Authors: Alex Gray
The Bank Job
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing and is the co-founder of the Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival. Married with a son and daughter, she lives in Scotland and is currently writing the next book in the Detective Lorimer series.
Also by Alex Gray
Never Somewhere Else
A Small Weeping
Shadows of Sounds
Five Ways to Kill a Man
Sleep Like the Dead
A Pound of Flesh
The Swedish Girl
The Bird That Did Not Sing
Keep the Midnight Out
First published as an ebook in 2015 by Sphere
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © Alex Gray 2015
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DY
To Jade and Jenny with love
‘Get down! Everyone on the floor!’
Kevin Patterson’s mouth opened but no sound came from his lips.
As the tall man brandishing a sawn-off shotgun came rushing towards him, customers and bank staff threw themselves onto the ground in sudden panic. A second man was standing in the middle of the room, his weapon describing an arc of menace over bodies lying stiff with terror.
‘You! Put your hands up where I can see them. No funny business,’ the gunman added in a hoarse voice.
Kevin stared at the figure and felt his hands begin to tremble.
Was it so obvious that his fingers had been drawn towards the panic button on his desk?
The man came closer, watching the teller, his blue eyes like chips of coloured glass behind the black balaclava.
Kevin froze. Even as he stared back he knew these eyes would be the stuff of nightmares for months to come.
. Get me the money. All of it.’ The man jabbed Kevin with the tip of the gun, making him whimper.
‘Now!’ The shout came like a bullet from the open mouth, causing one of the women on the floor to cry out in alarm.
Kevin had been told often enough what the drill should be in such an event. Press the panic button and fall to the floor behind his desk. But nothing in his experience had prepared the fifty-year-old for this sudden rush by a masked gunman. Or for the threat in those mesmerizing blue eyes.
The teller gazed at the snarling mouth, terror-stricken.
, his brain was insisting,
do what he says
, yet when he tried to stand his legs seemed to have turned to jelly. Another look at the barrel of that weapon coming towards his face and Kevin was scrambling to the door behind his desk. His hands shook with fear as he attempted to tap out the code on the security keypad, aware every second of the gunman breathing down his neck.
Don’t make a mistake, don’t hit the wrong numbers
, he thought, watching his quivering fingers.
How had they known when the delivery of money came into the bank in central Glasgow? And who had told them that it lay in the vault right behind
desk until the following morning when the bags of notes would be sorted by the cashiers and distributed among the rest of the tellers?
He felt the cold metal against his back, propelling him into the tiny room.
‘Get it out of there! You know what to do!’
Kevin fell to his knees in front of the safe, a band of pain circling his skull.
Don’t take one of your dizzy spells
, he told himself, hands fumbling with the combination.
How did they know that I was in charge of this money?
His fingers felt like lead weights as he pulled out the bundles of banknotes, those eyes boring into him, the gun now pointing at his chest. Trickles of perspiration coursed down his forehead, a sudden heat suffusing his whole body.
Was he going to die? Would that gun be fired into his heart? Would his life (the life he’d grumbled about to his wife over breakfast) suddenly be finished?
He jumped at the sound of an old canvas sports bag flung down by his side.
‘In there! Get a move on,’ the gunman growled.
He shoved the money into the empty bag, glancing at the serial numbers. Would these notes be traceable?
Suddenly, as if at a signal, the gunman snatched up the holdall.
‘Down on the floor!’
Kevin cringed as he lay on the dusty carpet, waiting for the crack of a rifle butt against his balding head.
He screwed his eyes shut but all he heard was the sound of running feet, then . . . silence.
As swiftly as they had burst into the premises, the gunmen were gone, leaving the bank teller to crawl back into his chair, white-faced and shaking, his fingers almost lacking the strength to press the panic button at last.
William Lorimer whistled as he crossed Union Street and headed for work with the steady stream of commuters from Glasgow Central station. There was something satisfying to the student about being part of this crowd of folk who spilled out of the concourse and were intent on making their way to offices all over the city. A nine-to-five job that paid well wasn’t a bad thing at all, especially as it wasn’t going to last for ever.
He paused mid-stride to admire the Ca’ D’Oro building. His History of Art studies had given him a new perspective on his home city, its architectural gems frequently making him smile with pride.
Always look up
, his tutor had told him. And now he did just that, seeing an expanse of blue beyond the decorated rooftops. The summer’s morning was already warm, and he resented having to stay indoors in the stuffy cash room all day, but the thought of picking up his first pay cheque had put a spring in the young man’s step. The work at the bank was deadly dull and his colleagues were not exactly the sort he’d choose to accompany on a night out but the rewards for a student holiday job were there all right. Besides, there was rugby training after work and he was looking forward to the exercise as well as sinking a pint or two with the lads in the Students’ Union.
