By Colt Leasure
Yerrington was sitting in a red Toyota pickup, his window rolled down to let
out his cigarette smoke. The elbow of the arm he was using to puff the roll was
resting on the tattered car door, and he was seventy-five feet away from
Mason’s Liquor store, a convenience shop whose neon sign was flickering out.
was slow tonight. He had been sitting here for twenty minutes, and had not seen
a customer enter the place.
his .38 underneath his armpit, holstered by a strap which was concealed by the
fabric of his light flannel over-shirt. He carried it with him everywhere he
went, ever since he got back from the sandbox circles of hell known as Iraq
& Aghanistan two years ago. Sometimes the gun felt like the only consistent
positive force in his life. It was Robert’s day off from a job that he was
actively looking to escape, where he worked as the guard of a parking lot for a
corporate office, taking down license plate numbers and making sure people paid
to park in their nice areas. That part was easy, but most of the time he did
janitorial work later in the evenings. It was a shit job, but it was enough to
keep the lights on in his crumbling apartment.
nightmares of screaming, the detonations of planted devices by the enemy on
pathways stained with the blood of his friends prevented him from getting eight
hours of sleep most every night. So did the constant threat of eviction.
opened the car door, stepped out and felt the cold breeze of the night hit his
face. He locked the vehicle behind him and walked towards Mason’s.
was loaded with junk food, wine bottles, and dozens of whiskey brands. Robert
knew that although this place was small, it was still the most visited stop in
town. The place rested on the highway that every trucker, tourist and local
used to get in and out of this recession-torn place.
easily taking down five grand a day, and even more than that on weekends.
Robert knew this because he had been scouting the place before tonight,
checking to see how many people came in and out, and how much product was
really purchased. This was the only real liquor store besides the grocery
outlet seven blocks away, and that place was too large, too complicated, too
grocery store was easy, but the getaway would be the difficult part.
on the other hand, was vulnerable in both the actual hold up and escape.
that he could probably point the gun at the clerk’s face right now, tell him to
bag all of the money from the main bank, and then flee.
promised himself that he would wait until tomorrow night. He was here to get
answers to a few questions now, nothing more.
question he needed to answer was how many cameras were in the shop.
looked around the overly fluorescent place and only saw two. One was right
above the main till, getting a good view of the bald spot on top of the clerk’s
head. The second was aligned above the cold beer section.
question was how many employees were in the place at any given time. On day
shift it was probably two, and more than likely both were armed, considering
this was a rough transient area where the homeless, the extremely poor, and the
meth-addicted made frequent visits. Robert knew he had to be careful and could
not underestimate anybody.
at the back door behind the counter to see if there were any indicators of
movement hinting at the presence of another employee. The clerk, who was
overweight, hairless, and wearing a red superhero ‘Flash’ shirt, stared at him
broodingly, waiting to be conversed with against his will, like every other
patron he had probably dealt with today.
A young man
in his early twenties with a girl of the same age then walked through the
doors. The man was wearing a bright yellow construction vest and dirty
Timberland boots. The young lady was wearing a dress made of dark satin and
fishnet webbing, with charcoal shaded lipstick and jet black hair. They went to
the back shelves, retrieved a case of lager, and then walked up to the counter.
asked them if that would be it.
scratch off ticket,” the young man said with a tired voice, laying down a
one?” the clerk asked, annoyed.
rang up the alcohol and handed them the ticket. The couple then walked to the
door, when a cell phone rang.
It was the
woman’s. She placed the case of beer down on the ground, reached into her purse
and answered her phone.
pulled out a quarter, beginning to scratch the painted circles on the paper
that he had purchased.
stared at the two while looking at a collection of Zippos. He grabbed a crimson
one and then faced the clerk.
a pack of Marlboro’s,” Robert said.
it? You look like you could use some vodka. It’s on sale.”
laid down the requested brand of tobacco, and then started ringing the numbers
up. Robert heard a jubilant yell behind him.
around, he saw that the off-duty construction worker jumped up and down before
hugging his girlfriend, who at first seemed to be angry with him by
interrupting the call she was trying to take.
looked over, and that was when the young man showed him the ticket.
the clerk asked, a smile slowly spreading across his face. “Congratulations.”
then kissed, hugging each other tightly for another minute, before grabbing
their beer and heading out.
quickly paid for his items and exited the gas station.
When he was
back at his car, he stared at the couple as they stepped foot into their black
Wheel, Robert thought, was a well-known contest. Anybody who won the prize
would get a chance to go on television, and spin an oversized wheel with
numbers. Whatever digits the flexible triangle dangling above the wheel rested
on when it was done spinning was the amount of cash that the person would win.
you could win was four hundred thousand dollars. The most was a million. As a
winner, it was within your options to completely decline a television
appearance by claiming the cash in a lump sum or incremental amounts over the
years by just accepting the minimum. It was life-changing currency even if you
chose to fall on the minimal amount. Everybody in California watched the
program. Robert never tuned in religiously, but he knew enough about it to
remember that the tickets could be claimed at any time during regular business
hours, and the wheel spin itself only happened on Fridays. Today was Saturday,
so it would be another full week.
stared as they pulled out of the parking lot, and then decided to keep a good
distance away while still trailing behind them.
in the store did not pick up the fact that the couple had won. There was only
one person who could confirm that they were the winners, and that was the
clerk, and Robert doubted anyone would really believe him.
that ticket, Robert thought, was the person who could go onto the show and spin
drove into a neighborhood that was neat, filled with rows of identical, bleach
white houses. Their lawns were perfectly trimmed. It was a nice, vanilla
neighborhood, one that made Robert’s look very grimy in comparison.
in front of two connected condominiums. Robert saw this and decided to pull
into an alleyway two blocks from them.
out of his car and then peered around the edge as the couple walked into their
apartment, holding hands and smiling at each other, kissing before opening the
door and going inside.
apartment number seven.
that plans had changed. Robbing the liquor store was no longer a priority.
