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“I have what you want but first you have to help me. Name, address, shoe size. Just play along and it’s yours.” He had Cutter right where he wanted him. Now it was only a matter of time before he could put his plan into action. When the call had come over the radio, Sam couldn’t have been happier. A robbery was in progress at the Second National Bank. Perfect. I could sit here and try to explain all day, but a practical demonstration would save a lot of time and effort. He turned on his lights and siren and pressed the gas pedal to the floor. “Hang on. It’s time to be a hero.”
“This is it!” My big chance to get noticed by the mayor, maybe even the governor. All I have to do is get through the next hour without anyone dying. And that’s where my ace in the hole comes in. With this Cutter guy around nothing could go wrong. It didn’t matter that he looked ready to fall apart. All he had to do was stand there. He didn’t have to say or do anything. At least I hope that’s the way it works, Sam thought. He was about to bet his life on it.
They were first to arrive but Jacob could already hear the sirens of the approaching police cars. Dregg grabbed him by the collar and bodily pushed him towards the bank door. “Now stay close and follow my lead.”
Sam could see that Cutter was starting to have second thoughts. “Wait a minute,” said Cutter, apparently growing a backbone. “I’m not going to go into a bank that’s in the middle of being robbed. That’s it. I am out of here.”
Sam pulled his gun and pointed it at Cutter’s chest. “Do you want me to test my theory right now. If I’m right the gun won’t go off. But if you’re right, you’re dead.”
“You’re a cop. You’re not going to kill me.”
“Okay,” he said and pointed the gun lower. “How about in the leg, then. I could always say you were the driver for the bank robber. You’ll spend three years in jail before they figure out you’re innocent.”
“You would do that, wouldn’t you?” Resigned, Cutter started walking towards the bank.
Sam pushed Cutter ahead of him through the bank’s doorway. Inside, it immediately became apparent that there was something seriously wrong. The few patrons here were lying on the floor. Somewhere a woman was sobbing. And in the centre of it all was a small wiry man in his late forties with a bomb strapped to his chest. Shit, thought Sam. He had expected a gun, not explosives. But it was too late to back out now.
Instinct told him to shoot but he fought against it. He would take the negotiator route instead, at least until he could suss this guy out. Everyone here was freaking out, but not him. He knew that if he could control his own fear, he could control the situation and make it come out how he wanted. He holstered his gun behind Cutter’s back, before the other man could see it.
The bomber spotted them and started yelling, almost slathering in a panic. “Get down on the floor. Do it now.”
Cutter started to comply but Sam pulled him back to his feet by his shirt collar. He was going to be the one giving orders here. “Look I don’t know why you’re doing this but it’s obviously not going how you planned. I think the best thing to do now is just to stop and give yourself up. The police are already here you can hear them outside. They are never going to let you out of here. And if you hurt anyone they’ll come in with guns blazing.”
“Stop talking. You don’t know. You couldn’t.”
“What don’t I know? I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. What should I call you?
“My name? You want to know my name? I standing here about to kill you and all these people and you want to know my name?”
“Yeah. I’m Sam. This is Jacob. Say hi, Jacob.”
With a nervous wave he said, “Hey.”
“Good boy. Now let me ask you Steve. Is this how you saw things going when you got up this morning?”
“My name’s not Steve. It’s Larry. Don’t call me Steve.”
“Okay, Larry. What happened to you? What went wrong that you ended up here?”
“Why do you care? Nobody cared about me until I threatened to blow up a bank. Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I don’t know what you’re trying to do? I just needed the money. I can’t pay my bills and if I don’t get some money I’ll be out in the street and my wife will leave me. Did you care when they laid me off from my job? No, you just care because I’ve got this.” He waved the detonator is his hand at Sam’s face, daring him to make him use it.
Sam could see he was losing him and the crowd was starting to panic at all this talk of blowing up. He had to end this now before he completely lost control. He started walking towards him with Cutter still in tow. “Look if you want to kill yourself, that’s fine no one will stop you, but you don’t have to take all these people with you. Why don’t you go jump under a bus? Or dive off a bridge?
“What?” Larry stammered, not quite believing what he was hearing.
Cutter who had been nervous and unsettled was approaching terrified. “You lunatic. If you want to die, you can do it without me.”
But Sam was adamant and kept a vice-like grip on Cutter’s collar. He continued his steady advance towards the bomber, without a pause. “Did you even leave a note? Will they know why you died? Or will you just be some nutcase who blew up a bank and nobody knows why?
He was only a few feet away, almost close enough to grab him.
“Stay back! I’m warning you. I’ll do it!”
“Then do it!” Sam yelled and lunged forward.
Larry pressed the button but nothing happened. Incredulous, he pushed it again. He managed to press it half a dozen times before Sam’s fist slammed into his nose, knocking him to the ground. The man instinctively brought his hands to his face to staunch the bleeding, but with a practiced efficiency Sam had the man in handcuffs in seconds. He yanked at the wires and pulled the detonator clear of the explosives vest. Cutter was sprawled in the floor beside him. He was just staring at Sam, trying to comprehend what had just happened. Sam handed him the detonator and said, “Here’s a souvenir for you.”
“I think you broke my nose.” Larry wore a splash of crimson blood from his brow all way down the front of his shirt to his lap.
“Shut up. You had your chance to come quietly.” He stood up to address the crowd, holding up his badge. “All right everyone. I’m Detective Dregg. I want everyone to stand up and in single file walk, don’t run, out the front door. The officers outside will assist you and with any luck get you home to your families before dinner time. Let’s go. Stand up. Start walking.”
He turned to Cutter and offered him his hand to pull him up off the floor. But he refused it and stood up on his own. “You go too,” said Sam. “I’ll find you again when I take care of this mess.”
“Don’t bother,” he answered. “I don’t need your kind of help.” He tossed the detonator on the floor at Sam’s feet and walked out the door.