Trick ‘R Treat Noir At The Quik Mart
by Roy Dorman
Halloween. Next to New Year’s Eve, it’s one of the worst night shifts a convenience store clerk can draw. New Year’s Eve has its sloppy drunks, but Halloween has its masks with the risk of a possible robber in the late night costumed traffic….
As he was ringing up the chips, candy, and soda a group of teenagers had gathered together, Bobby Jenkins saw a van pull into the parking lot with its lights off. His shift had just started, it was 11:15, and it had been dark for a couple of hours. Bobby knew from experience that driving at night with no lights usually meant something was up.
The driver then parked the van about as far away from the front doors of the quick-mart as it could be parked. Whoever was driving backed it into a spot in the corner of the lot so the front of the van was facing the parking lot’s exit.
Hmmm, that guy probably thinks he’s gonna park there overnight. That asshole, Eddie, will rat me out if he comes onto the morning shift with that van sitting there.
Bobby bagged the teenagers’ purchases and they headed out the door, pushing and shoving each other good-naturedly. He could tell by their eyes they were higher than kites and he wished he could go with them to the Halloween party they were all excited about.
Being an adult was new to Bobby and most of the time he wasn’t liking it very much. But this job did have some perks.
As if he had been waiting for the teenagers to leave, the driver of the van got out and started toward the quick-mart’s front doors. Just then a car turned into the lot and pulled right up to the front doors. The guy from the van stopped, hesitated for a second, and then walked back and got into the van.
Now that didn’t look good at all. Better keep an eye on that one.
The new customer, a young woman who had been in the store before, set two six-packs of beer on the counter. She was dressed in a revealing witch outfit that Bobby thought was quite fetching.
“I need a pack of those generic menthols, too,” she said.
“Gotta see some ID,” said Bobby.
“Like I’m somehow gonna be younger than the last time you checked me.”
Bobby thought checking the IDs of young women was one of the interesting parts of the job. Some of them he knew from high school so he knew how old they were, but the law’s the law is what Bobby told them.
After showing Bobby her ID, Catherine Risser, 1315 North Washington Avenue, Apt.3B, looked Bobby in the eye and said, “Do have like a storeroom in back where people could have sex?”
“What?” stammered Bobby. He turned a bright red and felt something stirring in his jeans.
“See, my boyfriend’s married,” said Catherine with a smile. “He’s too cheap to get us a room at a hotel and I’m tired of gettin’ laid in the back seat of his car.”
Bobby wasn’t sure if Catherine Risser, Apt 3B, was jerking him around, but he recovered nicely. “We do have one, but the back seat of your boyfriend’s car would seem like the Hilton compared to that nasty storeroom.”
“Forget it. See ya next time. Trick ‘R Treat.”
Bobby watched her cute butt as she left the store. The storeroom actually wasn’t all that nasty, and it did have a cot that the manager sometimes napped on, but he wasn’t about to have Catherine Risser, Apt 3B, start bringing some guy in here to have sex.
The electronic chime brought Bobby out of his thoughts and a rather rough looking guy in a black trench coat walked up to the register. The guy had a tan nylon stocking pulled over his face and a porkpie hat perched on the top of his head. Bobby tried to remember if the guy in the van had been wearing a trench coat when he had started toward the store earlier.
“Gotta restroom?” the guy mumbled through the mask.
“Yeah,” Bobby said, motioning toward the back. “Here, you need a key.”
The guy took the key without saying another word and walked toward the back of the store.
Shit, I forgot all about watching the damn van.
Bobby hoped that more customers would come in before the guy from the van, if he was the guy from the van, finished up in the restroom. It was now close to midnight and he should get the usual bar time rush soon.
Two middle school-aged girls dressed in Little League Baseball outfits came in laughing and talking loud. They bought chips and soda and were stoned like the earlier group.
Halloween and everybody’s high except me.
The kids left and still there was no sign of the man who had gone back to the restroom. The door chimed again and Bobby once again cursed himself for not watching the van.
