08-26-2011, 06:05 AM
Ch 8 – Regeneration
Liliana was about to turn around to see who had come into the bank, but her movement was stopped by a man’s voice that came from behind saying calmly but firmly, “Don’t move.” “Is it you, Criss?” she thought. The man put a small piece of paper in her hand, and then left, passing right by her right side. Judging by the suit he was wearing, it seemed to be Criss. She stood there, frozen, until he disappeared into the crowd. She took a look at the paper. It said, “If I were you, I would walk towards the main door.”
Liliana said to herself, "This is my chance!" She had no idea what Criss was up to, but it seemed that now that he had given her "permission" to get close to the door she would be able to escape. She rushed to the door, and just as she was about to get there, a man in a black suit and barely putting a mask on broke in pointing a gun at everyone. Liliana froze. The man took advantage of this and took her hostage. He used her as a shield from the security guards. The guards just pointed their guns at him without shooting, fearing that they would hurt Liliana.
Then, a really loud noise was heard from inside the bank. It sounded like an explosion. The criminal let go of Liliana and told her to run towards the counters where the employees were, pointing the gun at her to make sure she ran as fast as she could. Liliana turn his back on him and began to run as fast as she could. Then, she heard a huge "Boom!" and she fell to the floor. She was partially unconscious. All she could hear were the screams from the people running around her. Her eyes would open and close over and over again. Every time she opened them, the vision of people lying on the floor struck her eyes. Until he felt someone grab her from behind and say, "It's ok, just hang in there." That was the last thing she remembered.
"Ahh!," she screamed, as her whole body jumped on the van's co-pilot seat.
She looked out the window and saw the buildings pass her by really fast, which made her head spin. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying not to faint again, and then she looked to her right. Her eyes open as wide as they could. It was Criss! He was the one driving the van!
Her hands began to shake, and in a desperate voice she said, "What’s going on!? What did you do?!" "Don't worry," he said, as he smiled at her. He seemed to be very calm. "Where are we going," she asked, still with a little weakness in her voice. "It's ok, just rest for now," he said, without taking his eyes off the road.
"But I don't wanna rest! I want to know what's going on!" she demanded. Criss's smiled disappeared, and now an expression of impatience had covered his face. He sighed and said in an angry voice, "Ok, you really wanna know?! Fine! I'll tell you!" "Don't you raise your voice on me, you bastard!," Liliana complained.
Criss calmed down, took a deep breath, and finally said, "What do you remember from the bank?" Liliana's face was clueless at first. She turned her head the other way to think for a moment. Then the memories came rushing back to her mind like bullets into her head.Liliana remembered when the man in the black outfit grabbed her and put the gun to her head. She could feel the cold metal against her skin, and the man's hand holding her arm behind her back really tight.
Then the man suddenly had a change of heart. He let go of Liliana and told her to run away as fast as she could. He fell on his knees and put his hands behind his head without even being told to do so, as a sign that he had given up. Liliana kept running until she heard the explosion and that was about everything she could remember.
Liliana turned her head toward Criss and told him what little she had remembered. Criss kept driving, as if he hadn't heard anything.
Liliana tried to calm down, and asked Criss, "Criss" but she was abruptly interrupted by him, "I robbed that bank, alright! Is that what you wanted to hear?" Liliana was in shock. Not only was she barely realizing that Criss was actually a bank robber, but now she would probably be incriminated as well for having "escaped" with Criss in the van, even though it was him who put her there.
Liliana was pissed off. She began to breathe really fast. She was trying to control herself, but her patience had reached its limit, until she finally exploded on Criss. "What the hell were you thinking? Why did you lie to me! What the hell do I have to do with this! Tell me! Tell me!" she screamed at him directly into his ear.
He began to feel uncomfortable, but still, he didn't say anything, and just kept on driving. Liliana felt frustrated and started screaming again, "Stop the van! Stop it right now!" and she grabbed the wheel which made Criss lose control of the van.
The van was zigzagging along the roadway. Criss stepped on the brakes and stopped the van before they had completely gone out of the road.
