Elvis clutched the money bag in his bloodied hand, sprang over the counter and started for the door. The cape flowed at a right angle, exposing his red drawers hanging out of the ripped pants. As he was a few feet from the door, the movie star-like customer came around the corner from an office and ran into the lobby and shouted, "Elvis!"
Sirens were close now. The sprinklers had created a monsoon inside the bank and the bankÕs glass windows had quickly fogged. The makeup on the pregnant customer ran in rivulets of blue down her face. Her tent clung to her like cellophane. The teller with an ink-stained throat straightened her dress and passed her hand through her soaked hair; it appeared as though her neck were covered with mascara. Sergeant began to stir; his feet twitched and he impulsively swatted at the thing clinging to his lip.
Elvis stopped dead in his tracks and glanced back. He threw open the door, nodded and bolted through the opening, but the door closed on his cape, catching him at throat level; he was yanked from his feet. He landed with a thud on his rump on the sidewalk, quickly sprang up and tugged on the cape that was jammed in the door. A piece tore off and he was free. He sprinted for the Caddy, but stumbled down and ran most of the way on his hands and knees, dragging the bag. He finally made it to the car, threw in the loot, squeezed through the door, hopped in and cranked the ignition. The engine raced and the Caddy glanced off the curb, sideswiping a Ford that was parallel parked in mid-block. The Caddy careened around the corner a split-second before a police cruiser with tires squealing slid onto Main Street.
The robber yanked off the mask, but couldnÕt see any better and miraculously made it the four blocks through town without wrecking or running anyone over. His heart began slowing to under a hundred beats per minute, but he felt more alive than at any time in his life. His senses, except for his eye sight, were on alert.
He was steering down a narrow country road when he felt the barrel of a gun pressed to his neck.
"What the hell?" the robber blurted.
. . .
The corporate offices of Weird Magazine, located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan were just awakening when Mel and Lolita exited the elevator with sleepy-eyed co-workers and stepped into the magazineÕs foyer. They steamed past posters of past monthly covers; mostly shots of freaky aliens, freaks, freaky celebrities, and outrageous headlines, and walked into a large, open space full of open-aired modular stalls. The staff calls the area the PIT. This is where the lifeblood of the paper pumps. Minions who had advanced degrees in fiction writing gathered the details of the minutiae relished by inquiring minds from all corners of the globe. They were paid yeomanÕs wage. Most of the little people worked at the magazine because it gave them an outlet for their creativity and they loved seeing their name in the by-line. Some were delusional and thought that a stint at the magazine on their resume would help them land a bigger and better job. In reality, most would slip-slide into something even less productive like a college English professorship.
The magazine suffered from tremendous turnover. There was only so much satisfaction one could draw from warning the world about impending attack by the warring denizens of Pluto. And the net of most paychecks would barely pay for subway fare to and from the office. The average length of employment was three years and the average age of the staff was well under thirty.
A large scheduling board draped one wall. It had six permanent headings imprinted over long vertical columns: ALIENS, SUPERNATURAL OCCURENCES, CELEBRITY DIRT, MIRACLES, SCIENCE NUTS and ELVIS. A grid work of large squares stacked on top each other flowed from under the headings to the floor. Each square was topped by a month and in each square was the name of a reporter, cameraman and tentative headline. The magazine tried to have at least one story about all six of the super topics in each issue. And since the stories had to be in the can a minimum of forty-five days before the print and ship date, elbows were constantly flying. Every drawer contained antacid pills.
Presently, the headings had the following headlines penciled in for next monthÕs issue:
ALIENS: These Men Really Are From Mars, Colony Of Martians Found In Iraqi Desert
SUPERNATURAL OCCURENCES: Earth Destroying Meteor Rapidly Approaches, May Be Here In Time For Christmas, Shopping Season In Jeopardy
CELEBRITY DIRT: Arnold Schwarzenegger May Be Adopted By Ted Kennedy, Claims It Legalizes Run For Presidency
MIRACLES: Mummy Dead For Five Hundred Years Now Teaches Egyptian History at Oxford University, His Wife Says She Always Knew Something Was Amiss
SCIENCE NUTS: New Herb Found In India Doubles Size Of Penis Overnight And Grows Hair
ELVIS: Elvis Has Secretly Worked As A Security Guard At Graceland For Twenty Years, And We Have His Paycheck Stubs To Prove It!
. . .
Melissa Vaughn was almost giddy as she drove to the festival. Her senses were heightened and her mind was sharp, as though she were on a caffeine rush. She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in beat to the song on the radio. Life was great. She had a romantic interest in her life and she was on the verge of solving an incredible mystery involving Elvis. How could Elvis have robbed a bank five years after his death? And why? The story would make her famous and establish her as a serious writer.