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Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Poetry March 2011: The Ides Fifty Bucks
Monday, 28 February 2011 23:40

Fifty Bucks

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Fifty Bucks. He says. Fifty fucking dollars, Man. Didn't your fucking mother teach you to read. There is no more than fifty god-damned dollars in here. Not counting the penny cup, there. He points at the gun. Put that shit down. You won't kill me for a fucking video game and some fucking pennies.

Frank pushes the end of the thirty-eight further over the counter. The clerk looks at him, eyes traveling back and forth between the dark opening of the revolver and the dark holes in the center of Frank's eyes.

The clerk, he smiles. It's not even loaded is it, you idiot-shit? He says. You don't think I don't have a Remington twelve gauge back here? Maybe I got a Smith & Wesson three-fifty-seven back here under the Swisher Sweets.
The clerk glances my way. He's not so smart is he? Did he even get you a gun? He asks, but I don't answer him.

He's leaving you to the crows, Kid. He says. He more laughs it. The sound coming out like coughs lined with lung butter.
Frank thumbs the hammer back, says he's seen this shitty movie before. This asshole doesn't have shit back there. If he had firepower back there we wouldn't be having this talk. Besides, he isn't getting near enough money to shoot someone. Frank says, I used to work at one of these slushy stands. Frank says this, laughing. They tell you to just give people the stupid money. Your life is worth more than what's in the store. Blah, blah, blah. Anyone willing to knock over a fucking glorified snack bar might be willing to put a few cents worth of lead into your face. It's all the same propaganda, Dude. It's all scare tactics. There's more than fifty bucks. They got a safe hidden behind that cigarette rack. The poster behind it never changes. You aren't supposed to notice. The money is just hiding in plain sight. Right there is enough money from selling beef jerky to get us to Mexico.

Yeah, that's likely, Asshole. The clerk rolls his eyes a little. Dude, he says, if there was a ton of money behind the Camels, you wouldn't be the first one to think of it, and I mean shit, Kid, the clerk says, I have to piss, you know? That poster isn't all that big, now is it? Say, in all the time I been working here, someone could of taken that small fucking little safe while I was in there taking the Cosby kids to the pool.

Man, he might have a point, Frankie, I say.

No fucking names, Mike! No fucking names. Now I have to kill this shit head.

Neither of them moved.

Then Frank fired off a round into a display of nacho cheese Doritos. Orange crumbs and fake cheese flavor dust floated down the way, you know, that you only see in cartoons. We all just stood there, watching.

Frank yells that he is serious. Real fucking serious, and even if there's only fifty bucks in the whole damn place; even if there's no safe behind the old faded poster of Joe Camel and the Hard Pack. He wants it all.

Yeah, and a box of fucking Butterfingers, I say.

The clerk laughs.

Frank pulls the hammer back, lining it up with another slug. Mike, he says, shut up or I'll plug you a couple times, and tell your mother this dip-shit here did it. He says: The Smitty he's got back there will shoot thirty-eight, too.

It will, he's got a point, the clerk said.

Shut up, Frankie yells. Shut the fuck up. He puts a round into the security monitor behind the clerk. The clerk flinches, just a little at the glass and sparks that spray his back. One piece cuts into his arm, and he pulls it out and drops it on the floor behind the counter.

You boys can leave now, the clerk says, you can leave and I might be nice enough to tell the cops I didn't see your plates. Tell them you're maybe smart enough you taped them over or something. He says these cameras, right? The ones you forgot to shoot out? They don't have sound anyway.

He has a point, Frank. I say. We could make it to Mexico, or at least some other state by the time they clean those tapes up enough to know anything about us.

Fuck, I know he has a point, Frank says. Now shut up before you talk yourself into thinking he's also got the right idea.

Mike, the clerk says, go down isle three and get me some of those off-brand bandages.

While I'm looking around what I suspect can only be isle three, Frank asks me if I hear something. Shit he says, it's sirens. It's the cops he says. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

What the hell did you think would happen? The clerk says. Did you really think that knocking over a seven-eleven was the same as getting a fucking Slurpee?

Outside the window, a cop pulls into the parking lot, blocking our car. Two cops got out and ran to the door.

Come out, they said, and we won't shoot you.

From the front of isle three, staring out the window, I see Frank draw down on the clerk, who reaches under the counter. The counter explodes into splinters and Frank screams, in a way that sounds like every expletive he knows at once. He drops, and between his hands I can see slivers of Formica and blood. Lots of it.

The clerk just stands there as I run over to Frank and lean down next to him.

Butterfingers? He asks, fuck you.

Then the cops are there, or maybe they were the whole time, watching us; watching Frank die.

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Charles King

Charles King breathes in Portland, Oregon. He is also a photographer and activist within the disabled community there.

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