The Legend Of Rice And Beans

My dear friend Barty Aum wrote, performed and produced a song called Rice And Beans. A few years ago, I was compelled to write the rest of the story.

The Legend Of Rice And Beans

You’ve heard the ballad immortalizing the bank-robbing lovers, Rice and Beans. Now it’s time to sit back while I tell you the real, untold story of the ill-fated couple from East New Orleans.

     Morning coffee was always better when accompanied by a big bowl of biscuits and gravy for Rice Driscoll and Beans Mannheim. It didn’t matter what cafe or diner they chose during their travels, as long as it was in the south, and they served steaming bowls of the wonder food. Red-Eye Cafe in Montgomery, AL was the perfect place to sit and discuss the direction of the day.

     Clyde Hanson discretely stood in the service area near the corner table feinting cleanup work, and listened while the pair spoke in subdued tones calculating their bank-robbing excursion, which began in Louisiana and proceeded east. The plan appeared to be to continue robbing banks all the way to South Carolina and then go up to North Carolina before turning and making their way west.

     “Then after we finish with Arkansas, we can go home an’ you can buy me the Sunset Cafe.”

     “It won’t be ‘nough yet, Rice.”

     “But, you promised. All the time we spent sittin’ in that place an’ dreamin’. Said the only way we’d ever go back to Little Woods once we got out was when we would own the Sunset an’ show everyone how good we are.”

     “I know what we said, but it’s …”

     Clearing his throat, Clyde interrupted the furtive conversation, “Scuse me… Cin I warm the coffee?” Beans nodded as Rice flashed her two-dollar smile hoping the intruder would be on his way quickly. “If y’all really want an easy target with a big payoff,” Clyde set the coffee pot on the table and sat down next to Rice. “Go north to Wetumpka an’ hit the Third National on Monday afternoon just before closin’. All the locals have made their deposits an’ it jest sits there till Tuesday mornin’ when Brinks comes to bring it to the main bank here. I can drive. I know how to avoid the main roads comin’ back.”

     Beans continued to look at Clyde with an impassive stare, “What are you talkin’ about, Boy?”

     Matching Beans’ stare, Clyde continued, “My cousin used ta work at that bank. An’ he would tell me how loads of money would come in startin’ on Friday afternoon an’ sit there till Tuesday mornin’; jest ripe for some smart person ta come along an’ take it.”

     “Again… What… Are… You… Talkin’… About…” Beans made sure each word was deliberate as he continued to look at Clyde with a stare that could freeze hell twice over. “We ain’t helpin’ you rob no bank. Who you think we are? Bonnie and Clyde?”

     “Funny you should mention… I’m Clyde.” Clyde broke his gaze to sport a comical grin and glanced at Rice to give her a wink. “I couldn’t help but hear y’all talkin’ ‘bout your junket ‘cross the south. I reckon we’d make a great team, ‘specially here in Alabama and Western Georgia. I know my way around most of the back roads and can keep us from gittin’ caught.”

     Rice fixed her eyes on Beans, “Couldn’t help but hear?”

     “Well, ya never know when someone is gonna say something important that ya might wanna hear. So I try ’n listen close to all my customers.”

     “Ya hopin’ there’s a reward for us so you can trick us to sayin’ somethin’ an’ you collect while we go to prison?”

     “I’d never send you to prison, Rice. I wanna work with you.” Clyde looked at Rice with thoughts of getting together with them and eventually pushing Beans out of the picture. “My shift ends in half hour. We can talk more then about heading up to Wetumpka on Monday.”

     The trio met in front of the cafe and walked to Clyde’s car where they decided to sit and talk in private to make their plans. Clyde called out for his weekend shifts so the threesome could keep an eye on each other and prove that Clyde was not attempting to turn the couple into the authorities.

     On Monday, they left Montgomery in Clyde’s car and headed east out of town shortly after breakfast at a different diner. They arrived in Wetumpka around 1 p.m. and parked the car in a convenient place before taking a casual stroll in the area to get the lay of the land. After entering the bank at 4:55 p.m., the trio was on their way out of town heading west, delighted with such a successful heist, by 5:10 p.m.

     The trio decided to stop for supper just outside of Prattville, after driving in silence for an hour and a half. While waiting for their steaks and potatoes with all the trimmings to come, they animatedly discussed their caper. Clyde made sure to request a secluded table and watched that the waitress wasn’t listening as Rice began the recitation of the events, which unfolded in Wetumpka. “Did ya see how fast they moved after I showed ‘em my gun? I ain’t ever seen enybody move that fast in a bank before.

     “Yeah, Baby. Ya done good. An’ that old man? He jest turned gray. Thought he was gonna hurl his lunch right there in the middle of the floor.”

     “See? Told ya we could do it. An’ we didn’t git caught neither. So, how much we git?”

     The food came, and the three enjoyed every bite almost as much as they enjoyed robbing the bank while they quietly discussed the money and their future jobs. Following the noshing of scrumptious desserts, and realizing Clyde could be trusted and possessed valuable information, they returned to Montgomery. They transferred to Beans’ car leaving Clyde’s behind to be found by authorities some time later. Once again, they left Montgomery heading east.

