T he Wachovia Bank teller had no idea that she would be robbed that day. Had she known, perhaps she would not have reported for duty. She would not experience an ordinary robbery, though. Not one involving drawn guns or threatening notes. Her life would not be in jeopardy. Nor would she witness a sophisticated scheme to drill through the bank's vault. This robbery would be deceitful and conniving, but as devastating in its effect as any armed caper.
Wachovia Bank customer Lavern Grisby had parked in the bank's parking lot. The shadows from the pine trees neatly lined across the back of the lot forced the warm autumn air to seem chilly. Lavern checked her garish makeup in the rearview mirror before she opened the car door. She quivered as an eerie chill came over her. Then she walked slowly and apprehensively from the handicapped parking space. She was a jazzy black woman, clad in daywear and donning a cane.
She reached the bank door. Before she reached out to open it, the door swung open. A security guard held the door open until she crossed the threshold. That was why she adored Wachovia, they provided extraordinary customer relations from the moment customers were on the property. She flashed him a prismatic smile and showcased teeth that were so perfectly capped that they were enviable. She thanked him and gleefully waltzed across the dark green carpet.
Lavern peered over her shoulder from time to time expecting a black, derelict thug brandishing a gun, or worse, a white man with a bomb foolishly wrapped snuggly about his throat to rush into the bank behind her, she fell in line behind three other customers. She prayed the bad men were on hiatus that morning.
Lavern stood in the roped line and used her cane as an additional leg. She rested her hand on the chrome post; it was cool. She was hot, though.
She pulled a church fan from her Chanel handbag and began to fan herself. The air hit her nostrils and she smelled the potpourri which sat in bowls all around the bank. She hoped that her allergies did not act up. If so, she would sweat and have a sneezing attack. Either would ruin her makeup, and ultimately, her day.
She turned her head to look around the bank and her large gray curls swung wildly. Along the wall behind her were three customer service representatives chatting with customers. To the left of them was the vault, complete with an armed sentry. Lavern glanced at her watch and then was instructed by a white flashing arrow to proceed to the available teller.
In front of the teller, she removed extra-large Fendi glasses and slipped them into her bag. She used a gloved hand and a fancy pen to sign a withdrawal slip.
"How may I help you today?" the teller asked smiling.
"A withdrawal, sweetie," Lavern said, and stacked above that she said, "Here's a withdrawal slip from the back of my checkbook. I have signed the slip, but with my arthritis,"-she held up a mildly shaking writing hand-"Could you? Would you mind filling out the remainder of the slip?" she pleaded in her raspy, deep, Southern drawl.
The teller looked at the elderly woman and said, "Of course not, ma'am. I have your account number here on the bottom of the slip. All I need is the amount you'd like to withdraw and see photo identification along with a second form of ID."
"Oh, certainly," Lavern said, pulling out her wallet to retrieve her ID. "I need a cashier's check for ... Shoot," Lavern said, frustratingly, as she passed the teller her ID. She took a deep breath and then coughed into a cupped hand over her mouth. "Pardon me," she said, apologetically.
"It's okay, Ms. Grisby," the teller cooed. "Take your time," she told her. "Can I get you a cup of water?"
"No ... no. I'll be fine. Thanks, though," Lavern said, having gathered her composure. "Math has never been my strongest subject. Could you tally two months' re