Convenience Store by Jerome McFadden.

Patel could feel something was wrong when the two men walked in to the store. One wore a black stocking cap that was inappropriate for the warm summer evening and the other had on a "do" rag that made him look mean. They fooled around the magazine rack, flipping through the girlie magazines and whispering, then walked slowly up to the counter.

"Can I help you?" Patel asked.

"Carton of Marlboro's," the first man said.

The second man pulled up his t-shirt to reveal a gun wedged between his bell and blue jeans and added, "And all of the money you got in the cash register."

"T-There isn't much money in there," Patel said, trying to stay calm. "Fifty dollars, not more. It's been a slow night."

"You're lying, Bro. We seen people coming in and out all night."

Patel gave a timid shrug. "It ain't my money and I am not going to get shot over it but it's been nickel and dime all night. I just don't want you to be disappointed. It ain't worth an armed robbery charge."

The man pulled the gun out of his pants and waved it vaguely in front of Patel as if clearing the air in front of them, "Why don't you let us worry about that?"

Patel nodded and hit the release button on the cash register just as the bell at the front of the door jingled again. Patel, Stocking Cap, and Do Rag all turned to stare at the other two men walking into the convenience store.

Stocking Cap glared at Do Rag and whispered, "I told you the lock the damn door after we came in."

"You didn't tell me a fucking thing," Do Rag whispered back.

Patel raised his hands from the cash register and was barely able to squeak out, "W-What do you want me to do?"

"We're gonna step over there, behind that aisle and wait. You take their money and get them the hell out of here. And remember, we got guns."

"Like I would forget."

"Don't be a smart ass, boy!"

Patel quietly closed the cash register. Stocking Cap and Do Rag stepped around the aisle as the other two men came up to the counter.

Patel managed to control his voice, "M-May I help you?"

"A carton of Marlboro's."

"And all of the money you got in the cash register."

"I, uh, I think you might want to talk to those two guys."

"Talk to who?"

"To us, asshole."

"Who the hell..." but the man stopped when he saw two guns coming around the aisle. But his friend was quicker and pulled out a gun that was stuffed between his jeans and the small of his back, yelling, "I will cap your ass, you motherfuckers!"

Patel ducked under the counter as the guns went off. The sound was stunning and the acrid smell of cordite instantly filled the small store but apparently no one was hurt as no one yelled or screamed or fell down and there was the sound of multiple feet scrambling away in different directions to hide behind different aisles.

"We were here first, Motherfuckers."

"Big fucking deal."

Someone fired again and there was a crash of glass in the frozen food section. Someone shot back, causing a crash of glass at the front door.

"The man says there ain't but fifty dollars in the till," Stocking Cap yelled.

"Well, It's our fifty dollars, asshole."

"Then step right up and get it, dumb shit. It will the last fifty dollars you will ever see."

"We got all night and probably a lot more ammunition than you got."

There was a long silence as both sides glanced at their watches and counted their bullets.

"Fifty dollars? We could split it four ways. Twenty-five dollars each!"

"What are you? One of them dumb fucks that got left behind?"

That merited another shot, which splattered a five pound sack of Gold Medal flour. One of men near the front door yelled, "Don't try to outflank us, you stupid mofos, 'cause we watching for it."

"Keep watching, asshole."

There were now car sirens off in the distance but it was difficult to tell if they coming to the store or not.

"You had better not called the cops, boy, or all four of us will cap your ass."


"You hear me, boy?"

"Asshole probably fainted."

The sirens were coming closer.

"Somebody's gotta make a move here!"

More silence, then the men at the front door shouted, "OK, don't shoot. We're gonna back out. You can have the money and the fucking cops, too."

"I'll shoot you if I wanna shoot you," Stocking Cap yelled but he couldn't see the two behind the outside aisles. The entry bell jingled again to tell everyone that they were out the door and gone. Do Rag started after them but Stocking Cap grabbed his arm, "They may be out there, waiting for us, Bro. We grab the money and go out the back door."

They crept around the counter, expecting to see Patel huddle on the floor but he was not there. And the cash register was empty. And the back door was open. Stocking Cap and Do Rag stared at each other, realizing what had happened, and starting to get pissed about it just as the cops came through the front and back doors yelling, "DROP YOUR GUNS AND GET DOWN, GET DOWN."

The newspaper reported the next morning that two men had been arrested in the hold up attempt and another two were still being sought. It also reported that nearly two hundred dollars was taken from the cash register. Amin Patel, the store clerk, was quoted in the article as saying he had no idea which pair took it.

Jerome McFadden lives just outside of Philadelphia and has an extensive background as a free-lance journalist but is just now turing to fiction. This is one of his first efforts.


David Barber said...

For a first time attempt at flash fiction, this is a gem of a tale. There are a few things going on in this story and you kept it going along smoothly. Great dialogue, and sharp writing. Well done Mr Patel for getting something out of it! I really enjoyed this, Jerome. Come back soon!

Thomas Pluck said...

Well done, Jerome. I like the clever cashier in this one. So many stores getting robbed ... it was bound to happen, two crews robbing the same one!

li said...

Holy cow! I'd never believe this was a first attempt, it's better than 1/2 the stuff out there! Funny too, especially splitting the 50 bucks 4 ways. I loved this.

Christopher Pimental said...

"Patel", I love it. Most woulda' been too scared to "offend" anyone these days. Screw that. Good job.

Chris Gordon said...

Funny as hell. I could really see this happening.

Sue H said...

Ace! Double double cross ....!

Brilliant, Jerome! Surely we'll be seeing more of your work and this is a very fine start.

Bill Baber said...

nice debut-nice double cross. keep it up!!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Jerome, great job on this. Reminded me of Worlds Dumbest criminals. The Patel character was awesome and i love how he outfoxed them all.

Trey R. Barker said...

World's Dumbest Criminals...exactly what I was going to say! Funny stuff, made me snort my morning soda. Thanks for the read.

Benjamin Sobieck said...

I have a soft spot for flash fiction at gas stations, and this one hit every mark for me. Bravo, Jerome, keep writing.

AJ Hayes said...

Some were out gunned. Some were outsmarted. One ran out the back door with the cheese. Wonder how the cops got 'em cuffed up between their howls of laughter. Cool.

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