“Right here, Dad.” I guided my 90-year-old, nearly blind and deaf father into the bank. We waited just inside the door for what little eyesight he had to get used to the change in light. Suddenly, he patted his pockets and looked around, confused.
“Where’s the box?”
“Oops. Sorry, I left it in the car.” My father was an old fashioned guy who emptied his pockets of change every night into an old coffee can. When it got full, he poured it all into a sturdy cardboard box and secured it with bungee cords so we could take it to the bank. Our bank had a coin converter that we could use for free. Good thing he remembered the box. I was not eager to make a second trip.
I led him over to the counter where people stood to write deposit slips or whatever. I placed his hand on the edge, so he could steady himself.
“Wait here, Dad. I’ll be right back.” The parking lot was crowded and we had had to park farther away than I would have liked. But for all of his disabilities, Dad was still a sturdy walker, and he had made it just fine. He did the best he could, given the circumstances. But the walk to the car and back still took a couple of minutes. Just long enough for what happened next.
When I got back to the bank, I froze. Through the glass front, I could see something was wrong. People were running and some appeared to be shrieking. Suddenly, I saw them throw themselves onto the floor. All except my father, who looked around, trying to understand what was going on. Then I saw why. A guy in a jacket and with a bandanna tied over the lower part of his face was brandishing a gun. I could barely hear his muffled yells through the thick glass.
The robber reached out and clubbed my father on the back of the head with the butt of the gun. My father slumped to the floor and I felt my brain go red with rage. But I dared not lose my head and run into the bank. That could send the robber into an unpredictable panic.
I knew I only had seconds to act. But what could I do? I glanced around for a weapon and found nothing. I felt the weight of the box in my hand and looked down. On each side of the bank doors was a concrete planter. I slipped the bungee cords off the box and wrapped them around the base of the planters, then stretched them across the entrance and hooked them to each other at what I hoped was shin height. I crouched down next to the nearest planter and hoped my makeshift snare would work.
Seconds later, the robber threw himself out of the door, tripped on the bungee cords, and flew headlong onto the sidewalk, facedown. Clutching the bag of money in one hand and the gun in the other, his instincts to throw out his hands and break his fall came an instant too late. I thought I heard the satisfying crunch of a broken nose. If I were lucky, the fall would have ruptured an eardrum or cracked an elbow or a knee. I wanted desperately to rush over and smash his head into the concrete again and again. But the police would be there in seconds. More important, I had to see to my father. Like him, I had done the best I could…given the circumstances.
Lida Bushloper writes short mysteries and poetry. Her work has appeared in The Lyric, The Formalist, Kings River Life, Mysterical-e, and Flash Bang Mysteries. Visit her website at http://lidabushloper.wordpress.com.
Copyright © 2016 Lisa Bushloper. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.