How Far the Wilderness


Tags: Violent, .

Desc: Drama Story: The first 'Tales of Station Gorge' universe story. It all started with a bank heist.

OK, you see, it all started in 1964. There was this bank robbery over in Thornton. And that's, maybe ... eighty - ninety miles as the crow flies, from here. Across the state line. It's a pretty big city.

You're askin', "where's here..."

Well now, this little podunk spot is Station Gorge. Once hailed as the Gate Way to the Wilderness. Back in its heyday.

But now days - well, spend a little time here. Look around. Decide for yourself.


The day of the robbery, the four guys on the scene knew exactly what they each had to do. One, the big Driver, was lookout. He had a walkie-talkie and waited in the stolen, red Cadillac convertible.

It was buttoned-up tight, parked in the rain. The engine runnin'; the Caddie faced the Bank.

The Bank was at the end of the block, down the wet, one way street. That time of day, what with the storm an' all, the Driver hadn't seen a moving car for the last fifteen minutes.

The rain storm pounded down on the one-way street, that dead-ended onto an avenue. Behind the wheel of the parked Caddie, the Driver had a rain-softened view of the marble facade of the Bank, and the big front doors. The building was half-a-block away, just on the other side of the intersection. It was a impressive sight; even in that weather.

The Driver listened to the rain hittin' the tight material of the convertible top. An open parking space was right in front him. He hoped it stayed that way for the next ten minutes or so. That way, the powerful Caddie could just ease out onto the street. The big man wouldn't have to maneuver to get the big car out of the parking space.

He was glad the traffic on the avenue in front of the Bank seemed almost nonexistent. The morning radio said the storm socked-in the whole Midwest. The Driver felt good about that. He'd seen no sign of it lettin' up; and now, the rain was comin' down harder.

The three other men were on foot. Each one took a separate route to the Bank. The two veterans were feelin' confident as they approached the building. They both knew that today, any security alarms in the Bank that got set off, would not go off.

The Fourth Robber turned at the corner in the rain. From under the wide brim of he oversized rain hat, he could now see the Bank across the avenue. He smiled to himself. Well - he was by far the youngest of the bunch. A youngster, really. This would be his first bank job. Heck, this would be his first any job. But he was excited, and felt filled with life. The training the other three men had given him bucked-up his confidence.

After this job, he wanted to go some place the sun would shine everyday. He was thinkin' that he just might skedaddle out to the West Coast with his share of the loot. Maybe try his hand at actin'.

After all, he told himself, he was a bad boy. Sure, he was a little bit nervous. But, he was a bad boy. And this heist would prove it. Not that he'd be tellin' anybody about it. Especially since he might be a movie star some day. But this day would mark, he felt, as a man of consequence. People would notice that something extra. Just by the set to his eyes.

The two veteran robbers on the street, were each armed with pistols. The First Veteran held up a big, opened, black umbrella. He kept the rib-taut material of the final close to the crown of his head, over his shoulders. The rain drummed off the top, almost drowning out the ambient street sounds around him. He had a walkie-talkie stashed under his long raincoat.

The Second Veteran wore a wide-brim hat that looked like a cowboy hat, but wasn't. An' if you asked him, he'd set you straight about it. 'I be lookin' like some cowboy ta', sonny? 'Cause, this ain't. no. cowboy. hat! OK?'

He had the shoulders of his long London Fog rain coat, covered by the wide brim of his hat, hunched up to his ears. The lapels up to further hide his face. He splashed up onto the wet curb, and looked down the sidewalk, to his right; then to his left. Then he made for the front of The Bank. He had his pistol in a waist holster, under his clean, heavy sweatshirt; ready for a quick cross draw to bring his heat into play.

The youngest, the Fourth Robber, felt the crude pistol-grip of his pump-action shotgun bump against the side of his chest. He drew the arm of his duster to his body. That caused the action and barrel of the gun to snug up against his side and his hip under his rain gear. Now that it wasn't bumpin' around, the young man told himself, the shotgun shouldn't be drawing any attention beneath his long, old-fashion cowboy duster.

Once he pulled out the shotgun inside the Bank, he reminded himself, he'd release the gun from the sling around his shoulder. The sling wouldn't hamper his weapon movement that way.

