By Colt Leasure
Robert 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.
Robert felt 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
It was 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
Robbing a grocery store was easy, but the getaway would be the difficult
This store, 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.
Robert promised himself
that he would wait until tomorrow night. He was here to get answers to a few questions
now, nothing more.
The first question he needed to answer was how many cameras were
in the shop.
Robert 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.
The second 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.
He stared 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.
“One scratch off ticket,” the young man
said with a tired voice, laying down a twenty-dollar bill.
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
Robert 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.”
The clerk 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.
Robert 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 Ford truck.
Legacy 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
Robert 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.
Whoever had that ticket, Robert thought, was the person
who could go onto the show and spin that wheel.
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.
He stepped 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.
Robert knew 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.
Robert did 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 still there.
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
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
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.
Robert locked himself in the nearby closet of the main bedroom.
female 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
he 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.
ticket?” Robert asked.
“I-I don’t know.”
“He took it with him. It’s in his wallet.”
is he coming back?”
The woman looked at Robert
neutrally for a second.
“Now’s not 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 anytime.”
more like it. Take a seat.”
The woman did so, sitting on the night stand in the
“What’s your name?” Robert asked, keeping the
gun level to her.
“Lucy,” she said.
Lucy, let me tell you something. For such a small, shitty apartment, you sure do keep it
The sound 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 head.”
She did as
was commanded. Meanwhile, the young man just stared at Robert with disbelief.
“What do you
“Empty your pockets, now. Pull everything out from your wallet.
I want that ticket.”
man reached into his right-hand pocket.
He pulled out a revolver and aimed it at Robert.
squeezed his trigger. The young man staggered backwards, but not before firing once, twice.
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 disarray.
over to her boyfriend. She went through his pockets, getting his intestinal fluids on her
Chris 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.
She walked out of the place and got behind the wheel of her vehicle.
drove 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.
Lucy leaned 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 and bouncer. He lives in the Sierra