Mrs. Cathlene Hill, head teller and devoted employee, returned to the bank one evening to retrieve some homework she remembered she left on the check writing table just inside the doors.
She discovered the front door was unlocked.
Alarmed, the stepped down the street to city hall.
Chief Police Arthur Swearingen took her report with ever-widening eyes, and dropped his barbeque sandwich from Allison's onto the styrofoam carry out he had in front of him on his big desk.
He quickly summoned Deputy Barry Towater on the radio mike from patrol in the squad car.
Barry was already in close arrest at the black Champion Club for illegal handling of bonded whiskey, and suspected prostitution.
Another night of crime and shenanigans had just set in on the sleepy town, and the revelation by Mrs. Hill now set it off with a rare, but much loved firework of another order.
While on the radio with Trooper Towater, Chief Swearingen mentioned they might need back-up, because Arthur was no fool, and he had already deduced the robbers were still in the bank.
It hadn't been an hour he had made the rounds, pulling on the business doors, and he didn't think he had missed the bank's.
Unbeknownst to him, Conrad Hollis, the bank president, had left the bank in a hurry right before Cathlene came back, on his way to a Rotary Meeting, that had Sam Less coming to talk about the factory's plan to sign up with Sears for their new line of women's coats.
It would be something to get into the row about how this was going to interfere with Kellwood's and Callins's Industry's competition for slave labor in the garment and telecommunications market, that caused a fistfight between Gene Simmons and Tolbert Callins's brother, Claude, but that should probably await the scene developing in front of the bank, even though it is connected, because the back-up for Chief Swearingen and Trooper Towater was Narse House, the county deputy sheriff, who was at the Rotary Meeting at Allison's Restaurant, enjoying a free meal, until the buffet line was overturned by Simmons and Callins, and his intervention was necessary to prevent a full-scaled riot, there across the railroad tracks from the bank building.
Anyway, Connie, everybody called him "Connie," had left the bank without locking the door.
He later recounted something about fooling around with the damn keys that was all swung on a large ring strapped to his waist, trying to find the right one, when that damned deputy Arthur had hired, all at once cut around the corner by the stop sign on two wheels, siren going, and he believed he saw Towater with a female passenger, black, trying to kick out the back glass in the patrol car.
The sight and the sound of the tires had so unnerved him he couldn't remember positively if he had turned the lock with the big key or not.
The scene now in front of the bank was like..well, those Saturdays when the day was full of people from everywhere..come to town for a day of it..but, now, all gathered in a semi-circle in front of the bank, a darkened disk radiating out from the street light on the corner.
Arthur Swearingen had fired six rounds from his service revolver at the light. But, it was still shining.
During reloading, he had to manage crowd control, telling them to get back and maintain some kind of discipline, because his deputy had not yet showed up, and he was sweating and nervous, so he couldn't get his auto-load clip to fit the bullets into the cylinder.
He had told, and told, that man he didn't need no new-fangled speed loader.
Narse House had calmed the Rotarians enough to pull away and deploy to the bank.
He was picking up Arthur's ammunition rolling around on the sidewalk, and trying to get snapped in on the situation, all from a kneeling position underneath the Chief's wildly swinging arms and legs, as the Chief attempted a manual load of the pistol, while cussing loudly to stay back and give him some room.
House, never once taking an eye off the bank's front doors, brought forth a bared-tooth dog's growl at the bank's inner darkness, and from his crouch on all fours now rushed the double doors with his automatic in one hand, and the Chief's confiscated revolver in the other.
Arthur chased him right to the doors, arguing he could still take out the light, and they'd be in the open with the light behind them.
Deputy Towater jumped the curb in the squad car, throwing extra light on their backs with his headlights, and did a 360 from under the steering wheel, out the car door, and into a running assault with a pump shotgun erected in his hands.
He hit the black opening between the doors that House and the Chief had prysed open, with an already-begun forward roll that carried him in and through and beyond the inner sanctum of the bank til he was standing like a rotating statue in the foyer.
The darkness was dispersed with clean, silent light when House found the switch, and there was nothing, nothing amiss, except a stack of folders on the check writing desk just inside the doors, which Mrs. Hill now collected up in a huff in her arms and said something to the Chief on her way out, as she parted the crowd, popping her shoe heels on the bank's marble floor.
Whatever it was she said, it wasn't nice, especially for Mrs. Hill, who was known for her gentility and patience with everybody from the likes of the Circuit Judge to some of those infernal Mayoes.
I believe it was Tom Allhorn, the editor of the town, who was taking notes during the seige, said he thought she said, "shit."
Author: Bill Bethel