Chapter 2

Chapter 2

A Chapter by Randy C

Out and About


With my location chosen I wanted to take a close look at some sort of architectural plan.  The one place I was assured that those records would exist was at the city's planning department.  After a quick web search I confirmed that the records were public records, but I had to have either a project or job number to request records for.  On top of that plans couldn't be removed from the office or copied without an affidavit from the building owner. 


I did have some luck though. Mecklenburg County had created a system for contractors to request permits and submit plans on-line and the site was accessible by the public.  Existing permits were searchable by address and this was my ticket to getting a job number.  I entered in the address of the bank into the permitting site.   Since the bank was a suite in strip mall with ten units I was instantly presented with at least a hundred different permitting records. 


I started the mind numbing process of clicking on each file, opening and scanning it to see which suite it was for.   I hate monotonous tasks like this.  It never fails that your mind goes on autopilot and then after too much time has passed you realize that you have been daydreaming.  When you realize that then your work is at question and you have to find the last place you remember being conscious and start again.   It took about 15 minutes of clicking before I hit upon the first permit that had a job number.  After almost an hour I had every job number on the site for the bank.


Now it was time to pay a visit to the records office.  Being paranoid or theatrical or just stupid I decided I needed a disguise.  What I wanted was a wig and a beard to conceal as much of my face as possible.   After the heist I didn’t want anybody to connect my visit to me.  The point of all of this was to be able to commit the crime and be free afterward.  So, I head off to a costume and theatrical supply shop on the east side of Charlotte.


Moore's Costumes was in a rundown warehouse of a building.  The inside of the store was how I imagined Alice Cooper's house, Halloween wall-to-wall.  If this was all they had then this was going to be a short shopping trip.  If I had needed a Halloween costume I could have gotten it at Party City.


The ding-dong of a doorbell announced my arrival and promptly summoned forth a clerk.  If I was going to guess the person who stood before me was in his mid to late twenties and was a slave to trends.  His tattoos sleeves came out of a  t-shirt that was supposed to look like it was printed in the seventies.  His jeans were per-worn and ripped and to top it all off he had the rings in his ear lobes to  stretch them to some ungodly proportion. 


“Welcome to Moore's Costume.  Is there anything I can help you with?”  His tone was pleasant.


“Maybe” I said skeptically.  Judging from the lobby if I wasn't looking for a bloody corpse or a demon zombie vampire I was out of luck.  “I am putting together my own costume and I looking for a wig and maybe a beard or mustache.  Do you carry anything like that?”


“Yeah, we have costume wigs and we also have a full line of theatrical quality materials.  What you are looking for is along our back wall toward the right corner.”  He pointed passed the sea of hellish creatures at the front of the store into the bowels of the store.  “If you will follow me I can show you what we have.”


I nodded and fell in behind him.  He made an odd swishing noise of cloth rubbing on cloth.  I assumed it was his jeans but I couldn't find the source of the annoying sound.  We passed by rack and racks of costumes.  They seemed to have everything from super heroes to a more seductive line for adults.  We arrived at the indicated section of wall and I started to sort my way through the different wig options.   Most things where so outrageous a self-respecting clown wouldn't be caught in or they were very obviously nylon and wouldn't hold up to scrutiny. 


“You mentioned you were putting a costume together for a party.  Did you have a particular character or look you trying for?”  I understand that he was just trying to be helpful but I really didn't want to play twenty questions.  I don't know why I said I was going to a party; I really just want to look around. 


“No, not really, I have a couple ideas, but I am not committed to any of them.  I will know what I am looking for when I see it.”  I was hoping he would catch the hint to leave.


“Well, since you’re looking for ideas.  Here we have a fifties greaser wig.  These were really popular after the Blumenthal put on that production of Grease last summer.”  He held the wig out enthusiastically.


“It's solid rubber.”  I was applauded at the molded coiffure.  “I was hoping for something a little more realistic.”


I picked up a black curly wig that seemed passable.  “What about this?” I inquired.


“That wig is 100% nylon.  The fibers are very high quality and even feel real.”  He stuck out a hand and stroked the wig.  He stared up at smiling.  The look on his face was saying “You try.  It is really nice.”


I made a quick pass over the fibers.  “Yes, very nice.”  I tried to be sincere, but the hairs felt stiff.  “What do you think I would look like in this?”


“It would give you an Adam Sandburg sort of vibe.  The curly hair like that is very ethnic.”  He put a hand on his hip and sized me up from head to toe.  “You have a very Aryan look about you, but you might be able to pull it off.  Is this the sort of look you’re going for?”


“I just don't know. I can't really decide what would be a good persona.  I imagine a lot of people will go to this party as super heroes and such.  I really want to do something more realistic.”


“Well, we do have this red haired version of the same wig.  You could match this with some 80’s style glasses and go as Napoleon Dynamite?” He rummaged for a second and presented me with the hairpiece. 


“I am not sure what I could do with it but I like the black one better.”  I turned back to the rack. “This seems interesting.”  I pointed to a long brown wig and beard combo.


