Moral Dilemmas

It’s Sunday morning. You’re ready for a relaxing day at home but you realize that you’re all out of coffee. You take a quick trip to the grocery store, and while you’re in line to check out, someone comes up behind you and points a gun at the cashier. “Stop what you’re doing. Give me all the money in the register.” What do you do? Do you run or do you stop the robber?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.


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147 thoughts on “Moral Dilemmas

  1. karthik_91

    I was in the super market lobby searching for the coffee. It was very early in the morning and the shop has just opened. After searching a few lanes, finally I found the coffee rack. I grabbed a big sachet and rushed to the counter. But before I reached the counter, I heard a cry from the direction of entrance. I hurried to check and there I saw a guy standing in front of the counter with a gun pointed at the cash counter lady. I started walking slowly towards them without making any noise. The only sound that was prominent in the market was of the counter lady rummaging through the cash drawer to give every last penny. Her face was sweating with tension and when she was done giving all the money, she mustered little courage and said shivering, “There’s nothing left sir… Please don’t kill me”. The robber relooked every corner in the market to make sure that nobody called the police. I was standing behind him and he turned back to complete his survey. Then I saw him. He was my old friend from my childhood. His face was very easily recognizable. Our eyes met, and it was a shock to both of us. His face which was domineering now started to become less dangerous, any one close to him would know that he was feeling guilty. But before anyone noticed the change in his face he took the money and left the shopping mart. I didn’t have get the chance to ask him what this was all about. I knew his nature, he was a very kind hearted guy and this sudden change in him not only shocked me but put me in deep thinking. Is he in some serious trouble? or Is he really a robber? I scowled at myself for the last thought. My heart said that he was in a very desperate need and had no other means of earning quick money. Suddenly I wanted to meet him, talk to him and if possible, help him. I dropped the coffee on the floor and ran towards him. I searched the whole street, it was still empty. I was finally giving up when I saw him hiding behind a wall and looking at me. I ran towards him and this time he didn’t run. I was thinking what should I ask him but before I reached him, he dropped a note on the floor and boarded the car that seemed waiting for him. I ran even faster to catch him. But in seconds he was gone, nowhere near sight.
    I finally went near the wall where he was hiding and took the note he dropped. It said,
    “My dear friend, I didn’t wish you to see me like this”.
    After that day, it remained a mystery to me. I never knew what he was doing or what he is doing now. All I knew was that he was my old friend, a very kind hearted boy and Gopal was his name.

  2. TatorPotato32

    My day went great yesterday I thought to myself, while reaching into the cabinet, going for the coffee but grasping air. I sighed deeply and walked out into the bleak morning, dreading the quick trip to the grocery store. The drive there was hectic, the morning rush was horrible, and I almost got into a multi vehicle accident. When I got to the grocery store I walked straight into the coffee aisle and looked for my regular buy. I trekked back to the cashier and paid for my joe, calmly making my transaction and heading for the automatic doors. I was stopped by a short man blocking me and walking toward the cashier, towards me. He wore a black ski mask, and had a miniature handgun gripped tightly by his white knuckles. He raised the weapon at the employee at the register and barked out a loud command to “give him all the damn money in the register.” The cashier was visibly shaking, but still able to empty the loaded register quickly. I stood paralyzed in fear for a moment, not daring to look into the man’s eyes. He turned to me and pointed the gun, telling me to “get on the goddamn ground.” I slowly kneeled and looked at him in the eyes, no longer caring about where my eye contact was, but caring to not die. I laid down and swiped at his ankles, and effectively knocked him off of his large feet. I shot up and raced to the automatic doors and bolted through them, and raced across the parking lot to my car, heart pumping in my ears. I finally sank down in my car, gulping down air and trying to handle the adrenaline. I called the police and went through the proper questions, then drove home and flew into bed with a leap. It had been a long forty minutes.

  3. Robin3486

    “Open the register”the kid shouted, pointing his gun at me. I hesitated. I don’t know why. We were taught on my first day that you always open the register and give them what they want. The store has insurance. It’s convenience store 101.

    Anger washes over me and I see myself in my kitchen with my husband, Russ. There is food on the wall and a broken plate on the floor. My face is bright red. My damn fair skin betrays me every time. I try not to show him he hurt me but my skin gives me away.

    I took this night shift at the Go Mart to save up for my escape. Russ thinks I’m paid minimum wage but I actually make 2 dollars more an hour for working the shift nobody else wants…for obvious reasons.

    I have an arrangement with the owner. She gives me two separate checks. When I asked, she was kind enough to not ask me for an explanation. It makes me wonder what she thinks of me. What does she make of the skinny girl, with long red hair, and a face that turns bright red at the slightest provocation who is obviously hiding money from her husband.

    “Open the damn register!” The kid yells again, bringing my attention back to the problem at hand.

    “NO.” I shouted. All my life I have been following orders from men. When I was young all of us girls would jump when my Daddy came home. We had watched him whoop my Mom so many times, we took no chances. Then at 18, I met Russ. I wanted away from Daddy so badly that I never noticed that Russ was more of the same.

    The gunman and I stared at each other. He’s so young, I thought. He looked no more than 15 or 16. He was skinny with fair skin like mine but covered in freckles. When I looked down at his hands I could see that they were shaking.

    Just then, I heard the bell jingle as the door opened. “Marsha!” I heard. “I damn well told you that I needed my freakin work shirt for tonight and it was still in the god-damned hamper! I need you to get your ass….”


    The kid looked petrified. “I didn’t mean to.” He cried. “I thought you were going to just open the register. It was supposed to be easy!” He ran out the door with tears running down his face.

    Hesitantly, I walked over towards Russ. When I looked down I could see where the bullet had hit right in the middle of his forehead like a third eye.

    “Thanks kid.” I whispered to myself.

    I almost did a happy dance but remembered the video cameras and walked back to the register. I took a look in the mirror above the register as I picked up the phone to dial 9-1-1.

    My face was red no more.

  4. Findingmyshoes

    “Wait. Wait. That doesn’t make any sense.”
    “It makes perfect sense. How does it not make sense?”
    “It doesn’t mean he’s a robber.”
    “They never found the guy.”
    “You don’t even know it was a burglary.”
    “It was definitely a burglary.”
    “You didn’t see anything. You ran away.”
    “I had a piano lesson, Carl. If I was late, Mrs. Thompson would have been sick with worry. Her blood pressure would have been through the roof. You can’t take risks with a woman that age. I was saving a life, Carl.”
    “Uh huh. But you only saw the clerk emptying the cash register into a bag. That doesn’t mean it was a burglary.”
    “Body language. I’m very good at reading body language. The whole situation was very tense. That clerk was terrified. I know what I saw.”
    “But just because you never heard about police catching this supposed burglar…”
    “I would have heard about it. We lived in a very small town, I definitely would have heard…”
    “Well, you never heard that it was in fact a burglary either…”
    “It was a burglary, Carl. It was. Mr. Taylor just never filed a report. He’s a very proud man. I know what I saw though.”
    “Riight.. And you think Adrienne’s father is the burglar.”
    “They never found the guy!”
    “Just because this supposed burglar was never arrested by the police, and Adrienne’s father was never arrested by the police, it does not follow that Adrienne’s father is burglar. That doesn’t make any sense.”
    “It’s him. I have a very good memory for faces. I never forget a face.”
    “From when you were thirteen.”
    “I never forget a face.”
    “Fine. So what are you going to do?”
    “I’m going to do what I should have done fifteen years ago.”
    “Okay, Jason, slow down. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but let’s just take a step back. You love Adrienne, right?”
    “Yes. Of course I love Adrienne. I’m crazy about her.”
    “Okay, and you want to marry her, right?”
    “What are you talking about? We’re getting married next May. Of course I want to marry her.”
    “Okay, so, I don’t know what you are going to do, but can you think of any negative downstream consequences of…say… accusing Adrienne’s father of a felony?””
    “I need to do the right thing here, Carl.”
    “Okay, but maybe you should wait until after the second time you meet your fiancee’s father before you turn him over to the police. It’s really just more polite that way.”
    “Don’t mock me, Carl. I can’t let injustice stand. I need to do this. I always seek justice. That’s what I do.”
    “The justice of imprisoning your fiancee’s father.”
    “Of making him pay for his crimes.”
    “Yeah, you’re an American hero.”

