Al Nussbaum - Bank Robber, Mystery Writer
Al worked with a man named Bobby Wilcoxson. He wasn't the smartest guy around but he was good with a gun (or bad if you prefer) so the brainwork was handled by Al. One of their techniques was to go into a town and find a likely looking bank, then rent a vacant storefront not too far away. They'd soap the windows so people couldn't see inside, then Al would make the rounds of the neighborhood telling people what kind of a business they would soon be opening. Then they'd rob the bank, stash the getaway car, hide out in the vacant store and listen to the sirens as cop cars raced back and forth outside. This worked fine except on the day when they opened the briefcase containing the loot and Bobby's shotgun, which he had left ready to fire. It did, and people came running from all directions. Al went outside and told them it was nothing to worry about, they had been using a blowtorch too close to a gas heater.
But things turned sour the day Bobby killed a bank guard. They split up and went into hiding. Al rented a room in Philadelphia. Needing a cover story to explain why he rarely left the room, Al told the landlady he was a writer. He had come prepared with a typewriter, a small tape recorder and a stack of books to read. He even bought a sports coat with leather patches on the elbows because he thought that's what a writer would wear. And a pipe, because he believed a writer would smoke one. He banged the keys on the typewriter and recorded the sound, put the recorder in repeat mode and played it all day so the landlady would think he was hard at work while he sat reading one of the books.
It worked out fine, but then his father died in Buffalo, Al's hometown. He risked going to the funeral and even the not-too-bright people at the FBI figured he might show up and were there to arrest him. While serving a long sentence in a federal pen he read a book about bank robbers by Dan J. Marlowe. Al was impressed with its accuracy and wrote to Marlowe via the publisher. Marlowe replied and a lengthy correspondence followed. Marlowe got Al to start writing himself and would then critique his work. Eventually Marlowe enlisted the help of another mystery writer, Joe Gores, and between them they got Al parolled on condition he live with Marlowe.
Then a major hitch occurred - Marlowe suffered a stroke that wiped out his memory. He couldn't even recognize the stories he had written. With no hope of his memory ever returning, Al set out to help him build a new one. It took time but the day came when Marlowe was even able to begin writing again. After that they went their separate ways but remained friends until the day Marlowe died. Al died himself a few years ago, but not too many men ever lived a more varied and interesting life. Sad to say, though, he never got to rob another bank. At least I don't think he did.