The Mendes Brothers
Inspired by drabble #18. Trigger-happy bank robber.
Paulo Mendes flipped the safety on the .44 Magnum handgun and twisted it over in his hand whilst tapping its cousin, a Colt .45, against his leg. He kept taking quick glances to see where his brothers were at, Ramon and Fabio taking their time robbing the bank. He aimed the .44 at his own reflection in the glass partition. Barely fifteen years of age but looking almost seventeen, maybe even eighteen he’d been told once. He was thinking about that now when the .44 slipped from his grip and he caught the trigger with his finger. The bullet passed straight through his Adidas trainer. Yet, it wasn’t the excruciating pain in his foot that shook him, it was the realisation that his oldest brother was going kill him.
Fabio came running out first with his green duffle bag thrown over his shoulder and that sawn-off 12 gauge shotgun he’d carried in with him tucked into his belt. “What the fuck happened?” he said, stopping himself just short of where Paulo was hopping about on one leg. “And what happened to your foot?”
“I shot it.”
“You shot your own foot?”
“Yeah, I shot my own foot,” Paulo mumbled, gritting his teeth. The burning sensation in his foot getting to him.
“How the fuck did you manage to shoot yourself?”
“I dunno, I just did.”
“You just did. Like you dunno why you shot yourself in the foot, you just did. You dumb arse.”
Paulo thinking now, knowing Fabio was going to live on this for a few years, if not more. Paulo said, “You think I don’t already know how stupid it was?”
Ramon came out from behind the counter holding his rucksack weighted down in one hand and his Glock handgun in the other. Walking casual. Slow. Making sure the two security guards laying face down on the floor could see the dull metal of his handgun just in case they looked up and started thinking about playing the hero. “You alright?” Ramon said.
It was Fabio that spoke first. “He shot himself in the foot.”
Ramon didn’t say anything. Paulo could see the way Ramon looked at him. Paulo said, “It was an accident.”
Ramon to Fabio. “I thought you said his guns weren’t loaded?”
“Uh huh, I said I didn’t think they were loaded.”
“It’s the same thing.”
“What do you mean it’s the same thing? I didn’t think they were loaded. You can’t blame me for the dumb arse shooting himself in the foot.”
“I take it you’re the one gonna tell mum that, huh?” Ramon said.
“It was you who said he could come along.”
Paulo sat down on the floor. He would swear that he could see his foot throbbing like in one of those Tom and Jerry cartoons. It’s how he would remember it. Then he heard the shot and watched Fabio falling to his knees next to him. Ramon pulling his Glock on the security guard and shooting him in the chest. The blond behind the counter screamed. Paulo wanted to get the fuck out of there, and quick. “Fabio, you alright?” Paulo said, staring at Fabio. Fabio holding onto his stomach where his shirt started turning crimson. ”I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fuck things up… Fabio?”
“Hey, be cool,” Ramon said. “We’re all gonna get out of here together. You hear?”
Paulo tried to nod but couldn’t. Fabio stared at him with that blank expression of his. “Ray, Fabio don’t look too good,” Paulo said.
“You hang in there Fabio, you hear me,” Ramon said, his voice still sounding calm. “You, the other security guard. You carrying a piece on you?”
The security guard, in his mid to late fifties, lifted his face a little off the floor keeping his fingers locked together behind his head saying, “Man, you won’t get any trouble from me. They don’t even pay me enough for this shit. I’m just trying to feed my family, pay the bills. You dig? You want my piece, you gotta come over and take it from me ‘cause I’m keeping my hands where you can see them. I don’t wanna end up in some obituary.”
“Ramon,” Paulo said. “Fabio’s not gonna make it.”
Ramon said, “We need to get him out of here. You think you can lift him?”
“Uh-huh, my foot won’t take his weight. I’m not even sure I can walk myself.”
“You take Fabio’s shotgun and cover me. Shoot any fucker that makes an attempt at doing anything stupid.”
Paulo didn’t say anything. He leaned over and grabbed Fabio’s shotgun, a Remington 870, off the floor. Fabio looking tired now with his shoulders sagging and one hand pressed against his stomach trying to stop the bleeding. Paulo racked the shotgun telling Ramon that he was ready. Ramon moved in behind Fabio. Paulo had to shift his body to get to see the other security guard still laying face down on the floor. Two of the cashiers where standing at the far end behind one of the glass partitions. Neither of them were looking over. The third cashier stood out in the open where Ramon had left her, standing by a door with a bunch of keys in her hands. Ramon asked Fabio if he could make it, where he hurt the most. Fabio tried to tell him something. Paulo cursed and started telling himself he’d go to church every fucking sunday if God would help them out here. He’d promise anything if it meant they’d walk out of this lousy bank still breathing. Fuck this. He knew he shouldn’t have come along. Ramon knew it too. But Fabio told Ramon that if their little brother wanted to come along so bad then they should take him along. One way or another, Fabio had said, Paulo would end up joining them. It was just a matter of when.