  5. Wild_But_Caged

    I woke up from my Sunday sleep in and pulled myself out of my warm bed and stumbled my way into the kitchen to make breakfast and coffee for my wife and I. I opened the coffee tin and to my disgust I found no coffee to be inside. I walked into the bedroom and quickly chucked on some clothes and told my wife “We’re out coffee so I am just heading down to the shops, is there anything else you want me to grab?” to which she replied with a barely audible mumbled “You’re kidding me, you better be quick”. I pulled into the shops carpark and hopped out and meandered up the car park into the shops. I entered the store and said “Morning Beth” with a nod toward the old cashier that had been manning that till since I was kid, and considering that I am 28 she would have to be in her late sixty’s by now. She gave me a cheery smile in reply and asked “How’s Fiona?” I replied “Still asleep last time I checked”. I made my way the isle 6 where the tea and coffee is kept.

    On the way there I bumped into a strange man that I had never seen before and he just seemed out of place, but I ignored him and went on my way to go and fetch some coffee. I was browsing the large selection of coffees dark roast, medium roast, vanilla, caramel etc. Just so many to choose from. I thought I’d spice up our morning coffee so I grabbed the dark vanilla roast and put it in the basket. I made my way to the pharmacy side of the shops as Both Fiona and myself had been trying for a baby and we needed some more multi vitamins and a pregnancy test. I started to walk to the checkout but as I did so I realised that the strange man had been following me the whole time which put me on edge but I tried to reason with myself that it was just a coincidence and proceeded toward the checkout where Beth was.

    “Hello again Beth, just these thanks” Beth scanned though the coffee then the multi-vitamins and then she picked up the pregnancy test and looked at it and an excited smile leapt onto her face and she looked to me and said “Are you and Fiona trying? I can’t believe it, it feels like it was only last week that you were a toddler” I replied “yes we are, we really want kids and we feel like now’s the time, but you gotta promise you don’t tell anyone as we are only trying so we’re not sure if we can yet and we haven’t told anyone either” Beth replied “Oh you know I wouldn’t do that, but give Fiona my best wishes and good luck. Oh and that’s twenty-one dollars and sixty cents” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar note and a two-dollar coin and handed them to Beth.
    As Beth opened the till the strange man pushed me out of the way and levelled a .38 revolver at Beth’s chest. In a gruff voice he said “Open the till, you old cow”. Beth calmly emptied the till and bundled the cash and tied them off with rubber bands and placed the cash into the man’s bag. As Beth put the last bundle into the bag the man punched her in the face. I let out an angry “Oui, what the hell”. The man turned round to me and levelled the gun at my chest and I heard a loud pop and felt like someone had punched me in the chest and then everything went black.

    I felt like I was floating in an empty abyss. I awoke at a bar with a glass on scotch in front of me. I had no clue where I was and I couldn’t remember anything. A man appeared beside me and introduced himself as St. peter and then ordered himself an old fashioned. He said “Do you know why you’re here?” I said “Sorry I have no clue” He said “Take a sip of your drink it will help” I took a sip of my drink and my body felt cold and my chest hurt and then I remembered what had happened. I said “I am dead, aren’t I?” Peter replied “Yes you are unfortunately, you would have made a great father. Now tell me about yourself?”

  6. donatona

    The last time I ran out of coffee on a Sunday morning, I found out that being disabled can’t keep me from being invincible.
    Most of the time, I hate that I am disabled. I have a nerve disorder that gives me sudden weak or dizzy spells, and I walk with a cane because of a knee injury that couldn’t be repaired. I used to be strong. I used to be active. I dedicated my life to triathlons because I loved biking, swimming, and –best of all – running. Now, I never feel the wind in my hair and the thrill of speed produced by my own muscles. In the swimming pool, I’m reduced to doing physical therapy exercises. So, you can understand why I pretty much thought I was done with life.
    But that morning, I was looking through the magazines in the rack at the checkout counter, Fair Trade Jamaican Blue Mountain beans in hand, when someone came from behind and jostled me. I dropped the beans. Grumbling, I bent down, slowly and painfully, to pick up the bag.
    “Give all the money in your cash drawer. “ I heard him say, “Now!” Looking up, I could see him waving a pistol around. Turning my head, I saw Pam behind the counter trying to get the cash drawer to open in mid-transaction.
    “The drawer won’t open until I total the sale,” Pam’s voice wavered as she said it, and I knew that she was thinking of her three kids at home, none of them yet school-aged.
    “I don’t care!” His reply was gruff, gun still waving around, eyes jumping. His feet were moving, too. In fact, as I straightened up again, I realized that he was almost as nervous as Lynda was. And that’s when I realized my advantage.
    “Ooh.” I moaned as I stood fully erect. Slamming the bag of beans onto the counter, I began to move about, as if I were dizzy. “Guess I shouldn’t have stood up so fast.” I said with a sickly apologetic smile for all and sundry. Then, I crumpled against the robber, throwing my full weight to him as if we were in some weird trust circle. Caught off guard, he stumbled back in an attempt to stay on his feet; to no avail. As we hit the ground, I struck his wrist sharply with my cane and he let go of the gun.
    “You bitch!” he growled as his hand frantically felt for the gun.
    “I’m so sorry,” I whimpered. Sitting up slightly atop him, as if I were struggling to get up, I “fell” backward, hitting his face with the back of my head. When I hit, his head snapped back and hit the floor, knocking him out cold.
    “Help!” Pam screamed, “Help! Help! Karen’s been hurt! Somebody call an ambulance!”
    “No.” I yelled from the ground, “Call the police!” I rolled off the robber and got to my feet smiling. “I’m fine.” I said, “In fact, I’m invincible.”

  7. PatDatMann

    For Your Service

    “Give me all the money in the register lady.”

    Those were the words that forced me to lift my head up from the article on my phone. I honestly thought this was someone that had a horrible sense of humor; you know one of those people who think discomfort as a greeting is the perfect icebreaker- your run of the mill wise ass basically.

    Nope, it was your run of the mill crazy.

    Flagging my gaze was a beady eyed, brillo bearded, fair skinned old man dawning a black beanie on his crown and brandishing what presumably was a pistol through the pocket of his dingy brown hoodie. I remember thinking- ‘Wow, this man must NEED it.’

    Immediately after the old man delivered the order to the cashier a silence fell over her that bleed up the check-out queue as his raspy voice traveled. The cashier had the ‘bambi in the road’ syndrome and it seemed to be contagious.

    “Just give him the cash Auntie,” I uttered as slowly and calmly as I could hoping that my intonations would carry that energy over to her. Still, she doesn’t speak a word but acquiesces with successive nods. Fumbling to open the cash drawer she drops the jar of jelly she was scanning sending the sound of glass crashing across the adjacent aisles.

    “Uhp! Look at you, clean up aisle… Cherise”- jocularly exclaimed the cashier on the aisle directly behind ours.

