To Hell in an Hérmes Birkin

OCFF#15: Show me the money! - Jerry Maguire

If asked, others would describe her as mature, as responsible, as a good girl, an obedient and trustworthy young woman, but the only word Marissa Cooper could think of to describe herself was boring. She did everything she was supposed to do, behaved in the way deemed proper by both her father and his friends, and, slowly, it was killing her. She had no excitement in her life, nothing to look forward to. In the morning, she got up and went through her routine, getting ready for her day of classes and work. She ate balanced, well proportioned meals, drove a sensible, fuel efficient vehicle, and never failed to brush her teeth at least three times a day. Her clothes, while of the highest quality, were subdued and respectable, all approved of by her Dad, she wore little to no makeup, and her hair was always brushed out smoothly and worn up so as not to ever distract her from her duties. Every minute of her day was mapped out and pre-determined; every moment of her life served a purpose or fulfilled some sort of expectation.

Like her father wanted for her, she was studying business in school, and, in just a few short months, she would graduate from college with her bachelor's degree. As soon as the diploma was placed in her hands, she would go to work at the same bank that her family had been on the board of trustees of for the past one hundred years. She would be fifth generation Cooper to work in the banking business. It was something she had been guided towards her whole life, and it was why she currently worked part-time between classes as a bank teller. There was no aspect of the bank that she didn't already understand. There was nothing left for her to learn, nothing in her future that would ever possibly manage to surprise her. Instead, it was a well cobbled street of monotony that was awaiting her upon becoming a college graduate, and she had no one to blame for her 'Yes-Man' attitude but herself.

Needing the approval of the only parent in her life after her mom and dad divorced when she was just a child, Marissa had molded her every decision and thought around what she presumed her father would want for her. While Julie Cooper got custody of her younger daughter, James took over raising their oldest child on his own. While on paper the agreement appeared to be perfectly civil, it was anything but, and never the two households did meet. From the moment she had packed her last box and loaded it into her father's highly ranked safety sedan at the tender age of eight, Marissa has not seen her mother or her younger sister again. Although they lived just miles away, the differences between them made it feel as if they were separated by the Pacific ocean and language barriers. Being so alienated from everyone else she previously cared about and fearing that she might lose the only person she had left, the then third grader had latched onto James Cooper's side as tightly as her small, pudgy hands could hold, and, until just recently, she hadn't felt the desire to let go.

But, all of a sudden, it was there. One night, she went to bed oddly content with her robotic lifestyle, and, the next thing she knew, she had gotten up the next morning questioning everything from the type of milk she used on her cereal to the path she had chosen for her life. How was she supposed to survive the next fifty-five years of her life, thanks to the increased life expectancy of her generation and the mismanagement of Social Security thanks to the incompetent minds of the government her parents' generation had put into office, working at a bank? How would she be able to get up every morning, put on a replica of the same boring suit she wore the day before, eat her same boring breakfast, perform her same daily, boring workout with no deviation or creativity, and sit down behind a mahogany desk to sign the same basic, boring papers four generations of Cooper men and women had signed before her? And, perhaps, most importantly, how could she continue the blind automaton behavior, settle down and get married, and have children only to pass down the same traditions and expectations she was dreading and regretting herself to her own children?

But, at the same time, how was she to do otherwise? Yes, she had a trust fund, and, yes, it was technically hers to control now that she was past the age of twenty-one, but, after having responsibilities for the better part of her whole life, Marissa knew that she could never survive with her sanity intact while living a life of leisure. She couldn't sleep in until noon, do lunch, and then spend the rest of the day at the spa or the club, gossiping, primping, and sleeping with her tennis instructor. She needed substance to her life, challenges, but, at the same time, she was trained to do nothing but make, manage, and spend money. Unwittingly, she had trapped herself into the very life she feared with no escape route in sight.

And it wasn't like she was actively brainstorming for ideas that afternoon either. No, instead of thinking, even dreaming, of ways out of the personal hell she had created for herself, she was sitting at her window in an empty bank, hoping for inspiration to simply reach out and strike her on a whim while playing solitaire on the company computer. Was she supposed to be playing cards while at work, of course not, but she was also a fifth generation Cooper, so, while frowned upon for everyone else, the bank's trustees really didn't care what she did on their time. It was just another example of why she had to leave and run far, far away.