“Yes, that is what we call our biblical or hippie set.  The two are readily interchangeable.” In my mind I was planning on trimming the beard a bit and put the wig into a pony tail.  Even if I couldn't get this getup to look natural, it was still worth it since it covered everything but the eyes.


“Sweet, I think this is exactly the look I want.   I have a tie-dyed shirt and tinted glasses I can match with this.”


“Wonderful!” he exclaimed a little more cheerfully than the situation warranted.  He extended a hand to take the curly wig from me.


“No, no.  I want to keep this one too.  You never know I might be able to use it Halloween.”


“Ahh, good.  Have you ever worn a wig before?”


“No, I haven't.”


“OK, then, you will need a wig cap to hold your natural hair in place.”  He plucked one off the shelf.  “If you look inside of the wig there you will see some laces that you can pull or let out.”  I flipped over the wig so that I could follow along with what he was saying.  “Right here, this little hook snaps into to these eyelets.  That should give you plenty of wiggle room to get a snug fit.”


“Thanks.  I have never done this before.”


“No worries.  If you have trouble the fitting you can always use a bobby pin clipped to the wig cap.”  He glanced at my head. “But, I don't think you will have trouble getting it sized.”


We winded our way back to the counter and I purchased my items from my new hipster friend.  I thanked him again and I took my bag full of hair and exited to the parking lot.  I was now ready to make an appearance at the Code Enforcement office.


For my outing to the county offices, I decided on the curly wig, slacks, and a golf shirt.  That seemed like the sort of thing a construction professional would wear.   Since the offices were only open on weekdays, I would have to venture out during a break at work.  The problem there was where was I going to change?  If one of my co-workers recognized me in this outfit I would never explain it.   Beside of my office was another building that had a public restroom behind the elevators on each floor.  This seemed like the best place to change; I could blend in to the normal traffic and not be noticed.


I enter the building with my backpack and got on the elevator with drawing any attention from the security guard. I got off on the second floor and made my way to the men’s room.  Let say if you have never done it before, changing in a public restroom is a disgusting proposition regardless of how clean it is.  I stood on top of my shoes to keep my sock feet from touching the floor and switched out my clothes with amazing speed.  Since I kept my hair fairly short the wig cap and wig went on with ease.  I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror.  I was pleased with the look.  It surprised me how much just changing hair styles affected one's appearance.


The county offices were on the edge of the skyscrapers that made up uptown Charlotte. Code Enforcement and Planning were located in the Hal Marshal building.  Despite having a name the building was nothing special.  Decades ago it had once housed a Sears, but as retail fled to suburban strip mall the building was abandon.  Now days the old brick building was once again bustling with activity, but seemed so out of place in its surroundings.


The inside of the building was dated as well.  Plan white walls that looked dirty in the yellowish glow the lighting gave off.  Fichus trees in huge pots were scattered around for decoration. Signs hung from the ceiling, much like those in a department store, pointing out where the different services were located.  A receptionist sat in the middle of it all directing people to and fro.


I followed my signs down to the basement and into a large open room that reminded me of a library.  The only exception was that down the middle of the room was a counter separating you from the materials.  I took a deep breath, reviewed my story in my head, and approached the counter.


A short, swollen woman in flowery blue dress waddled over to the counter.   “Can I help you?” she inquired with a hint of irritation in her voice.  It sounded more like, “Would you people stop wandering down here and read the stupid signs at the top of the stairs!”


“I surely hope so.”  Don't ask me why but I decided to add a southern accent to my persona.  Despite living in the south my entire life, my speech wasn't normally full of y'alls and ain'ts.  People who knew me said I only broke into the accent when I was trying to fit in with blue collar people or around my family.    I am not really sure where this poor woman fit in.


“I am with Warner Foundation Services and we are working on a job for Weathers Property Management concerning the building at 316 South Boulevard.” I continued.  The lady across the counter was starting to stare through the back of my head. 


“And I can help you how?” she said interrupting the natural flow of my pitch.


“Well, you see, the architect that originally designed the facility is persona non grata, if you know what I mean.”  My southern gentlemen shtick was having no effect on the hard boiled clerk, but I soldiered on.  “I was hoping that a copy of the original plans would be here for me to take some notes from.”


“I can look it up by the address, but we may not have what you are looking for depending on the age of the project.  Anything before 1991 would have been destroyed, because we didn't keep digital copies of plans. Also, plans can be viewed here, but not copied.  You are also not allowed to photograph plans.  To copy a set of plans you will need an affidavit from the property owner giving you permission.  Any copies of plans will be available next day and you will be responsible for the cost of duplication.”  She stared at me waiting for my acknowledgement of the terms and conditions.  I nodded and she set off typing.


I don't know if I was starting to perspire because of stress or heat, but my black locks were beginning to make war with my scalp.  The itch started in the middle of my head and was growing maddening.  I didn't want to start scratching my head in front of this woman, one because me tearing at my scalp would have been stranger than my little performance and most of all because I was scared to death the wig was going to come off.