    Cherise squeaks out a high pitch: “Ooooo..” followed by a – “Okay, Okay, it won’t open until I finish scanning all the items.”

    “The cash in the register lady, uh- now.”- the old man mutters in way that made it clear that english wasn’t his first language. You could almost hear the ‘Ahora’ coming before he decided on the hard “Now.”

    “Everything alright Cherise?” cautiously pried the chiding co-worker from before. Cherise collected and began scanning the remaining items hastily, typed in a faux cash tender and opened the drawer. “Mmmhmm!” exclaimed the rushed cashier.

    “There you go ma-ma. Put it all in a paper bag for me.”- said the crusty robber. Cherise’s hands are trembling with every move she makes.

    “Damn paw-paw! Times must be hard over there. That’s barely three hundred dollars.” I said, hoping to use my vantage point to calm our attendant’s nerves.In no way did he respond to me, just focused intently on ruining Cherise’s 9 to 2, that she was only a hour and a half into.

    That’s when I realized the irony I was living. I came to buy my fair trade columbian lightly roasted coffee out of the sheer adamancy that my Sunday morning wouldn’t be the same without it, a man whom- for all I know distant relative could’ve curated, feels forced to TAKE from the very same system that allows me to feel so entitled.

    “Sir! The police are on their way”- proclaimed the adjacent check-out assistant who’s condescension had thoroughly turned into concern.

    The scraggly thief snatched the bag with his unoccupied hand soon after the register was emptied and Cherise gestured it over towards him. “Thank you for your service. All of ya.” the man bellowed as he deftly sidestepped a shopper and backpedaled out of the automatic doors of the grocery store.

    After all that happened, it was beautiful how customers and staffers alike played a part in comforting Cherise; but all I could think of was the athletic bounce of that old man, remembering his fatigue cargo pants passing past the side of the transparent front door. Then it was what he said, thanking us, for our service.

  8. icy

    It was Sunday morning, and I was ready to spend a relaxing day on the sofa until I realized I was out of coffee. So, I came to Benson’s market, a small grocery store owned by a stern looking man with black, deep-set eyes and skin the color of almonds. For five minutes, I wandered up and down the dry goods aisle, frustrated that I couldn’t find any blonde coffee and unwilling to ask where it was. Then he appeared in the doorway – a boy with jeans, a flannel shirt, and a black ski mask. He walked slowly to the cash register, pulled a pistol out of his pocket and pointed it at the cashier.
    “Stop what you’re doing,” he said evenly. “Give me all the money in the register.”
    There was a brief silence. I saw a back door behind me, but decided that there had to be a witness to whatever happened next. Mr. Benson stared bitterly at the robber as he opened the cash box. When the drawer snapped open, he took it out and plunked it loudly on the counter.
    “Here you are,” he said tersely.
    The boy picked it up, carried it to a chair on the other side of the room, and sat down near where I had been standing. Then, he waited. After a moment, he leaned over and put his head in his hands. As he did so, I noticed a tattoo of a sparrow on his wrist. It was looking backward in mid-flight. I had seen it before. I stepped out of the aisle.
    “Jordan?” I said. He turned to look at me.
    “Maria.” He spoke like he didn’t believe his eyes.
    “Is it you?” I asked.
    He took off his mask, and I saw the thick black hair and piercing green eyes that I had fallen in love with, many years before. We stared in silence for a moment. Then, I remembered the gun and the drawer full of cash in his lap.
    “What are you doing?” I said angrily. He grimaced and looked down at his knees.
    “I need a liver transplant,” he said. “And I don’t have insurance. I just thought . . . if I was in jail . . .”
    I nodded, heartbroken at his desperation. “You know, my dad has his M.D. now. And he works pro bono sometimes. We could help you.”
    “Really?” he said incredulously.
    Then we heard distant sirens, and I looked at Mr. Benson. His mouth was drawn into a hard line. Jordan stared straight ahead in quiet terror.
    “Hand me the cash,” Mr. Benson said. Jordan jumped from his seat and handed him the drawer. Mr. Benson hauled it into a room behind the counter. “Now get out of here!” he said, pointing to the back door. We sprinted out the door and drove off in my car, just as the police arrived. Once we reached my house, he took the ski mask outside and burned it.

  9. ebycer

    “So what happened?”
    “I—I thought, you know, right?”
    “I have to hear it from you.”
    Deep breath. “Well, with all the, uh, stuff that’s happened recently, you know terrorism, active shooters? Well, I took classes on what to do. They told us, ‘have a plan. Have five plans. ‘Cause you never know what’s gonna be, but if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be too scared to think of anything.’ And I did self-defense training. Hell—I’m sorry, ‘heck.’ So I knew sh–, sorry, language. Sorry! Anyway, I didn’t have a black belt, but I knew stuff.”
    “Take all the time you need.”
    “Yeah, sorry. Anyway. I knew stuff. And I had plans. So when this punk pulled a gun, I knew what to do. In my head. And—and don’t get me wrong! I didn’t wanna be a hero. Nothing like that. I just wanted to do the right thing. The GOOD thing. Protect people. I want that clear. You put that in your—report.”
    He jots something down. From where I’m standing, I can’t read it. But he writes something.
    “I’m a good guy. I’m not perfect, but I’m a good guy. All my life. And I wanna do what’s right, you know? Like always?”
    I hope it’s as true as I want it to be. As I need it to be.
    He nods, so I just keep talking. I’ve only got one chance at this.
    “So this guy pulls a gun. But he doesn’t get guns. A gun is a distance weapon. The whole point is you don’t have to be close. But this guy, he stretches his arm out all. The. Way. And I’m thinking ‘this is great!’”
    My hands jump to my mouth. “Not great! Not what I meant!” A tear falls.
    “What I mean is that his arm is–I’m staring at his elbow. See, the human body, it’s a wonderful thing. You know, praises, and stuff. Write that down.”
    He doesn’t.
    “But, it’s so fragile. And I wanted to help. Keep people from dying. You know?”
    He’s not wearing glasses, but if he was, he’s looking down at me over them.
    “So, my plan is to dislocate his elbow. Keep him from shooting; he’ll probably drop the gun.”
    Another tear.
    “I count to one. Cause if I count to three, I’ll lose my nerve.”
    “So what happened?”
    “I missed his elbow.”
    I sob-laugh.
    “Thing is, he hadn’t seen me. But after I tried to do the RIGHT thing—the GOOD thing—on the side of the ANGELS—he…shot me in the face. Didn’t hurt. Hell—heck, I thought he missed. But…”
    St. Peter doesn’t move.
    It’s like he’s listening to someone.
    Oh, GOD, he’s LISTENING.
    To some ONE.
    Now He’s writing something in the Book–I CAN’T SEE IT!
    I’m a GOOD MAN! PLE–

