It was a bright, sun-shiny day in the town. People were shopping. People were driving. People were even going to the bank.
Todd, one of the bank tellers, smiled as he helped people in line. However, things were about to change…
“Hello, welcome to City Money. How can we be of assistance?” Todd continued stretching his enormous smile as the man approached him.
The man didn’t respond at first. He was a strange, foreign-looking personage. He wore a black beret.
“Would you like to deposit or withdraw?” Todd asked, hoping to help guide this peculiar individual.
Once again, the man didn’t respond.
“Um…do you speak English?”
The man shot him an arrogant glare and hopped onto the counter. “Gimme all your MONEY!” He then did a karate pose that was quite intimidating.
“Oh. Um. I left my wallet at home. Sorry.” Todd joked, hoping to defuse the situation. But it didn’t work as the man lept down onto the floor and started running about. Todd’s heart dropped. His eyes widened. He had never seen somebody so fast before.
The man just kept running and running. People started screaming. The security guard pointed his gun at the man, but his hands shook. He couldn’t get a good aim on him. Finally, he gave up and ran home.
The man ran back to the counter. Beads of sweat were racing down Todd’s face and ears. “Alright. Alright. Please don’t hurt us!”
“Youz stupid Americans! Gimme your fragile American currency!”
“Okay. Okay. Just don’t kill us!” Todd complied and handed the man a sack full of fragile American currency.
“Yes! I am Spetch! Fastest man in all the realms! Stupid Americans!” The man sped out of the bank and onto the street. Todd thought he was about to have a heart attack. He collapsed onto the floor. And everyone else were either shellshocked or frustrated by that man’s blatant lack of Patriotism.
“Wait,” someone said. “Does that mean we have no more money?”
“Yeah! What now!”
And they started to crowd the counter.
Hours passed and the mayor of the town was leaning-back in his office, sucking on a cigar like it was his mother’s teet.
The mayor’s assistant, Leanne, entered, holding paper. “Sir. Mr. Mayor. Sir. Mr. Mayor. Sir.”
Finally, the mayor responded. “…What?”
“You know you don’t have to do that.”
Leanne paused. “…Sir. This is the THIRD bank he’s robbed. TODAY!”
“Wow. My God.” The mayor stood-up, shook his head, and sat back down.
“Yeah,” replied Leanne.
“…Sir. What are we going to do? He can’t keep robbing these banks. Pretty soon the town will be in dire straits.”
The mayor sipped his coffee. “Yes. That would be bad. Especially since the election is coming up in 3 years.”
“Well. Looks like I’m going to have to make…a phone call.”
“To whom are you making this phone call to?”
“Well. To the only person who can stop Spetch.” The mayor turned to a large, red telephone that glowed on his desk like burning coal. He closed his eyes and sighed before finally reaching for his, clutching it to his ear. “Get me…Larry,” he intoned.
The mayor sat there, bored, as the phone rang and rang. Finally he hung-up.
“Was he…not there?” asked Leanne.
“No,” the mayor sighed once again. “He’s probably busy doing something real important. With any luck, he’s tackling this bank-robber situation. I’m going to call again in 5 minutes.”
15 minutes passed and the mayor tried the red phone again. This time, Larry was on the other side…
“Hello Larry. It’s the mayor. Listen, we desperately need your help. I know last time things weren’t so good. We didn’t know that boulder would nearly crush you. But, you see, we have a notorious bank robber in our midst and he’s robbing all of the money in our banks. And he’s French. We need you to stop him. Can you do that? Please?”
Larry was a man. He was sitting in his small apartment watching reruns of Jerry Springer and eating apple pie. He was not fully clothed. And smelled. Larry thought for a moment. “Well, I’m kinda busy at the moment.” Larry looked around his nearly-empty apartment.
“Please.” The mayor was getting desperate.
“Would I get paid?” Larry asked.
“Larry, you know we don’t have the funds right now.”
“Um…have you tried the police?”
“Larry!” The mayor pounded on his desk. “We don’t have the TIME for this! TIME is running out! We need you to stop this madman right now or else you are going to JAIL!”
Larry scratched his head. “What?”
“That’s right? JAIL!”
“Yeah. I heard that. But you can’t just throw someone in jail for not doing something. At least I don’t think…”
“Larry! Don’t make me blackmail you and then hand the FAKE EVIDENCE over to the police! You’ve got 13 hours! You’ve got to stop this Frenchman! He’s very fast! Click!”
Leanne stepped over to the mayor’s desk. “Well, what did he say?”
“He said he will do it.” The mayor sat-down (he was standing earlier,) and lit another cigar.
“Um…no I didn’t.” Larry’s voice crackled from the phone which had not yet been placed on the receiver and was lying lazily on the desk.
“He also said I was the best mayor ever and if I died people will cry and feel like they didn’t appreciate me enough. Heh. I think he may have a point.” The mayor puffed on his cigar.
“Oh geez,” Leanne responded.
“Okay…I’m just going to hang-up. Now…” Larry dug his spoon into his slice of pie and proceeded to not do anything about Spetch, the really fast Frenchman. The sun cascaded its glow down the curtains.
