Witness Seven

W: Officer. I have an eidetic memory.

O: Start with their appearance.

W: Their ski masks were slashed with diamond openings, I’d say for a broader field for peripheral vision. The chill of the air

conditioning had lulled us drowsy, but after the sharp explosion of plastic and metal, we saw the hanging bodies of security cameras smashed against their holding brackets.

O: Did you hear the gun shots?

W: I didn’t hear a gun’s Bang! before each camera exploded. So, they must have had silencers attached to the ends of

their pistol barrels. I witnessed one hefty customer in the back behind the large bamboo palm, curling his cell phone in his hand and then – PPPhttt! – he dropped to the carpet. I would say an amoeba-like puddle of blood was spreading below his right cheek. He wore a green shirt, so it reminded me of Christmas colors.

O: Do you think he was calling someone?

W: I did not hear any beeping of cell phone numbers. Someone whispered that he was reading a text message: Buy

pumpernickel. One percent milk.

O: Who told you that?

W: How can I remember?

O: You told me you have a photographic memory.

W: I heard some words over my shoulder.

O: Can you identify the voice?

W: No disrespect, Officer. I possess an eidetic memory and I don’t think I could explain that and sensory modalities and

photographic memory in a way you’d understand.

O: Enough! Continue.

W: As the dead man’s stillness held the room, my mouth dropped open like a trout out-of-water.  The woman standing

beside me quickly cupped her hand over my lips and whispered, “Not a sound.”

O: How many men were there?

W: You know that. The burly guy. Let’s call him Killer from here on. He had a gray

beard curling below the bottom of his black pullover mask. Second, the Boss looked like a professional basketball coach. He was wearing a suit to this game.

Third, the last was gangly. He looked like he would trip over his own feet.  So, Iet’s call him Rookie. Besides Boss’s classy suit, the other two wore yellow tee-shirts from the Dunkin Donuts annual deal: Buy a dozen, get a second for free.

O: A second dozen?  Pertinent facts only.

W: Why leave out a detail, Officer?

O: Can you discriminate between embellishment and pertinent? What happened next?

W: The Boss walked at the bank manager who retreated until his back was against the wall.

O: Which wall?

W: The wall behind the tellers’ windows. Can’t you picture it?

O: Where were the tellers?

W: Behind their work windows. Killer lumbered them into a cubicle, and with a bare

yank the phone cable sprang out like an angry whip. He threw the phone unit

across the room as if it were a jet plane. As he corralled the tellers there, they

bounced about one another’s’ hips. One man withdrew a nail file out of his hip

pocket and – PHTttt – Killer shot the file out of the man’s hand. I peeked to see

that the tip of the man’s thumb lay on the carpet outside the cubicle. “I’m sorry,” Killer said to this blanched man. “I should practice more.”

O: Did so-called Boss threaten the manager?

W: Not with his gun.

O: What did he do?

W: He LOOKED at the manager.

O: What do you mean by that?

W: He objectified the manager. The KEY to the vault.

O: What did the manager do?

W: He walked to the vault. Officer, this is where the action picks up. Now there were

his two men in the main room, and the woman and I stood out on the Privileged Clients line. “On the carpet,” shouted Rookie. I knew he was young because he didn’t have that strength in his voice: The ‘Down, you fuckers!’ tone that an experienced burglar has, at least the ones that I’ve seen in the movies. He did strike me as an eager Assistant Scout Master. We bent to our knees and lay down.

The woman reached for my hand and pressed quick dots and longer touches for dashes on my palm. Morse Code, so she was the smart one.  I’ll  say  it:  “M-y    n-a-m-e    i-s    L-a-u-r-a.   B-e-t-t-e-r   i-f    w-e    l-o-o-k   l-i-k-e   p-a-r-e-n-t-s,” she pressed.   “I’-v-e     n-e-v-e-r    v-i-s-i-t-e-d   t-h-e   G-r-a-n-d   C-a-n-y-o-n,” I pressed.   “I   h-a-v-e.”   “I-s     i-t    h-o-l-y?”  I pressed.

O: You asked her?

W: We had a moment, Officer. She told me she had hiked down from the North Rim

to the Colorado River.

O: I’m putting this on the record! You are not averse to sharing information. Your

generosity is the problem.

W: Should I continue?

O: Continue!

W: The young burglar had heard her whispered words and he said to us, “This is a

burglary. No nature-talk.”

O: STOP SHOWING!  What the HELL do you do for a living?

W: I’m a collector.

O: Of?

W: Officer, my collection is varied. As a whole, it defies rational organization. Its

contents include various forms of representations, both physical and symbolic drawn from international sources, cultures, nature, and mysticism to elucidate transpersonal epistemologies.

O: Do not elaborate.

W: I dutifully responded to your question.


