Almost Fiction: The rucksack, bicycle, motorcycle and the alley

By Sam Jones

The alley wasn’t really an alley but rather a pathway, a slice between two large four-story buildings, too tight for a car but just narrow enough for a bicycle. It was a dirty three-block pedestrian shortcut which extended past two cross streets and left mostly unused by anyone other than bums and winos.

A bicycle with twenty-one gears sat at the mouth of the alley.

A motorcycle, half street bike, half dirt bike capable of riding on the highway, the sidewalk, a gravel road or a dirt path, anywhere a car couldn’t, was parked at the far end of the three-block alley at the terminus of the bicycle’s perfect escape route.

From a mountaineering store, a well-made, nondescript, average-looking rucksack was purchased. Dozens just like it were carried by students on every campus in America. It would cause no notice.

The rucksack, the bicycle, the alley, the motorcycle, the route, the plans had been gone over in minute detail and the course had been walked many times. Everything had been meticulously planned.

However, the weather unforeseen, it looked like rain. It hadn’t started but it looked like it might. “What the hell, what is a little rain?  Maybe it will be to my advantage.”

After the bank robbery, slinging the rucksack filled with all the money from the tellers, running out of the front door of the bank, there was a loud noise like someone kicking over a trash can. Outside, he slipped and fell on the rain-slick sidewalk where he cut his knee. There was some blood. “Damn it. Damn rain,” he said out loud.

The bicycle was only a few feet away and within seconds he was on it pedaling for all he was worth down the tiny gash of an alleyway. At the first cross street he slowed for several cars, then accelerated across the street to the mouth of the next alleyway. “Damn, my knee hurts and my back is killing me. Must’ve really twisted it when I fell. Might have to go see a good chiropractor.” He made a little joke as he peddled. “OK, OK, I’m fine. It’s only one more block.” The blood on his pants increased and began to drip.

He fired the motorcycle and tore off into the traffic.

After a quarter of a mile, he slowed and tried to blend into the flow of the cars. That’s when he heard the sirens and saw in his mirror the police cars’ lights ricocheting and glowing off the wet highway. He gassed it.

For two miles he held his own and the sirens stayed the same distance behind him. He took a hard right, then a hard left, pinned the throttle and gained some breathing room. Another hard right and left and he was losing the police cars.

His escape route was an excellent one and despite the rain and the police being closer than expected everything was working out as planned.

At the end of this road was the cemetery. His intention was to cut through a place in the wall that was only big enough for a motorcycle, ride across the 10 acres of lawn to a dirt road on the other side, lose the cops, ride down the dirt road for a mile and then access a trailhead that went into the forest. From there dozens of trails forked this way and that and like D. B. Cooper he would just become a phantom.

That was the scheme but the grass was wet from the rain and when he got to the far end of the cemetery he slid out, landing on the bad knee, bending the handlebars and hurting his back again.

The motorcycle’s engine screamed until he hit the kill switch. Tangled up with it, behind a large headstone, it was a good hiding place to recalculate his plans.

At first he thought his coat and rucksack were wet from the rain but it wasn’t water.

Fingering his back he realized it was blood and examining himself further he found more blood on his stomach. “What the hell is this?” Up until now adrenaline had masked the pain. But now he was out of adrenaline and pain shot through his back, through his guts and out the hole in his belly four inches to the right of his navel. “It’s a bullet hole? When was I shot?” He rewound the mental recording and remembered a loud noise but not a gunshot. “There was a guard at the bank but he was just an old codger who sat dozing next to the exit. He didn’t even have a gun. Did he?”

It didn’t make any difference how it happened. The bullet wound changed everything.

Sliding off the rucksack, he pulled up the coat and shirt and examined the hole in his back with his hand. It was the size of his finger and wouldn’t stop bleeding. Up against the headstone he propped the rucksack full of money and leaned hard against it, as hard as he could. The pressure seemed to slow down the flow of blood but it didn’t stop.

He thought about cowboy movies. If there was an exit wound someone always said, “You’re lucky, the bullet went straight through.” Wasn’t it a good sign when the bullet went straight through? He also tried to remember where his kidneys were and on which side of the body was his liver. From where the blood was oozing from his stomach he smiled knowing that he wouldn’t have to have his appendix removed. The bullet had done that. Somehow that seemed funny.

The cops would soon find him. They would take him to the hospital and of course he would spend a very long time in jail. But he would be fixed up and alive. “OK, OK, where are you cops? Come on, come on. You got me. You win. I lose. I give up.”

He tried to extricate himself from the motorcycle, stand up next to the headstone and signal the police. But he was weak, the stone was wet with rain and he slipped down again out of sight. It was a good hiding place

“Damn, I’m tired. Why am I so tired? I’ll just close my eyes for a second. No, can’t go to sleep. Why not? It’s OK. You are not supposed to go to sleep if you’re in the snow. If you go to sleep in the snow you’ll freeze. This isn’t snow. This is just rain. But, I’m shot and blood is running out of me like the dam broke. It’s OK, the cops will find me soon. Damn I’m tired. I have time to take a little nap.”

The last thought he had, as he closed his eyes, was how he would spend the money.

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