Bonnie & ClydeOctober 9, 2018
‘Your name really Bonnie?’
She looked at him through thick black lashes and smiled. ‘Yeah. Why? Are you Clyde?’
‘I am.’ His smile looked smug to her, but she liked confidence in a man.
‘I guess we gotta rob banks then, brah.’ Her laugh had a side order of giddiness like fries weren’t enough on their own.
‘When you done for the day?’ Clyde said with a killer grin.
‘I can quit now.’ She stuffed an extra burger into the bag and an extra shovel full of potatoes. ‘I’m quitting, Mrs. Gonzales,’ she shouted over her shoulder toward the office as she took off her garish hat.
‘Meet you outside,’ Clyde said with a little salute.
In the break room, Bonnie shucked off her grease-stained shirt and let it fall to the floor. Latisha gaped at her. ‘You really just going to walk out like that?’
Bonnie wriggled into her genuine Calvin Klein t-shirt and put on her jean jacket. ‘It’s kismet.’
‘It’s crazy,’ Latisha said and went back reading to her thick novel.
Bonnie walked outside and found Clyde at the picnic table under the stunted pine trees. She sat down opposite him and grabbed the other burger and a handful of fries. ‘So you got a gun or what?’
‘You still eat that garbage even after working there?’ he asked, squinting one eye at her with some suspicion.
‘Hey, we have 100% all-beef burgers freshly fried to your satisfaction.’ Bonnie shoved a bunch of fries into her mouth. ‘They say there’s a little heroin in the fries though, that’s what makes them so addictive.’
‘I saw that on YouTube,’ Clyde said. ‘I got one gun, but we’re going to need another. I know a dude. Bunker type. He’s got a bunch. Bet we can buy one off him. You got any money?’
‘I get paid tomorrow, I guess.’ Bonnie frowned. ‘If you want to wait that long.’
‘Bank’s closing about now. Gotta wait.’ Clyde chewed slowly. He was thinking probably. Bonnie figured he was planning. ‘You wanna make out?’
‘Here on the picnic table?’ Bonnie laughed and wiped her mouth.
‘Why not?’ Clyde leaned over the table, and they kissed. It was salty, and a little greasy, but Bonnie was used to that. Sometimes when Mrs. Gonzales wasn’t around, she would make out with her nephew, the manager trainee Jorge. He was seventeen and always had a boner. He begged her for a blowjob about a dozen times a day.
Bonnie was saving herself though—well, since she got born again. Now she knew why: fate.
‘I got my truck here,’ Clyde said as he finished the last of his fries. ‘Come on.’ It was one of those big ones with the child-bearing hips as her daddy called them, electric blue with all kinds of stickers on the bumpers and a big DON’T TREAD ON ME across the window. ‘Hop on up,’ he said helping her make the step up.
‘You really want to rob banks?’ Bonnie asked as she cleared some rubbish off the seat.
‘It’s the American dream,’ Clyde said. ‘World’s going to hell. We might as well get what we deserve before it all goes up in a fiery ball.’ He slung an arm around her shoulders and pulled her to him. They necked for a while. Clyde put his mouth close to her ear. ‘You on the pill?’
‘Birth control is murder,’ Bonnie murmured.
‘It’s going to be murder if I explode,’ Clyde muttered, unzipping his jeans. It took a while to figure out a configuration that could accommodate them without banging one of their heads against something as they did it. It wasn’t the worst Bonnie had, but maybe when they were rolling in dough, they could do it in an actual bed, like in a fancy hotel.
At least they had already finished when Mrs. Gonzales came and knocked on the window and told them to clear out before she called the cops.
‘We gotta pack up for the road, but let’s go get you a gun first,’ Clyde said, offering her a Camel to smoke. He took her to a part of town she’d never seen, where the rolling hills gave way to farmlands. Clyde turned down a gravel road that looked more like a path than something for vehicles, then stopped outside what might be the dictionary definition of a shack. Bonnie thought it might well fall down in a strong wind.
‘Now, just don’t say much of anything if you can help it and don’t make any sudden moves,’ Clyde said as he helped her down. ‘Clarence is good people, but he’s a little colorful, too. Not to mention a bit paranoid. Don’t mention Sesame Street.’
‘Why would I mention Sesame Street?’ Bonnie asked, but Clyde just shook his head. Oh, great it’s going to be like the elephant. Tell someone not to think of an elephant, and that’s the only thing they can think of any more.
But when they got inside Clarence’s shack, Bonnie did not think about elephants or Sesame Street because there was way too much to distract her. Every inch of the walls was covered with newspaper clippings, some in those giant headlines and some in regular newsprint. Most of them yellowed by age but some obviously new this week about the woman who disappeared without a trace from the airplane.