  10. Amyithist

    Pale yellow sunlight slanted in through the peeling tint on small square windows. It streamed in, nosediving through dust motes and pollen until it crash landed against the grimy tile flooring of the neighborhood market. It was barely dawn and cold and, despite the attempt at sunshine, the sky was brooding and uncertain.
    Kruger’s Market was a small, mom-and-pop style shopping center situated in the heart of tiny Westport, Washington. It was one of the few businesses capable of surviving the dismal winters. I knew Craig and Beth Kruger well and shopped their store exclusively, even though I had access to larger chains such as QFC and Safeway. I lived in Aberdeen and commuted to Westport every morning. The drive was arduous, to the say the least, but until my less-than-desirable rambler sold, I was stuck.
    Beth was north of 80 years old and a fiery testament to old southern charm. She was refreshingly honest (certainly to a fault) and lined everything up in compartments of Black and White. There was no gray with Mrs. Beth Kruger.
    “Morning, Miss Beth.” I set my usual on the counter: frozen Digorno’s Pizza, two cans of Starbuck’s Vanilla Bean Espresso, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey. She smiled at me over the thin rims of her glasses.
    “How’d the beat treat you?”
    “What beat?” I grumbled.
    “You could always go back to a bigger city like Seattle or,” she feigned a hard thought, “Hilltop neighborhood might be a little more exciting.”
    I smiled and handed her a fifty-dollar bill. “And miss all this excitement?”
    “What was it today?”
    “Noise complaint from Bill Gafferty. Turned out to be harbor seals on the dock. Told him there was nothing I could do about it. Drunk and disorderly down at Mab’s Tavern. Good ol’ Nan Flynn. She keeps it interesting at least.”
    “That was it, huh?”
    I nodded. It wasn’t that I was tired…I was simply bored out of my mind. I’d spent half the night going through the evidence room and replacing faded tags or re-inventorying our scant collection of cold case files. We had two. And there wasn’t much to them.
    “Well, tonight’s another night,” she droned.
    I winked at her as she handed me my change. As I stuffed the wad back into my jeans, I noticed a man with sunglasses scurrying toward the register. He wore a black slicker with the hood up…hands stuffed into deep pockets… My innards twitched as he rounded an endcap filled with fresh donuts and slabs of German chocolate cakes.
    He pulled his left hand from the slicker; brandishing a .38 special I typically saw carried by females. His hands were trembling violently; either from withdrawal or nerves…or both, I supposed. He was dry from his head to his waist, but his dirty jeans were sopping wet and his once-white tennis shoes were caked with mud. I immediately got the impression that he’d mistaken the marsh out back for solid grass…which meant he wasn’t from these parts.
    “Give me all of your money you old bitch!” He flicked the gun toward me. “You too, asshole!”
    My groceries were still on the turntable. Beth was fumbling with the register, clearly agitated and scared out of her skin. I reached slowly. The butt of my Glock nudged the knuckle of my index finger and I stopped. Beth’s noise cancelled out the metallic click of the gun as I dislodged it from my waistband (a habit I’d never quite gotten out of no matter how far removed from narcotics I had been).
    It happened quickly: I swung my gun in front of me and trained it on the bewildered bag of bones as he switched his aim from Beth to me, then back to Beth. She screamed, stunning the would-be-robber long enough for me to throw all of my girth at him. He couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-fifty and considering I was nearly two of him, he went down easily.
    I disarmed him, sliding the gun far enough away I was certain he couldn’t make a mad grab for it. I muscled him onto his back and wrangled the cuffs from my belt loop, relishing in their sharp melody of jingling metal and snapping clips. The guy was sobbing, an array of glazed old-fashioned donuts and maple bars strewn about his greasy mop.
    “How’s that for an exciting end?” I beamed up at Beth as she rounded the opposite side, her hands on her hips.
    Her eyes narrowed. She studied the scene with careful consideration and replied, “Great for you, Bobbie. But who the hell is going to clean this mess up?”
    So much for undying appreciation for the Westport PD.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You know it actually reads true. The detail is excellent, emotions set by both characters. Desciption of the store and of course old Beth, especially. I noticed she recovered quickly and wondered if she was going to ask her hero to clean up his own mess. Excellent piece of Americana from a small town.

  11. cosi van tutte

    Being a single Spanish mother in a community of married Spanish mothers can be very taxing. Sure, most of them don’t say anything, but the tsking and head shaking hangs undone in the air. I don’t let it bother me, but I do know that it’s there.

    At least I do have a job. Steady income to pay my bills and feed my little girl. None of those senoras can accuse me of not providing for my little girl. Si, my mother and grandmother must babysit her while I work. But they are family. It is what we do. It is how we show love.

    Today was just another day – rushing through the house, rattling out instructions to my mother. I get in my car, get to work exactly on time, hurry over to my station, log into my computers, turn on all of my scanners, and I am ready for customers.

    And the customers come. English speaking English. Spanish speaking Spanish. Mothers and daughters. Fathers and sons. Sometimes whole familias with the little ones running about. The men speak of money and jobs and the women speak of exciting books and fancy laundry detergent. The children speak of childhood – dirt and bugs, pools and sand, new dresses and old shoes. The little ones remind me of my little girl. I see them and I smile. I smile even at those who are ill-behaved.

    Quickly, noon comes. I will go into the back room and eat my packed lunch. I must lock my register first.

    A customer comes to my lane.

    “I’m sorry, but I am closing for lunch. You may go to lane 3.” As I speak, I can see that he has nothing in his hands and nothing on the conveyer belt. But he has anger on his face.

    “Open the register and give me all of your money.”

    I suppose the right course of action would be to obey him. If I obey him, he will be happy and he will go away. But management will not like that I gave away all of their money. I will lose my job. I cannot lose my job.

    He pulls out his gun. “You got taco sauce jammed up in your ears? Come on, you stupid chica. Register. Money. Now.”

    I frown at him. In my family and my community, a man does not speak so to a woman. He speaks respect and kindness to her and she replies in the same. It isn’t always that way, but it is an expectation learned from childhood. So, of course, I tell him so.

    “Shut up, chica. I ain’t interested in what you chicas and chinos do. I want your money. Now. Or else.”

    “Oh. So, you will threaten me, then? Is that it? Is it?” My anger grabs control and I rail at him in my mother and grandmother’s language.

    “What’s that all supposed to—”

    I slam my hand on the counter and tell him precisely what I think about him and his gun. I speak from my heart. I tell him about my little girl and all of the things that she needs. I tell him about my familia, about the man I thought would stay, about my disappointments in life, about all of my dreams. My hands are wild – flailing about in a search for emphasis.

    He sees my emphatic hands and hears my Spanish-florid words. I’m certain he sees the anger on my face. He backs away from me and raises his gun to my head. “Shut up, lady. Just shut up. Give me your money or I will shoot you.”

    I speak faster and angrier. This man. This small, tiny man will not win. I believe this and I tell him so. I grab a pen from my register and point it at him.

    He backs away further as if he is scared that my pen will shoot bullets at him.

    I tell him that he is the smallest, littlest man I have seen. I tell him that he has no right to point a gun at anyone and demand money that does not belong to him. I tell him to leave or I will poke this pen into his face – hard and repeatedly.

    “Look, chica. I ain’t got any idea what you’re sayin’.”

    Vince, over at lane 3, sees what is happening in my lane. He picks up his phone and dials a quick number.

    I almost tell him that Vince is calling the police cops, but I do not. I don’t want this grubby man to shoot anyone here because of the words that I say. I lower my pen and settle my hands. “There are better ways to get money.” I tell him this in English, because I want him to understand all of this. “You are young yet. Find a job.”

    He lowers his gun. “It ain’t that easy, chica.” His anger is gone. “I ain’t got schoolin’ I ain’t got a thing goin’ for me.”

    I don’t know how to respond to that. I think about my mother and my grandmother. What would they say to him? “Get schooling. Make things go for you.”

    “Don’t even know how to do that.”

    Sirens sing out from somewhere down the road.

    I look at this muchacho and I feel sad. “There are people and organizations out there for people like you. Find them. Let them help you.”

    Red and blue lights flash too soon in our parking lot.

    He looks at me with sadness and the gun still in his hand.

    And I don’t have any words left to say.

    1. Amyithist

      This was powerful. VERY well done. “My hands are wild – flailing about in a search for emphasis”- This is a wonderful line. Very descriptive. I love the fiery spirit from the protagonist. I imagine she’s not too far from reality…meaning she has more of a place in your life than just a space in your head. She feels real to me. I heard her. Felt her frustration and anger in place of what should have been fear. And the compassion she finds for the “muchacho” was very endearing. I’m not sure how you managed to characterize so well in such a short piece, but you did and that is rather impressive.
      GREAT job! 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, Amyithist!

