Summary: After losing a big amount of money to gambling, Alec finds himself shoplifting in a thrift shop that reminds him of the old times with his buddy Jayden. Caught while shoplifting, Alec is told that he can get away with what he’s done only in one condition.
IT WAS THE SOUND OF THE DICES ROLLING THAT KEPT HIM GOING. Questions popped into his head a few times, sure. But, the scent of triumph… he kept moving forward to see if he could smell it better if he put his money on the desk for the sixth time. The house always wins, but he kept going anyway.
“Come on,” Alec said prior the rolling of the dices. “Give daddy a win tonight.”
The win wasn’t his to have, anyway. It wasn’t the belonging of the old lady that kept looking at him funny the whole set either. Maybe if Alec was a good decision maker, he wouldn’t lose a big amount of money that night. Maybe if Alec knew better, the house wouldn’t win over him yet again.
After taking a flight back to Salt Lake City, Alec finds himself walking without any baggage on the sidewalk across his old high school. Looking at his past, memories start striking. He remembers Lea, his high school sweetheart. He remembers Jayden, his buddy that he lost on the Trolley Square Shooting almost 10 years ago. He also remembers the time he popped Lea’s cherry on the supply room near the teacher’s lounge. That time was adventurous for him. He starts reflecting and asking, “why did everything turn into this?” The night is so cold, his brown curly is blown by the wind, the trees keep waving, it’s like a movie. Memories keep striking until he passes the street.
It is late at night when he sees a thrift shop. There is something unusual about the thrift shop, Alec thinks. It’s not the way the sign pointing out the wrong way, it’s not because of its odd colored walls either. Something reminds Alec of the thrift shop he used to do his shoplifting with Jayden back in high school.
Curiosity may kill a cat, but Alec enters the shop anyway. Alec’s heart is racing. Adrenaline is rushing in his body as he is about to wander around the shop. This time, the owner knows his existence. It’s not sneaking in while Jayden is distracting the owner like he did back in high school.
“Welcome, sir,” the owner greets.
Alec doesn’t really respond to her; he barely notices. He keeps walking and pretend browsing. Adrenaline is already rushing, he thinks, so he picks the priciest and the tiniest item in one of the cabinets. It was an old pocket watch like his grandfather used to have. So, he knows, it costs an arm and a leg.
He puts it in his pocket. He starts acting ordinarily before walking out of the shop. This time, there is no Jayden to sidetrack the owner. He kept walking until he hears the owner’s low, tender voice calling him.
“Sir?” She said surprisingly “I’m sorry did you just take an item off the shelf?”
“Umm, I, uh…” Alec’s speechless.
There’s a lot going on in his mind at this point. He feels as if he’s damned. He feels as if he’s the unluckiest person in the whole city. At this point, he pities himself, just like he does every time he lost a lot of money to gambling.
It’s late at night. He thinks maybe it’s okay for him to run away. Maybe the police won’t find him. There’s no surveillance camera whatsoever, maybe it’s the best moment for him to run, he thinks. As he’s about to run, the owner stops him with a single word.
“Wait!” The owner said. “I won’t tell the police. You can keep the item you stole too.”
“What?” Alec replies.
“Just… help me out. Put these banners on the walls, will you?” Her finger points out the banners on the floor as she continues talking. “I won’t call the police I promise.”
“Uh… alright.” Alec replies anxiously.
Alec moves his feet near the ladder. On his way to the top of the ladder, the owner lends him one of the banner and the tools. ‘Good Friday Discounts! 20% Off!’ is written on it.
“It’s a big one…” Alec tries to break the ice.
“Indeed.” The owner replies. “Can you move a little bit to the right?”
“Oh, yeah. Sure…”
While he’s nailing the wall. He suddenly thinks about that time Jayden nailed the walls of Mr. Johnson’s house. It was just for fun. It is the thought of being stupid with him that calms him down right now. The vibe is still bizarre, though. But, knowing the memories won’t leave him, he thinks it’s probably going to be just fine.
“Okay. Thanks…” The owner says. “You can go now.”
“But…” Alec says while pointing out to the rest of the banners. “What about the others?”
“It’s alright. I just need you to nail down that one.” The owner replies.
As he is taking steps down the ladder, he looks at the owner eyes. She reminds him of someone. It’s not a strange looking lady, he thinks. But there’s something about her, and the vibe she gives tries to tell him something. He’s trying to remember that time when he…
“What are you looking at?” The owner says. “You can go now, shoo!”
“Uh… Okay…” He says as he’s still trying to catch a glimpse of the lady’s face while on his way out.
Out of the shop, he’s walking back home. It’s very late at night, and there’s a movie premiere he should attend to. A good night sleep would be very nice for him, he thinks. After walking for a while, he keeps walking, and walking, until he stops across his old high school. It’s weird. He’s passed this street already. Maybe it’s because of the jetlag he’s still having, or so he thinks.
He continues walking, this time he’s completely focused. It’s been strange. After a couple of shitty days in Atlantic City all he wants is just to hit the sack, put his losses to rest. That is what he’s trying to do now.
“Maybe it can’t get any weirder than this,” he thinks.
As he continues walking, he notices how there are drips of blood marking his steps. It’s from his right foot. He doesn’t feel anything. And just when he thought the night can’t get any weirder, he sees his right foot to find out that the pinky toe goes missing.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- L.D. character from One More Thing by Raymond Carver
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” by The Killers
- “Sins of My Youth” by Neon Trees
- “Restless” by New Order
- “Mr. Johnson’s Lawn” by Terrence Howard
Word count: 1058 words