He walks down the corner, in his tailor-made suit, stripped corporate tie, loosely zipped khakis, and drunken demeanour. Someone like him isn’t usually seen around these parts of town, though it’s perfectly possible he was just dragged off here. There is no suitcase, no bulge in his pants – where the wallet would be – that can be seen, and no expensive tacky hat. Good chance he got drunk and started roaming about, got sucked off and swindled into the street tonight. There are always plenty of those people around, ready to strip the likes of him down to his underwear if they have to.
He continues the stroll across the dark alley. It’s quiet, unnaturally so. He soon breaks into what can only be rationalised as a concussion, in the eyes of sober people. Hard to say how aware he is, but it’s also nothing that haven’t been seen before.
As if he’s just found a million dollars, the man’s eyes light up. He seems to be drawn into the streets for whatever reasons, and decides to leave his crazy dance routine behind. Stepping onto the pothole-ridden roadside, he wildly grabs onto a street light. Lucky for the man, no vehicle dares operate around these parts during late hours. None can blame them, as they’re all just people with lives to keep and families to take care of. Who can be bothered to protect a neighbourhood that simply doesn’t appreciate the attention?
The man unbuckles his pants, and pisses on the road side. If one lacks enough dignity to look at his face, one will find it to be one full of satisfaction. At this point, a question should be asked as to what other kinds of substance he has to have consumed by this point. One wonders if he’s even remotely trying to get back home.
No inquiry is required, as the man forgoes his lovely metal pole, now defiled by the stench of utter deprecation, and heads towards the only convenient store still open around the block at this hour. He seems drawn to the light, more than anything else. What can he possibly want from a store at this hour, especially since he doesn’t seem to carry a single penny on him? Perhaps he just finds the flashing light positively endearing, perhaps he feels the sudden urge to eat pancakes worth twenty times his daily calorie intake, or perhaps he likes the face on the store clerk, sullenly tucked away behind the counter.
A voice hoarse with intoxication, barely emitting the required tone to be considered speech, filled with the food from earlier in the night that is ready to be regurgitated. It’s disgusting, and puerile. It’s the kind of sound that can end a marriage if heard late enough into the night, especially coupled by a mistress on the side. It’s the kind of sound that will get someone fired if he is even found near someone who’s heard of such. It’s the kind of sound that will kill cancer, and promptly the cancer patient.
“What do you want?”
“Lookin’ pretty there.” He stumbles about, legs barely keeping up. “’ow about you an’ me go back to m-”
His incoherent and pathetic display of the English language is disrupted by the revolt in his stomach. Clutching it harshly in both hands, the man falls over and unleashes a trail of vomits across the aisle, compliment the other liquid putrid also present atop the ceramic tiles, left by others of the same nightly occupation.
Sounds of camera flashes can be heard, but he’s still too dazed to notice. He seems to enjoy wallowing in his own filth a little too much.
“What’s your name?” He only seems to be half aware of the fact that the store clerk is talking to him. It’s expected.
“Well, Mr. Tory.” There is hardly a lot to say. “You’re leaving, right now.”
It’s about time someone has to kick the man out, might as well be me. It’s a little late, honestly speaking, as his guts is already all over the floor – figuratively speaking – so I’ll have to take care of this mess eventually. Still, I’d rather not have to sweep a body out with the vomit.
“But…” He desperately tries to push himself up. Perhaps throwing up has knocked a bit of sense back into him. “I… can’t.”
I don’t care either way. I have his picture, and photographic evidence of him vandalising this store. It’s easy enough to get him to cough up a decent amount of compensation afterwards, if I care to grease the wheel a little. Tory lifts himself up, just enough so that he could drop his back to the shelf nearby, half-way sitting up.
“I would call you a taxi but…” I take another peer at his possessions. There doesn’t seem to be anything that’s not missing. “You don’t seem equipped for travel.”
He slumps, and passes out. It’s only a matter of time, and I suppose I should have expected it. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. It’s not even the first time this week.
I leave Tory, and return to the counter. He’ll be moved away by sun rise, but I’d also be gone by then. Let morning shift take care of this drunkard, I say. I’d rather have the manager breathing down my neck later than deal with this, not that this job is worth the hassle. I’m just bored more than anything.
Maybe the night isn’t going to end easily.
