I’m just a regular guy, at least for a writer. I’ve rode a few miles, been a few
places, but I’ve never been an eye witness to a robbery; that is until now.
Most people think a robbery is pretty simple and most are. You see the closed-
circuit camera footage on the news. Some idiot comes up to the counter of a 7- Eleven or
your local bank, jumps over the ounter, grabs the cash out of the register, knocks the
clerk a couple of times on the side of the head and runs out the door. The crook gets
caught in a day or two; the cops get a confession; the prosecutor gets a conviction;
and another dumbass goes to jail; case closed. You commit the crime, you do the time.
That’s why I was surprised when an acquaintance from high school who’d been in
prison a time or two, called me up one afternoon and asked if I wanted to see how a real
rip-off went down.
The high school ‘friend’, whom I’ll call ‘Jack,’ said “hey man, how you been
“Pretty good. Been doing some writing; mostly humor columns for a local
rag,” I cautiously responded.
“Chuck, I’ve read some of what you’ve written an’ it’s pretty good. It’s mostly
made up though ain’t it?”
“Jack, the stuff I write is all true and some of it may have actually happened,”
I shot back. Then he got to the meat of the conversation.
“Do you wanna write about something that’s going to happen; something one
hundred percent factual? Do you wanna be an eye witness to a real ripoff?”
This left me speechless for a couple of seconds. “You’re bullshitting me dude.
And if you aren’t I’m not going to let you put me in some Handy Andy or worse, a bank
and watch you or who ever get their shit blown away by some “Harry Callahan” type
looking to make a name for himself.”
“No man. It’s for real. I can hook you up with some professionals who’re gonna
rip off a “big box” soon. They don’t play man. They know how to handle weapons an’
they know tactics. They’re gonna do it and it’s gonna be beautiful. Whatcha’ say?”
“Besides the obvious one, what’s the catch? What do you want? Hell, what do
“Hey, all I want is for these dudes’ story to get out. I don’t want no money or
nothin’. So if you’re not interested, I’ll just fuckin’ hang up.”
“Wait a minute partner; didn’t say I wasn’t interested; just want to know where you’re coming from. As for whether this whole thing is on the up and up, I reserve
“Ok. These dudes have read your stuff an’ they think you can put their story
down how it really happens. They know that the government, starting with the local
yokels, all the way up to the feds, are gonna lie, ‘cause they’ve done it before. An’ they
want the real deal to get out. They’re not “Robin Hoods.” They’re just a bunch of
professionals who believe in getting’ it right the first time.
“All right. I’ll bite, at least for now. What do I have to do to meet these
Here’s where I’m going to get a little vague for obvious reasons as I don’t want
the State or Federal types seizing my computer and grilling me in some windowless room
for days on end.
“Chuck, you be at such and such a place at such an’ such a time an’ the dudes will
meet with you. After that, you’re on your own.”
“Alright Jack. If you’re not being straight up about all this, I’m going to make
sure you get a little visit from the Sheriff.”
“It’s the real thing man. If you’re not satisfied that these guys are for real, you
can go ahead an’ turn me in to the Sheriff.”
A couple of days later I was at an unnamed place in the middle of night waiting
on who knows what. I felt a little stupid. After I’d smoked a couple of cigars I walked
over behind a bush and took a leak. A stick cracked.
“Don’t turn around Mr. Connors.”
“Alright guy. Just let me do my business first and then you can get my money.”
“We’re not here for your money. Stay facing the way you are and put this blind-
fold on,” the voice commanded as some material was thrown over my shoulder. I zipped
up and put the blindfold on and stayed facing in the same direction.
Hands grabbed me roughly, turned me around and I heard the voice say. “Just had to be
sure it was you Mr. Connors. We don’t want any fuck-ups.”
“Who the hell did you think it was out here in the middle of nowhere in the
middle of the freakin’ night?”
“Don’t worry about it. Just get into the vehicle. We’re taking a little ride.”
I was pushed into a vehicle and sat in the middle of a seat with two guys sitting
on either side of me. One of them farted. The other one stank of garlic. Since I’d rea
novels and seen movies using this sort of thing I kept my mouth shut. The car moved for
what seemed like a long time (I was glad I’d taken a leak) turning and going up and down
steep curves numerous times. One time we were on a gravel road which seemed
to go up forever. Finally we stopped. I was pushed out and stood shakily on my
now asleep feet.
“Mr. Connors, we’re going to take you into a building and put you in a chair.
Bright lights will be shining in your face.
“I don’t really have much of a choice do I?”
“No. Just do what I tell you and you’ll get the story of your life; and live to tell
about it also.”
I was pushed roughly through a door into what felt like some sort of basement.
Arms set me down into a chair and a rasping voice told me to “stay put.” I was told to
remove the blindfold and just like they said, the light was bright. I really couldn’t see
“Do you have any questions Mr. Connors?”
“Yea, like what the fuck is going on?”
“Your acquaintance already told you. We’re going to rip off a “big box” soon and
we wanted you to write the story for us. We believe you’ll do an honest job. If you
don’t…well we know where you live.”
“Why a fucking “big box” and not a bank or something?”
“That’s the beauty of it Mr. Connors. There’s so many ‘Edward Abbey’ types
running around Western North Carolina that any monkey wrenching that happens will
be blamed on them. We’ll be in South America before the F.B.I. even suspects just who
“Okay. So it’s just robbery. Why should I give a damn that your story gets out
sans the usual bullshit and lies we all get from our so called leaders.”
“Besides us, you are the only one that’s going to know exactly what’s going on.
