Gary never had more than two brain cells to rub together. If he did, he never would have trusted me with the money and the keys to the getaway car. I had convinced him that he should hold the gun while I collected the money because he was bigger and more threatening. This was actually true. When you’re a woman of only five feet and five inches and one hundred and five pounds, it helps to have a little muscle behind you when the need to intimidate witnesses arises. The late night cashier, however, was a scrawny kid with limp noodles for arms and a nervous disposition; a toddler with a water pistol could have intimidated him.
As for the keys, I had spent the previous week gaslighting Gary. When he set any object down; a TV remote, sunglasses, milk carton, whatever, I’d move it to another spot when he wasn’t looking. A few hours before the robbery we went over the plan and made sure we had all of our equipment. We were crashing with Gary’s brother, Jonas. Jonas was working that night which meant we could easily borrow his treasured Chevy Malibu without asking him. He rarely drove it because he didn’t want any scratches on it. It was a sort of shrine to his high school glory days. Gary grabbed the keys from a hook by the back door and placed them on the kitchen table next to our ski masks , black nylon jackets, and Gary’s revolver.
“Ummm, Gary,” I began, pretending to be nervous about broaching the subject, “don’t you think I should take the keys? You’ve been losing things lately.”
“No I haven’t.”
“Yes you have. You lost your cigarettes three times yesterday. Are you cheating on me, Gary? Is that why you’ve been so distracted?”
"I’m not distracted.”
“Then why do you keep losing things?”
“I haven’t been losing things.”
“You can never find the remote, you left your sunglasses in the fridge and a carton of milk on the porch.”
Gary’s forehead wrinkled and his eyes got the glazed look that meant he was thinking. “You’re right,” he said. “I have been losing things.”
“So what’s her name?”
“The skank you’ve been cheating on me with.”
“I’m not cheating! I swear!” He put his hand on his forehead, checking for a fever. “Something must be wrong with me.”
“It’s okay, Babe.” I swept his hand away and stood on tip-toes to kiss his forehead. “You’re just nervous about tonight, that’s all.”
All concern vanished from Gary’s face and he smiled. “You’re right! It’s just nerves.”
“Exactly! You’ll be fine after tonight, but maybe I should keep the keys, just to be safe.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Everything will be great after tonight. It’ll all go according to plan.”
He enveloped me in his arms and looked at me with such joy and genuine affection in his eyes, I almost felt sorry for him. He didn’t know that his plan and my plan were two completely different things.