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Trevor Nelson
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companypolicy.jpg
Art by Sean O'Keefe 2014

It’s Company Policy

Trevor Nelson

 

Tanya was thinking about what a worthless piece of shit her husband was when a man wearing a ski mask shoved a pistol in Keisha’s face. He dropped a brown paper sack on the counter, the kind of sack that Tanya packed Jimbo’s lunches in when he actually worked.

 “Oh Lord! Oh Lord!” Keisha said and flailed her arms, backstroking through the air. Her right hand slapped the Tex Burgers visor from her head. It ricocheted off a tray of apple turnovers.

      “Put the money in the bag, bitch.” The guy stabbed the gun at the register. Then he aimed at Keisha’s face.

 “Give him the money, Keisha,” Tanya said. The man glared at Tanya. She held up her hands, palms out, in surrender.

 Tanya’s training kicked in—give a thief the cash; don’t fight unless your life or your employees’ lives are in imminent danger. That was the company policy according to the video she’d watched during manager’s training.

 Tanya wasn’t sure if their lives were in imminent danger. She glanced over her shoulder to check on Cornelius. He stood with his legs crossed, his ass planted on the wall. A Smartphone glowed in his hand. Nice, Tanya thought. We’re being robbed, and he’s texting his pals.

 Keisha opened the register and crammed an entire day’s receipts into the bag. It wasn’t much. Maybe a couple grand. But it could be a huge score for some people. This guy was willing to risk prison for it. Tanya wouldn’t risk jail over that little bit of cash. How much would it take? Twenty? Fifty Grand? Fifty grand would probably work. Her Tex Burgers life insurance policy paid that much if she or Jimbo got killed. But she wasn’t about to die over the restaurant’s money.

“Please don’t kill me,” Keisha said, pushing the bulging sack across the counter. “I have a son.”

 The man stuffed the money into his jacket. “I’m feeling nice tonight, bitch. So I’m gonna let you live.” He pocketed the gun and strolled out of the restaurant.

 Keisha clutched her chest and slid to the floor.

 When the paramedics and detectives left, Cornelius locked the doors. “Did you tell the cops who did it?” he said.

 “I didn’t recognize him.”

 “Seriously?” Cornelius said, his brows arched. “That was totally Keisha’s boyfriend, Marcus.”

 “You think?”

 “Those weak red sneakers? That lame dollar sign belt buckle? And he sounded like Marcus doing a bad Cookie Monster impersonation. Plus, my little brother has the same Airsoft pistol.”

 “It was fake?”

 “Hell, yeah.”

 “You think he knows that we recognized him?”

 “So what if he does?”

 “He might come back or send someone to kill the witnesses.”

 “You watch too many movies.”

***

When Tanya walked into her apartment, Jimbo lay on the couch in the same spot where he’d lain that morning. Tanya grimaced. “Worthless sonofabitch jerks off and stuffs his face with Cheetos all day while I bust my ass,” she muttered. She dropped her purse on the table and said, “We got robbed.”

 “No shit?” he said, staring at the TV.

“I wanna quit.”

  “You can’t quit.” He pulled his hand out of his sweatpants and scratched his gut. His fingers were orange. “You just need to be careful, baby. Pack that chrome .22 your daddy gave you.”

 “I’m not carrying a gun at work. I’m quitting.”

  “Yeah right. How’re we gonna pay rent?”

 “Get off your ass and make some money.”

 “You know my back’s fucked up.”

 “Whatever.”

 Tanya lifted his feet off the couch and dropped them on the floor.

 “Hey,” Jimbo said, glaring at her. “The hell’d you do that for? I was comfortable.”

 “Shut up.”

 Tanya collapsed on the end of the couch where Jimbo’s feet had been. “You’ve been comfortable for way too long. It’s time for you do some work.”

 “You know I can’t. Dr. Mahmud said so.”

 “I got something you can do. Something easy.”

 ***

 A month later, an evidence tech held a shell casing between the thumb and forefinger of his latex-gloved hand. He crouched in front Tex Burgers’ counter. A dead man lay at his feet. The corpse wore a black ski mask, sweatpants, and orange Crocs. A thickening pool of blood haloed his head. A toy pistol lay next to the curled orange fingers of his right hand.

         “An Armscor .22,” the tech said and dropped the casing into an evidence bag.

        Detective Forman nodded. He sat at a nearby table with Tanya. Cornelius stood across the room texting, facing the window, waiting for his turn with Forman.

         “You ever see the guy before?” Forman said and brushed apple turnover crumbs from his chest. Frosting clung to the tips of his moustache hairs.

         Cornelius stopped texting. His reflection on the window watched Tanya.

         “I don’t recognize him. He had a British accent.”

         Forman grunted and scribbled a note on his pad.

         “You shot him once, right?”

         “Yeah,” Tanya said. “In the face. Me and `Nelius were in imminent danger. I had to shoot. It’s company policy.”

         Forman, eyes wide, leaned back in his chair.

         Cornelius dropped his head and resumed texting.





Trevor Nelson lives and writes from Rockford, Illinois. You can find his work on Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, MicroHorror, and The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly

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