BRIANNE PARKER didnt look like a bank robber or a murderer her pleasantly plump baby face fooled everyone. But she knew that she was ready to kill if she had to this morning. She would find out for sure at ten minutes past eight.
The twenty-four-year-old woman wore khakis, a powder blue University of Maryland windbreaker, and scuffed white Nike sneakers. None of the early-morning commuters noticed her as she walked from her dented white Acura to a thick stand of evergreen trees, where she hid.
She was outside the Citibank in Silver Spring, Maryland, just before eight. The branch was scheduled to open in ninety seconds. She knew from her talks with the Mastermind that it was a freestanding bank with two drive-through lanes. It was surrounded by what he called big-box stores: Target, PETsMART, Home Depot, Circuit City.
At eight oclock on the dot, Brianne approached the bank from her hiding place in the evergreens under a colorful billboard obnoxiously offering McDonalds breakfast to the public. From that angle she couldnt be seen by the female teller who was just opening the glass front door and had momentarily stepped outside.
A few strides from the teller, she slipped on a rubbery President Clinton mask, one of the most popular masks in America and probably the one hardest to trace. She knew the bank tellers name, and she spoke it clearly as she pulled out her gun and pressed it against the small of the womans back.
"Inside, Ms. Jeanne Galetta. Then turn around and lock the front door again. Were going to see your boss, Mrs. Buccieri."
Her short speech at the entrance to the bank was scripted, word for word, even the pauses. The Mastermind said it was crucial that a bank robbery proceed in a specific order, almost by rote.
"I dont want to kill you, Jeanne. But I will if you dont do everything I say, when I say it. Its your turn to talk now, darling. Do you understand what Ive just told you so far?"
Jeanne Galetta nodded her head of short brown hair so vigorously that her wire-rimmed glasses nearly fell off. "Yes, I do. Please dont hurt me," she gasped. She was in her late twenties, attractive in a suburban sort of way, but her blue polyester pantsuit and sensible stack-heeled shoes made her look older.
"The managers office. Now, Ms. Jeanne. If Im not out of here in eight minutes, you will die. Im serious. If Im not out of here in eight minutes, you and Mrs. Buccieri die. Dont think I wont do it because Im a woman. I will shoot you both like dogs."
© 2000 by James Patterson. Excerpt used with permission from Time Warner Bookmark
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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