Criss and Liliana were both shocked. Liliana's eyes and mouth were wide open. Criss was breathing fast and his heart was about to jump out of his chest.
Liliana was speechless. Criss gulped, and as he was panting, he said, "The money is not for me, ok! Well, not all of it!" Liliana's eyes were full of despise. "Yeah, right," she said, and tried to open the door of the van. Criss grabbed her arm and said, "No, please! Don't leave! Let me explain everything!"
Liliana looked into his eyes. Those weren't the eyes of a criminal, or the eyes of someone who wanted to hurt people. But he had admitted it was true, and there was no way he could retract.
But the way he was looking at her touched her heart and she let go of the door handle. He let go of her arm and looked down at his lap. Liliana just stared at him for a moment, until he said, "It all started when I was younger, I was about 12 years-old when it happened. My little brother, Jonathan and I always played together, but one day he got sick and had to stay in bed all the time. I had always liked magic, and I always practiced so I could perform for him, I thought that would cheer him up and help him get better."
After hearing this story, Liliana wasn't mad at Criss anymore. She said, "Criss, that's really sad. May I ask what was wrong with him?" A tear sneaked out of one if his eyes, as he was trying to pull himself together. He said, "The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. They kept giving him antibiotics, until one day, I came back from school, and I wanted to show him a new trick
I'd learned. But when I opened the door, I saw my parents crying. I rushed to Jonathan's room, and as I was about to open the door, the doctor came out of his room, and told me, 'It's ok. Go play somewhere. Maybe you want to show me one of your tricks later?'" Criss's eyes became full with tears and he started screaming, "No! No! Let me see him! Let me see him!" Criss began to cry uncontrollably and he rested his head against the doctor's lap. The doctor put his arms around Criss and tried to console him.
Liliana put her hand on his shoulder and said, "That's terrible." Criss kept sobbing. "Liliana didn't know how to say what she had in her head without sounding like she was indifferent to his horrible story, but she just had to ask him. She then said to him, "Criss, I know that was horrible, but I still don't understand how that has to do with what just happened." "Wait," he interrupted, "there's more."
He continued with his story. "I grew up with that memory stuck in my mind. I felt like I have failed to protect my little brother. I felt so useless. I changed. I was never the same Criss I used to be before."
Liliana said, "But you couldn't have done anything. Stop blaming yourself for that!" Criss said, "I know, and that's what pissed me off. I couldn't help my little brother who was in pain."
Criss then added, "At first, I felt like giving up my dream of becoming a professional illusionist. I thought I wouldn't be able to bare the memory of my brother's face as he watched me perform from his bed, trying to smile at me. I thought my dream was hopeless, and that it wouldn't do any good to anyone. I thought about it day and night. At times, I felt like I was betraying myself too for not becoming what I wanted to be. So, in the middle of that battle of thoughts, at the age of eighteen, I took whatever money I had saved and came to France, looking for a change. I looked for a way to follow my dream here, but the doors kept closing on me. Until one day I was walking by the street with no direction, thinking about a million things, when I found myself a hospital for little children. I walked in. One of the nuns stopped me, and asked if I had come to visit one of the children. I said, ‘No.’ The nun asked me why I was there. I told her the same story I’m telling you right now, and she told me about the children that they treated. Some had cancer, and others had leukemia. There were others with physical disabilities. In other words, each child was a different story. That's when I realized what my goal in life was. I wanted to help those children in pain. I wanted to live the life that my brother couldn't live. And so I found a plan to achieve that by using my abilities as an illusionist."
"What do you mean? I wouldn’t call robbing a bank a magic show." said Liliana sarcastically. "It is," he responded, "the way in which I steal the money is an illusion itself." Liliana seemed confused again. Criss continued, "Do you have any idea of how this all was carried out?"
Liliana took a moment to think about it, but couldn't find a logical explanation for it. There were only these loose pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in her brain that she just couldn't put together.
On top of that, she had fainted due to the explosion, to which she didn't have an explanation either. Criss interrupted her thinking, and said, "Lemme tell you how it happened."