Paulo watched Ramon attempt to lift Fabio off the floor. Taking it slow. Easing Fabio off his knees so that he could get underneath him. Fabio having none of it. Groaning. Coughing up blood. Paulo wanted to tell Ramon something but got cut short by another gun being fired. Ramon struggled to stay on his feet as he tried to ease Fabio back down again. Paulo thinking, Fabio’s shotgun still in his hands but he couldn’t see where the shot just came from. The other security guard yelled something that Paulo couldn’t understand. The female cashier with the keys in her hands had disappeared some place.
The three brothers were close together. Fabio on his knees and Ramon with one hand on Fabio’s shoulder pressing down on him for support and his other hand holding the side of his own waist. The Glock still in his waistband where he’d tucked it just moments before. “Paulo,” Ramon said. “Hey, Paulo, you gotta help me out here. You shoot the fucker that just shot me?”
“I don’t see him.”
“Then shoot who you do see.”
“Yeah, I’m hurting.”
“How’s Fabio doing?”
“Paulo, concentrate here will you.”
Paulo looked over just at the moment a bullet ripped through Ramon’s shoulder and slammed him against the wall. Paulo racked the Remington and blew a couple of holes into the false ceiling exposing the ventilation pipes. Hopefully, it would make people think twice about trying something again.
Ramon said, “I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
“That’s ‘cause I ain’t speaking.”
“It don’t matter,” Paulo said. “How bad you hit?”
“I dunno. I’m thinking I’ll live.”
“You get a look at where the guy is at that shot you?”
“Uh huh,” Ramon said.
Paulo looked over at Fabio. Fabio with his chin resting on his chest as if he were sleeping upright on his knees. Paulo said, “Is Fabio dead?”
“He’s stopped breathing.”
They were quiet a moment as they both stared at Fabio. Paulo said, “You think he’s still hurting. I mean, when you’re dead do you think it still hurts?”
“I don’t think you feel anything.”
Paulo’s gaze moved from Fabio to Ramon. “Why’d you let me come along?”
Ramon grinned at him and took a moment “You would’ve got your own way eventually.”
“I guess.” Paulo waited a beat. “You know what’s crazy? I can’t stop thinking about when we were kids. That family we kept staying at when mum couldn’t cope with us. I remember this one time you and Fabio were some other place. Maybe this family had too many other kids staying at the time, who knows. What I’m thinking about is when mum came and visited me on my birthday. I think I was four or something. Mum brought dad along. He had this remote controlled car with him, except it weren’t really remote controlled because it was connected by this wire so that you had to follow it around the garden all the time. But I didn’t care because I was made up. It was the first time I’d ever met the old man. It seemed like we were sitting out in that garden for hours. That’s how it felt back then, except I’m guessing it weren’t more than fifteen, twenty minutes at the most until they left again.” Paulo rubbed a hand over his face and thought for a moment. “You know what gets me? Why the fuck that prick didn’t take me with him. I mean, mum was going through some tough times. But the old man I couldn’t figure, you know what I mean? I just couldn’t figure him. I guess nobody else could either ‘cause nobody ever spoke about him. At least not until his funeral.” Paulo racked the shotgun and stared straight ahead, seeing nothing but hearing somebody creeping around somewhere. He aimed the shotgun at one of the counters and fired off a shot and watched the wood panel splinter as he racked it again, aimed, and blew another hole in the next one along. “You think I got him, Ramon?” Paulo glanced over at Ramon and felt a sharp piercing pain. He looked down at the red fleck appear on his white shirt. Not this way, he thought. Fuck, not this way. If he hadn’t had been playing around with that .44 none of this would have happened. The truth is, he knew he should have stayed at home like Ramon had told him to. Paulo said, “I didn’t mean it to happen this way.”
“Don’t think about it. You can’t do nothing about it now.”
“What do we tell mum?” Paulo said.
Paulo didn’t answer. He didn’t know how to.
By Vincent Holland
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