She throttles the motorcycle, g-forces resist her. Downhill, the street is vacant, save for houses on each side. She could hit top speed but she needs gas later. For after.

She’s in the before now. “Before” means that anxious worm writhes inside. “Before” means bike and helmet are blacked out. “Before” means she could change her mind and just pass through the parking lot again. “Before” means she’s not ready to wave a gun around and she might need a Xanax first. She hates Xanax first; they make the world watery. She needs it pure and lucid.



She walks the motorcycle to a stop at a light. Inhales sharply. Nerves shot. They’ll wane the closer she gets to town. The world slows this evening. She imagines everyone is as nervous as she is and it helps. Some.

Look left, a few cars and another motorcycle in the turn lane, that’s it.

Look right, more cars all in the main lane. Cadillac, SUV, old car, Chevy truck, SUV.

Their light greens and they parade in front of her. She eyes every driver and none are suspect.



She leans the motorcycle around a turn and slips past downtown traffic like mercury. The engine hums and grinds. She’s too fast so she sputters the bike to a slower pace and coasts.

Near the horizon. The bank sign rises and fear spikes her chest; subsides. This is her favorite part and it never gets easier. That moment just before entry. That last surge of anticipation. The death of desire. This is how she must operate.


Short and Sweet

She rolls the motorcycle silent to a fuel pump. Pulls her gloves tight. Cracks her neck right, left. A mustached clerk stares from the gas station. He waves, cigarette in hand. She restarts the bike and whips it around and revs back onto the street.

With a short, sweet wheelie, she runs the bike on the sidewalk and up to the bank. She leaves it on and marches briskly through the cool entrance.

Under a second, she’s behind the counter and pushes two tellers against the windows with nothing but the space between them. Never touches anyone.

She points her gun at one teller and points at one drawer, then the other drawer. The teller is frozen. Idiot.

“Now!” She hates to scream.

Both drawers open, the teller back at the window, she pulls bricks of cash, rips off bands, and flutters bills into her backpack. No one has entered the bank. Yet.

She times herself, almost a minute inside. The second drawer is done more quickly. No dye packs. She walks backwards, gun at the teller. Turns. There’s the bank manager, perfect blue shirt and a phone. He drops it when she narrows the gun at him.



She guns the motorcycle, police scanner warbling in her helmet, the world blind to her discretion. She stops, pulls out a pink vinyl stripe from her pack, sticks it to her helmet. She does the same to her bike tank. No real description of her bike from the scanner though.

Hop over dips and corners.

Ride a shoulder here.

Split a lane there.

Slow and coast the intersection.

Clear it.

Push top speed.

Cut left.

Watch for police.

Cut right.

The bank is miles in the past now. Exhale.



She coasts the motorcycle into the garage and pulls off her helmet and rolls up next to the Jeep inside and stops. Over her shoulder, the constable rolls silently by and down the street.

She steps through the garage and enters the house, helmet in hand. Greg smiles a bearded one from the kitchen, chopping celery.

“Amy, great,” puts the knife down, “You can finish. The boys are upstairs playing video games. Just put some peanut butter on the celery and they’re good to go. I’ll bring cash when I get back tonight. Anything else?”

She shakes her head, “Just homework,” she motions at her backpack.

“Great, have a good one,” and he’s out the door with a click.

She lets herself smirk.

~ fin ~

Stephen Conley has been writing forever and it has stained his otherwise positive view of humanity. His work has appeared at Curbside Splendor, Yellow Mama, and Thunderdome: The Writer's Collective, amongst other places. His one claim to fame was interviewing James Ellroy for Chuck Palahniuk's website.