“Crime in our town has gone up for the seventh straight month. Police are at a loss for the reason. They are warning all citizens to be on their guard.”
“Hopefully, not too much on their guard,” Spencer said with a chuckle. He turned off the radio as he sat in his pickup truck. His eyes were trained on the liquor store as he watched the only remaining customer leave.
“It’s show time,” Spencer said to himself as he put on a black ski mask. As he walked across the empty parking lot toward the store, the young man felt powerful, in complete control of his destiny.
As Spencer entered the store, he spotted the cashier behind the counter, looking down at a magazine. “Get your hands up!” Spencer shouted, pointing a gun at the cashier, Tom.
Tom’s eyes bulged out as he raised his shaking arms in the air. “Please, don’t shoot.”
“You do what I say and I won’t,” Spencer said. “Keep your hands where I can see them at all times. Go over to the front door and lock it.” With perspiration dripping down his face, Tom slowly walked over to the front door and locked it. At Spencer’s order, Tom drew the blinds on the large window so no one could see inside and then he flipped the small sign around to show “closed.”
“Okay, back to the cash register,” Spencer said, gesturing with his gun. “Hey, old man,” Spencer said as Tom walked back behind the counter. “Don’t be a hero and try anything, alright.” He tossed him a bag. “Open the register and fill it.”
Tom worked quickly, stuffing all of the bills in the bag. As soon as he was done, he lifted his hands back in the air.
“The bills under the tray too,” Spencer said, dipping his head. As Tom lifted the tray to reveal larger bills, Spencer glanced at his stop watch. The plan was for the whole job to take less than five minutes. It had been a minute and thirty five seconds. “You’re doing a great job, old man.”
“I’ve had practice. This is the third time this year we’ve been robbed.”
“You own this place?” Spencer asked. Tom shook his head. “Then what are you whining about?”
Tom wanted to tell the gunman about the nightmares he has had since the last hold up. He wanted to tell him, due to the recent crime spree, how he did not feel safe any more. But most of all, he wanted to tell him how his heart beat so quickly he worried he was about to have a heart attack. But, he tempered these thoughts, remained quiet, and stuffed the last bill in the bag.
“Good, but that’s not all of it. Take me to the safe.” Tom hesitated. “Now!” Spencer shouted.
Tom led him to the back of the store. He unlocked the door which revealed a safe and began to work the combination. Within a minute, he had opened the safe and began dumping the cash contents into Spencer’s bag.
“So, all told, how much you think we got in the bag?” Spencer asked.
Tom put the last stack of bills in the bag before pausing to think. “That’s got to be over three grand.”
Spencer looked at his stop watch and smiled. “Not bad for three minutes and fifty seconds of work.” The $3,000 pay day may seem small, but he needed that money badly. Spencer grabbed the bag full of money and instructed Tom to lie face down on the floor and count to a thousand. “If you want to stay alive, don’t get up until you reach a thousand.” With that, Spencer closed the door and headed out.
As the door closed, Tom’s body relaxed. The door locked automatically when it closed, so he was safe. An overwhelming sense of relief came at the realization that he survived another armed robbery. He felt proud about how coolly he handled himself, although bitter to be put in that position again. He wondered whether the young gunman would ever understand what he put his victims through.
Spencer raced out the front door of the store. Luckily, there was no one around to even try to stop him. The parking lot was completely empty. “Wait a minute,” Spencer thought. “The parking lot is too empty.” He stopped and his jaw dropped. He clutched his chest, feeling his rapidly beating heart. “No!” he shouted in disbelief, feeling like he was about to have a heart attack. His $15,000 truck…. stolen.