Ted set the alarm clock for 5 a.m. because it took him a long time to dress properly, even on Casual Fridays.
He worked in a bank, a pretty good job he snared after arriving from his daddy’s farm three months ago.
That’s where he had grown up. Ted was 24.
He was full of dreams. He wanted to marry and have a family. He dreamed the usual dream of a small house of his own in a nice, quiet neighborhood, surrounded by a picket fence.
A golden retriever.
He was quite ambitious too. Though he was only a teller at the bank, he knew that hard work would bring promotions, and he knew the importance of appearance most of all.
Ted was meticulous about his appearance, even on Casual Fridays. That was when he wore the Clarks, good casual shoes made in England. Ted’s Clarks were old, but he took care of them.
He rented a room in the Marbol Hotel. It was inexpensive and just four blocks from the bank.
This city life was quite a transition from the farm. Ted was very neat and clean by nature, something difficult to do for a farmer who worked with hay and pigs and chickens. Ted loved his clean city life.
He donned a soft, cream-colored, cotton shirt. A sharp tie. Khakis from the Men’s Wearhouse. Black socks and the Clarks. No coat, however. That was Ted’s only nod to Casual Fridays.
Lennie Slick, the night guy, was still at the front desk when Ted headed out the door of the Marbol Hotel at 7:30. Lennie gave him a crooked smile and said: Looking real good this morning, Ted. Ted didn’t care for Lennie.
He dressed sloppily and he smelled disreputable.
* * * *
As Ted squeezed into his cubicle at the bank, just before the 9 a.m. opening, he said Good morning! to Sylvia who was the teller at his right. And he nodded politely to George at his left.
Ted was in love with Sylvia, but she did not know it. She had long, blonde hair, milky skin with a few freckles. She was trim and always well-dressed. Yes, Sylvia knew the importance of appearance.
He wondered how she would feel about golden retrievers.
Ted had invited Sylvia to lunch five times, but there was always something she had planned. Once, Ted saw her in a restaurant lunching with George, but he tried not to think about that.
Ted did not like George. George’s pants pleats weren’t always perfect.
* * * *
There was a gunshot. Blam! And the security guard fell to the floor, old Larry, a retired policeman.
Four armed men made their way down the row of tellers, demanding money. Just be calm, Ted told himself, but his hands were trembling.
Finally, a masked man stood before him, pointing a pistol at Ted who froze completely from fear.
* * * *
It was the top item on the television news at 6. A film clip showed paramedics pulling a stretcher down the sidewalk. There was a sheet-draped body.
The cameraman panned the length of the corpse to the only things visible: two feet, and you could see blood on the Clarks.
* * * *
(One of a series titled The Marbol Hotel.)