We all knew it would end like this: you, the undercover cop, pointing your gun at him, the desperate criminal, pointing his gun at me, the guy who can’t remember whose side he’s on, pointing my gun at you.

Come on, my arm is getting tired. This standoff has gone on long enough.

Let’s take a moment to consider how much we all have to lose. You’re one day away from retirement. Think of your family. And him—this is his one last job before he gets out of the game for good. The only reason he’s even robbing this bank is to afford a life-saving operation for his sick daughter. Me? I bought a pint of Chubby Hubby yesterday, and still have half of the carton left in my freezer.

You don’t want to let all that go to waste, do you?

But no. Clearly this isn’t going to end peacefully. I can see it in the way your eyes are darting back and forth between him and me. Now he’s looking at me. Now I’m looking at you. Now you’re looking at him. Now both of you are looking back at me. Now you’re giving me a puzzled and slightly disturbed look. Is it because I winked at you? I was trying to subtly suggest that we form an alliance. I apologize if that seemed creepy.

Maybe we can break up the monotony by carefully walking in a circle while still keeping our guns trained on each other. Oh, you want to rotate counterclockwise? Fine. I would have gone with clockwise, but whatever. No, it would be awkward to stop and reverse direction now. Let’s just keep going around.

My left shoulder is really itchy. I want to scratch it so badly, but you’ll probably mistake that sudden movement for making a first move.

Alright, we’ve done at least three complete circles now, and no one is volunteering to take the first shot. Of all the standoffs to get involved in, I had to pick the one with the by-the-books cop who plays by all the rules and the charming thief with a heart of gold. Why couldn’t you be a loose cannon? Or at least a cannon that’s allowed anywhere except the dining room and the upstairs bathroom?

Somebody just shoot so we can get this over with and the survivors can go home to their families and ice creams.

Oh sorry, those are my doves flying between us in slow motion. I’m actually a part-time magician, and I came straight from performing at a birthday party to engaging in this standoff. I’m not trying to be poetic or stylish or anything. One of those bratty kids just stole the lock to my birdcage.

We already repeatedly looked back and forth at each other, right? Blink once if you want to try that again, and twice if you don’t want to. Or don’t blink at all if you want to turn this into a staring contest. That might be fun.

I can tell we’re at a stalemate. Plus, I have to go to the bathroom. Maybe we should pack it in for the night, and tomorrow we can pick up where we left off. Remember who you’re pointing your gun at when we stop.

Actually wait, tomorrow may be tricky for me—I have a bar mitzvah magic show to do. If you guys want to meet me there, we might be able to squeeze in a quick standoff before the brunch. Think we can get this done in under 45 minutes? Yes? Fantastic. We’re making progress now, so let’s not lose this momentum.

Anyway, have a good night. If you see any doves on your way out, please grab them, because I need them for my act tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll have to do my “magic bullet” illusion, which requires a volunteer.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to pick either of you. It will be the bar mitzvah boy.

He’ll probably be more of a man than we are.