The blue and white police tape across the entrance to the neoclassical façade of the bank stopped William Lorimer in his tracks. Glancing up, he noticed that the solid wooden doors to the banking hall were shut fast, its grand marble floor hidden from sight. It wasn’t his usual way in to the building but he stood and stared nevertheless.
‘Sorry, sir, they’re closed for business this morning.’
William’s six-foot-four frame might have towered over the uniformed officer barring his way but the look of authority in this cop’s expression made him take a step backwards.
‘I work here,’ he said, shifting his sports bag from one shoulder to the other.
The officer looked him up and down for a moment.
‘Got any ID on you?’
William rummaged in his trouser pocket for his railcard and flipped it open. The officer squinted at it and nodded.
‘Round the side door. There’ll be one of the staff to check you in,’ he said shortly, looking thoughtfully at the tall student.
William nodded back, curious. The side entrance was the one he usually used. The banking hall was where the tellers worked, not the sort of people he saw on a day-to-day basis.
‘Worked here long, have you?’ the policeman asked.
‘Just a month,’ William shrugged. Then he gave the officer a tentative grin. ‘First pay packet today. What’s happened anyway?’ He glanced past him at the front door closed to the public. ‘Someone rob the bank?’ he joked.
The police officer shot him a strange look. ‘You’ll find out soon enough, son,’ he replied.
Then, as William Lorimer strode off, the policeman spoke into a radio handset, his eyes following the student around the side of the building until he disappeared out of sight.
William was no longer smiling as he sat at his place in the cash room, fingers counting the dirty banknotes that lay in banded bundles on the curved counter. All around him staff were whispering about the raid.
‘Happened just before closing time last night,’ he heard one of them say.
‘Wonder why it wasn’t on the news?’ another ventured.
Nobody had spoken to him at all this morning, William realised as he secured a pile of notes with an elastic band and placed the counted bundle at the back of his table. Mind you, it was pay day and he knew that the woman who sat to his left thought it unfair that a
student with no previous experience
should be on a better scale than most of the
in this room just because he had a decent clutch of Higher Certificates. Ethel was large and stout, with several chins that wobbled as she munched her way through a daily packet of digestive biscuits. She had never offered even one to the young man by her side.
All talk stopped as the cashiers turned to see the bank manager enter the long narrow room, his clipped moustache bristling with suppressed indignation as he scanned the seated figures.
‘This your bag?’ Mr Pringle held up William’s sports bag with two fingers as though it were full of smelly, unwashed kit.
‘Yes, that’s mine. Why?’ William began to rise out of his seat.
‘Come!’ Pringle ordered, holding the door open with one well-polished shoe. ‘My office.’
William felt the row of eyes staring at him as he followed the bank manager out of the room and up the dark wood-panelled staircase. What was going on? Why had the manager brought his sports bag from the staff cloakroom? His stomach began to churn, reminding him of the hasty single slice of toast that had been breakfast.
‘Close the door behind you,’ Pringle barked at him as he took his seat behind the large mahogany desk, leaving William to stand, legs apart, fists bunched by his side as though on parade, looking down on the smaller man. In the silence that followed, William noticed a fly buzzing at the window, trapped behind the hot glass, the sun shining onto the manager’s balding pate and a faint whiff of something with lavender undertones that might have been furniture polish.
Outside the restaurants and cafés in Royal Exchange Square would be open for business but all that William could see from where he stood were the ornate carvings on the rooftops.
‘You bank with us.’ It was a statement, not a question, and William nodded, not quite knowing what to reply.
‘Knocked off early last night?’
‘We all did, sir. Mondays begin an hour earlier because of the weekend cash coming in from all the other banks,’ William said, wondering as he did so why the manager was unaware of the working hours of his own staff. Perhaps he was too far removed from the goings-on of the cashiers, those lowly creatures who worked day after day thumbing banknotes in that claustrophobic basement room, windowless for security reasons.
your bag?’ Pringle pointed to the holdall where he had dropped it beside his desk.
‘Well, I think so. It looks like mine,’ William said, frowning. Then he spotted the frayed handles and the D-ring where his locker key from school had been fixed. ‘Aye, I’m sure that’s mine,’ he added, nodding.
‘You’ll know why we have closed the bank this morning,’ Pringle said, glaring at him.
‘Someone said there had been a raid?’
Pringle leaned forward. ‘Two masked gunmen carrying a sports bag,’ he said slowly, never taking his eyes off William’s face. ‘One of them particularly tall. With piercing blue eyes,’ he added.
Then an accusing finger pointed in William Lorimer’s direction.