I see another customer at the door, wrapped in a winter jacket, snow boots, cotton gloves, and a mismatched fume-mask. From the voice, it’s a girl, and a sixteen years old girl at that. It all points to one thing.
“Put your hands up.”
She pulls out a handgun. .32 Calibre Beretta M9, official handgun of the US military. Semiautomatic, tough, durable, and a classic. I have to say I’d be very impressed by the choice of firearm, if only the carrier matches it.
“Oh dear.” I casually throw my hands upwards, and hold them loose by the elbow. “I presume you’re here to rob me?”
“That’s right.” Her voice is shaking. “So stay there or I’ll shoot.”
I watch as she fumbles into the store. She almost trips over the pile of vomit on the floor, and having to awkwardly step over Tony. The kind of get-up she’s wearing surely cannot be comfortable for doing this sort of things. She seems quite confused as to what she’s even here to rob. The only thing she seems to be interested in is frozen dinners, which she hastily grabbed. It takes her quite a bit to handle, since she is still trying to point the gun barrel towards me to be menacing.
“Hey!” She almost screams as she finds out I’ve been moving forward. “Stay where you are!”
“Poor dear.” The most annoyed smirk must be crawling up my face right now. “You seem lost. Do you need an adult?”
“Shut up!” She screeches. “I’m warning you!”
“Or what, you’re going to shoot me?” I pull my arms down and approach her. She’s obviously not prepared for such a sudden turn of events, and rapidly backs off. Soon enough, she has nowhere else to turn to, as I’ve cornered her. “Look at you. You can’t even manage a robbery right.”
“What do you know?” She’s obviously scared, and it only confirms my suspicion. She stares into my eyes, hoping to find a sign of weakness. She won’t find any.
“Look, girl. You think you’re hot shit just because you’re the one with a gun, but let me tell you something.” We are now in extreme proximity. “I know your kind of people. You woke up in the morning, and you curse the world. You think your upper middle-class life isn’t good enough for you. You think you deserve better than what you have, even though your parents try their best to please you. Your dad’s a military man, probably a marine, he never stays home for longer than two weeks. You hated him for it, resented him for twelve years of your life. Then you realised that it’s actually your mom who’s at fault. She doesn’t have a job, and stays at home all day watching soap operas and eats Belgium chocolate, or the terrible Hershey kind when she’s too tired to act pretentious. You also know of the pool boy who comes in a bit too often when you’re not home, only to catch him leaving hastily with what seems like bite marks on his neck. It’s unfair, you scream, and blog about your miserable existence on your Iphone. One day you think you can’t take it anymore. The kid you brought home is hated by your parents, and then left you. You think your life is done, and you have suicidal thoughts. Too bad you can’t afford to carry it out, so you had to find a different outlet to vent your angst. You start to fall in with the less popular. You start saying vulgar things, drinking beer, and smoking weed. You think you’ve thrown your life away. You said ‘fuck it’ and left home, crash at a friend’s house. You don’t have any money, so you crawl back to your parents and ask for it. They got mad, and you stole your dad’s pistol before storming out again. You decide to do an armed robbery, put together by wearing about as much ridiculous clothing that you can muster. You’re now here in this store, in the middle of the night, thinking you can grab an easy meal and go back to your hole. Too bad for you, I’m standing watch tonight.”
The girl’s in complete shock. I silently and gently grabs the top of the gun, and pull it back. There’s no bullet loaded into the chamber, as I expected. No one that has her trigger finger itchy like that actually carries a loaded gun, unless she is insane. In this case, she’s just a teenager. I remove the gun from her hand, and stash it away. She crumbles to the ground, sobbing.
“I’m sorry.” She’s sorry. “Please don’t call the police.”
“What’s your name, girl?” There’s no longer any threat, not that there even has been any. I do somewhat feel bad for her, even though it seems that everything I’ve accused her of being, she is.
“Jenny…” There’s no hint of deception in her words.
“Well, Jenny.” I push the boxed meals she had early onto her. “Take this.”
“Really?” That glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“Think of it as trading for the gun.”
She darts off. The girl isn’t me. She isn’t a lost cause.
I go to Tory, and gave him a light kick. He falls over on the side.
I delete the picture. It’s just one of those nights. I get it. It’s for Jenny as well.
Maybe I’ll also finally feel like leaving this dump.