There were aliens and murders and yetis and whatnot. If there was something that pulled them all together, Bonnie hadn’t a clue. Clarence himself was definitely twitchy. He had 3-D glasses on. When he noticed her glance at them, he tapped the side and in a strange strangled sort of voice said, ‘They live.’
Clyde didn’t much seem to notice the crazy, so she figured it was all right, but she hoped they wouldn’t be staying long. ‘We need a gun for a bank job or two,’ he told the man, rubbing his hands together with glee. ‘Something nice for this lady.’
Bonnie was pleased he showed that kind of chivalry. You could tell a lot about a man by the way he treated women, so her daddy said.
The two men bickered while Bonnie tried not to let her eyes roam too much over the screaming words pasted around the place. HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR was about the best one she saw, though PREGNANT BY YETI came close. A couple of times the negotiations got a little heated. Clarence made like to cuff Clyde once or twice, but it seemed part of the negotiations.
Then it was over. Almost over, that is. ‘You gotta pass the test,’ Clyde said with a kind of apologetic air. ‘It’s not much. You’ll do fine.’
‘What kind of test?’ Bonnie didn’t much like that sound of that. She liked it even less when Clarence held up a shoebox with one end cut off. It was painted black and covered with wires and a flashing light. ‘What’s in the box?’
‘Pain.’ Clarence blinked at her through his two-colored lenses. ‘Put your hand in here.’
Bonnie looked at Clyde. He winked at her. ‘It’ll be fine, trust me.’
She stuck her hand inside the box. It was lined with fur. She wondered if it was squirrel fur. Clarence probably killed and ate squirrels. He looked to be just that kind.
‘Wait,’ Clarence shook the box and then hit the side. The light blinked faster now. Bonnie felt a tingle in her hand.
‘Yes, you pass,’ Clarence said, looking a little peevish. ‘Not everyone can pass the test of the gum jabber.’
‘Why’s it called that?’
Clarence held the box like she might have hurt it. ‘I’m not saying it was aliens, but the technology came to me in a vision.’
‘That’s funny ‘cause it looks like it came from Radio Shack.’ Bonnie frowned.
‘She don’t mean that. It’s the pain speaking,’ Clyde said, hustling her out of the shack and shouting good-bye over his shoulder.
‘He’s a nut,’ Bonnie said as they got in the truck.
‘But we got a gun. I told him we’ll pay him back when we rob the bank tomorrow. He’s a good guy overall.’
‘He looks part yeti.’
But they admired the gun which looked more like a wild west pistol than Clyde’s modern one. ‘My daddy brought this back from the war,’ he said allowing Bonnie to stroke its steely side.
‘I dunno. He’s been in a few. Top secret stuff he said.’ Clyde drove them off to another dark place. ‘You can practice here. You ever shot before?’
‘My cousin’s BB gun.’
Clyde took some bottles out of the bed of the truck and set them up against a tree. There was just enough light left in the summer sky to glint off the green of the bottles. He said there was no one for miles around.
Bonnie got the hang of shooting real quick. It didn’t take all that much really. Point and shoot. You just lined up the little thing on the barrel with what you wanted to shoot and bingo. Truth to tell, Clyde might have been a little annoyed at how good she was, but Bonnie tried not to let it go to her head. Man was the head of the family, her daddy always said. Don’t challenge his authority.
They bedded down in the back of the truck. ‘You sure your daddy won’t care?’
‘He’s probably passed out by now. I usually put him to bed if I can, and if he fights me too much, I just leave him on the davenport.’ Bonnie tried to get comfortable.
‘Tomorrow night we sleep in a classy hotel by a casino or something,’ Clyde said, yawning and draping an arm over her.
‘Won’t we have to be laying low?’ Bonnie asked.
‘They won’t look for us in a fancy place like that. And we’ll get plastic surgery to change our appearance. I saw that on the History Channel. That’s how Hitler and them survived after the war.’
Bonnie frowned. ‘I don’t want to change too much though. I like my face.’
‘It’s a nice face. You’ll see. They can do changes all subtle like that make everything seem completely different. You can dye your hair, too.’
In the morning they were a bit stiff and inclined to be cranky, but they washed their mouths out with some Dew and got it on because Clyde said it was a sin to waste morning wood. ‘Tonight will make up for it,’ he promised.
They headed for the big bank on the west side where the rich people lived. Bonnie remembered that as a kid she thought the building was a church with its fancy stone gee-gaws and its big arch. The bank didn’t open for half an hour, so they went to the diner for flapjacks and sausages. Bonnie washed her face in the bathroom and fluffed her hair a little. It got pressed flat while sleeping in the truck.
They loaded up the guns with bullets. Bonnie put the rest of the box Clarence had given them in her purse. ‘Don’t you have a bag or something for yours?’ she asked Clyde.
‘I can put it inside my jacket like this,’ he said, showing her how he’d tuck it inside. ‘Extra bullets go in here.’ He dropped them into the breast pocket. They were a bit lumpy but with the gun, who was going to notice.