        Thank you so much for the compliments! I’m glad that you were able to connect with my fiery Spanish cashier. 🙂

        She was originally a side character in a previous attempt on this prompt. But she had so much spirit and spunk. I felt like she needed to be the main character in her own story.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Well cosi, not only are at the top of this weeks prompt, you are 100% connected to me. I live in a city where 65% are Hispanic. Are they trying to take the Alamo back? Of course not, there is no discrimination that I csn see in San Antonio. Just progress. We are the fastest growing city in the country with a population of a million and a half. There are many Senoras and and Senoritas keeping the male population in line. Shootings are only over love affairs, not robberies.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, as much as I enjoy your more “fanciful” pieces, I think this is just about perfect. MC and robber are so well done. You captured them with their own words. Fantastic writing.

  12. igonzales81

    “Don’t try to be a hero,” the man with the gun said, its business end wavering between me and the convenience store clerk. “I don’t want to have to kill anybody.”

    He probably didn’t have to worry about the clerk; the poor kid was trembling like a jello mold in an earthquake, and I could smell fresh urine.

    For my part, I had no intention of being a hero. I’d never wanted to be one, since most heroes are grossly underappreciated, very poor, and quite dead. I kinda leaned in the opposite direction, to tell the truth.

    “Okay, okay,” I said, in my most soothing tone. “You’re in charge, no one’s gonna do anything you don’t tell them to do.”

    “Shut up,” he snarled, his eyes darting to the clerk. “All the money, in a bag, right now. Try anything funny, and I’ll drop you.”

    The clerk just quivered some more.

    “Do what he said,” I grated the words out between clenched teeth. My day could definitely have been going better. I’d had such simple plans upon awakening. I should have known things wouldn’t work out when I saw that I was out of coffee. But I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. You just have to be flexible.

    The clerk finally started moving, his fumbling hands shaking open a plastic bag. The register dinged cheerfully as it opened, and the meager gross from last night went quickly into the bag.

    This had gone on long enough.

    “Whoa, how did the cops get here so fast?” I let my eyes widen as I looked past the robber’s shoulder, an expression of sick terror on my face.

    I was an old trick, but it still worked. He spun around, eyes and gun looking for the army of police that his guilty imagination expected.

    Which gave me all the time I needed to grab my can of coffee, take two quick steps, and land a powerful blow right against the base of his neck. He went down like a sack of old potatoes. I calmly picked up his gun and turned back to the counter.

    The clerk looked like he’d swallowed his tongue, but after a second, he was able to make an attempt at speech. “Is…is he…dead?”

    I shook my head. “Oh, no. He’ll be just fine in an hour or two. Of course, the cops’ll be here by then.” I leaned on the counter, casually letting my borrowed weapon point at the clerk. “But I’ll be long gone. So just hand over the bag, and then let’s go in back and open that safe your boss keeps there.”

    Like I said: flexible.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I haven’t used this term in a long time but your story brought it out in me …’Neeto’. The twist is terrific and so smoothly done it caught ne unawares. Jolly Good story for a Sunday morning.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      You certainly did a great job covering the moral dilemma here. After reading I went back and found the tiny clue in two birds with one stone. Nicely done.

  13. ReathaThomasOakley

    Another moral dilemma
    (Inspired by several other stories here.)

    “Oh, excuse me,” Walter whispered to the back of the man in front of him in the cashier line. “Just checking my list again, didn’t realize my cart was so close to your trousers. Sorry…” Walter stopped as the man looked over his shoulder, glared, and muttered.

    “Well, I do not think that kind of language is suitable no matter the circumstances.” Walter pulled his cart away and stepped back into the cart behind him.

    “Oops,” he said to the woman pushing that cart. “This line seems to provide little opportunity for movement, just needed to check my list, didn’t realize, Dora insists I check the list. So forgetful I often am, then Dora isn’t happy, especially if I get things wrong. Just last week I purchased milk rather than dark chocolate, and oh, my, you should have heard…”

    This is just too much, Walter thought. Foul language everywhere.

    “Young lady,” Walter carefully folded his note. “I am just appalled when I hear words like that from men, but from a mere slip of a girl? What would your mother think?” Her words were like a slap in Walter’s face. “A mother would never suggest such an activity. If you will allow me a bit of room, I shall attempt to maneuver my offending presence and grocery cart away from this line, obviously peopled by savages.”

    As he finally reached the cashier in another line, Walter was fuming. His trips out and about were his only link to a world outside the small one he shared with Dora. She was a good girl, but through the years the strong personality he’d once so admired had developed into something not very pleasant. Those young people had ruined his day. Now, he realized, for some reason this cashier was standing still as a statue, ignoring the groceries he was taking from the cart.

    “Excuse me,” Walter said. “Your conveyor belt seems to have stopped moving. I cannot put more items until I have more room. What did you say? I will not shut up, and will report you for referring to me as an old fool. Old I might be, but fool I am not!” Slowly Walter realized the woman was looking past him to the line where he had been, where, from what he could hear, a robbery was in progress.

    I might have known it, Walter thought as he surveyed the scene unfolding. That man I bumped inadvertently now has a weapon. This is just too much. Dora will not abide my returning home late again.

    A quick inventory of his groceries was all that Walter needed.

    Later, as the police were getting his statement, he explained about his Senior Olympics metals for shot put and javelin throws, and how the cans of vegetables and boiled peanuts, Dora’s favorites, made perfect missiles. He did have to apologize for that one errant aim when the young lady in that line was also struck.

    “Now, please, I must go.” Walter finally had to say. “I simply cannot waste any more time. You have no idea what Dora’s like when I’m late.”

    1. igonzales81

      The first part of this story reminded me strongly of my local Fred Meyer on a Saturday afternoon. It’s interesting that you’re vague about Dora. The ending was a nice surprise. Very good story.

  14. cosi van tutte

    I had a couple of story ideas for this prompt, but they both fizzled out. Then, when I was at work today, I came up with this idea…


    Isabelle Granatski opened the drawer one more time and gloated over the five dollars and sixty-nine cents.

    “So pretty.” She stroked the paper money. It was kind of sticky and smelled weird. Of course, it had come from Lenny Larnow’s back pocket on his jeans. Isabelle wondered what else he had in that pocket to make it so sticky.

    She ran her fingers over the silver and copper coins. “Two quarters. One dime. One nickel. And four whole pennies.”

    She grinned, exposing her missing teeth. “I am so rich right now. Hmm. I should take the five dollars to the bank and exchange it for pennies. That would be so many pennies! I’d be real rich.”

    Dirk Denther marched over to Isabelle and pointed his Sugar Buster pistol at her. “Give me all your money or POW!”

    “Dirk! You meanie. Go bug someone else. I’m making money over here.”

    “Oh, yeah? I sure don’t see any customers.”

    “Well, that’s because you’re here being a pain. Go climb a tree and eat walnuts.”

    Dirk pulled off his sunglasses. “Are you calling me a squirrel?”

    “No. Just a meanie. Go ‘way or I’ll scream. And you know me, I can scream real loud.”

    “Psh! I ain’t scared of you and your big—-”


    “Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up!”


    “Augh! My ears…”


    “Fine. I’m going.”

    She stopped screaming and smiled sweetly at him.

    “But just so you know, I’m bringing my dog next time and he’ll mess up your popsicle stand for real and you’ll hand over all your money and—–”


    “Stupid girl.” He ran off.

    “Hmph. Dumb boy.”