He sat in
his vehicle for a long time, going to sleep for four hours. He figured it would
be at least eight hours before the male woke up and then went to work, if he
even decided to go to work, knowing that he was about to be rich.
thought about all the lottery winners who brag about completing their final two
weeks in the work force before officially retiring, letting the whole world
know that they had a great work ethic. It always bugged him, but maybe this man
would be that type of person.
Robert’s smart phone alarm clock went off. He immediately stepped out of his
car and then walked out of the alleyway, staring across the boulevard.
couple’s car was still parked.
a stakeout for another hour. He smoked, walked to a nearby coffee shop for ten
minutes and bought a newspaper, read the headlines and then came back.
The car was
the man stepped out of his place, and he was not wearing his construction
uniform. Instead, his yellow safety vest was slung over his shoulder. Robert
knew the man was planning on turning his equipment in. There was a spring in
his step as he then got into his car and left.
approached the house, trying to appear inconspicuous, just taking a walk around
the neighborhood like any other commuter or junkie looking to score.
the place, and then briefly stared into the window from a three- yard space.
The girl was there, sitting on her bed and surfing the internet on a laptop. He
watched as she set it aside. Afraid she might see him, Robert ducked behind a
fence situated next to a withered tree.
After a few
more prolonged minutes, the girl stepped out of the apartment. She passed right
by Robert without even glancing at him. Years of service had taught him how to
be covert in the presence of enemies.
Now was his
chance. He did not expect it to come this early, thinking he might have to
stalk them for an additional two or three days, but it was now or never.
looked around cautiously, searching for anyone – dog walkers, joggers,
community patrolmen, anyone – and not seeing them, he scaled the fence and then
landed in the couple’s backyard. He went around to the posterior of the condo,
and then looked in. He could see the living room. Robert smashed the glass with
the butt of his gun after doing another visual perimeter sweep, and safely
crawled inside, avoiding the shattered segments of translucent material.
Once he was
on his feet again, he donned a pair of leather black gloves that had been
resting in the front of his black jeans, and began looting the place.
open drawers, cupboards, entertainment system stands, couch cushions, the
mattress in the bedroom, both closets. There was a book shelf positioned
against the wall next to the kitchen, and he began knocking the paperbacks and
hard covers down to the floor after opening them, fluttering the pages. Robert
then went into the bathroom and started rummaging through the medicine cabinet,
not finding the one thing he was looking for.
He heard a
creaking, shuffling noise coming from the front of the apartment. It was the
sound of the door opening and closing.
locked himself in the nearby closet of the main bedroom.
voice filtered through the ether. “Chris? Chris, where are you? What happened?”
the bedroom. Robert leapt out of the closet, pulling his gun out and pointing
it at her head from a five-foot distance. The woman let out a short scream,
before putting her hands up.
said “You make one more noise, and I swear to God you won’t have a face.”
muffling her own voice and clearly wanting to cry.
the ticket?” Robert asked.
“He took it
with him. It’s in his wallet.”
“When is he
looked at Robert neutrally for a second.
the time to try and protect him,” Robert said. “The best thing you can do is
tell me the truth. If it takes him eight hours to get back, I’ll wait here with
you for eight hours. You try to move, you’re dead. Do what I say, you’ll get
out alive. It’s that simple. So, let me ask the question one more time. When is
he coming back?”
“He said he
was going to work to quit his job today,” she said. “He should be here
more like it. Take a seat.”
did so, sitting on the night stand in the corner.
your name?” Robert asked, keeping the gun level to her.
Lucy, let me tell you something. For such a small, shitty apartment, you sure
do keep it nice.”
of a car pulling up at the front was audible.
the male voice said, “you should’ve seen it. I told Mr. Brooks to fuck off. I
bought some tequila for us, too…hey, wait a minute—”
man rounded the corner gripping a handle of Patron in his left hand, and that
was when Robert took a few steps back and aimed the gun at his head.
Robert said, “move closer to your boyfriend now, or he gets a bullet to the
She did as
was commanded. Meanwhile, the young man just stared at Robert with disbelief.
“What do you
pockets, now. Pull everything out from your wallet. I want that ticket.”
man reached into his right-hand pocket.
out a revolver and aimed it at Robert.
squeezed his trigger. The young man staggered backwards, but not before firing
pummeled backwards, landing on his spine and screaming in agony. He looked
forward and saw the ticket winner do the same. Blackness enveloped him.
at the two dead men. The entire room was covered in blood and all the items
that she and Chris used to own were now splashed in red and scattered in
over to her boyfriend. She went through his pockets, getting his intestinal
fluids on her hands.
looked up and groaned, half conscious. She found the ticket, clutched it
tightly against her chest, as if it was keeping her cool on this hot day. Lucy
then retrieved his car keys.
out of the place and got behind the wheel of her vehicle.
to Mason’s liquor store. Walking in, she saw the clerk, the same one that had
congratulated them on their winnings last night. Today was his final Friday.
over and kissed him. He embraced her kiss, running his hands down her back and
then rested them on her hips.
“I broke up
with him,” she whispered into the clerk’s ear.
“Good. I’ll get started on the flight plans.”
Colt Randy Leasure is an American writer
bouncer. He lives in the Sierra Nevadas.