“It’s totally perfect.” Jed was ripping open a box of Little Debbie brownies in the back room of the Stop & Run, his third in the hour.

“What if someone catches us?” Boner was supposed to be stocking the shelves and Jed was supposed to be home sleeping, but the morning guy didn’t seem to care as long as Jed occasionally came out and gave him an unauthorized smoke break.

“Who the fuck’s gonna catch us? We do it late at night. No one comes in there then. Couple of potheads, drunks, whatever.”


“Then we do it when the cops aren’t around. Duh!”

“So, what? Like tonight?”

Jed shrugged. “Works for me. I start my shift at eleven.”

Five minutes after midnight, Jed was behind the counter. Boner was in the alley, adjusting his Salvation Army ski mask. Afternoon storms had left the air sticky and he was already sweating before he’d pulled the wool over his eyes.

He checked around the corner. No cops. No customers. Just like Jed planned it.

He took a deep breath, touched his dad’s revolver in his pocket, and rounded the corner into the dim streetlight.

Jed had a Budweiser open under the counter and could be seen sipping from it through the triple-paned front window. The security camera over him, they’d discovered, had stopped working three weeks before and the cheap ass owner hadn’t bothered fixing it yet.

When Jed had asked him how that was supposed to make him feel safe, the owner had told him there was a gun under the counter and to man up.

Boner walked in, casually enough, got all the way to the counter before pulling out the revolver and waving it in Jed’s face. “Give me all the money.”

Jed looked at him. “Gotta buy something so I can get the register open.”

Boner picked up a pack of gum and set it on the counter.

Jed punched some keys and the antiquated drawer popped open. “You got a bag you want me to put this in?”

Boner looked over at the money. “Quit being an ass, Jed. Paper. Plastic. Whatever, man.” He was sweating so hard under the mask he was starting to feel sick.

Jed stuffed the money in a plastic Thank You for Shopping bag and handed it over, calm as an ocean breeze.

Boner turned to go and saw Ford headlights coming up the street. “Shit.”

“Run, fucker.”

Boner continued to stand there staring out the window as the car pulled into the lot.

“Get that damn mask off and hide, dumbass.”

Boner walked toward the storage room, knowing damn well it would be locked that time of night.

“Bathroom, retard. Use the girls.”

Boner shuffled down the short hall and went in the women’s restroom and slipped into the first stall. He smelled something foul even through the wool.

Out front, the door chimed and Jed muttered some how-dos.

A few minutes later, the bathroom door opened and hard-soled black shoes walked in. The shoes walked to the far stall. “Ew. Fuck.”

Quiet. His heart pounded in his ears.

Seconds bled into minutes.

Pounding on his stall door. “Hey, buddy. You gonna be in there much longer?”

He swallowed. Waited.

“Hey, you okay in there?”

He thought about trying to answer, but wasn’t sure he could pull off a girly voice.

“Answer me or I’m coming in.” Her voice had lost all hint of concern. “I’m giving you five seconds to answer me.”

He eased the revolver in front of him and pulled back on the hammer with his thumb.

“Three. Four.”

The sound of gunfire bounced off the tile walls and metal stall. He was sure his ears were bleeding.

The shoes on the other side of the door stumbled back, stopped.

He was sure she should have slid down the wall, sat like someone in the movies. He couldn’t hear anything except muffled ringing like being underwater in the town pool.

On the other side of the door, the bullet had hit Officer Modigliani’s vest, stunning her before she reached for her holster and returned fire.