So, with no idea in sight, she played on, losing round after round and not caring that she was tempting the suited gods of the computer hermits to deem her the worst card player in the history of the modern age. Those around her ignored her; if a customer came in, they simply went to another window, leaving her to wallow in self-pity and mental deficiency. It was a place, a mind set she, unfortunately, knew well.

If nothing else could be said about Ryan Atwood, it would at least have to be admitted that he sat back and waited for no one and nothing. If lady luck didn't want to come to him, he went out and found her for himself. When his family wanted nothing to do with him as a child, he had wandered down the street to the neighbors, unofficially being taken in as a honorary member of their family. When he didn't know the answers in school, he found someone who did and copied off their tests or bullied them into writing his term papers for him. And, when he couldn't find a job, he resorted to petty theft and a life of crime to pay the bills. After all, it had worked for the past several generations of Atwood men, and who was he to argue with tradition or to think that he was better than those who had come before him?

He wasn't.

But, on the other hand, he was sick of stealing from those around him, robbing his friend Peter to pay his other friend Paul. No one in Chino had the change to spare to help someone else out, and all he was doing by taking things from others was making them just as desperate as he was. Plus, at just twenty-two years old, he was sick of coming up short every month. It was always just one more quick hold up or just one last favor for the local organized thugs, but, in the end, there was always another crime waiting for him. There was no getting ahead and no paying off your bills when you lived his current lifestyle, and he was ready to put a stop to it; he was finally ready to change.

However, that was easier said than done. True, all those sayings about a leopard being unable to change its spots were cliche, but, nevertheless, cliches had to start somewhere. Something had to make them cliche in the first place, and, typically, that came from always being right. What that leopard needed was enough money to completely give themselves a make over, a chance to surgically alter his or her appearance, and, then and only then, would they be able to change. So, just like the overly grouchy, large cat, he was going to need enough cash flow at once to completely change himself as well, but, unlike the leopard, Ryan wasn't planning on having plastic surgery. Instead, what he wanted to do was get his hands on enough money so that he could leave the country and make his way someplace that did not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

It would be risky, it would be dangerous, and it would be something he could never take back or change his mind about once it happened, but, at the point in his existence, he felt as if he had nothing really to lose. So, that's why he was there - at the ritziest looking bank in Orange County, Newport Beach to be exact. His getaway car, unregistered and uninsured so no one would know who to look for after he disappeared, was parked, his clothes were all nondescript while still capable of blending into his surroundings, and he had a black ski mask on his face and a loaded semi-automatic gun in his hand.

Now or never, win or lose, live or die, he was going to rob a bank that afternoon.

Without looking up from her computer screen, Marissa addressed the person standing patiently before her. "If you could just step further down the line, someone else would wait on you whenever they get a chance to."

"They're a little... busy, but you, on the other hand," the man commented, his voice devoid of any inflection or emotional pitch, almost sounding monotone, "are just playing cards."

"I'm on break."

"Listen, lady, cut the crap," he demanded of her, making the twenty-two year old finally raise her empty blue gaze to meet his own masked one. "Everyone else here has either peed their pants or are too scared to move. However, you don't seem to be bothered by the fact that the bank you work at is currently being robbed."

"It is a slight departure from the norm, but a good teller is prepared for anything, rain or shine, even if that means she's a witness to a crime." Smiling politely, Marissa found herself asking kindly, "how may I help you, sir?" She had no idea what she was doing or why she was doing it, but, for the first time in her life, she felt something other than simple detachment or sheer boredom.

"You have thirty seconds to give me as much money as you can, and, if you don't, I'll start shooting."

"And we wouldn't want that," she placated him, standing up from her chair while rapidly clicking away on the keyboard as she set about completing her task. "Blood can be a real bitch to get out of silk."

"I wouldn't know."

Silence descended upon them, and the only sound that could be heard in the entire marble encrusted bank were the whimpers and pleas for mercy coming from the various people she worked with. For some reason beyond her, though, Marissa wanted to keep talking to the man before her. She knew nothing about him, not his name, his age, not what he looked like, or even why he felt it necessary to rob the very bank she just so happened to work at, but, on the hand, he was the only person who had managed to bring some excitement to her life in a long time, and she found that the thought of a conversation with him wasn't completely unappealing.

