Chicken and Waffles, Chapter 5

They drove south. Anthony drove Chicken and Waffles with Antwon, Rachel, and Coral. Following them closely were the other gang members driving an inconspicuous black van. Coral shouted directions at Anthony as she filled them in on their roles in the crime, which was quickly realized to be a bank robbery. Darkness was upon them by the time they arrived a block away from the bank they intended to rob. The bank was getting ready to close down for the night. Perfect time for a bank heist, Coral insisted. 

Anthony was given a small black duffel bag, a ski mask, and an air soft gun with the orange tip removed, and was told to walk in the front door of the bank, point his “gun” at the teller, and demand that they start dumping money into the duffel. Meanwhile, Antwon, who was given a ladder, a roll of duct tape, and a walkie-talkie, was to walk in with Anthony and proceed to cover up every camera in the building with tape. Once they were all covered, he was to radio in to Coral, who had the other walkie-talkie. From there the rest of the gang would take it and Anthony and Antwon were to look out for cops.

“Can I have a ski mask too?” Asked Antwon.

“You can put duct tape on your face,” Coral replied with a mean smile.

A few minutes later it was go time whether Anthony and Antwon wanted it to be or not. They stepped out of the bus and headed for the bank, dreading every step.

“Is there any way we can get out of this?” Anthony thought out loud.

“I don’t know but I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to rob a bank, haven’t you?” Antwon responded.

Anthony didn’t know if he was joking but really hoped he was.

They reached the bank door, took a deep breath, and swung it open. Then Anthony realized he hadn’t pulled the ski mask over his face. He frantically did so, then rushed the teller.

“Hey man, I really hate to do this, but I have to. Would you mind putting all the money into this duffel bag? Thanks.”

Anthony was without a doubt the friendliest bank robber in the history of bank robbers. But despite his politeness, the teller sprung into action, obeying rapidly. Meanwhile, Antwon covered over the cameras and then called Coral on the Walkie-Talkie.

“Uh, Coral? Code: you can come in now.”

“Idiot, don’t say my name out loud!” Coral responded angrily.

“Code: sorry boss,” Antwon responded.

“Hey Anthony,” Antwon said, “when Coral comes in you should shoot her with your air soft gun.”

The bank teller looked confused. “That’s only an air soft gun?”

Before Anthony could respond, Coral and Rachel and the rest of the gang entered, real guns drawn. They took over the operation, ensuring the teller was emptying all the money and not just some of it.

Just for the heck of it, Anthony shot Coral with the air soft gun.

“Give me that!” She took the air soft gun and pocketed it. 

Anthony looked over at Antwon, who just shrugged.

The heist was going swimmingly. Anthony and Antwon begrudgingly stood look out for red and blue lights while the rest of the gang frantically stuffed money into bags.

Anthony’s mind raced. “I can’t believe I’m a part of a bank robbery right now! What if I get caught? I might go to prison for a crime I never wanted to commit! This is insane! Why did I ever leave Cincinnati??”

The sound of sirens interrupted his thoughts. He whipped his head around and made eye contact with Coral. Everybody’s head popped away from what they were doing for a split second before diving back into their thieving activities with extra fervor.

“Hurry up boys! The Popo is coming!”

Another iconic line from the infamous villain… she must have been a Hollywood actress in another life.

Finally all the money had been stuffed into the duffel. Coral rushed up to Anthony and shoved the duffel into his arms. “Okay, Jumpy. Now your real job begins. You and Antwon – oh and Rachel too – take the bag and get out of here! Hop back in your bus and try to evade the cops. If you don’t, sucks to be you. But if you do, cool I guess. I don’t really care. But lead the cops away so we can get away clean.”

“Wait!” Rachel said, anger all over her face, “This wasn’t the plan! I was supposed to go with you guys!”

“There’s no room for you in the van,” Coral said matter-of-factly. Rachel was going to argue more but the sirens were too close for comfort. There was no time for arguments.

“GO!” Coral yelled.

Anthony, Antwon, and Rachel sprinted out the bank door and down the street to where the bus was parked. Cop cars came screeching around the corner at that moment, wailing like it was the end of the world. Maybe it was for them, thought Anthony.

“Why did Coral give us the bag? Now we’re gonna get caught and they won’t make a dime!” Anthony huffed.

“It doesn’t make sense, does it?” Antwon returned.

“Idiots, this duffel is a decoy! They have the real money back in the bank still!” Rachel yelled.

It all made sense now. Anthony and Antwon were just decoys. They had a fake duffel with fake money, running away from the crime scene where the real criminals were still hiding, waiting for the commotion to end so they could slip away unnoticed. And it was working too! The cops zeroed in on the three fugitives and paid no attention to the bank. They were intent on capturing their criminals! They’d come back to secure the crime scene later.

They reached the bus ahead of the cops but they were close behind.