That was just one of the many things the older guys drilled him to remember. They'd given him a numbered list a month ago and expected him to memorize the thing. It was a step-by-step script on his role in the heist. It was an insult, as far as he could see it, at first.

Then, it dawned on him, it was a script. Like, a role in a movie he might star in when he became an actor. A movie about robbin' a bank. OK, he'd told himself, his first major role. He'd nail it.


There was a Fifth Man. He put the job together. But it was only the four robbers who got together in Thornton. They met up three days before. To get the final pieces set up for the heist.

The Driver, and later the First Veteran now carryin' the walkie-talkie, had agreed with the demands of the Fifth Man. That he would get an even share of the cash. And because of all the stuff the Fifth Man told the Driver - well, the Driver and the First Veteran felt sure there would be a lot of it in the Bank. Just waitin' for somebody, who had a clue, to take it.

Plus, the robbers had agreed to steal some large, locked satchel during the heist. The Fifth Man told the Driver that he was certain the thing would be delivered to the Bank. Dead certain. And, the Fifth Man told the Driver when. And when - was in about five minutes.

So the robbers were gonna' hit the place fast. They'd snag the loot and the bag at the same time. Let those scared tellers step on those alarm buttons all they wanted. Do 'em no good that day. That'd been taken care of already.

The fact it'd been rainin' cats-n-dogs all day helped the plan a lot. In the neighborhoods and business blocks around the Bank, some streets were floodin'. The storm was playin' hell with that section of Thornton's storm sewers. With this much rain comin' down, people knew backing-up water would threaten the utilities that ran under the streets.

It so happened, all the phones in the immediate area went on the fritz fifteen minutes before the first robber walked into the Lobby. 'OK, ' office workers in the surrounding buildings told the people next to 'em, 'it's the storm. Expect the electricity's next. It's happened before, yah know. Might even get to go home early.'


The Fifth Man's payment for puttin' the whole shebang together and bringin' the four robbers in on it—well, he claimed the satchel. And whatever the hell is in it. And nobody—was to try and get the thing opened. At all.

And, the Fifth Man would collect his share of the money. But you knew that already.

The Driver and the First Veteran—lugging the walkie-talkie—well, they recruited the other two guys. And they didn't let those other two guys in on the name of the Fifth Man.

And those two guys, they didn't really care to be introduced, either. In fact, they were damn happy not to know anything about the guy. It was, a very good plan.

It was no coincidence, three of the robbers served together in the South Pacific during World War Two. They were proven combat veterans of Guadalcanal.

After that campaign, those three found 'emselves fightin' the Japs again. It had seemed, only the devil wanted have anythin' to do with happened on a couple of those islands. Back then, they were just kids. But, they'd grown up mighty fast. Learnt things nobody in that Bank was gonna' know.

OK. So two of the veterans lived in Station Gorge. They had young, strugglin' families. The Second Veteran—well, he'd grew up in Station Gorge. But after the War—just seemed he could never find any one place ta' call home.

He'd stopped by for visits. 'Bout every year or two. But seemed he was always on his way somewhere else.

The Fourth Robber—the other three called him 'the Kid' because his real name, Teddy, didn't seem dangerous enough. He happened to be the nephew of the Second Veteran.

Now, that boy had been in some state prison out West. In the slammer from the time he was nineteen, 'til he was just about twenty-three.

Said he'd gotten arrested for auto theft, corruption of a minor, transportation of a minor across state lines for immoral purposes, statutory rape and some other crap. But he'd only went up the river on the auto theft. And the other crap.

Turned out the minor, the nephew was accused of havin' corruptin', had pooped-out a baby that just—could not—have been his kid. Happened a week before the boy had been to go on trial. So, the Kid copped to a plea on the stolen car and the other crap.

And, he'd done his time.

The Kid had known how and when to fight. He'd also known how to get along. He'd paid attention while in the joint. And he'd picked up some skills he'd not had before he went in. He'd gotten some tattoos.

The Kid had been out for over a year. But, he'd been on the outside for much longer than that.

If you know what I mean.

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Story tagged with:
Violent /