"So, what's your getaway plan?"

"Why would I tell you that," the masked man asked almost sounding impertinent. "You'd like that, wouldn't you, for me to be smiled into submission and charmed by your looks so that I end up giving myself up and then, once I leave, you can call the cops and lead them right to my doorstep? Well, think again."

"I'm not going to call the cops," the business major reassured him, much to the chagrin and disapproval of the people around her. "I was just curious. Obviously, compared to other criminals, you have at least a modicum of intelligence, and I was wondering how you were going to escape, spend your money, and ride off into the sunset as a very wealthy man."

"You're not mocking me, are you, Princess, because, just between the two of us, I wouldn't recommend doing that. And, besides, just exactly how many criminals would someone like you actually know?"

"Good point," she admitted before addressing his question. "And, actually, I'm not," she denied mocking him, stepping away from the computer to empty the money he requested into the black duffel bag he handed her. "If nothing else, though, the fact that you can use words such as submission and mocking in a sentence and put them in the right context to boot proves to me that you're not some high school dropout with no hope and even less potential, and, since you've clearly thought this whole little venture out, I just wanted to make sure that your getaway plan was sound enough for you to get away."

Instead of answering, he suggested, "why don't you tell me what you would do in my shoes? Why don't you prove to me that you're capable of doing more than stand behind a counter, doing what you're told."

"Well, if I were you," Marissa replied, zipping up the duffel bag, "I would take a hostage... but not just any hostage. I would make sure that I grabbed someone who has some clout with the bank's board of trustees, say, perhaps, one of their daughters, and I would push them in front of me while I walked out of the bank holding my very full, very heavy bag of cash and take them with me, insuring that nothing rash is done by a would-be hero to stop me from getting away."

"That's a pretty good plan, but I doubt a trustee of this bank would just leave their daughter lying about for me to pick up and drag off with me."

"Oh, you'd be surprised," the blue eyed blonde teased, gathering her things and placing them in her Birkin bag before walking out from behind the counter and approaching the man who was currently robbing the bank her family had worked at for five generations. "So, shall we go? Once we're outside, though, you have to promise to tell me where we're going, alright?"

"You're the daughter of a trustee?"

"If they printed that on my driver's license, I'd show you proof, but, alas, they don't, so you're just going to have to take me at my word. So, what's it going to be?" Quirking her brow at the man before her, she asked, "am I going with you?"

"That depends. How are you at getaway driving," he asked while, at the same time, pulling her with him out of the front doors, everyone else standing back and watching them leave in awe and confusion.

Laughing, Marissa commented, "my driving record is perfectly clean, so probably not the best."

As they stepped outside into the Southern California late afternoon sunshine, for the first time since she was eight, the twenty-two year old young woman felt truly free. "Here," she directed the man beside her who had suddenly become her partner in crime, her co-conspirator, the Clyde to her Bonnie. "You drive."

"What's this?"

Regarding the keys the man was dangling in front of her face, the same keys she had just handed him, she answered, "your chariot, of course. No one is going to be looking for you in my car. Plus, I just filled it with gas this morning, so we can be in Tijuana before nightfall. I just have one stipulation to this little business arrangement of ours though."

"I knew it; I knew you'd want something out of this, too."

Ignoring him, she pressed on as they approached her parked, shiny, black hybrid SUV. "And this is a deal breaker, too. No matter what, I must always control the radio."

"That's it," he asked, disbelief dripping from his very word. "That's your only stipulation?"

"Yes."

"Get in the car," he ordered her, smirking despite himself. As soon as they were both seated and the doors were closed, he peeled out of the parking lot, using one hand to steer the car and the other to remove his ski mask, finally revealing his countenance, a striking one at that, to her. Turning towards his hostage, he teased, "and here I thought I was the insane one for doing this? You're certainly not what I expected. Why are you doing this?"

Quite simply, Marissa stated, "I got to make a new friend. That's not something a girl can do everyday. Besides," she added, twisting to glance out the passenger side window, as comfortable with him as she would be with someone she had known her entire life. "You needed me, and, maybe, just maybe, I needed you, too. Now, step on it, Mario Andretti," she playfully ordered, choosing a CD and putting in the player. "We do, after all, have the law to outrun."