It’s about one a.m. and I walk into buzzing harsh light. A little bell tinkles over the door. The skinny guy with jet black hair and tats everywhere doesn’t even look up. I mean this fucker is a tattoo. I don’t see any clear skin. He looks like an Aztec fuckin’ warrior or something. No headdress though.
Jesus, this store is hotter than blue-hammered hell. I don’t come in here much but my license is suspended. Gotta walk everywhere now and this buzzing hot-house hell, called the Grab & Git, is close to the house. Besides, I’m a man on a mission.
Straight to the back corner I go, head down, trudging to the glass doors and beer. I begin window shopping. Open one door, close it and then open another.
“Dude, Bud’s on sale”, Tats says from up front.
I continue my scanning. I finally grab the Shiner Bock like I was going to all along. Lately, my estimated needs for the weekend have been off. Way off.
I turn to head back up one of the narrow aisles of assorted junk and hear the bell on the door tinkle again.
“You got one tick to stop looking at me boy.” Loud voice, full of piss and vinegar.
I thought the voice was talking to me and I look to the front, blinking with drunk confusion.
“Alright man, alright, so I’m not lookin’ at you”, the skinny guy up front says.
“Anybody else in here?”
I crouch down behind a big display of Doritos.
“No, not quite yet partner, you just beat the rush.”
The report of the gun inside this little cracker box store is so fucking loud I swear my ears are bleedin’. Silence now, except the ringing. The gunpowder smell reaches me. Someone groans, gotta be the skinny clerk.
I ease a look around the edge of the display and back up the aisle to the counter but I can’t see anything. I don’t know what to do so I snug myself down again.
I’m sweating now and a drip off my nose hits the floor I’m staring at. My ears are searching for some sound, something.
Nothing, but those buzzing fuckin’ lights.
Glass breaks and something else tumbles over, fizzing and spewing. I use that sound to set down the twelve pack and crab walk to the next aisle over.
“Alright, smart ass, open the fuckin’ register. Do it now or I put you down for good.”
I catch a glimpse of a black t-shirt and the profile of a nylon face. He’s behind the counter with the clerk. The shooter jerks a look down the other aisle I just moved from.
“You sure no one else is here?”
“Yeah, yeah, dude…I’m sure. Look, have it all, I don’t give a fuck. Just don’t kill me man.” The clerk sounds wheezy and scared shitless.
“Open the motherfuckin’ drawer.”
I hear the drawer open and there is some shuffling and banging around.
I’ve switched aisles again and I’m closer now.
Slowly coming up the front aisle of the store and I’m watching their reflection in the front glass.
“Where’s the camera tapes?”
“Back…back office, on the high shelf.” The kid sounds bad.
“That it? Deposit bag?”
“Back there too…but in the safe. I ain’t got the combination.”
I’m watching the clerk, who’s standing but doubled over and holding his arm, hand and shirt soaked with blood. He’s shaking his head.
“Swear I can’t ope –.”
Mid sentence the mask guy puts the gun right on the top of his head and shoots him. Red spray and mist everywhere. I can’t hear a fuckin’ thing now.
The guy walks through the little door into the office and I gotta go.
I slide right up behind him and just at the last second, he hears me. Starts to turn.
Bang. He’s a big fucker and when he drops its like an oak tree going down.
I take the surveillance tapes and an extra twelve of Shiner. It’s a public service fee.
I can’t take the money. I could sure use it but the old cop in me just won’t allow it.
Wouldn’t be right.