It’s hard to believe that anything could happen in the small town of Kensington but last week, a peculiar fate befell this town. Have you heard of it? Oh, it’s quite a strange one. It is a tale that involved three lives and how they all seemed to connect to one another, all through one daring bank robbery.
Our story starts with a small bank at the edge of Kensington, close to the interstate leading towards the emptiness of Nevada. As the sun peered over the mesas and the red ranges of the wild west, a black Camaro pulled into the lot and out walked two men, both with gloves and sweaters at least an inch thick. They marched into the bank, pulled their guns out, waved them at the bankers to keep them still and told all the patrons to get down on the ground. Everyone complied very quickly and before long, the whole bank was seized with zero resistance whatsoever. It was early morning and the only people who were there at the time were seniors. Well, seniors and one teenager with a roughed-up hoodie, an overfilled backpack, and a muddy skateboard.
“Get the skateboard.”
“Why?” Darren was confused at his partner’s request. He briefly turned to the kid on the floor and looked back at his partner.
“Get his skateboard, come on.” his partner insisted. “Did you forget what I said?”
Darren never had the best memory, even something as simple as “confiscate anything that can be used as a weapon” being told ten minutes before the robbery completely slipped his mind. He usually blamed it on his father’s abuse and his constant head slaps that caused him to be so forgetful, but not even Darren really knows whether that had really been the case.
“Hey, I’m serious. Get the skateboard now.” his partner ushered a confused Darren to the poor teenager.
“I’ll take that, junior.” Darren apologized as he took the skateboard off the teenager’s back and carried it to his partner. The kid was obviously shaken with his arms wrapped tightly over the back of his head.
“Good, now go grab the money. Here.” He took off his duffel bag and tossed it at Darren’s feet. “Tell the cashiers to empty the lockbox down to the exact change. Go!”
The two robbers held their own fairly well and Darren had pretty much emptied out the entire bank. He returned with two duffel bags full of cash. His partner swung one over his shoulder and they both slowly backed out of the bank with their guns drawn on the cashiers.
“We struck it real big huh?” Darren smiled at his partner who returned a smug grin.
“Damn right, now go prep the car-” suddenly, something caught his eyes and the robber quickly raised his pistol at one of the cashiers. “Hey! Keep those hands up, bitch! Keep them up! Don’t fucking push the panic button!”
Just as his partner finished his sentence, Darren saw from the opposite desk a male cashier quickly reaching under his desk. As if an invisible force was guiding him, a quiet Darren pushed his partner aside, quickly aimed and shot the cashier clean through the head. Blood splattered over the back wall and a bright red blanketed the bank that morning. A loud bang tore through the quiet town of Kensington that alerted all the authorities to the bank.
“Darren… What the fuck did you just do?”
“Huh-” He noticed the blood on the wall and the smoke streaming out the barrel of his gun. “Oh- oh no. D-did I kill someone?”
The young robber wailed in desperation and clawed at his partner, tears ran down his face, red as blood from rising dawn. “I didn’t fucking mean to. Oh god. Oh fuck. Oh please lord I didn’t mean to. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME I DIDN’T MEAN TO!”
“Darren, calm down! We have to go, now!” He grabbed his partner and they both ran to the parking lot. Somewhere off in the distance, a police siren drew closer. Its lights swept across houses and inches closer and closer. The duffel bag felt heavier on his shoulder, pushing against his knees and grounding him to the warming asphalt.
“I can’t go back to prison. Please, I can’t go back. Please don’t let them take me back!” Darren was on his knees begging under his partner’s leg.
“Darren. Calm yourself! We can get out of here. I promise. I promise. I have an idea...”
“All units, we have a ten-ninety by the interstate. Please respond.”
“Ten-four, central. Lima two is heading there now, ETA one minute, over.” I reached for my rifle and nodded to my colleague who floored the pedal. “Hey Caleb, have you seen my Glock?”
“You didn’t have it on this morning when you came to work.” he responded while making a sharp turn.
“I didn’t? Fuck, where could it be?” I fumbled around for a bit before Caleb handed me an extra one from the holster behind the shift stick. I thanked him and checked my equipment before his car pulled up to join the police barricade. We exited the car carefully and met with the chief behind his car.
“Chief. What’s the situation?”
The chief pointed at the bank with his walkie talkie. “Bank robbery. There were reports of shots fired. Our negotiator’s been in there for a while. Let’s hope-” The chief stopped talking and pointed his pistol at the bank entrance, prompting everyone else to do so as well. “Hey! Let him go!”