She looked up from the terminal screen and said.  “No, we don't have any of the original records for that address.”  She just looked at me with her “let get back to my coffee” stare.


“There was a fairly recent retrofit done to one of the suites. Let me see.” I pulled out my cell phone and pulled up an e-mail I had sent myself.  “Job number 136478, could I see the drawings submitted with that job?”


She turned back to the terminal and typed some more.  Without saying a word to me she got up and walked away.  I stood there for what seemed like an eternity wondering if I should try to get someone else's attention.  Just when all was lost she returned with a cardboard tube.


“If I could have your driver's license, then you take these into the reading room.”  She extended her hand.


So, this was how I got caught.  “Why do need my license?” I said hoping to stall for time.  If I just walked out of the office, would anybody chase after me?  If she questioned me how was I going to explain the picture on the license not matching?  Sweat was starting to come out of the back of the wig and down my neck.


She looked even more irritable at my question.   “There are four drawings in this tube; it is our policy to hold your driver's license while you view the drawings.  When you are done and someone verifies the drawings are all there you will get your license back.  Is that Okay?”  I don't know who put this lady in customer service, but they really had something to answer for.


I decided to play through.  I reached for my wallet and pulled out my license.  Flipping it picture down I handed it across the counter,   she took the card from me and laid it in a bin behind the counter without looking at it. I was halfway home, but my heart and nerves didn't seem to appreciate my bit of luck.


She came out from behind the counter and beckoned for me to follow her to a large table.  She sat the tube down on it and said, “Once you have finished just come back to the counter.  Don't bother trying to roll the drawings back up.  Someone will verify that they are undamaged and then place them back,” She waddled back off behind the counter and to whatever I had interrupted.


I sat down at the table and with sweaty hands carefully pulled the plans from the tube; the project number I had given the clerk was for the reconfiguration of the space to add new offices.  As I looked at the top plan I realized that the offices shared a wall with the vault.  It turns out that the modification had been to add two tiny rooms that looked to be the viewing rooms for the safe deposit boxes and two 6' x 6' offices behind. 


Not much was gained about the vault from the plans.  All I could tell was the wall was about 8 inches thick and concrete.  I assume that was only mentioned because some of the framing was anchored to it.  I did get one thing of value.  The fourth drawing was a layout of the entire space.  This gave me the location of the electrical panel, in a small utility closet by the rear entrance.  Not see any other place for it, I also assumed that it was probably the location of the phone lines, alarm system, and data.  Everything else on the plans was office space and I was sure nobody would want to share space with the utilities,


I studied the plans for about half an hour. I used a small notebook and pencil I had brought with me to sketch the layout of the bank.  I tried to be as accurate as possible, but not being a draftsman I had to settle for an approximation.  When I was satisfied I returned to the counter.


This time I got a different assistant, a thin man wearing a white short sleeve dress shirt and a blue tie.  I explained my situation and he followed me back to the table.  He then picked up the tube read some information off of its label and compared it to the drawings I had laid out.  “Everything looks OK.  Just let me roll these up and we'll get you out of here.”


Very carefully he evened all of the edges up and rolled them up along their short edge.  Once in the tube they expanded back out and he capped the end. We walked silently back up to the counter and he behind it started look for the bin with my license in it.  He picked up the card flipped it over, looked at the picture, looked at me and put the card back down.  He rummaged around on the desktop for a minute and then looked at the picture on my driver's license.


He held the license loosely in his left hand.  “Are these yours?” He seemed confused but there must have been enough of a resemblance there.


I reached across and took the license from his hand.  “Oh.” I added with a bit of surprise in my voice.  “I am wearing a wig.  Did you know that easiest way to change the way you feel about yourself and how others perceive you is by changing your hairstyle?”  I delivered the last bit with enthusiasm of someone who had just found a miracle diet.  I got the line from an instructional video I had seen on-line for how to properly wear your wig.    It seemed like a good way to explain the discrepancy.  His face had a lot of conflicting emotions vying for muscle control.  I didn't stay to find out, but I am pretty laughter was about to win out. 


Just as soon I got in the car, yanked of the wig, and vigorously scratched my head.  As I drove off I was full of adrenaline and excitement.  In my mind I kept going over the experience and what I had just learned.  As time passed I realized I had put on a farce for the gentleman.  I hadn't gotten away with anything.  In all reality I had done the one thing I didn't want to do, and that was draw attention to myself.  How long would they talk about the weird guy who came in wearing a wig and speculate about his motives?  Even worse, what if the guy behind the counter remembered the name on the license?  How would I explain myself?  No, I wouldn't be getting my license to kill from her majesty anytime soon.

© 2013 Randy C

Author's Note

Randy C
I am looking for feedback on plot, dialogue, and how interesting the premise is.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on July 22, 2013
Last Updated on July 22, 2013
Tags: Crime, bank robbery, heist


Randy C
Randy C

Gastonia, NC

Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Randy C