W: Sirens were shrieking. I thought to myself, ‘Oh sure, clear traffic, but now the burglars know you’re here.’ The Boss

marched into the main room, his fists tight around the handles of two suitcases, the ones with the outside straps to serve an over-packed tourist. The three men gathered in the middle of the room. “They

got here early,” Killer said. Rookie asked: ” Should I be nervous?” “Plug two men across the thighs.” Boss ordered.   Officer, you can imagine that some of the women gasped.  Men gasped louder.   “Flesh wounds,” Boss said. “How do you do that?” Rookie said. Killer calmed him: “Don’t worry.” “Shoot young men,” Boss ordered. I must say, Officer, that Boss didn’t seem criminally cruel to me. He had no yen for causing pain. All he wanted was blood stains on the men’s pants. You know, a distraction for the cops.

O: You do know this is being recorded?

W: Yes. Boss now seemed a garden-variety burglar who wanted to see his kids go beyond community college.

O: You’re providing commentary to your responses.

W: Commentary? Nonsense. The mind organizes experience in the form of a narrative. Reflection is natural.  For your

sake, I’ll say that Killer walked to the

cubicle-cage packed with tellers. They shrank away from him to the perimeter

walls, and he noticed a pinecone and a Bartlett Pear on the desk. He ate it, the pear I mean.


W: But Officer, this speaks to the tellers’ emotional state of mind.

O: What kind of WORK do you do?

W: Given my eclectic background, I’ve developed a following as a performance artist

in Off-Broadway venues. I’m also an invited stream-of-consciousness subject and speaker at two annual Literary conferences. One regards Joyce and the other Woolf.

O: Are you streaming now?

W: Streaming is closer to one-way communication. We’re having a lucid conversation.

O: Are you collecting now?

W: Oh, Officer. I’m always collecting.

O: Do not stream! Do not collect!

W: Officer. That’s the natural process of consciousness.

O: Witness. I order you to stop.

W: I’m not sure I can.

O: Think of it as a break.

W:  I just might break!  What if it becomes permanent?

O: It won’t.

W: I certainly don’t want to be combative Officer, though what if a so-called self-imposed stupor turns out to be a

sabbatical which then interrupts my creative process? You know it’s not an on-off switch.

O: You are a U.S. citizen sitting in a victim interview room of the New York City Police

Department. You know how I want you to speak.

W: I can try.  To bring you up-to-the-moment: Boss told Killer to shoot two men

across the thighs, specifically flesh wounds. My throat began rippling again, and the woman moved her hand to cover her mouth. I was unsettled, so I bit her.

What do you make of that?

O: Do NOT ask questions.

W: “W-h-a-t    d-o    y-o-u    l-o-v-e?” she pressed.  “I    h-a-v-e    b-o-o-k-s.” I pressed

back.  She pressed, “A-r-e    y-o-u    h-a-p-p-y?”   Officer, is this something I should think about?

O: NO MORE QUESTIONS.  Tell me about the two men Killer shot.

W: There was the first shot. A young man wailed as if a dog had been injured in the genitals. Another man, I guess a

baritone, screamed high to low notes and it

reminded me of that abominable way that a cow can be slaughtered.   Officer, I

want to specifically note that I have never stepped into a slaughterhouse. To sum

it up, I could never let alone imagine hurting a butterfly.

O: This is a warning that precedes a ticket and summons to court.

W: Officer, I know my First Amendment rights. You can’t ticket me for talking this way.

O: Aren’t you getting hungry?

W: Right now, I am ready to fulfill my patriotic duty.

O: As one human being to another and also as a police officer, I would be personally grateful – as I know the New York

City Police Department would be – if you could provide a less lively account of the burglary. For example, instead of describing the man’s voice per the dog’s genitals just say: the man screamed.

W: Officer. That’s a very decent way to ask. But your language is so bland.

O: Let’s try?

W: Is this for the transmission of information?

O: Think of telegrams.

W: Officer. I’ll confess that my thoughts can swirl about like Spaghettini Number 9.

O: Is that a specific pasta?  Of course, it is.

W: I’m not averse if you would steer me a bit.  I would never intentionally be an uncooperative witness.

O: Witness. That’s a very decent suggestion.

W: Okay.   After Killer shot the two men across the thighs, he said, “Eh, Boss. I caught

some muscle there.” “But not deep?” said the Boss.  He scanned the room. “You

two married?” he said. “I’m proposing,” I said, looking up.   “Sounds sweet,” Boss

said and then winked. “Be good. Nice hostages,” he said.  Damn it, Officer.

There’s no color here.  I’m stylistically trapped.

O: Just let it flow.

W: I swam in the blue of Laura’s eyes, and she hooked a chippy fingernail into my

palm which broke into my skin like the point of a needle.