A youngish woman in Goth-type clothes and heavy make-up walked up to the counter. Bobby wondered whether maybe this was the person from the van and the guy in the restroom was just a walk-in from the street.
“Where is he?” she asked.
“Where’s who?” Bobby answered, knowing the only “he” had to be the guy in the restroom.
The woman pulled out a small caliber pistol and pointed it at Bobby. “Don’t mess with me, asshole. The guy who walked in here earlier; where is he?”
“The restroom; it’s back there,” said Bobby pointing to the back of the store.
Pointing the gun in the general direction of the restroom, the woman fired a single shot. “Get out here, Lenny. We gotta talk.”
Holy shit, this one’s drugged up too, but not on pot or acid. More likely crack or meth.
The guy who must be Lenny started toward the front. Bobby noticed he had taken off the nylon stocking mask. Bobby thought that might mean something.
“Hey, Candy, I thought you were going to wait in the van.”
“Yeah, but you left your phone on the dash and you got a text from somebody named Rosie. And then a file came with some pictures of Rosie naked holding a fuckin’ jack-o-lantern. You’ve got quite a few files on your phone of Rosie playing dirty. What’s up with that?”
Lenny had his hands lifted slightly in the air as Candy had the pistol pointed at his chest.
“Hey, it’s my phone and it’s my business; you don’t own me.”
“Yeah, well I do own this .22,” Candy slurred. She then shot Lenny in the shoulder, knocking him into a Halloween candy display.
While Bobby had been taking in all this drama, he had carefully removed the quick-mart’s pistol from the drawer below the cash register. When Candy turned and pointed the gun at him, he shot her once in the forehead. Her own gun went off as she fell, but the shot didn’t come anywhere Bobby.
All right! Bobby, the Hero of the Halloween Night Shift!
Candy was the third person Bobby had shot in the eight months he had been working at the quick-mart. Thanks to the EMTs, the other two had survived, but Candy was quite dead. It was all on the security camera tape, so he knew he wouldn’t have a problem. As far as job perks went, Bobby thought that shooting bad guys was right up there with checking young women’s IDs.
Bobby pulled out his phone to call 911. Looking out the store windows into the parking lot, he was surprised to see a man burst out of the van holding a pistol.
Hot damn! This ain’t over yet. Van Guy is finally gonna make an appearance. Probably thinks he can grab some cash before the cops get here.
Bobby put his phone down and dropped behind the counter just before the man from the van hit the front door.
“Freeze, scumbag!” Bobby shouted, as Van Guy was faced away from him, surveying the scene.
“Police Officer; put down that weapon!” yelled Van Guy, turning slowly toward Bobby. “I just got a call that Candy Wilson and Lenny Drake were in here. We were expecting them to hit someplace in this part of the city tonight. I was out there on a stakeout when I heard the shots.”
“So what took you so long,” said Bobby, not dropping his aim from Van Guy’s chest.
“When I heard the shots, I called for backup.”
Bobby started to lower his gun, but saw Van Guy look at something over his shoulder. He whirled around but was a second late; Lenny grabbed Bobby’s gun with one hand and hit him twice in the face with the other.
As Bobby lay on the floor pretending to be unconscious, he heard Lenny and Van Guy going out the door complaining about what a fucked-up mess this turned out to be for a little cash, some cigarettes, and some beer.
Though his mouth was filling with blood from a broken nose, Bobby, on the other hand, thought it had been an excellent night. He couldn’t wait to go over the security camera tape with the police tomorrow. And he was already hoping he drew this shift next Halloween.
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Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in One Sentence Poems, Cease Cows, Theme of Absence, Flash Fiction Press, The Creativity Webzine, Birds Piled Loosely, Black Petals, Mulberry Fork Review, Shotgun Honey, Near To The Knuckle, Cheapjack Pulp, Yellow Mama, and other sites. Roy is the submissions editor at Yahara Prairie Lights, an online literary site.