    Lindsey Smithers walked over to the popsicle stand. “I’d like a cherry one please.”

    “Sure! That’ll be five dollars and sixty-nine cents.”

    Isabelle smiled as Lindsey handed over her hard earned babysitting money. Sweet, sweet money. I’ll be able to buy a car in no time.

  15. Parttimer

    With trembling hands, I pick out a magazine and a pack of Trojans I don’t plan to pay for. The need for condoms is wishful thinking, but I choose extra-large. Again, wishful thinking. The last time a woman even looked at me is a distant memory. I’d probably farted or something. The .32 revolver weighs heavy in my jacket, slinging my presence to the left.

    The woman in front of me looks formidable. I hope she doesn’t try anything. Her coffee smells damn good. Vanilla and cream. She’d better watch her step if she doesn’t want her ass shot off. Oh great, the guy at the front of the line is buying instant lottery tickets. He buddy, you might as well leave a ten spot on the counter and walk out. I don’t say that, of course, but I want to.

    I shift to the right. My unzipped jacket swings and the barrel of my gun lodges in the cleft of the woman’s rump. Oh crap. She turns. What’s this, she’s smiling? I’m almost positive my ass hadn’t erupted.

    “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?” She’s still smiling. How did she guess it was a gun? I should make a break for it.

    “I’m sorry.” She holds out her hand. “I’m not usually this forward. My name’s Maxine.”

    We shake hands. Is her hand clammy or is it mine? “Uh, I’m Cliff.” My mouth is dry and my knees threaten to buckle. “The gun’s not loaded you know.”

    She laughs. “You’re funny.” She eyes the Trojans and raises her eyebrows.

    What’s the matter with this woman? How am I supposed to rob the store with her here.

    “Do you have a particular person in mind for the, uh,” (she points), “or are you open to a proposition?”

    Proposition? I think hard and then it dawns on me. Can this be happening? “You wouldn’t fool with me, would you?”

    “No, Cliff.” She strokes my cheek. “I wouldn’t fool with you. Not in the way you’re referring.”

    “But why?” I can’t believe I said that. It makes me seem wimpy.

    “Maybe it’s your lucky day. Maybe I like you. Maybe I’m just lonely.”

    “Uh, I pick number two.”

    She laughs again. “Ok, yes, I do like you. Would you like to get a drink or something?”

    She asked me out, I’m certain she did. My mouth moves but no sound comes out. It’s her turn at the counter and she pays for her coffee. I pay for the magazine and the Trojans and we walk out into the bright daylight. I notice the magazine is Penthouse. Crap.

    “So,” she says. “Shall we go to Applebee’s or to my place?”

    “I was going to rob that store.”

    “I know.” She strokes my cheek again. “That would have been very stupid.”

    “Are you serious, about going to your place?” She smiles and takes my hand. I wish the hell I hadn’t picked the extra-large condoms.

  16. Kinterralynn

    Since technology and me are having a bit of a spat today, ( difficult to believe my career is in the computer field, right? ) I’m going to try this one last time. I’ll post this comment and then reply to it with my story. MY story, not someone else’s ( Again, sorry Mikegill ) –

    1. Kinterralynn

      or Not. I think I’ll just have to tackle this another day. Today is NOT my day.

      Has anyone else run into this, ever? Or is the God of Technology angry with me for ignoring all sorts of media this past weekend?

      1. Kinterralynn

        Quite frankly, if someone pulled a gun on someone right in front of me right this second, I’d probably verbally abuse them and go on a rant about the way technology is destroying our lives and that the movies and tv showing hold ups is all about tricking the viewer and romanticizing crime and that you’re a freaking idiot if you think your 15 minutes of fame will mean squat to anyone even a year from now. You’ll go down in history as the douche that held a gun to an innocent so you could continue to worship the almighty dollar. Woo Hoo.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Kinterralynn,

        You need to change a word or two, maybe in the title. Paste and hit submit again. You will not receive a notice “Looks Like You posted that already”. That way you’ve another shot at posting today. Bugs are everywhere!;Kerry

      3. jhowe

        Yes, Many have had this problem lately. My story posted this week, but not last week, then it posted the week before last, but not the week before that. Frustrating to say the least.

          1. Kinterralynn

            We all have them… thankfully not every day! I hope you all have a great holiday weekend – thank you so much for being here through my mini-crisis!

  17. Kinterralynn

    I’ve tried posting 3 times now, but it hasn’t shown up , If it ever does happen to show up and it shows up 3 times, just know I’ve put more effort into posting than I did into writing! Grrrrrr

    1. Kinterralynn

      All I knew at first was that I had been shoved. I thought it was rude. I was getting out my money to pay for my coffee as quickly as I could. When I looked back up from the floor of the aisle between registers, I saw a tall, well-built man pointing a gun at the clerk.

      As I made to get up, he looked down at me and said, “Don’t move you fat bitch or I’ll shoot both you and this little twerp.” In case I didn’t understand who the twerp was, he motioned with the gun toward the clerk.

      Both angry and embarrassed, I lay back and closed my eyes. I wanted to open them and have the whole scene be different. I kept telling myself that I should do something. I had decided to change my life, to stop letting people take advantage of me. I told myself that God put me in this position to give me a chance to prove my change.

      I took a deep breath, and, with my eyes still closed, pulled back my leg and kicked out at his knee with all my strength. Who was he to call me fat (even though, I admit, I am) and a bitch. All my anger at his comments and years of negative looks and treatment went into that kick.

      I felt it connect with a satisfying thud. I felt his knee buckle backwards. There was a crack and a scream. The man was now calling me all kinds of names. I opened my eyes to see him on the floor too. He was holding his knee, rolling in pain, and cussing me loudly.

      His gun lay nearer to me than him. So I picked it up and stood. Another man was running toward the registers from the door. “Larry, what the hell happened? You ok?” he yelled. As I looked closer, I realized he had a gun too. It must be Larry’s accomplice. “Shoot the fat bitch!” I heard Larry yell from his spot on the floor. The man at the door pointed his gun at me. So I did the same. Fortunately, running man couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn—or at least the very broad side of me. I shot back and managed to catch him in the shoulder and he fell.

      It all took only a matter of seconds to play out.

      At least that’s the way it played out in my head.

      Instead, I lay curled up and crying on the floor. I heard the manager come running up and then the world above my head exploded—twice. “Larry” must have shot someone. It must have been the manager because I heard “Larry” berating the poor young clerk, yelling at him to hurry up.

      I glanced up to see the robber rummaging through my purse for my wallet. He threw the whole thing into the plastic bag where the clerk had put what little money he had in his drawer.

      He ordered the clerk to lay down behind the register. He kicked me hard in my backside and told me to stay down too. As he left, as an act of pure meanness, he kicked me in the back of my head.

      As I lay there sobbing in pain and embarrassment at my own weakness, I heard him fire two more shots into the store before I heard the bell jingle as it closed.

      1. Kinterralynn

        Honestly, I am beginning to hate technology. I am offering my apologies to MikeGill, I have no idea how I managed to copy your story and paste it in my replies… and I cannot seem to find a “Correct a stupid mistake” button anywhere…. Holy Crow!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          No Kinter, it’s not Holy Crow, …. it’s Old Crow and you drink it straight. On the fourth one, you’ll feel a lot better. KC

  18. MikeGill

    All I knew at first was that I had been shoved. I thought it was rude. I was getting out my money to pay for my coffee as quickly as I could. When I looked back up from the floor of the aisle between registers, I saw a tall, well-built man pointing a gun at the clerk.

