Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Inside Man by Gary Lovisi

The Inside Man” by Gary Lovisi, Hardluck Stories, Spring 2005

Johnny is the inside man for a team of career bank robbers. He gets a job at a bank, works there for a few weeks to learn the routine and the security codes and then his partners rob the bank while he cowers on the floor with the rest of the bank’s staff and customers.

Johnny’s gang of several years standing consists of himself, Jackie/Jack, “as butch a lez as one could get,” and her mountainous and mentally challenged brother, Deke. Left to himself Deke isn’t much of a threat to anyone, but he does what Jackie/Jack tells him without question.

This time Johnny has been working at the bank for a couple of months, longer than his usual tenure. Soon after he joined the bank he began a romantic entanglement with Janet Egan, the branch manager. He learned that the bank was due for a large infusion of cash, a million dollars in small bills. He and Jackie/Jack decided to wait until the cash arrived before pulling the robbery.

Unfortunately during the down time a woman with the improbable name of Flouncy attached herself to Deke. Deke wasn’t the only member of the gang to be attracted to Flouncy. In fact there wasn’t a single member of the team that wasn’t attracted to her. And Flouncy seemed quite happy with the way things were going.

Johnny, however, was not. Just before the day of the robbery, he convinced the rest of the gang to relocate their base of operations without telling Flouncy. She was out of their hair, and the team was working. Or so he thought.

On the day of the robbery, instead of an invasion of two masked and armed robbers, there was an invasion of three masked and armed robbers. Flouncy was back. And things went downhill from there with a couple of twists on the way.

This is a good story with a lot of suspense. Mr. Lovisi builds tension, then relaxes it, then builds it again to a higher peak. There is a series of these peaks and valleys throughout the story. Poor Johnny has more ups and downs than a yo-yo. My only quibble with the story is that I wish I could have felt more empathy for Johnny. That lack of empathy is always a danger when your main character is a bad guy.

In short, mildly disappointing but still an enjoyable story.