When Criss and Liliana split up back at the storage, Criss had gone to get the van. His uniform was supposed to be that of a truck driver, simply delivering money to bank. When Criss got to the bank, he was carrying a packet of papers on one hand, a big black bag on the other one. Both items served special purposes.
The papers functioned as a "sandwich disguise," as Criss liked to call it, in which the papers were the "bread" and the middle part was a hidden gun.
The bag had two purposes. The first one was to deceive the employees at the bank by making them think that he had money in there to deliver, but in reality he had a pack of explosives to detonate the big safe. Then, after exploding them, he would use them same bag to carry the money out of the bank.
"But, if you were wearing the blue uniform, who was the other man" asked Liliana. Criss gave her an evil smile and giggled. "What? What did I say?" asked Liliana. "Do you really think this was all random? Did you think this was all done just in the spur of the moment? No my dear. This had been meticulously planned from weeks ago, and you just happened to get a role in this act.”
The other man was in fact, the real truck driver. Criss had kidnapped him days before the crime and had threatened him with killing him and his family if he didn't cooperate. Criss made him believe that he had men in every corner watching his every move, so the man always followed his instructions. Criss made him get the keys to open the doors that lead to the safe room. Of course, the safe couldn't be opened with just a simple key, but Criss already had the solution for that: explosives. The last order that the man received from Criss was to act as the real thief in the most obvious way to turn the attention towards him. That way, no one would get in Criss's way to go get the money. The man received orders directly from Criss through a small microphone hidden under his clothes. But that wasn't the only thing that Criss had hidden there, he had also covered the man in bombs, so if he tried to disobey him, that would be the last thing he did. What the man didn't know was that no matter what he did, his dead was already part of the plan. By making his explode, Criss would be able to escape from the bank through the smoke, and the only witness that knew his whole plan would be gone from this world. Liliana had only helped Criss gain more time by involuntarily acting as a hostage. But when the man exploded, Criss didn't have any plans of leaving her there. She was not only a witness too, but he had a special connection with her.
Liliana was shaking from the horrible words that were coming out of Criss's mouth. "But why did you have to kill all those innocent people?! Why?!" Criss put his hand on Liliana's mouth to shut her up. Liliana's fear froze her to her bones. "Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to get what we want!" he yelled. Liliana pushed his hand away and shouted, "You're sick! I'm leaving!" but Criss grabbed her again. This time, Liliana didn't give in that easily like last time. She began to kick and move her arms around. Criss finally pulled her towards him and kissed her on the lips. Liliana tried to push him away, but slowly she began to give in again, until she just let herself get carried away by his enchanting lips.
She loved him and at the same time she hated him. When he finally let go of her, she rested her head against his chest and began to cry. Criss said, "That hospital I was telling you about, it was about to get shut down, because the nuns didn't have enough funds to keep treating the children. I knew I had to do something about. I couldn't just let all those kids die like my brother did. This money is not for me. It's not so I can buy a nice car o a big house, no. This money is to help the hospital. Can't you see it? In this world nothing is balanced. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. All I'm doing is trying to give a little balance to the situation here." Liliana raised her head to look at him, and said, "Criss…" she paused, as she didn't know what to say. Criss replied, "It's OK. I can't blame you for judging me like that. I just wanted to explain my reasons to you. It was never my intention to get you in trouble. I even made you wear that dress with the hat so people wouldn't recognize you. And that's why I took you out of the bank while you were unconscious. But none of that matters now, because all I am is a bank robber, and I should have told you from the beginning, but I didn't, and it's my fault. It's ok if you hate me. You can go now. That was all I wanted to say." Criss turned around and looked out the window so Liliana wouldn't notice that his eyes were getting watery. Liliana looked down for a moment, thinking of something to say, but her mind was a mess. She impulsively turned to the door and put her hand on the handle. And just as she was about to open the door, she turned around and put her arm on his shoulder. Criss let out a "Huh?" out of surprise.
Criss turned and look at her. She smiled tenderly at him, and said, "I understand you. And I forgive you."