Wally finished cleaning up the slushie machine. If there wasn’t anything interesting on the little portable TV kept by the cash register, he would occupy himself by doing various odd jobs around the store. It got boring after ten o’clock in the evening on a weeknight. By that time, the high school kids were usually at home and anybody coming in was doing shift-work.
He looked at the clock. It was just after 11. Should he dump the pot of coffee? Why not wait until eleven thirty? You never can tell if a late night trucker may pass through on his way to who knows where and would need some caffeine to go along with a sugar fix, the sure-fire nighttime recipe for staying awake. Besides, Wally’s shift was over at midnight and Burt would want coffee when he came in to take over. Of course, he’d want to make a fresh pot. Leave it up to him.
Wally looked over at his schoolbooks. Doing algebra problems didn’t seem appealing. He was in his last year of high school and was planning to head off to university next year but so far, his grade point average was good so he wasn’t too worried about getting in. He walked over to the magazine rack and looked over the selection. National Enquirer? Nah, too dumb. Time? A tad too heavy for this late at night. People? Why not? That seemed mindless enough. He fished out a copy, went back to the counter, and idly thumbed through the pages. Maybe there were pics of hot chicks.
Lloyd, felon, ne’er-do-well and drug dealer extraordinaire had taken half a tab of Ecstasy a few hours back and was a little stoned. However he had also smoked a joint and man, that shit was good. Unfortunately, he was now as hungry as hell and he noted that he was low, very low on funds. What to do? He was supposed to furnish two junior pinheads with goodies for an up-coming weekend party, but they weren’t due to show up until after midnight. Maybe he could go out and score a snack to tide him over.
He put on his jacket, stuffed a baggie of tabs into the inside pocket then as a safety measure, got out his gun from his duffel bag. He didn’t always walk around with it, but he thought that if he was carrying product, he should also carry back up. A couple of years ago, some yahoos recognised him and stole his stash off him after beating him up. Ever since then, he decided that if he was going to continue in this line of work, he would be better off coming to the table with his own “muscle”. The piece cost him but what’s the price of peace of mind?
He walked across the parking lot of the motel and started down the side of the main road. There had to be something along here. A couple of cars drove by. He looked away to avoid staring directly into the headlights. He crossed in front of a pizza outlet and thought that a pepperoni and mushroom would be nice. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough money. He would have to be content with something less expensive. Damn, it was always the money. If he had enough of that, all of his other problems would nicely fall into place. Isn’t that always how things go?
Down the road, he saw the word Convenience on a sign. How convenient was that? He started walking a little brisker now that his goal was in sight. He walked up to the front, pulled open the door and took a pace inside. He stopped sizing the place up. He realized the entire store was empty except for a high school kid behind the counter watching a miniature TV. This presented an idea. How much money would such a store have on site? It was toward the end of the evening, supposedly the end of the shift, so this would be the time when one would find the most amount of money in the till.
Wally had glanced briefly in Lloyd’s direction when he came in the door, but turned back to his mag engrossed by pics of the new up-coming starlets of Hollywood. He was so engrossed, he didn’t get what the stranger at the counter said. Wally looked away from the hot babe and turned toward him. “May I help you?”
Wally looked at the man who remained silent. He then realized the man was holding his hand out. He had a gun. What the hell?
“Give me the money,” said Lloyd.
Wally stared at the gun.
“Give me the money,” said Lloyd. “Open the till and hand it over.” Lloyd hadn’t planned this, but seeing that the place was empty and there was only this punk high school kid to deal with, it seemed to be too easy to pass up. However, this kid didn’t seem to be getting the message. I’ve got the gun; you do what I say; no questions asked.
Wally was stunned. It seemed completely surreal. Don’t people get held up in the movies and on television? What to do? Give up and hand over the cash? Fight this guy? But he had a gun. Brother, what a predicament. I’m not going to complain about a boring evening again.
Wally’s cell phone rang. It was at the end of the counter off to one side. Last week, he had played around with the various rings and found something which resembled a space age siren. It was bizarre and loud, but just the thing he needed when he left his phone somewhere and couldn’t able to find it.
The noise distracted Lloyd. His concentration was so focused on Wally; the ring caught him completely by surprise and startled him. He turned his head and sought out the source of the noise not even thinking that it was merely a cell phone. That seemed to be Wally’s opening. He reached out and grabbed the gun trying to wrestle it out of Lloyd’s hand. Even though the ring had taken Lloyd aback, he was still holding onto the gun tightly and his attention quickly came back to the matter at hand. Wally was twisting the gun to the right so Lloyd pulled back trying to get the end of it out of Wally’s hand. This pulled Wally forward and over the counter. Lloyd then twisted the gun to the left and there was a loud bang. Lloyd froze. Wally froze. The entire struggle came to a dead halt as both of them grasped what had taken place.
Lloyd looked down and could see a growing red stain on the lower part of Wally’s shirt. Wally had let go of the gun. He groaned as he exhaled. He reached down to hold his hand over his stomach then brought it up to look at the blood on it. Stepping back, he looked directly at Lloyd. He put his hand back on his stomach and with his back flush up against the wall, he slowly slide down until he sat on the floor. “Oh,” he said. He stared ahead glassy eyed.
Lloyd came around the counter and looked at him. He then went to the till and punched the keys until he got the tray to open. He pocketed his gun and used both hands to gather up all of the bills and change. Stuffing everything into his pockets, Lloyd turned around and stepped over Wally. He took a last look at him and said, “Stupid fuck.” He left the store and headed back down the street.
Wally sat on the floor for the next forty minutes by himself. At the twenty-five minute mark, a customer drove in and filled his car up. He paid by credit card at the pump and never came in the store. He did notice that nobody was at the counter at that particular moment but what business was it of his? Burt came in to relieve Wally at fifteen minutes to midnight and found him behind the counter in a pool of blood. At the moment Burt phoned 911, Wally had already been dead for ten minutes. He had bled out sitting on the floor.
Lloyd stopped at the pizza parlour and picked up his favourite, pepperoni and mushroom. It had cost only $9.95, which left a little more than forty dollars from his take at the store. Lloyd would have sworn there would have been more money in the till than that but said to himself something was better than nothing.
Lloyd was back in his motel room watching a movie on TV and working on the last slice of pizza when the police kicked in his door. Three cops burst into the room with revolvers drawn when Lloyd was holding the pizza slice with both hands up to his mouth. Wisely, Lloyd didn’t resist. With a murder being reported, nobody was going to take the slightest chance with any suspect and the three cops would have been asking Lloyd their questions after not before.
Two of them cuffed Lloyd and bundled him into a cruiser while the third did a quick search of the room and turned up the gun. Thanks to a witness across the street from the store, the police were able to quickly zero in on the motel. Two cops stood outside the motel door looking at Lloyd sitting in the back of the police car.
“Fifty bucks,” said the first cop. “That’s all he got.”
“What a moron,” said the second. “Hell, if you’re going to shoot somebody, do it for a million bucks, not for fifty. Christ, he’ll be lucky if he ever sees the light of day again.” The store’s video tapes recorded the entire shooting. Lloyd’s attorney had nothing to argue other than to try to seek clemency.
William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn’t been able to attribute to anyone: “A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem.”
You will find Mr. Belle’s unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).