(If Bukowski wrote a heist story) Refinance by Brennan Burks

Punk Noir Magazine


My dick was shriveled up in my hand when the robbery started. Go figure. Shouting. A single shot. Probably into the ceiling. A little plaster raining down on the heads of bank patrons about to shit themselves. All the stuff you’d imagine. Meanwhile, I was standing there. One hand against the cold porcelain, another waiting for something to happen.

Saw doc last week. He called it urinary retention. Says it’s either stress induced or a symptom of another root cause. Basically he doesn’t know what the fuck it is. I saw it in his eyes. He looked at me like I’m a sad sack of bones. Poor-excuse-for-a-man kinda look. It’s the same look Maureen gave me at least twice a day.

She gave it to me before I left the house that morning. It was her idea to refinance. With my hours at the glass plant cut by a third and all. I floated the idea of her getting another shift at the hair salon. I flinched when she almost backhanded me.  

I was about to throw in the towel when the door burst open. Over my shoulder I saw a forest green ski mask and brown eyes. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” ski mask asked. 

“Tryin’ to piss,” I said. 

“Christ. Do you know what this is?”

Couple ways I could have answered that. I took the lighter route.


“You think you’re funny you piece of shit?” ski mask cocked his head as he charged toward me. I stuffed my dick in my pants and turned to face him. Ready for a beating. When he slipped. Fell sideways. Next to one of those yellow “CAUTION WET FLOOR” signs. A splintering crack. Like he busted a rib or an elbow. Silver revolver went spinning. Stopped directly at my feet while ski mask writhed in pain. 

I checked the door. Looked around to see if anyone else had been hiding out in there. Just the two of us. I zipped my jeans and squatted down. Turned the gun over in my hand. My daddy had a couple of guns. I wasn’t a bad shot. When he died, though, my brother, Earl, took everything. I didn’t offer much of a fight. Go figure. 

I felt the weight in my hands. Gripped the handle tight and closed my eyes. Ski mask’s moans grew louder. I opened my eyes and took two steps toward him. Then I pulled his mask off, aimed the silver barrel between his eyes and pulled the trigger. 

We both wore blue jeans. So I slipped on his black, denim jacket. Grabbed his leather gloves too for good measure. Along with the forest green ski mask. My heart pounded like it hadn’t in years when I left the restroom. Walked back into the bank lobby. Bodies faced down on the marble floor. Whimpering and sniffling. I saw a lump of a man by the door. Stool pitched over. Bulging belly. A gash glowed red across the unconscious security guards’ forehead. I think his name was Barret. His brother, Tommy, worked second shift with me at the plant. Turned and saw two other ski masks staring at me. My finger tightened around the trigger.

“What the fuck, Jimmy?” one of them asked, his eyes blue like cold crystal. 

Tried to flex my throat to sound like the graveled voice of the man I’d just killed. “Just some asshole in the bathroom. Nothin’ to worry about.”

The two ski masks looked at each other. Thought my number had been called. But then one tossed me a bag. “Well get your ass back here and start fillin’ cash!”

My grip relaxed on the revolver. Then I walked behind the counter I’d stood in front of a hundred times and started filling. With more fucking cash than I’d ever touched in my life. Hundreds. Fifties. Twenties. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten hard. Maureen surely hadn’t helped on that front. But as I tossed stacks of money into the blue, YMCA duffle bag, the inky smell of the bills filled my nose—what it stood for in contrast to who I was, how’d I’d lived my life—and gave me an erection. 

We heard the wine of police sirens. The crystal-eyed ski mask said “Let’s move.” I left cash spilling out of the open drawer. Slung the heavy bag over my shoulder and started to follow them out the side door. A flash caught my eye. The doc’s white hair. He was face down, shivering by the little wooden station in the middle of the lobby. A chained pen dangled close to his head. He looked up when I walked over. Snot on his lip. Red, panicked eyes. Looking pathetic.

I hiked the duffle all the way up my shoulder. Unzipped my jeans and let loose a deluge on the back of Doc’s head. Most satisfying piss I ever took. Like the first time you pee off a bridge or cliff or someplace high up where it sprays into a void. The world just takes it. Someone gasped. Doc whimpered. The sound of the splatter sucked out the rest of the silence.

“Are you fucking serious right now, Jimmy?” Ski-mask called from the side door. I turned. Gave half a smile.

“When you gotta go…”

“Put your dick away and move your ass before the cops get here. Christ!”

I zipped up. Then I turned and followed my new friends. Glanced at the red sign with blue letters behind the counter before walking down a side hallway. I’d read it a hundred times. Behind the white smiles, puffy faces of tellers. 


I started to laugh. Kept laughing as I tossed the YMCA duffle heavy with cash up to one ski mask. The other grabbed my hand. Helped me into the back of the truck. Then we lay on our backs and rumbled away.

Brennan Burks is a writer from Ohio. He’s married and has two kids. His work is published in small journals and food magazines. He’s working on a short story collection inspired by Sherwood Anderson.