‘Well, do we give the teller a note or what?’
Clarence didn’t seem to have thought about that part of the procedure. ‘You think that’s better than just shooting in the air? “This is a robbery!” you know?’
Bonnie stared at him. ‘You do that, and they all press those panic buttons, and the vaults or whatever just seal up tight. No money. And they probably lock the doors too until the police get there.’
So Bonnie wrote out a note in her best hand. It was the one thing she had always done well at in school. Every word was nice and clear.
We have guns. Give us your money, and nobody dies. Do not alert the police.
‘That ought to do,’ she said with justifiable pride.
‘Maybe we should get married. If we cross the state line I think it’s easier,’ Clyde said, brow furrowed as he tried to recall what it was about crossing state lines that made getting married easier.
‘I think first I should get a ring and real proposal,’ Bonnie pouted.
‘We could knock over a jewelry store later today,’ Clyde said, leaning over to kiss her in the cab. ‘Ready?’
They walked into the bank which was swanky and air-conditioned. A single security guard nodded to them as he held the door open. They went up to the first teller, and Bonnie handed her note over with a smile. She didn’t worry about the video cameras because soon they would have new faces. Anything was possible with money.
The teller looked up at her. ‘Bonnie? Bonnie Rowena?’
‘Oh hey, ah…Emma, isn’t it? Hey. Not seen you since Ms. Shapiro’s English class.’
‘Yeah, hey.’ Emma frowned. ‘What is this—a joke?’
‘No, we’re robbing the bank. This is Clyde.’
‘Hey,’ said Clyde with a little wave though he was looking a mite jumpy.
‘Kismet,’ Bonnie said. ‘Now give us all your money.’
‘I’ve only got about a hundred dollars here,’ Emma said with a crooked smile. ‘It’s not going to be much.’
‘Well, even giants start out as babies,’ Bonnie said, though she was feeling her temper fray. ‘Give it. You got a bag for this right.’
‘And none of those paint bombs, we’re onto that,’ Clyde said trying to look over the edge of the counter.
‘Okay, okay,’ Emma said trying to move the bills from the drawer into the big canvas bag. ‘You want the coins too?’
‘What you think, Clyde? They might come in handy for laundry and stuff. Clyde?’ Bonnie turned.
‘Where is everybody?’ Clyde said too loud. The bank had got awful quiet. There were no other tellers out now. Even the receptionist at the front had taken a powder.
The security guard was by the door. He was a young black man with a carefully sculpted haircut and a uniform of crisp blue. ‘The police are already on their way,’ he said in a voice calm like a radio announcer. Bonnie wondered if he worked part-time and did radio on the side.
‘Get the money and let’s go,’ Clyde said.
Bonnie turned back to Emma, who held out the bag. ‘Run!’ she said as if she wanted them to get away.
‘Let’s go,’ Bonnie told Clyde.
‘Let me shoot something,’ Clyde said, his face red. Bonnie wasn’t sure if it was anger or embarrassment.
‘Shoot the video camera.’ Men were like babies sometimes.
They shot the camera up above the tellers and then shot the coffee machine for good measure. The security guard held the door for them with a little salute that made Bonnie think he might be making fun of them. But maybe it was respect.
‘Freeze right where you are,’ said a voice amplified through a bullhorn. The police were already there—oh wait, it was the sheriff’s of course. The troopers had their guns out and aimed at them over the hood of the car.
‘Isn’t that Ellis Chestnut?’ Bonnie said to Clyde. ‘Ellis, that you?’
‘Put your hands in the air.’ If it was Ellis, he wasn’t playing along. ‘This is your last warning.’
‘Well, I thought we might go out in a blaze of glory,’ Clyde said with a sigh. ‘But I thought we might get married first to mitigate our sin.’
‘Do you think they’ll shoot us?’ Bonnie asked.
The first bullets hit Clyde in the chest, and he went down with a sort of surprised grunt. Bonnie shot the windshield of the sheriff’s car, which pleased her. Then a bullet slammed into her shooting arm and another into her hip, and she screamed as she fell. She reached for Clyde’s hand. There was no response to her squeeze.
What about our American dream? It was all a big cheat, wasn’t it? She looked terrible in orange. Kismet, my aunt, Fanny. Clyde stared up into the sky like maybe that’s where his soul went. This was the worst day of her life.by
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A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Wynd’s novella of murder and obsessive love, EXTRICATE is out now from Fox Spirit Books; the print edition also includes the novella THROW THE BONES as well as a collection of short stories. ‘Headless in Bury’ will be in the MISSING MONARCHS Fox Pockets anthology, ‘The Tender Trap’ appears in EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY from Blackwitch Press and the short story ‘Kiss Like a Fist’ appears in NOIR NATION 3: http://grahamwynd.wordpress.com/