This story is by Rebecca Hurley and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Curt stuffed the donut in his mouth. He usually avoided the cliché, but he was hungry, damn it. He didn’t care if anyone in the station saw him. They always said he looked nothing like a cop; maybe this would help his case.
Twenty minutes later, he swung into the parking lot. He spotted Jackson. Black on black on black, on a skinny white boy who only wished he was a badass. Curt hoped he’d stay a wannabe, but he knew that thin line too well. Jackson got in and slammed the door. Curt was bombarded by the aroma of marijuana.
“Hi to you too.” Curt said, after the silence got to him.
“Hey.” Jackson’s conversational skills left something to be desired.
“How was your day?”
Curt drove for a while in silence.
“You know Jackson, if there’s anything you’d like to tell me, you can.”
Curt wanted to bang his head against the steering wheel. He was used to belligerence in his job, but until about three weeks ago, after work had been free of snark.
“Jackson. I’m just going to be blunt here. You smoking weed?”
“Blunt? Good one. I’m going to be blunt here too. It’s really none of your business.”
Curt pulled over. “The hell it isn’t. Give me your bag.”
Jackson’s backpack was on the floor by his feet. Curt and Jackson both lunged for it. For a scrawny kid, Jackson was stronger than he looked, but Curt had about a hundred pounds on him. He wrenched it away from Jackson with such force that his left arm struck the window, smashing his wristwatch. Bits of glass and metal sprayed across the car.
Everything flashed dark. When Curt came to, he was lying in the middle of the road in a shady neighborhood of boarded up buildings and rundown houses. Drivers honked their horns and gave him the one finger salute. Only a bar called “The Hole” was still in business. Curt found a seat at the aptly named dank and dirty bar. A spotted mirror hung behind the bar, and requisite bottles of liquor were stacked on a shelf in front of it. Curt ordered a drink and tried to determine what had happened.
The door slammed shut and Curt watched four men enter the bar. Dressed in baggy T-shirts and jeans, they reeked of tobacco and bad life choices. The first three were the usual bad hombres, but the fourth man gave Curt a start. Curt quickly looked at himself in the mirror, or where he should have been. His spot in front of the mirror was empty.
Curt sneaked another glance at the man. Dirty blonde goatee. Studded left ear and tats reminiscent of wilder days. 6’4” frame that held its two hundred and fifty pounds well, but that would turn to fat if not kept in check. Check, check, check. This man was the spitting freaking image of himself.
What the…? Curt thought, staring like an idiot. He watched the man pull a wad of cash from his pocket. Then the mystery man met Curt’s blue-eyed stare with an azure gaze of his own.
“Who the hell are you?” He asked.
“Curt Stone. Who the hell are you?” Curt retorted.
“Don’t fuck with me. I’m Curt Stone.” The man replied.
Curt felt goose bumps rise on his arms. This couldn’t be happening.
Suddenly, the man grabbed Curt and hauled him against the wall. He took a swing at his head, but Curt blocked his punch. He grabbed his midsection and tried to force Curt to the floor. Again Curt anticipated his move, stuffing the takedown and scrambling out. After a few more failed attempts, the man gave up.
“Well you fight like me. And you look like me. Tell me something about me.”
“You drink Coors Light. You have a Mickey Mouse tattoo on your ass. You never got over Lauren.”
“You’re good, I’ll give you that.”
He sized Curt up for a minute and then roughly grabbed Curt’s arm.
“Come on. We could use another one of me.”
“Nah, I’m good.”
Curt pulled a nine millimeter and shot at the floor, narrowly missing Curt’s foot.
“I said come on.”
Reluctantly, Curt followed him out to an idling black Crown Vic.
“Get in.” He gave him a push, and the driver sped off.
Curt eyed Curt tentatively. He wondered where they were going. He rolled up his sleeve.
“Got this one?” Curt eyed his arm and then pulled up his leather jacket to reveal the same cursive lettering: RIP Scottie.
“My ride or die.”
Curt thought about his best friend Scottie. He and Scottie had run the neighborhood, bonding over deadbeat dads and Hustler. They’d sit on Scottie’s porch and make plans to become something. That all came crashing down one soggy November day when Scottie and Curt ripped off the wrong dude in a drug deal. Scottie had flashed his nine and they ran, but they got shot in the process: Curt in the shoulder and Scottie in the chest. Curt had watched him die a block down, frozen, unable to help.
“That day changed my life. Officer Bentley’s why I became a cop.”
“That bastard? He let that dude get away.”
“Because he was saving our life.”
“We would’ve lived. Should’ve caught him. I went back and jumped his bitch ass a few months later. Did eight months in juvie, but it was worth it. I can’t believe you’re a pig.”
“I’m pretty sure we were meant to be.”
“Shut up and put this on. You got a gun?” Curt handed him a dark blue bandana, and he tied one over his face. He plopped a flat-billed Hoyas hat on Curt’s head and donned one of his own.
“I got a gun, but I’m not using it.”
The car pulled up to a Citibank.
“You’ll do what I tell you. Get out.”
The gun prodding his back proved to be fairly persuasive, and Curt obliged.
“Everybody down!” Curt yelled as he entered the bank and started shooting.
“Get the fuck down or we gonna knock some heads off. ”
Customers and employees screamed and dove to the floor.
Curt stood at the side of the bank, numb. His mind turned with ways to help. He watched Curt as he chose a cubicle, shot through the glass, and grabbed the nearest employee. Curt’s cronies prowled the floor, shooting at random. As people were hit, the floor became slick with blood and the gang’s army-style boots tracked it around the room.
“Open the vault. Where’s the vault?”
Curt threw a big black duffel bag at the teller. They disappeared down a hallway. Curt rounded the corner. His training had kicked in, but he arrived just as Curt blasted the teller with at least five rounds.
“Get someone else!” He screamed. Curt ran back to the lobby.
“Who can open the vault?” Curt flashed his gun around, hoping to scare someone without shooting.
A man stood up with his hands in the air. Curt roughly escorted him back to the vault where Curt was waiting. He nudged the man with his gun and ordered him to load the bag. Shaking, the man shoveled in bundles of cash.
“Shoot him. Now.”
Curt shook his head.
“Do it, or I’ll shoot him and you.” Curt debated a shot in the foot. As he hesitated, out of the corner of his eye he saw Curt raise his gun. He lunged for him and knocked his gun out of his hand.
“Run!” he screamed as once again, Curt and Curt went head to head. Curt flipped him over and crawled for the gun. He grabbed Curt’s hand and slammed it down on the concrete over his head. The impact from the slam ruptured the watch on his right hand. Bits of glass and metal sprayed across the floor.
Everything flashed dark. When he came to, he was back in his squad car and the radio dispatcher was squawking. “10-33 in action. Citibank on Cricket and Towns.”
Curt didn’t have time to look for Jackson. He jammed the car into drive and sped over. He jumped out of his car and approached the building cautiously. He could see people lying on the floor with their hands over their heads through the front window. No gunman was in sight. Curt entered the lobby area and proceeded carefully to the back, where the vault door was open. A black duffel bag full of money sat on the floor. He looked around, trying to make sense of what was happening.
“There he is!” A cry rang out. A bank teller approached, followed by police officers.
“Stone?” Curt’s partner looked at him in disbelief as an officer snapped the cuffs on his wrists.
“You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney…”