On a Wheelman

Mike sat in the vehicle alone. His two compadres were doing the job while he manned the “getaway car.” As his chums busied themselves, hurriedly gathering their loot and carrying out their tasks, Mike circled,  running all the worst case scenarios through his head. What if there was trouble? What if they got stuck? What if they couldn’t get out? He tried not to think about it. His buddies were counting on him to be there when they were done. But waiting by himself in the getaway vehicle made him feel, as he said later, more alone than anyone has been since Adam.

The three had practiced and practiced and practiced for every possible scenario. They had spent years working through the job. The idea was that more preparation meant a better chance of success. The trio had not simply gone through practice runs until they got it right; they had practiced until they could not get it wrong. Like Danny Ocean in the movies, they even worked on mockups of the scene. Each man knew his role. They had experience. No, this wasn’t their first time doing this.

And, so, Mike brought the vehicle right around one more time and waited. “What will I tell their families if they don’t make it out?“ He thought. “I don’t want to be the guy, the only guy who lives through this.“ Again, he circled.  No sign of them.  It shouldn’t be taking this long. They should be back by now. He even contemplated going to get them directly, but that wasn’t part of the plan.  Stick to the plan, Mike told himself. Stick to the plan.

Thirty times Mike circled.

You might think that, by this time, the average wheelman would begin to give up and try to make good his own escape. But not Mike. No, in fact, he felt a heightened, “awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation.”  Suddenly, on the final pass, he saw them. Mike’s two pals we’re coming towards him as quickly as they could.  Just as they had planned it, Mike did not even have to stop to let his buddies enter the vehicle.

Mike tried to hide his relief and excitement once his buddies were inside. As he steered away, he asked calmly, “How did it go?“ His buddy Neil gave him a thumbs up while other member of the trio, Buzz, grinned broadly.

That’s when Commander Michael Collins radioed Houston that Apollo 11 was returning to earth.

 

 

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