    As I made to get up, he looked down at me and said, “Don’t move you fat bitch or I’ll shoot both you and this little twerp.” In case I didn’t understand who the twerp was, he motioned with the gun toward the clerk.

    Both angry and embarrassed, I lay back and closed my eyes. I wanted to open them and have the whole scene be different. I kept telling myself that I should do something. I had decided to change my life, to stop letting people take advantage of me. I told myself that God put me in this position to give me a chance to prove my change.

    I took a deep breath, and, with my eyes still closed, pulled back my leg and kicked out at his knee with all my strength. Who was he to call me fat (even though, I admit, I am) and a bitch. All my anger at his comments and years of negative looks and treatment went into that kick.

    I felt it connect with a satisfying thud. I felt his knee buckle backwards. There was a crack and a scream. The man was now calling me all kinds of names. I opened my eyes to see him on the floor too. He was holding his knee, rolling in pain, and cussing me loudly.

    His gun lay nearer to me than him. So I picked it up and stood. Another man was running toward the registers from the door. “Larry, what the hell happened? You ok?” he yelled. As I looked closer, I realized he had a gun too. It must be Larry’s accomplice. “Shoot the fat bitch!” I heard Larry yell from his spot on the floor. The man at the door pointed his gun at me. So I did the same. Fortunately, running man couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn—or at least the very broad side of me. I shot back and managed to catch him in the shoulder and he fell.

    It all took only a matter of seconds to play out.

    At least that’s the way it played out in my head.

    Instead, I lay curled up and crying on the floor. I heard the manager come running up and then the world above my head exploded—twice. “Larry” must have shot someone. It must have been the manager because I heard “Larry” berating the poor young clerk, yelling at him to hurry up.

    I glanced up to see the robber rummaging through my purse for my wallet. He threw the whole thing into the plastic bag where the clerk had put what little money he had in his drawer.

    He ordered the clerk to lay down behind the register. He kicked me hard in my backside and told me to stay down too. As he left, as an act of pure meanness, he kicked me in the back of my head.

    As I lay there sobbing in pain and embarrassment at my own weakness, I heard him fire two more shots into the store before I heard the bell jingle as it closed.

    1. Kinterralynn

      So obviously I like this, why else would I copy and paste it into my own comments? I found myself drawn into this and I could totally relate. I can conjure up heroism in my imagination at the drop of a hat, but in reality, I am fearful and know I would freeze on the spot and probably be the woman who pees herself out of fright.

      1. MikeGill

        Thanks. And I completely get your tech issues…..I had to log in multiple times (even when it said I was logged in) just to be able to post this and a couple of comments when I found a moment today.

        I also get the freezing up part too. I don’t know how soldiers and police officers do it.

  19. Ennael

    The hallway to the bedroom is bathing in bright sunlight. Quiet Sunday summer mornings, it doesn’t get any better. I look to my left, to find my husband is still fast asleep. Quietly I slide from under the sheets, careful not to wake him, and tiptoe my way downstairs.

    Seeing it’s weekend, I start preparing our ritual breakfast: croissants from a tin, freshly squeezed orange juice, and coffee. Espresso for him, latte for me, as after all these years I still can’t stand the bitter taste of the brew. As I push the button for the second cup, the machine gives a beep and a light. Darn it, out of beans. After checking on my croissants in the oven, I decide there is time to bike to the small supermarket at the station, conveniently open on Sunday mornings.

    I grab a bag of coffee beans of the shelve, and walk towards the register. Suddenly a skinny guy wearing a large black hoodie rushes into the store, straight up to the cashier. Pointing his right arm to the cashier, he says in a low voice: “Stop what you’re doing. Give me all the money in the register.” It looks like a weapon is concealed in his sleeve.

    The guy behind the counter – a young lad, probably no older than seventeen – freezes with shock. The impossibility of the situation is clearly visible on his face as he looks at me for help.

    Up until that moment, The guy waving the weapon hadn’t spotted me. His torso turns in the direction the cashier is looking, my way. Keeping his arm outstretched in the direction of the cashier, and the money he wants.

    My heart is hammering with adrenaline. I’m scared to death. What should I do? Attack him? Run? In my mind I clearly hear my dad, telling me to always do exactly as told in the case of a robbery. This is not the time to be a hero.

    But I can’t do nothing.

    At that moment, our eyes cross.

    It’s a woman!

    With a jolt of surprise a realise the robber isn’t a man at all, but a girl hardly any older than the cashier. She looks just as scared as us. Maybe I can talk her out of this?

    “You don’t have to do this”, I say to her. “This will ruin your life. You can still turn around”.

    Her eyes are full of doubt.

    “Let me help you. I’ll give you my card, so you can call me, OK?” I slowly reach in my pocket. “We’ll figure something out”.

    Her arm is slowly coming down.

    At that moment the cashier jumps over the counter, throwing his weight on top of her. They both crash to the floor. The cashier gasps. He rolls off her, and clasps at his side. Her left arm is holding a small knife that is sticking out of a slowly growing circle of blood, coloring his supermarket uniform crimson.

  20. echoesofadaygoneby

    My breath slows and oxygen loses all meaning. There is this moment and this moment alone; nothing else is promised. Each breath a roll of the dice, I am paralyzed with the not-knowing. The cashier’s lip trembles and as more seconds elapse (thankfully), her eyebrows begin their ascent. The wrinkles in — my eyes dart down to the plastic nametag on her blouse — Janet’s forehead become deep as the ocean where I nearly drowned six summers ago.

    And as the sentiment strikes me, I was back there again with panic straining my lungs and physical fatigue winning the battle my mind will never be ready to lose. It was so stupid, me being out here in the water halfway to the equator. I’d returned to adolescence after my crush made a joke at my expense…involving the fit of my bathing suit. Why couldn’t I have just headed back to land? “Now I never will.”

    Lips moved in unison, melding past and present.

    A blanket of calm covered us both, and we knew that high tide was coming and there was nothing we could do about it. So, lacking a buoy, we clung to the only thing we could control: our reaction. As Janet’s shaking hand reached for the requisite buttons to comply with the thief’s demands, I made a decision.

    I leaned on my back and let the rising waves crash over me as my hand realized it was grasping a jug of milk. I knew the waves would likely show me to my grave, that the odds of hitting my target were against me. But I acted fully aware and such moments are rare, and often miraculous.

    By some touch of magic, the gallon jug hit him squarely between the legs and the gun clattered to the floor as he crumpled to the floor. and now my face is in the newspapers and they give me all the coffee I want . (Almost makes up for the two days in intensive care all those summers ago.)

  21. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Dead is Dead

    I got my coffee beans and started to walk away from the counter when a hand flew up next to my face with a gun.

    “Stop what you’re doing. Give me all the money in the register,” says the face attached to the hand. The shopkeeper quickly throws his hands into the air.

    “My good sir, how exactly do you plan to give him the money with your hands like that?” I asked him, smirking a little. The man with the gun turned toward me as the shopkeeper began taking money out of the register.

    “Hey! Be quiet!” he shouted at me.

    “Only trying to help,” I shrugged. As the shopkeeper continued shuffling through the money I noticed something odd. Only one hand dug through the money. The other reached slowly under the desk…

    I gasped, how had I not seen this coming. The shopkeepers hand flew up with a gun in it and he fired blindly at the robber. The robber, shocked pulled his own trigger, which launch as bullet that found its way conveniently in my leg.

    Despite the pain I jumped at the shopkeeper and touched his forehead lightly. He quickly fell to the ground. The robber stood again and shot, but this time missed. Then he stood still, staring at me for a minute.

    “What did you do?” he asked me, gently leaning to look on the other side of the counter, where the shopkeeper was slumped on the ground, dead.

