By Dan J. Marlowe

On the day they sentenced Oily Barnes to fifteen years, I quit the human race. I never went back to my job and I've never done a legitimate day's work since.I bought a gun in a hockshop and was surprised to learn how easy it is to knock off gas stations. The money piled up and I bought a second-hand car and drove the 180 miles back across the state. Back to Winick, the guy who railroaded Oily Barnes.

I rang his doorbell one night and shot him in the face four times. He went backward in a kind of shambling trot. 'That's for Oily,' I told him. But he didn't hear me. He was dead before he hit the floor.

Winick was the first.

He wasn't the last.


From the back seat of the Olds I could see the kid's cotton gloves flash white on the steering wheel as he swung the car from Van Buren onto Central Avenue. The strong, late-September, Phoenix sunshine blazed off the bank's white stone front till it hurt the eyes. The damn building looked as big as the purple buttes on the rim of the desert.

Beside me Bunny chewed gum rhythmically, his hands relaxed in his lap. Up front the kid's face was like chalk, but he teamed the Olds perfectly into a tight-fitting space in front of the bank.

Nobody said a word. I climbed out on the sidewalk, and Bunny got out opposite and walked around the rear of the car to join me. His dark glasses and bright yellow hair glinted in the sunlight. The thick, livid scar across his throat was nearly hidden by his week-old beard. Across the street a big clock said five minutes to three. Under it on another dial a long thermometer needle rested on ninety-four. A shirtsleeved man stood idly beneath the clock.

We crossed the sidewalk and passed through the bank's outer glass doors. I'm five-ten, but Bunny towered six inches over me. I could see the rolled-up canvas sack under his arm. In the bank's foyer, the air-conditioning bit hard at the sweat on my face and arms. Bunny led the way into the main floor lobby. He went left. I went right. There were two guards on the main floor.

I found my guard showing an old man how to fill out a deposit slip. I moved in, and when I saw Bunny's arm go up across the lobby I slammed the red-creased neck of the guard in front of me with a solid chunk of Smith & Wesson. He went down without a sound. The old man continued writing. I heard a choked gurgle from Bunny's guard. That was all.

I switched to my Colt Woodsman while I took my first good look around. If we hadn't eliminated the two guards, we were nowhere. There were a dozen to fifteen customers, scattered. I fired the Woodsman three times, taking out glass high in the tellers' cages. Shattering glass is an impressive sound. In the echoing lobby the little Woodsman and the smashing glass sounded like a turret of sixteen-inchers in a china closet.

'All right,' I said, loud and clear. 'Everybody stand still and nobody gets hurt.'

Nobody moved.

Nobody breathed.

Bunny vaulted the low gate up in front. I jammed the Woodsman back in my pants and balanced the Smith & Wesson in my palm. If somebody fast-pitched us, I might need the three heavier-caliber bullets I'd saved by directing traffic with the Colt.

Two big-assed women huddled together inside the railing with Bunny. They stood against the door leading into the tellers' cages, empty trays in their hands. Right where they should have been at two minutes to three.

Bunny motioned with his gun for them to open the cage door. They stared at him, cow-eyed. He whipped the flat of his automatic up against the jawline of the nearer woman. She fell sideways, mewling. Someone inside opened the door. Bunny stepped inside quickly and herded everyone to the rear. He began yanking out cash drawers. Bundles of hundreds and twenties went into his sack. Everything else he tossed on the floor.

The only sounds I could hear were the whimpering of the woman on the floor and the clatter and bang as Bunny emptied and dumped cash drawers. On my left something moved. I turned, and the movement stopped. Dead ahead on the balcony I caught the rapid blur of a gray uniform. I belted the guard over backward with my first shot. Bunny never even turned his head.

Two minutes, I'd figured, after we took out the first guards. Two-and-a-half, tops. All over town now bells would be ringing, but in another sixty seconds we'd be gone. I did a slow turn, my eyes skimming the balcony and the main floor. Nothing moved.

Bunny burst out the cage door, hugging the sack to his big chest. He jumped the railing, landing on his toes. I fell in six feet behind him, and we went out through the foyer at a fast walk. Bunny had just reached out to open the right-hand outer glass door when there was a sharp crack-crack-crack behind us. The best part of the door blew out onto the sidewalk. Heat rolled inside in an arid wave through the splintered glass.

Bunny unhunched his neck and started again for the Olds. Out on the sidewalk I whirled and took down the remaining half of the door, one high and one low. It made a hell of a noise. Anyone hurrying through the foyer should have had second thoughts with a yard of glass in his hair.

When I turned again, I caught a flash across the street— the shirtsleeved man under the clock running into a store. I headed for the car, but I nearly yelled out loud when I saw the kid had panicked. We'd gone all the way to St. Louis for a driver, and he'd panicked. Instead of staying under the wheel and drawing no attention to the car, he'd jumped out and run around and opened the doors on our side. His face looked like wet cottage cheese.

Bunny went onto the front seat in a sliding skid. The kid took one look at my face and started to run back around the front of the Olds. Across the street something went ker-blam!! The kid whinnied like a horse with the colic. He ran in a circle for three seconds and then fell down in front of the Olds, his white cotton gloves in the gutter and his legs on the sidewalk. The left side of his head was gone.

Bunny dropped the sack and scrambled for the wheel. I was halfway into the back seat when I heard the car stall out as he tried to give gas too fast. I backed out again and faced the bank, trying to have eyes in the back of my head for the unseen shotgunner across the street. West of the Mississippi everyone thinks he's Wyatt Earp. I listened to Bunny mash down the starter. The motor caught finally, and I breathed again, but a fat guard galloped out the bank's front entrance, his gun high over his head. He threw down on me in a hurry.

I swear both his feet were off the ground when he fired. The odds must have been sixty-thousand-to-one against, but he caught me in the left upper arm. It smashed me back against the car. I steadied myself with a hand on the roof and put two—a yard apart—through his belt buckle. They could hear him scream across town if they had their windows open.

I stumbled into the back seat again and Bunny took it out of there. The Olds bumped hard twice as it went

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