O: Let’s hold back on ‘chippy.’  ‘Point of a needle’ works well.

W: She pressed into my palm, “D-a-n-g-e-r   e-x-c-i-t-e-s   m-e.”

O: What about the two men who were bleeding?

W: “Time to toss the men,” Boss said.  “What about the dead guy?” Killer said back.

“The cops don’t need to see him now,” Boss told him.  Killer slowly opened the

front door an inch. He held the baritone-voiced man in front of him and Boss

shouted, “CHIEF! I’VE GOT A GIFT FOR YOU. TWO MEN BLEEDING THEIR LIVES AWAY.” The Chief boomed on his megaphone, “I WANT TO BRING IN STRETCHERS.” “NO,” hollered Boss.

O: Okay, Witness.  Those lines have good pace because the action is there, but also because you don’t overladen with

detail.  What happened next?

W: “FIRST, I WANT MY CARD,” Boss yelled.   “WHAT CARD?” Bellowed the Chief. “MY ‘GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD.’”

Killer dragged the two men to the sidewalk while Boss held his gun aimed at the baritone’s heart. Once back inside, Killer lifted me

and Laura to our feet and Boss positioned us behind the bank’s front doors. Boss opened one door a mouth’s width to yell: “CHIEF! NOT A POLICEMAN IN SIGHT!”

“EASY ENOUGH,” the Chief boomed back. The snipers’ heads and arms disappeared from the windows. The police cars cleared out. On the count of “THREE!” Killer flung the doors open and the five of us sprinted forward, a single spear thrown by mighty Achilles.

O: The rising tension!  The reference to Achilles is highbrow, though it suits your

character as narrator.

W: The young burglar pushed Laura and I into the back seat and lowered himself next to us by the window. He tapped his

gun on the glass window, and said, “Misbehave? I’ll perforate you.” Killer tossed the two suitcases into the trunk. Boss was behind the wheel, and yelled through his window, “CLEAR THE STREETS TO THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE.” Rookie said, “Did you mean to say the Ed Koch Queensborough Bridge?” “FROM THERE,” Boss yelled, “IF I SEE A COP, WE MIGHT

HAPPEN TO SHOOT.” “We’re gonna shoot the couple?” Rookie said. Killer turned to him and said, “Shut up, or I’ll plug you.”

O: Would you say the burglars were still confident about their get-away?

W: I think Boss was beginning to realize that they might be fugitives.

O: Tell me about your gut?

W: I knew that the woman and I wanted to be parents at that moment, to birth

babies in this world not to remember us, but to be adopted by our siblings. For the kids to scream and thrill while ascending on the seat of a swing set. In a way, she pressed the same: “I   d-o-n-t   f-e-e-l   f-e-a-r.  W-e   h-a-v-e   h-o-p-e.”

O: I’ve heard other captives say:  If I only I had children.

W: It turns out that the young man’s safety was off, and he slipped on the trigger. A

bullet chipped the corner of his half-open window and slivers of glass splintered across our laps. Laura pressed: “B-r-e-a-t-h.”  Boss growled, “SAM! You’ll get us killed.” The Chief of Police spoke through his megaphone, “WHY DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” “I’VE GOT A ROOKIE HERE,” yelled Boss. “DAMN NEPHEW WHO’S GREEN!”

O: What happened next?

W: Laura squeezed my hand. I peed right there and then.  She pressed with her fingertips and sent the message, “W-i-l-l  

l-a-u-g-h    a-b-o-u-t     t-h-i-s   s-o-m-e-d-a-y.”

O: My impression is that the burglars didn’t even rattle you.

W: I wasn’t alone.

O: What happened next?

W: Do I have to say it?

O: For the record.

W: Your snipers must have targeted the burglars’ foreheads and pulled their triggers.

O: Then?

W: There was a fourth bullet that pierced Laura’s cheek.

O: I see.

W: Her teeth landed in my lap. You killed her.

O: I see.

W: She had asked me to hike with her to Phoenix Ranch. To the bottom of the canyon.

O: I have no comment.

W: You authoritarian bastard.

O: What about the burglars?

W: It might as well have been you that pulled the trigger.

O: What about the burglars?

W: Those were clean shots.



Gil IsrealiGil Israeli lives in New York City, and works as a freelance writer. His fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in The Writer’s Rock Anthology, Inkburns, Connections, The Airgonaut, The Eunoia Review, and The Spry Literary Journal. He graduated with the bachelor’s degree from the Writing Seminars Program at The Johns Hopkins University, and holds masters degrees from The University of Virginia and Columbia University in New York City. Recently, he began teaching at
Burlington Writers Workshop, Burlington, Vermont, and will be attending the South Porch Artists Residency in June 2023.