Meanwhile, Spetch went on to rob more banks, then convenience stores, then dog pounds, then back to the banks he originally stole from. If they no longer had money he stole pens and plate glass windows. He was ruthless. And very, very French.
Hours passed and the streets were filled with violence and blood. Buildings burned. Cars burned. Flowers burned. People were robbing trashcans. Cats stole from little old ladies. And people were starting to get angry.
“We want the mayor!”
“YEAH! The MAYOR!”
The mob crowded inside the foyer of the mayor’s house with torches and pitchforks.
“Okay,” Leanne said from the upper level down to the crowd. “The mayor is currently in a meeting, but if you form a line and fill out form ABC then–”
Leanne rushed over to the mayor’s office, but the door was locked. “Mayor. It’s Leanne.”
“No!” A voice croaked from the other side. “I’m not the mayor! Go away!”
“Yes you are. And no matter what happens, you will always be the mayor!”
After a moment, the door opened and there was the mayor, unshaven and wearing a smelly bathrobe. “Leanne…I’ve failed…”
“You haven’t failed! You just haven’t succeeded yet!”
The mayor cast his eyes downward.
“Did you know that Tesla went bankrupt 4 times before finally inventing the electric car? Now, you stay right here and I will get the bazooka.”
“No. This is my fight. I have to face it. Like a man.”
“So you’re going to talk to them?”
“…No.” The mayor went over to his desk. Closed his eyes. Sighed. And picked up the red telephone.
Larry was asleep when suddenly his eyes popped open. He was startled, but quickly he realized his phone was just vibrating. He knew what it was about. “No! I said I don’t want to renew my car’s warranty! So stop calling me!”
“That’s nice to hear, Larry, but this is the mayor.”
“Oh. Um, how’s it going?”
“Remember a couple of hours ago I called asking you to take care of Spetch, the bank robber?”
“Well, I need you to take care of Spetch, the bank robber.”
Larry rubbed his eyes. “Um, are you sure you didn’t try the police?”
“LOOK! LARRY! This is SERIOUS BUSINESS! The people are DYING! They have no MONEY! Children are killing children! Moths are eating lightbulbs! This is a DISEASE!”
Larry thought for a moment. “Don’t the banks insure the money?”
The mayor’s eye twitched. “Larry…” he said slowly. “You fat piece of shit. If you don’t take care of your problem. I will make your life a problem. Got it?”
“Yeah! I said ‘fine’. Jesus. I’ll…think of something…” Larry hung-up the phone and sat there for a moment. “Well, there goes my Tuesday.” He rubbed his forehead and then gazed at his hand which was now littered with white dead skin cells. “That’s gross.” That’s when he thought of an idea. Not a brilliant idea. But maybe something that could possibly perhaps maybe work. He picked up his phone and made a phone call.
That evening, at the edge of town, Larry sat behind a makeshift stand with a sign that read “BANK”. Larry scanned the area around him. No sign of the Frenchman anywhere. He pulled out his cowbell. “Bank! New bank in town! This is a new bank! We have money!” He placed his cowbell down and waited.
Suddenly, a shadowy figure emerged from one of the alleyways and shambled towards him. Larry’s blood ran cold.
“Oh, um. Hello sir. How can I help you?”
The figure stepped into the light of a flickering streetlight. “Are you…hiring?” The man was shabbily clothed. And smelled of feces and dead dreams.
“But, you guys are new…please, I really need this job. I was a bank teller before all this happened. I loved my job. But then, a guy from Europe came and destroyed my life. I was fired. My name was Todd, but they even took that from me. Now, I am nameless, homeless. I sleep in puddles while my friends are getting married and enter middle-management.”
That’s when Larry heard something in the distance.
“Look,” Larry said to the nameless man. “You have to go!”
“I’ve got credentials. You want to see my cv?”
“No! Please go!” The running became louder and louder.
“Because this isn’t a real bank! This is just a sting operation!” But as soon as he said that, a man with a black beret suddenly appeared before the two men.
“Ah, a fake bank! Stupid Americans! I am Spetch! I do not fall for such trickery!”
“Dammit.” Larry said. “Well…fuck you buddy.”
“Who me?” The nameless man said.
“No, the French douche over there.”
“Oh…it would be nice if someone acknowledged me.”
“Say,” Larry had an idea. “I have an idea. Um, Todd.”
“No, I’m not Todd anymore.”
“They took my name. Remember?”
“Yeah, I don’t get that. Anyway, don’t you want to get revenge. I mean, the man who ruined your life is right there.” Larry said, pointing at Spetch who was just running back and forth on the street like a weirdo.
“Well…” The man scratched his head. “I do. Yet I don’t.”
“I’m not sure…I just want my old job back.”
Larry pondered the situation. The Frenchman was in his grasp, but he just needed him to stay still in order for his plan to work. “Maybe if you just talked to Spetch and ask him why he did it. That might give you some closure.”
“But I don’t want closure! I just want my life back!”
