Not long ago, I saw my neighbor Ed Mancini sitting alone inside his Subaru in the parking lot outside the Bank of America branch here in Bowman’s Corner. Ed was staring straight ahead out the front windshield, lost in thought or possibly taking a nap. I gave a little toot on my Toyota horn as I passed through the lot, but he didn’t even notice. He was oblivious to his surroundings, far as I could tell.
That’s not like Ed, I thought, but then I kept driving to the grocery store. I was in a hurry but got hung up anyway because I’d forgotten to bring my list, and all those things I was sure I’d remember completely flew my brain’s coop as soon as the electronic doors of the grocery store whooshed opened, then closed behind me. So I had to piece the list together as I wandered with my shopping cart up and down every aisle. And even then I forgot the Greek yogurt and pasta sauce, which was on sale.
My point is that I was in the store longer than I planned. However, when I drove back through the parking lot past the Bank of America, I was surprised to see Ed Mancini was still there, sitting inside his Subaru staring straight ahead through the front windshield.
Something was not right, I thought, but damn if I didn’t just drive on without stopping. Ice cream, I think it was the butter pecan ice cream in the back seat; I was afraid it would melt before I got home.
Next day I heard Ed had tried to rob that Bank of America branch. Not long after I passed him by the second time, he went inside with a stocking cap pulled down and a soldering gun under his jacket like a fake weapon and handed the teller a note explaining what he would do to her if she did not fill a sack with cash and hand it over to him without pushing any secret under-the-counter button or screaming.
I have to hand it to Ed, though. He got out the door with that bag of cash and across the parking lot, but the cops were waiting out there for him next to his car. Apparently, he had been sitting inside that car for so long that he’d drawn the suspicion of the bank manager who had already called the Bowman’s Corner Police before Ed ever set foot inside the bank with his stocking cap on. One of the cops was holding open the driver’s side door of the Subaru for Ed when he got out there and said to him, sarcastically, “Mr. Mancini, I presume?”
Ed just dropped the bag, held out both hands to allow the cops to cuff him.
Turns out Ed was “seeing” another woman in Illinois via the Internet and wanted some cash so that he could buy a plane ticket out there to “see” her in the flesh.
It was a strange and complicated way to get out of a marriage of 28 years, but that’s what it boiled down to in the end.
When I went to visit him in his jail cell, Ed was philosophical about the whole thing.
“Sometimes you just fall out of love with your wife,” he said with a shrug, as if he were explaining how it was his favorite baseball team lost a doubleheader. I fully expected him to add something like, “Can’t win ’em all” or “Get ’em next year.” But he didn’t. Thank God.
If it wasn’t for that butter pecan ice cream in the back seat, I might have stopped and asked Ed what was troubling him, or if he needed any help, and he might have told me about his plans to rob the bank and I might have talked him out of the crazy idea and even offered to lend him some money for his trip.
And Ed would be a free man today, even if trapped inside a miserable marriage.
But I didn’t and he isn’t.
Alan Bisbort is a writer, editor and teacher in Connecticut. He is the author of several books, most recently Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture (ABC-CLIO).