You get the exclusive. We don’t plan on killing anybody because we’ve done stuff like
this before. Plan the ‘op'. Follow the plan. Spend the money. It’s all about precision.”
“Okay. I’m in. What’s the plan,” I asked.
“Simple, Mr. Connors. We’ll create a diversion; a little explosion i
another part of the store. Propane can get out of hand if it’s ignited improperly; if you
catch my drift.
“Gotcha. Now how do you get to the real cash; not the cash registers, but where
the store’s safe is at.
“You catch on quick Mr. Connors.” The real cash, actually well over a million
dollars, is in the money room. The room has a key punch to get into it. We grab a
supervisor, give them some encouragement to punch in the code and we’re in. We stuff a
couple of duffel bags full of cash and leave. Two minutes tops.”
“How do you get out?”
“An emergency exit is next to the money room. The sprinkler and the fire alarm
will be activated so those diversions, the smoke, plus the bad emergency lighting after the
power’s been cut will create lots of panic. It should keep people busy while we leave the
“You didn’t tell me two things; how you cut the power and how you get in.”
“We have an employee who will pull the main switch. His motivation is ten
thousand dollars and we know where his family lives. Getting in is too easy. A high
school kid could do it. I’ll let you figure it out. In the mean time all you have to do is
stand where I tell you and keep your eyes and ears open. It’s pretty likely there’ll be a
panic so you might want to watch out that customers, who’ll be trying to get out the front
doors all at once, don’t run you over.
“This almost sounds like that Peter Fonda movie, “Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry.”
I suppose you have a ‘get-away’ car?”
“Actually several. And of course we’ve got something to get us south of the
border. There’s a bunch of governments down there that could care less about the U.S.,
especially for a bribe or two.”
“Okay. What store and when?” He told me.
“One last thing Mr. Connors: I’ve told you where to be. Stay there. Don’t try to
be a ‘hero’. We’re going to have select-fire rifles and shotguns plus body armor and
other ordinance. If we have to take somebody out we will.”
“Understood.” I was blindfolded again, driven back to my vehicle and told
to wait five minutes before taking the blindfold off.
On the day and about a half hour before the time he told me, I was at the “big
box” in a dirty little southern Appalachian mill town. It wasn’t very far from where I
lived. Hollywood types had shot a couple movies in and around the town because of the
local scenery. Yea, there was plenty of it, scenery that is—lots of little Abner and Daisy
Mae types running around in jacked-up 4X4’s. “Dueling Banjos” came to mind.
I walked in and positioned myself where I was told—the camera section. I wasn’t
bothered. This “big box” chain is notorious for poor customer service. I didn’t notice
anything unusual; just another day for low prices and cheap, Chinese made junk. A
Hispanic man put a sign on the men’s restroom saying “Closed for Cleaning” and put a
mop bucket in front of the door to drive home the point.
Suddenly there was a ‘pop’ in the back of the store and a loud whooshing noise
with what looked like a fireball. The store started to fill with smoke and the sprinklers
and fire alarms went off. I saw several guys dressed in tactical gear holding rifles and
shotguns at the ready exit the men’s room. Their body armor had ‘Police’ stenciled in
big white letters across the front and back. The leader grabbed a supervisor, some kid
with a mullet and pimples, and pointed a large semi-auto pistol at his head.
“Don’t shoot mister. I’ll open it for you. Nobody who works here gives a damn
about the store’s money anyway.”
Just like “Mr. Smith” had said, the customers were screaming and running down
each other trying to be the first out of the door of this low prices now turned seeming
death trap. In a way it was almost funny.
The kid let the heavily armed gang members into the money room and it wasn’t
two minutes before they reappeared with three bulging duffels, cut left and exited the
store. I heard a couple of loud booms from outside and the roar of a big block motor with
the screeching of tires as I ran out. It wasn’t more than a couple of minutes later that
the police showed up and immediately starting herding people away from the doors.
After the heist was all over and the ‘bad guys’ had gone I saw how quickly the
B.A.T.F. guys influenced the town manager to lie; not that he didn’t have a lot of practice
telling whoppers with a straight face. The Sheriff went along because it was in his best
interest to go along—he wants to get re-elected. Of course the media regurgitated what
they were told to.
As far as the cops actually figuring out who had pulled off the heist, well all the
‘boys in blue’ zeroed in on the decoys that the gang had purposeful sent undisguised in
range of the security cameras. They’re still looking for them as “persons of interest.” It
really doesn’t take much to fool someone who doesn’t have a clue what to look for,
especially when they’re looking for some wild-eyed tree hugger type.
I went ahead and wrote up the details—took me a couple of days to go over the
notes and get it all straight. Then I posted it on my blog. Haven’t got any comments yet,
but then, I’m not really expecting any.
I did get a postcard from Brazil the other day. The picture had a couple of topless
beauties soaking up rays on a perfect white beach. On the back was printed “Thanks,
keep up the good work. Wish you were here.”
I laughed until I almost cried.
As for whether you, the reader, believes a word of what I’ve written, I could
care less. I know what I saw. I was there and an eye witness. Like I’ve said before, all
of its true and some of it may have actually happened.
Editor’s Post Script:
According to police, on Wednesday September 26, 2007, there was an incident at the Wal-Mart Superstore in Sylva, North Carolina. Reportedly there was a triggering of some kind of explosive device. Several people were injured. The store was closed until 6:00 am the next day. Persons of Interest, recorded on surveillance footage, are being sought. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, along with State and local authorities, are still investigating.