Fiction: Business as Usual

“Aleister, I’m being watched. I’m sure of it.”

“Have dinner in a crowded restaurant, Dana. Then check yourself into a nice hotel room. You’ll be fine.” Impatiently, he ended the call and switched over to music. Queen tonight. Freddy Mercury’s grandiosity suited New York.

Bardem’s Market was the sort of place Aleister could appreciate. In addition to the usual selection of beverages and convenience foods, it stocked a seemingly random array of household items. Duct tape. Putty knives and spackle. Barbecue tongs.  Tiny screws for eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries. They also had a wide selection of candy.

Alcander collected a putty knife, a Rocky Road candy bar and a carton of some off-brand of fortified chocolate milk. The advertising on the carton made a big deal of being higher in protein than regular chocolate milk and the “traditional” carton was eco-friendly. Aleister didn’t care. He wanted chocolate milk and it was the only brand that Bardem’s carried.

That wasn’t all he wanted, but he couldn’t quite decide what else he needed. He would buy scratch cards since he was in a state that had a lottery. He could use the extra cash. But what else? He lingered, as he always did.

The cashier, a balding man, sat behind the counter reading a car magazine. Aleister Luck wasn’t sure if the man had noticed him when he came in and didn’t seem to care if Aleister loitered. There were cameras, but Aleister didn’t look up to see them.

Aleister crouched down to finger a roll of waxed twine when the man walked in and started shouting loud enough that Aleister could hear it over Princes of the Universe.

“Open the register! Open the register!”

Aleister cursed under his breath, a sound that not even he heard over his music. In his lifetime, he had been involved in more robberies than he cared to count. Partly, it was because he liked convenience stores and gas stations. But mostly, this was simply how his life was.

He inferred several things about the situation without moving from his concealed spot. The robber was standing near the counter. He was probably waving a gun at the cashier.

Aleister didn’t fear the robber and his gun, but was dismayed at what this incident indicated about Aleister’s plan for the evening.

Regardless, action had to be taken.

Luck opened the carton of chocolate milk. In one movement, Aleister rose and threw it in the general direction of the counter and the thief’s ski-mask-covered head.

The milk missed the robber. Instead, it hit a magazine rack that sat on the counter. It ricocheted and splattered and fell on the floor.

Yes, the robber definitely had a gun. He pointed it in Aleister’s direction and the cold case behind Aleister exploded. Aleister threw himself to the side. The thief followed. Or rather he tried. The protein-fortified milk was viscous and covered a patch of floor at the thief’s feet. His right foot lost purchase and he fell. His head caught on the edge of counter on the way down and thudded heavily on the floor as he landed. He was out cold.

Aleister collected a second carton of milk from the refrigerated case. He fished a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and put it on the counter. The cashier hadn’t quite recovered. He had popped the register and collected the money. And had most likely triggered a silent alarm.

Aleister deftly avoided the spilt milk and plucked the gun from the man’s hand. He considered for a moment and took the ski mask as well. These were the other things he needed tonight.

The robber wasn’t bleeding; Aleister suspected that he was only suffering from a concussion. While robbery didn’t mark this man as the smartest of the population, Aleister was pleased that the thief had invested in a no-slip grip on his gun. Less finger prints on the handle.

Aleister heaved a sigh.

“It’s going to be a very long night,” he told the cashier as he left Bardem’s.

  • Valerie spoke:
    7th/01/2011 to 10:43 AM

    Business as usual, indeed. I wonder what he’s up to. Also, I now want chocolate milk.

  • John Wiswell spoke:
    8th/01/2011 to 3:42 AM

    Freddy Mercury is suitable everywhere. I would rock out to Queen at the Sistine Chapel.

    Aleister never seems to have short nights…

  • Katherine spoke:
    8th/01/2011 to 9:44 AM

    Truly. Aleister is going to have to crash sometime. Or I need to write in more energy drinks.

  • J. M. Strother spoke:
    17th/01/2011 to 9:49 AM

    Brilliant move, tossing the chocolate milk, though I do mourn the loss of good chocolate milk.

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About This Blog

In July of 2010, Katherine and Eric Nabity began work on a novel featuring Mr. Luck. This blog includes some proof-of-concept vignettes, progress notes, "alternate takes", and commentary on the collaborative process that Eric and Katherine engage in.

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