The negotiator was being walked out under gunpoint while another hostage was being escorted. The hostage looked young, probably a teenager with a holey hoodie and muddy skate pants.
“I.D. on the suspect?”
“Don’t know who they are.”
“Can’t get a clear look on him.”
The chatter around us was intense. There was constant communication between the officers on figuring out what to do. One of the robbers motioned his partner towards a car in the parking lot. Black Camaro. The partner used the hostage as a human shield as he inched towards the car.
“I got visual!” one of the officers exclaimed. “The one on the right!”
It was Caleb. I rushed to his side and set my rifle beside his to identify the suspect-
God… I rushed quickly towards the chief and snatched the megaphone from his hand and screamed at the suspects. “Darren?! What the fuck are you doing?” I vaulted over the chief’s car and approached Darren. “Darren… what- no, why are you doing this?”
He wouldn’t say anything but I could tell from a distance that he had been crying. The skin around his eyes is red and puffy and his voice was cracking beyond anything I have heard.
“Dad. Please don’t take me back to prison. Please. Please just let me go.”
“Darren, son, you know I can’t just let you go. You know the law. Please put down your weapon and turn yourself in, okay? It’s better that way-”
“No! It won’t be better that way. I-I killed someone. I killed someone okay? There’s no chance for me. No chance at all. I-I’m gonna get sent back in there for the rest of my life. I can’t do this. I wish I hadn’t done this. I wish I stayed in college, dad. I wish I never left campus that week-”
“Hey!” His partner called from the front door. “Stop talking and get the fucking car running. We have to go.”
“No. You stay right there, Vic. You’ve ruined our family enough.”
“Darren, prep the car and go. Now!”
“Darren. Son. Please. Don’t do this. We can work this out. We can go back to rehab. I love you son, you know that. Those drugs were getting to you and it made you unstable. Vic is just using you-”
“Shut the fuck up copper.” His gun is now raised and aimed at me. “Don’t say shit like that to him. You hurt him. You abused him. You drove him to this-”
“I didn’t do jack!” I yelled back at him. “I’ve loved my son with all my heart after his mother died. I did everything I could for him but you… you took everything away from him. I knew that something was wrong the first time he confessed he skipped class.”
Vic shot a sharp and scolding look at Darren. “You what?” he screamed loudly at Darren. “You told him? Goddammit Darren!”
The situation was getting more intense. There was no way that Vic would surrender. Knowing him, I could tell that he would rather fight to the death. That, or leaving his comrade behind again like last time.
“Hey!” Vic suddenly turned towards the police barricade, his eyes shocked with terror. “HEY! STOP!” Vic had his gun raised and aimed at Caleb who sprinted full speed towards us. Seeing a distracted Vic, the negotiator quickly ducked and ran back into the bank, giving Caleb a perfect window to shoot.
Darren, noticing his friend standing out in the open, dropped his hostage and aimed his gun at Caleb.
Within the next microsecond, any action I did would completely change the outcome of this standoff.
The news station finally arrived on scene for an interview with the chief. They were to report on a robbery bust that went successful. A miraculous operation with no civilian nor police casualties. The cameraman hopped off the van and panned at the police blockade, the bank, and the two hero officers by the grass. One standing while the other knelt and wept at the body of one of the robbers.
In the distance, multiple ambulances came in to check on the victims of the robbery. One of whom was Lucas--an unlucky hostage of the event. As he was being treated by the paramedics, his thoughts started to wander.
When the day started over the ranges of Nevada, he expected to withdraw some quick cash from his savings account, hopped on the earliest bus and traveled to Portland, Oregon to start a new life. Maybe finally he would get to shower after days of sleeping on the streets after he ran off from his mother’s house due to a feud about his skating taking up his school time. Maybe he would be able to live freely as a sixteen year-old skater.
But something changed in him. After experiencing such an unbelievable event that day, all he could do is to ask a paramedic to lend him her phone. He punched in some numbers and as the dialing tone beeps, more thoughts trailed his mind. He was reminded of the conversation he heard while at gunpoint. He was reminded of how he had never seen his father and he wondered if he could have taken a different path in life. Maybe Portland wasn’t the place to be. Maybe right here in Kensington, he could still start over.
“Hello?” a voice answered from the other line.
“Hi mom… It’s Lucas… I just want to call to let you know that I’m safe.”