     During the time it took to plan and execute the next two robberies, Clyde used every ounce of spurious charm that he could produce to try to get closer to Rice. He hoped this would drive a wedge between her and Beans. Being preoccupied with the jobs, Beans, seemed to be impervious to what was happening. South of Atlanta, he began tossing ideas for the 18th hit. “I say we take a big bank in Atlanta.”

     “Yeah, sounds great, Baby. Then we cin head home faster an’ celebrate in the Sunset an’ rub everyone’s face in how successful we are…”

     Touching Rice’s knee, Clyde interjected, “Only if you want to go to prison.”

     “PRISON!” Beans slammed the breaks on the haunting, deserted back road. “So, if we don’t do what you want, you’re turnin’ us in? That works two ways, Boy. We turn you in as well.” Beans glanced over and saw Clyde’s hand resting on Rice’s leg as if it was always meant to be there.

     “No. It’s just that Atlanta is a bigger city. We go there, I’m sure our pictures have been passed around an’, we are more ‘an likely to git caught. I think we should go down ta Macon. There’s a Savings an’ Loan there, kinda like the Third National in Wetumpka. We can hit it Monday an’ then go to Applin’ an’ sit for a bit till it cools off.”

     “Yeah. Okay. Let’s just git to McDonough and settle for the night. Then we cin figure things.”

     The next morning, the talks began. Beans kept an ever-watchful eye on Clyde, especially when he was around Rice. Operation plans evolved during the course of the day. They would knock off the savings and loan mid-morning on Monday, just to change things a bit.

     Clyde’s haughtiness around Rice proved to Beans that he was not a man to be trusted. Beans stood back and watched as Clyde would sit close to Rice and lean in over her shoulder while looking at the map to discover the best route into Macon. When bringing her a cup of coffee, he put his hand in the middle of her back and rubbed it as if a wild animal marking his territory. Once, Beans thought Clyde was going to try to kiss Rice, so he knocked the Gideon Bible off the table, which caused Clyde to flinch and move away.

     Covertly, Beans began to make divergent plans with Rice. They also talked about Clyde’s attempt to come between them. “He could never git between us, Baby. You an’ me go all the way back to Little Woods and that is forever. I’ll never love anyone, but you.”

     “I know, Baby. But, I jest didn’t like the way he was always so close to you. We can’t trust him at all an’ we gotta leave him behind, no matter how good he is.”

     Clyde, however, was good. He was good at a lot of things. Things neither Beans, nor Rice, knew about.

     Rice and Beans left the motel after they were convinced Clyde was asleep and headed toward Macon. Clyde was a light sleeper, though. He had also used his expert eavesdropping skills to learn the couple had changed the plan and would hit the savings and loan just before closing time the way they had in Wetumpka. After giving the duo five minutes head start, Clyde collected his belongings, stole a car, and drove to Macon.

     Just after 9 a.m., Clyde strolled into the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and struck a deal for full immunity and then gave detailed information regarding the next bank Rice and Beans would hit. The feds went to work while Clyde went for lunch. Clyde bided his time, following a nice meal. He was extra cautious to avoid any area where he might be spotted by Rice or Beans.

     Twenty minutes before closing, Clyde chose a clandestine location on the opposite side of the street from the bank to watch until the arrival of the two desperadoes from East New Orleans. After noting the direction they approached from, Clyde made his way across the street to see the action unfold. He was just in time to see the manager go to the vault and open it allowing a swarm of F.B.I. Agents to rush out.

     Rice immediately opened fire in an attempt to secure their escape. With a horrified look on his face, Beans began to shout, “NO! We ain’t got a chance. There’s too many of ‘em.” At that moment, Clyde gasped as Rice fell to the floor amid the sounds of gunfire, splintering wood, and breaking glass. Matting blood in her hair, Rice lay there twitching as her eyes fell on Clyde. Clyde imagined that with her last breath, Rice knew that he was the one responsible. At least he kept his word and didn’t send her to prison.

     As Rice collapsed, Beans gave a sharp elbow to the officer attempting to handcuff him and ran to Rice to comfort her. To hold her in his arms one last time. Another officer raised his gun and shot Rice in the chest causing him to fall. As his life’s blood oozed out mingling with Rice’s blood, using his last breath he put his arm on Rice and whispered his final words, “Love you, Baby.”

     Complacently, Clyde turned and went directly to the bus terminal after removing the stash of cash from the trunk of Beans’ car. He had the satisfaction of believing that Rice knew her betrayal of him cost her not only Beans, but her life as well. Clyde would now be able to make a fresh start in a new town. After all, he was granted full immunity by the F.B.I. and has possession of all the cash accumulated from all of the bank heists perpetrated by Rice and Beans.

     Clyde was last seen boarding a bus to Chicago with a smug grin fixed upon his face.

 

Click the link below to listen to the original song.

Rice And Beans by Barty Aum

If you enjoyed this short story and would like to read others by DL Bach, find her collection of five short stories on Amazon.

Sparks Mystified: A Collection Of Short Stories

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