maureen and sat beside her. She gave her a hug and held her tight. She knew what Robert was about to say.
“Mrs. Black, the serial numbers on your bills are all the same. Along with other indications, your bills are void. They are counterfeit. Every last one of them. We will need to start an investigation to sort this out. Please tell me I’m right. You had nothing to do with this, did you?
Maureen screamed. "Oh, come on! You know I didn't."
"I'm not accusing you, Mrs. Black. You folks have been faithful customers for years. But tell me, where did you get this?"
Maureen choked. "I'd rather not say."
"Mrs. Black, to try to pass this much counterfeit money is a serious crime. We will need to notify the police. They will be looking into it, so be prepared. I know this has been hard for you, but let me remind you - the outstanding balance on your account of $42,000 still needs to be paid. Maureen fainted.
"Terri, call an ambulance!"
John’s cell phone rang. “Mr. Black? This is Doctor Rivera at Pennsylvania Hospital. Your wife has been admitted because of stress-related issues. We need you to get here as soon as possible. She needs you and we need to take care of the paperwork.”
John looked up the address - 800 Spruce Street. John thought, Same street as Park Bank. Wonder if this could be a set-up. I guess there’s only one way to find out, but I better be careful.
Stopping at the reception desk to get Maureen’s room number, John hustled down the hall to the elevator, stopping often to look over his shoulder. Finding the room, he stepped inside to find Maureen resting. He gently touched her face. She awoke, looked at John, and began howling.
“How could you do this? How could you? You just ruined our lives - no, my life! Get out of here! Leave! Right now! I hate you! I hate you!”
The commotion brought a nurse running. “What seems to be the problem?”
Maureen continued her rant. “Get him out of here! I never want to see him again! Get him out of here!”
“Mr. Black, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”
“Okay, I get that, but what happened?”
“Come with me. I get the attending physician for you.”
They walked down the hall until they came to a small office. “Doctor Rivera, this is Mr. Black. He has some questions for you. You may go in, Mr. Black.” After all he had been through, he was tired of being addressed as Mr. Black.
“Mr. Black . . .”
“Please, please call me John.”
“Okay, John. Your wife is under a load of stress that she can’t possibly carry. She took a deposit to her bank today. The money was counterfeit, and the bank may press charges unless they can discover where the money came from. They don’t believe she is at fault, but neither is she telling where the money came from either. If you can get her to talk, that would be very helpful. Presently she’s at rest, but when she wakes if you could help us with this matter, we would appreciate it.”
The only thing on John’s mind was, ”She’s not at rest. She’s wide-awake and ready to fight, probably ready to turn him in to the police herself.”
The discussion continued. “Doctor, Maureen didn’t give any indication of where the money came from?”
“No. She was too upset. I know the police will be here tomorrow to speak with her.”
“Yes. We will keep her overnight for observation. Now, you need to return home, but you may come to see her in the morning. Goodnight, Mr. Bla . . . I mean, John.”
John pulled into his driveway. He could see the TV flickering through the lace curtains. Knowing he had been double-crossed again, John was not in the mood for TV. His plan was to go straight to bed and pretend all was well.
“Kent. Turn off the TV. I’m going to bed.” John reached for the remote.
“No, Dad. Wait! I’m watching a special report about those burglaries taking place. The police are closing in. Won’t it be great when the cops finally catch those creeps?”
John took a second look. The TV anchor’s voice was loud and clear. “Here is a picture of the one who shot and killed Park Bank manager, Jenny Jackson last night taken from bank surveillance. The picture isn’t perfectly clear, but if anyone knows this man, please contact the police immediately.”
Kent squealed, “Dad, that looks like you holding the gun. If I didn’t know you better, Dad, I’d swear that was you. Pretty cool, don't you think!”
"Yeah - real cool."
- Black - Part 9
John Black is on the move. Where to? He doesn't know.
© 2021 William Kovacic