The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 7

Aspen couldn’t remember how long she’d suffered from insomnia.  She liked to joke that she often lost sleep at night trying to figure out exactly when the problem had started.

Because of jokes like that, Aspen had earned a reputation for having a horrible sense of humor.

Most people assumed that she had taken up art as a way to deal with her inability to sleep, but that would be wrong.  Sure, her parents had proposed art as a means to overcome a problem, but they had done so only out of desperation.

And to help Aspen get past an issue which had concerned them much more than her insomnia.

Before art had become her obsession, Aspen’s only goal in life was to plan a master heist.

While this news would be troubling to any parent, it was exponentially more disturbing to the parents of a fourteen year old.

short story, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe first time Aspen watched Ocean’s Eleven, she had an epiphany that her true purpose on this planet was to pull off the ultimate heist.  She desperately wanted to rob a casino like her cinematic heroes, but her “uptight and uncool” parents refused to take her to Atlantic City or Vegas.  Since Aspen was too young to drive, too frightened of strangers to hitchhike, and too grossed out by the idea of public transportation, she had to alter her dream.

She decided she was going to rob a bank.

There were plenty of those in town, they were all loaded with cash, and from her point of view at least, they all had varying degrees of poor security guarding their treasure.

Aspen calculated that a bank job would not need a team of eleven, so even if the score was only a fraction of what she’d get from hitting a casino, her cut might be just a large.

Besides, she lived at home and didn’t have any expenses outside of hair dye, thrift store clothes, and junk food, so how much money did a fourteen year old bank robber really need?

When she couldn’t sleep, she would sneak out of the house and case the local banks.  When school bored her, which was most of the time, she’d slip away to case a bank.  Whenever there was a report of a bank robbery, Aspen would meticulously study every bit of news she could find on the crime.

Most fourteen year olds would be inconspicuous if they hung around a bank, but Aspen was the Goth girl with the brightly dyed hair, so she was difficult to miss.  Plus, banks noticed when someone loitered outside the building in the middle of the night, multiple nights a week.

Police officers visited the Roarke home on more than one occasion at the request of local bank managers.  Aspen’s parents, who were pretty laid back when it came to raising their only child, were not a fan of law enforcement’s intrusion into their lives.  Nor were they pleased with their daughter’s insistence that she was going to become more famous than Danny Ocean’s crew and Bonnie and Clyde combined.

Her parents were pretty sure that Danny Ocean was alive and well, but they knew that things had not ended well for Bonnie and Clyde.

Desperate to find a way to quash Aspen’s inner bank robber, they turned to art.  Aspen had shown an early aptitude for the activity during pre-school, and those works of art still hung on the family’s fridge.  Plus, the frequently changing color of her hair led them to believe that she still had a flair for her creative side.

Of course, they knew that the activity wouldn’t have the same allure as pulling off the perfect heist unless they added an interesting twist.

So Aspen’s Dad, who had secretly always wished to be a writer (a career path he had never pursued because he wanted to provide a steady paycheck and a good life for his little family), crafted a story that gave his daughter something else to focus on obsessively.

“What if you became such a famous artist that master thieves like Danny Ocean planned elaborate heists to steal your work from museums and private collections?” he’d planted a seed in her overactive teenage brain.  “How cool would it be to be the reason for the grandest heist ever perpetrated?  Think about your place in history if that happened.”

Somehow, that worked.  Aspen stopped hanging out in banks, and began a much safer career (legally speaking at least) as an artist.

The police stopped visiting the house.

Bank employees no longer cringed when Aspen entered their place of work.

Mom and Dad encouraged their daughter to pursue a career in art, and never once tried to convince her to choose a more secure career path.

short story, crime, Modern PhilosopherArt not only became Aspen’s career, but it also was her favorite way to cope with insomnia.

She had bet on herself and used the bulk of her college fund to open her café.  She easily convinced her parents that it would provide her with a steady income as she worked to become a successful artist.

Mom and Dad were secretly thrilled that the money wasn’t being used to assemble a crew to hit all the local banks on the same day, but they also believed in the café idea.

The Business classes she’d taken at community college provided the know how Aspen needed to run a successful business, along with the inspiration to see The Infinite Sheep as more than just a coffee shop.

Aspen had turned the café in a gallery, where should could display her art, so it could be bought by the bored housewives who made up a good portion of her customer base.  These women were wealthy, wanted to be trendy, and desperately longed to be as cool as the owner of their favorite coffee shop.

So they came in for lattes and bought her pieces to hang in their homes.  When their friends asked where they’d gotten such an amazing piece of art, they proudly bragged about how they’d discovered the newest, hippest artist of the moment.

That led to even more business for Aspen, who had long ago given up on her dream of being the world’s greatest thief.

That was, of course, until her late night, insomnia fueled, street chalk art sessions had led her to realize that crime was all around her.

From Aspen’s perspective, the crime was not being perpetrated well at all.

This knowledge caused an itch she so desperately needed to scratch, but she fought valiantly to ignore as she used her chalks to create beautiful works of art all over the city.


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 7

  1. kristianw84 says:

    I love how you tied in your love of bank robberies and heists into this story! (Even though you didn’t plan it).

    Hmm… I hope she doesn’t try to scratch that itch with Detective Bruno in the city. 😉 So excited for Chapter 8!!!

    • Austin says:

      Like I told you, Aspen’s backstory came to me 5 minutes before I sat down to write. She wasn’t even meant to be in the story. Then I saw her as the friend of a love interest for Tex. At which point, she was supposed to be this homeless street artist who befriends Tex while he’s playing the guitar on the street. Ideas just come to me and the story changes. Aspen is now this cool very important character to the story that is still developing…

  2. beth says:

    i always love a good heist, in stories as well as movies!

  3. Pingback: Switzerland, here we come! (Not now, but soon): June 12 – A Silly Place

  4. markbialczak says:

    Nice flight for the story, Austin. I will continue to appreciate the unexpected!

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