“Fuck! Fine! We are hiring! In fact, you’ve been promoted. Here! You get to run…um… “Bank” now.”
Todd clapped his hands and jumped behind the stand. His composure suddenly changed and he no longer smelled. “Wow! Thank you! We are now open for business! And our business is helping you save for the future?”
Larry looked around. “Who are you talking to?”
Spetch stopped running and moved over to the bank. “Ah! So this is a real bank! I can tell because of the way that man spoke! Haha! You thought you could fool me with a double-bluff! Stupid, yankee, apple-pie eating bastards!”
“What’s wrong with apple pie?”
But Spetch ignored him and approached the counter. “Gimme your MONEY!”
The bank teller smiled. “I’m sorry, I left my wallet at my cardboard home. But if you like, we can start you off with a new account. Would you like to see our options for credit cards. We even accept medium-to-low credit!”
Spetch smirked and entered an intimidating karate pose. The bank teller’s heart shivered. Suddenly, he felt small. Really small. But then he realized he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t cower in fear. No, he was a teller. A bank teller.
“Sir,” he said. “I’m not going to give you our money. And if you’re going to do any–”
“NOW!” Larry yelled and suddenly a rope lassoed around Spetch.
“What the–” Spetch cried before being thrust backwards. His body fell to the ground and was dragged across the road. Larry’s plan worked. When Spetch was still, his partner, Cowboy Carl, was able to entrap him via rope. “Stupid! Americaaaaaaans!” Spetch called out as his body was brutally damaged by the speeding road.
“Whew! That was…dumb.” Larry watched as Cowboy Carl dragged the Frenchman through the streets. Meanwhile, the bank teller was confused.
“But…my first customer…”
“It’s alright, Todd. Or, Not-Todd. Wait. So, do you have your name back now? How does that even work?”
Not-Todd looked down at his hands. “I…don’t know…but, I have my job now and I guess that’s all that matters. But am I going to get fired for letting my first customer get kidnapped and possibly murdered?”
Larry shrugged. “I won’t tell anyone.”
However, as Cowboy Carl rode through the city, dragging Spetch behind, some people started to take notice.
“Hey,” someone said from the darkness of shadows, “that guy has a horse.”
“Yeah, I want a horse.”
Suddenly, a large group surrounded Carl the Cowboy’s horse and he was forced to stop. “Easy there girl, easy.” The cowboy looked down at all the dirty and disgruntled faces. “Now y’all step aside. I’m doing very important business. You see, this gentleman I have in tow here is French.”
“Where’d you get the horse?”
“Well, now I don’t see how that’s any of your business. Now, if you excuse me, I would rather not have to pull out my revolver.”
But the group didn’t budge.
“Well,” Cowboy Carl said, adjusting his hat. “I reckon y’all bunch of banditos. Now, I gonna give you a second, but final warn–” but before he could finish, a box was slammed against the side of his head and Carl toppled off his horse and onto the street. The group tried to seize the horse but the horse wasn’t having it, stomping and kicking members of the gang.
“Ah! Americans! Stupid!” Spetch cried as he attempted to free himself. Fortunately, the rope was suddenly cut by a machete and an older man pulled him from the ground and quickly away from the maddened horse.
“You goddamn, good-for-nothing Reds!” Carl cussed. (He meant “Reds” as in commies, not Native Americans.) The gang managed to beat the crap out of Carl before the horse ran them off. Once the gang finally dispersed, the horse licked Carl’s salty, unconscious face.
The following day seemed to be a bit more mellow in the streets. There were still puddles of blood in most places, but people were able to walk around them.
Larry stood in the mayor’s office. “Good job Larry. Now, I can’t financially compensate you, as you know, but I can do something better. Open your hand.” And he placed a piece of cardboard in Larry’s palm. “A 35% discount at Sweaty Monkey Brows Spa and Cleanliness Center.”
Larry looked at the card then back at the mayor.
“It’s the least we can do.”
“I’ve been there once. It’s not bad,” Leanne said.
“Um, thanks. Can I go?”
“Larry, before you go, do not feel guilty about Cowboy Carl. Or Carl the Cowboy. He’s in a better place now.”
“He’s actually in a coma. So, still alive.”
“Well, he won’t be for long. But don’t feel any guilt or shame about it. Even though it’s entirely your fault.”
“…Thanks.” But as Larry was about to leave:
“Wait! Just one more thing…”
“What did you do to Spetch?”
“I told you. I think he escaped. So, he’s still running out there. Or the street people ate him. I have no idea.”
“Well, I doubt he will be running around for much longer after being dragged around by a horse! HaHAAAA!”
“I’m just going to go now.”
Larry was getting tired of this place. Getting tired of this town. Having to do things for the mayor, but gaining nothing in return. And now one of the people he mildly tolerated was in the hospital because of him. He wanted to leave, but he couldn’t leave Carl. These thoughts blistered in his mind. When he entered his apartment he found a notice stating that if he didn’t pay his rent soon he will be on the streets.
Meanwhile, there was a new threat growing. Something even more bad than a really fast Frenchman…