The woman wore tight skirt and had a shiny black hair that dropped to her slim shoulders. She walked into the marbled hall of the bank with a confident stride and headed straight to the counter. Nancy’s hair-do would have caused a stir at some other era but, this being the 60s, nobody paid attention. She pulled a form from a stack, stepped aside, and furrowed in concentration as she pretended to be filling numbers, while her mind did a quick assessment of the surrounding.
OK, the guard at the door was pacing across the entrance, swaying in a pantomime dance to a song in his head, not paying close attention to anything but his shiny boots. Not that Nancy looked suspicious, her angelic face resembled a full bright moon and could disarm the national guards if she wanted it to.
There appeared to be two other customers at a corner lounge, being entertained by what seemed to be a senior investment executive.
The counter was four feet high and built of marble.
There were three employees behind the counter: two tellers at the front and another one who sat a little to the back and appeared to be handling forms passed along to her by the tellers to check. One teller had a ‘counter closed’ plaque in front of him. And was preoccupied with counting and rubber-banding rolls of crisp bank notes. The other had three customers waiting in line, the one in the front an old lady who looked like she’d forgotten how to count, and whenever she was prodded by the teller to hurry up and finish she‘d place her elbows on the counter and shed a few tears…”how am I supposed to withdraw enough money to pay my bills when you keep distracting me, son?”
Nancy checked her watch.
Beyond the counter was a partition of frosted glass and wooden frame that ran along the entire breadth of the building. She knew from pouring over the blueprints of the building with her associates that beyond the partition is a corridor that fed into offices in the back, and led to the underground vault through a stairway at one end, and a guarded back exit (equipped with alarm pad) at the other.
What appeared to be a courier slid a door of frosted glass open and walked into the working area behind the counter. He methodically placed a load of mail on each desk and disappeared where he’d come from.
She checked her watch again.
It was 10:51 AM.
The man who’d written the emergency procedure manual for the bank sat in a coffee shop across the street from the pacing guard. It was a sunny and glorious morning. But Frank was weather proof, no amount of sun shine or rain could distract his mind from whatever it was occupied with. His thought processing didn’t work through moods, but rather ran on the basis of events and developments, and he surely looked forward to the events that will be unfolding today, and all the trouble and challenges that lie ahead. Frank was the toughest, most feared and most trusted man in town. Qualities that helped the business of his security firm sky rocket. As he sipped his coffee today, he ran his mind through the relevant section in the manual:
In case of an armed robbery, a suspected arm robbery, or violent actions by a customer or a group of customers that can’t be contained by the security guard, the duty manager shall be notified by a red light alarm on his desk. The red light could be activated by the security guard or any of the employee through concealed switches. Upon spotting the alarm, the manager shall activate the self lock system immediately, preferably before the robbers have fled, and even before intimating law enforcement. The self lock system is irreversible, can only be deactivated by a code known to the Sheriff and the branch manager from outside after bringing the situation inside the bank under control. A piece of music will be played through the public address system of the bank to sooth the occupants of the besieged building. The music selection is left to the discretion of the manager……
Frank sipped his coffee and looked at his watch, humming his own sweet tune.
It was 10:54 AM.
No no no...... This isn't another short story. I just wonder if my dear readers will be able to guess the song the wise manager had selected to be played during emergencies.
And yes, there are enough clues in there.... Where are the music gurus?