The Devil’s Back Pocket

I’m not a bad guy. Sure, come morning that’s what you’re going to hear. They’re going to say I’m a madman, a villain, the scum of the Earth; but I’m not.

My name’s Francis Oliver Emerson, but my friends call me Frank. I’m a mechanic. Ever since I got my first car at the age of fifteen, I’ve been tearing into them. I’m a good mechanic, It’s all I know. I enjoy fixing cars, it takes my mind off of my problems. I’m wishing I had a carburetor to clean right about now. As far as my problems are concerned, this one takes the cake.

In two hours, the clock will strike midnight and it’ll be my little girl’s eleventh birthday. It will also be a year since her bitch-mom walked out on us. Who walks out on their kid on her birthday?? A drug addict, that’s who. Last year was rough. How do you tell a ten year-old, on her birthday, that mommy’s gone? I felt so powerless, so useless. All I could do was hold her, hold her and use every tear she shed as fuel for my anger.

It was difficult enough trying to support my little girl and her junky mom, but it worked. There wasn’t much, but at least there was something. I was able to pretend that her mom was taking care of her while I was off shedding blood for ends meet. Now however, I can’t dilute myself. I know she’s sitting at home alone, missing me, and probably missing her mom. She’s such a sweet girl, she’s always so happy when I get home. I’m exhausted when I do, but her smile snaps me out of it. I sit with her while we eat our supper and talk about the day. She always has so much to say, and I’m always happy to listen. I sit with a huge grin, fighting back the tears that are just aching to come out. She’s my world.

I wanted this birthday to be awesome. God, how I’ve fucked that up. It’s getting hard to breathe here, my best guess is that I only have a couple hours of air left. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was supposed to be a simple robbery. The plan was fool-proof. Hide in the bank’s bathroom until everyone but the manager left, have him show me to the safe, tie him up, grab the loot, and get away. Simple.

Fool-proof, and what a fool I am, locked in this safe. I didn’t know the door would close, I didn’t think I’d be trapped. I’ve ruined my little girl’s life. She’ll be shuffled through the system, the daughter of a druggy and a criminal. She’ll hate herself, she’ll hate me. Every year, she’ll recall the horrors of her life. She’ll need to be held, she’ll need to be comforted, and I won’t be there.

I could sure use some luck. Maybe the manager will break free and the cops will get me out of here. Maybe I’m dreaming! Maybe I’ll wake up and this will all just have been one hell of a nightmare. A reminder that things could always be worse. Yea, I’m no bank robber. Where would I even get a gun? This has to be a dream, but damn, it’s hard to breathe.