Vantage point

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Pointless ATM

Haven't blogged in years. Breaking the silence with a short story from one of the many unfinished novels on my google drive. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Cranked this baby out in half an hour! Though it did mean I don't use any quotes. Blame it on Cormac McCarthy!


This ATM is so pointless! I said to my wife on the phone.

What do you mean? How can an ATM have a point or not?

Haha, no, sorry, I'm a little high.

I figured, she giggled. Anyway, why is the ATM pointless?

I knew she was humoring me for humor. She loved hearing my high ramblings. But I still felt compelled to explain my profound insight to her, like only someone really high would.

Okay, so there's a Chase bank branch across the street. Right across the street! A proper full fledged bank branch! Big parking lot. Lots of cars. Let me count. 22 cars! Across the street!

Okay, she patiently said like only a spouse of over a decade could. And I read it to mean, yeah, honey, I love you, but I'm hungry, so get to the fucking point.

Why do they need to put a drive through ATM here across the street? Why not incorporate it into..... Excuse me? I'm sorry?


No, honey, there's someone here asking me something. 

Do you have some cash on you man, he asked. He was a tall skinny white dude with tattoos, riding a kids' bike. He was in a tattered tank top and jeans, and had sunken cheeks.

Umm, no, sorry, I said, I'm talking to my wife. 

He opened his mouth and I felt like he moved his hand towards his waist, but then stopped, and put it back on the handlebar. Cool, he nodded and rode off.

Sorry, it was a guy asking for money.

Ah okay, she said nonchalantly. We live in New York.

Anyway, so what is the point of putting just this one drive-through ATM in this property that could easily fit a convenience store? You have a big-ass property right across the street! Put it there!

You should call David Chase, she said tartly.

Chase bank is not run by David Chase! That's the guy who created The Sopranos!

I know! You sound as deranged as Tony right now. Hahaha. Okay, honey, I love you, but I'm hungry and I can't eat and talk at the same time. So unless there's anything else...

Nope, nothing! You don't stay married to a woman that long without knowing never to keep her away from food, no matter how many more high insights you have.

Bye. See you tomorrow!

During the last few sentences of the conversation, I had noticed that skinny dude circling around near me, almost like he was sizing me up. I didn't want to alarm my wife, because I was just a few feet away from my motel door. Even if the guy was, in the rarest of possibilities, a mugger, I could just run to the door and be safe.

Or maybe I should just give him whatever cash I have. He looks emaciated! Oh, but I need to leave a tip for the motel cleaning staff. At least five bucks. No, maybe ten. Yeah, I could keep ten maybe. Excuse me?

You sure you don't got any cash? His voice definitely had a menace to it as he pulled up between me and the motel door. His hand now swiftly went behind his back, as if to suggest he had a gun there.

I knew he didn't. He had been sizing me up. I had ended up sizing him up without meaning to. When I get high, I observe everything in insane detail. I had noticed his butt-crack over the waist of his jeans as he rode away. There was nothing there.

But I was high, I was in a happy generous mood, practically swimming among the clouds.

How much do you need?

Don't you fucking stall on me, you raghead!

Raghead? Is that really necessary?

Give me everything you have, asshole, he pushed his bike between my legs.

So I don't know if I mentioned this before. But I was high. And I reacted to this mugging in the following order.

First, I was very much amused and excited that holy fuck, after all these years in America, I'm finally on the receiving end of a genuine honest to god mugging! How cool is that? And in a dark motel parking lot too! Almost like something out of Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. He even looks like Jesse Pinkman. No! Skinny Pete!

Who the fuck you calling skinny, asshole?


Suddenly I'm staring at a gun! Where the fuck did that come from? I still have no idea where he had stashed it if I could see his butt-crack a minute ago.

Okay, yeah, just a second. Here, well, I have umm...Hmm.... I'm thinking to myself... Will he kill me anyway? He called me a raghead! But nah, it's not worth it. Here is 38 bucks. I was hoping to leave ten bucks as a tip.

Fuck that, he growled and snatched the cash from my hand. Get your tip from the ATM, he pointed towards it with his head and laughed. And then he suddenly stopped and stared at my wallet. My Chase card was right up front.

Maybe because I was high, it felt like I read his brilliant plan ages before he even thought of it and started cracking up a bit. Not advisable against a gun-toting mugger.

The fuck you laughing at? Get some cash from the ATM for me, dipshit! Walk, or else!

Okay, okay. I raise my hands and start walking towards the ATM. I can't control my laughter. Fuck, I'm high! LOL!

Fucking stop laughing, he half punches me, which amuses me even more. I could have easily taken him if not for the gun.

I'm sorry. We reach the ATM machine. He's holding the gun between us, to hide it from any cars driving by. I'm still giggling.

Put it in!

Title of your sex tape!

You're really starting to get on my nerves, you know that? This time he pokes the gun deep into my side, and for the only time that night, I genuinely fear for my life. 

I'm high, I confess impulsively.

He looks taken aback and unsure of how to process this new information. Just get the cash, he says.

I put the card in. The PIN prompt pops up. I instinctively give him a look that is meant to ask for privacy. He, bizarrely, looks away!

I enter the right pin. The menu shows up. And I started laughing again.

What the fuck do you keep laughing at? He really pushes the gun hard into me. Title of my sex tape?

You see there over that?


Sorry. I'm high. You see that over there? The small camera? Every ATM transaction is recorded. That's what I'm cracking up at. You could have just walked away with 38 bucks. Now you're on candid camera!

He noticed the camera and I saw a look of panic flash across his face. 

Listen, buddy, relax. I have an idea. Listen to me. Sometimes I shock myself with how persuasive I can be. He actually listened!

Just give me ten bucks for the tip, take the 28 bucks and walk away. I won't say anything to anyone. I won't call the cops, I swear to Jesus! I swear to Jesus!

There was a cross tattooed on his shoulder. That's why I tried the Jesus angle.

I continued speaking. To the cameras, it will just look like two friends talking. See, let's look up at the camera and smile.

And he actually did it! He took the 28 bucks, left me with a Hamilton for the tip, and rode away. I was still laughing.

I took my phone out and with great effort, managed to stop laughing. I don't think 911 operators would take a giggler seriously. 

I don't believe in Jesus. And he called me a raghead!