“I’ll drive!” Antwon said.

“You sure?” Anthony asked.

“Trust me.”

So Anthony gave Antwon the keys and he fired up the engine. 

“Ohhh baby, stuff’s about to get real!” 

And the chase was on.

“Rachel, how do you feel now? You betrayed us and now your little scheme has backfired! None of us are ever going to see a penny of that cash. You put our lives at risk for nothing. You should be ashamed of yourself!”

The bus lurched this way and that way as they skidded around corners and ran red lights. Anthony and Rachel held on for dear life.

“Coral played you like a fool, Rachel! And you played us too. As soon as we evade these cops, we’re dumping you.”

“HANG ONN!!” Antwon yelled from the front as he engaged nitrous. The bus hurtled ahead at supersonic speeds.

“ANTWON, DID YOU INSTALL TURBO IN THIS BUS?!” 

“NITROUS, NOT TURBO. THERE’S A DIFFERENCE!” 

“WHEN?? HOW?”

“TURBO CAN’T PRODUCE INSTANT HORSEPOWER BUT NITROUS–”

“NO, NO, I MEAN WHEN DID YOU INSTALL THE NITROUS??”

“BACK WHEN THE BUS BROKE DOWN ON THE HIGHWAY. AT THE AUTO PARTS STORE I PICKED ONE OF THESE BAD BOYS UP AND BOY AM I GLAD I DID! I KNEW IT WOULD COME IN HANDY SOMEDAY! YEEEEEEHAWWW!”

“HOW FAST ARE WE GOING??”

“300 MILES PER HOUR!! WOOOHOOO”

“WE’RE GONNA DIEEEE”

“WE’VE ALMOST EVADED THE COPS. HANG ON, I’M GONNA TAKE A FEW TURNS AND SEE IF WE CAN LOSE EM!”

Anthony felt like he was on a roller coaster and his stomach was not having it. He was ready to puke everything he had ever eaten. Fortunately, Antwon skidded the bus to a halt behind a large barn.

Anthony, Antwon, and Rachel breathed heavily for a moment. There was no sound of sirens anywhere near them. They had lost the cops! After a few dumbfounding moments of silence, Anthony spoke.

“Where did you learn to drive like that?”

“I used to be a NASCAR driver,” Antwon said.

“What?? You didn’t include that in your life story!!”

“Yeah, I guess I left that part out.”

No more explanations were made and silence ensued for another few minutes. Antwon looked exhilarated, like he had just won the lottery or something. Anthony still looked sick, but was also very grateful that he wasn’t behind bars. Rachel looked depressed and mopey.

“Guys, I’m sorry I misled you. It was an awful thing to do.”

While short, it was a sincere apology. Rachel’s usual monotone was replaced with some variation and for the first time that Anthony or Antwon had seen, she was on the brink of tears. Still, Anthony wasn’t convinced.

“Yeah, not good enough. I think it’s about time you leave.”

“But-“

“You used us! There’s no way you can redeem yourself after something like this!”

Rachel drooped her head. “I guess you’re right.” She got up and slowly headed to the doors of the bus. Just before marching outside, she turned to address them one more time.

“You know, when you said at the restaurant that you judged me wrong and that I wasn’t truly trying to become a better person… well I was at first. When you offered your companionship at the restaurant, I sincerely saw it as an opportunity to start over. But then Coral called and I wasn’t strong enough to pass up this new opportunity. I was a fool and I’m sorry.”

With that, she turned and exited the bus. Anthony and Antwon made eye contact. Antwon was, of course, stoic, but Anthony felt a little something tugging on his aorta and maybe his right ventricle as well. Maybe Rachel was sincere… maybe she was ready to start over. Does she deserve a second chance? 

“Rachel, wait!”

Rachel turned back, her head low and eyes sad.

“If you really mean it, and you really do want to start over, I’m willing to give you a second chance. Antwon is too.” Antwon nodded, even though Anthony hadn’t asked if he was willing or not. But he was.

Rachel’s face lit up gently. “Really?”

“One condition.”

“Name it.”

“We do one of those handshakes where we both spit on our hands before handshaking.” Anthony was dead serious. Rachel hid a grin.

“Deal.”

And they shook spit-hands. Everyone knows that kind of handshake is binding and is only shared between committed people. 

“One more condition,” Anthony said seriously.

“So there’s two conditions?”

“If you join us on our journey of self-discovery, you have to be committed to making right what you’ve done wrong. I expect you to call Coral and tell her you’ll never have dealings with her gang again. You’re starting fresh. Understood?”

Rachel nodded her head eagerly. “I’ll make the call right now.”

“Uh, guys,” Antwon interjected, gazing out the windshield.

Standing in front of the bus was a whole fleet of police officers, weapons drawn.

“Frickin frick monster!!” Anthony said.

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