    “Nothing that wasn’t supposed to happen,” I said as a brushed the spot where the bullet had hit me. It had already started to heal quite nicely.

    “What do you-”

    “I’m the devil. You were supposed to kill this old fellow, but I didn’t count on him fighting back. Or your terrible way with a gun. It didn’t matter, he’s dead now.”

    The man was silent and slowly backing away from the counter.

    “Oh, don’t act stupid. You must have had some idea you’d see me one day with the way you act. Now leave, and don’t forget the cash.”

  22. Kerry Charlton


    Robert Buckley slammed the cabinet front shut,

    ‘Damn I’m out of coffee. You might know on Sunday’

    Since he had no one to complain to, he hopped in his Maserati, gunned the engine and woke up half the neighborhood on the way to the grocery. The store had sparse customers at eight in the morning but only one checkout was operating, ‘go figure’ he thought.

    He picked up a few other items and waited patiently in line, when a mis-trodden
    young man burst in front of him and pulled a 45 and pointed it directly at the middle aged cashier,

    “Give me all your money,’ he said, “and be quick about it.”

    People scattered as quickly as they could but Robert calmly picked up something in his cart and firmly pressed it to the robber’s spine,

    “This is a glock I’m holding against your back. You make one move and I’ll blow your spine into pieces. Do you understand? You turn around, you’re a dead man.
    I am detective Robert Buckley and I could care less whether you live or die.”

    He pressed harder and the robber winced at the pain,

    “Drop your gun very slowly, don’t move and place your hands on you head, easy now.”

    The man behind Robert stood there frozen in awe. Robert took his free hand and

    pointed to the customer’s belt, which he quickly removed and stood by Robert,

    “Now put your hands behind your back slowly,.” he told the gunman.

    Robert shoved the Glock even harder against the robber’s spine. The customer behind Robert quickly tied the robber‘s hands tightly with his belt and two more grabbed the robber and called the police. The customers still in the store broke out in polite applause as Robert held his Glock high for everyone to see,

    “The zucchuni are rather hard this time of year, don’t you think?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Kinterralynn. My heroes are ordinary people, put to the test to live. In today:s world. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  23. JosephFazzone

    You know I always thought it would happen to someone else until I became someone else. Standing in line with Mr. Jimmy and man did he look pretty ill. He had a six pack of cherry coke since cherry red was no longer on the market. I told him he could just buy some sprite and use some grenadine, but he punched me on the arm and remarked how it wasn’t the same thing.

    As if I needed to know this.

    Scarf covering his face, a giant pushed his way to the front. In his meaty fist a pistol of some sort, and he was waving it at the cashier, a buxom middle aged woman with a huge pock mark on the end of her nose.

    “Alright,” he began menacingly although his voice was a bit whiney for the build, “I’ll take everything in the register, and a packet of gum.”

    I wondered briefly if he had a flavor in mind, but that is a question to ponder another time.

    The man turned to the rest of us and angrily mewed, “Nobody tries nothing funny!”

    “Ah ha!” I thought. It was a double negative, and that meant he was begging me to try something funny. I thought I would do a monkey face as monkey faces are usually pretty funny, but Mr. Jimmy gave me a stern look. Damn, he knew me too well. He nodded to the right side indicated my point of attack, and he would take the left.

    With a phlegm rattling cough, Mr. Jimmy was still ill after all, he launched his attack swinging the six pack of soda in a wide arc aimed at the hand holding the gun. The man turned as the soda cracked into his hand, and yelped loudly. The cans sprayed cherry cola all over the place. In my hand was a bottle of wine, I was going to meet my girl later at a wedding reception. She was practiced at the art of deception, alas, she was not here. It was up to me and Mr. Jimmy to save the day!

    I followed Mr. Jimmy’s example and swung my bag of coffee beans at his head. The bag acted like a blackjack and thumped him in the base of the skull. He crumpled like a wet towel. Utilizing the plastic that held the soda cans together, Mr. Jimmy tied the unconscious assailant’s hands together.

    “Phone the police,” I instructed the cashier.

    We did it, we saved the day! I was so elated.

    The crowd around us cheered!

    “Thank you so much,” the cashier said. “Is there anything I can do to repay you for saving us?”

    Mr. Jimmy smiled gently, coughed, and said, “Well, I could use another six pack of cherry cola.”
    “I’m sorry sir,” she said with remorse. “That was our last sixer.”

    Mr. Jimmy looked crushed. I noticed one can hadn’t burst open. I bent down to retrieve it, cleaned it up on my shirt, and handed it to him. “You know, if you try sometime you might find you get what you need.”

    Then he punched me in the arm again. “Say, that reminds me of a song.”

        1. JosephFazzone

          Thanks Kerry! Yeah we both went a fun route on this one. I was listening to the Stones, and I went for a walk. Glad to be back. Let’s hope it continues. This posts not working was so frustrating, I needed a break. I hope it’s fixed.

  24. Witt.Stanton

    When I opened my eyes, I found myself sitting on a stool in an empty bar. There was a drink in front of me that I didn’t remember ordering. I shielded away from the lights above me, wincing as my eyes refused to adjust. Pain rippled across my chest. I couldn’t breathe…

    A man sat down next to me, the smell of smoke clinging to his leather jacket. He rapped the wooden table. “A scotch on the rocks, one third ice.” I glanced over at him, meeting his steady gaze. He smiled at me. “Name’s Thanatos.”

    I could feel the temperature in the room dropping, one degree at a time. Shivering, I told him my name. My breath clouded in the air. I fought to keep my eyes open, and pain again worked its way through my chest. I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the voices calling…

    I opened my eyes. A thin bartender brought his drink over, eyes hollow and cheeks gaunt. I wanted to talk to him, but something about his posture warned me against it. He ever so quickly glanced at me before hurrying away.

    “Are you ready?” asked Thanatos, swirling his drink with his left hand. The ice cubes hugged the outer edge of the cup, clinking together noisily. He leaned back against the counter, and again he met my gaze. “Yes, or no?”

    I swallowed, frozen in my seat. “I don’t understand. What are we –” My breath caught in my throat. I couldn’t breathe…

    Thanatos gently touched my shoulder, and the weight on my chest disappeared. My breath came back, and I felt the pain dissolve away. For a brief moment, a smile flickered across his face. He looked much older than I originally had thought, the stubble on his chin more grey than black. “My dear girl,” he began, pausing to sip at his drink. “Are you ready to die?”

    I understood my situation then. The pain, the inability to breath, the voices calling to me. “I’m dead,” I whispered, putting a hand to my stomach. “Someone shot me.”

    “Yes,” he agreed. “It is quite unfortunate. You have my condolences, and all that.”

    “Then who are you?” My voice shook.

    He let out a breath, not quite a sigh, and stared at his amber-colored scotch. “From the beautifully infinite set of days I have existed in this universe, I have learned one thing, and one thing only; we fear endings.”

    I folded my arms, resting them on the scratched bar counter, and waited for him to continue. “I’m no more powerful than you. Who am I to play God? I am no creator. I am merely a side effect.”

    “A side effect of what?”

    “Of life, my dear. I am a side effect of awareness, of the universe wanting an audience, of human nature.” He said this with his eyes resolutely fixed on the lights above us. “If the tale of humanity is an epic poem filled with glowing hope, then the universe is an untold tragedy which has no end.”

    “You never answered my question,” I said. “Who are you?”

    He crookedly smiled, and I doubted he would give me a straight answer. “I have been given many names, though I doubt I have a true name. I do not believe I was born, or even created. I simply am.” He leaned in closer to me, setting the drink down. “My name is Death.”

    I could feel him gauging my reaction. “I hate to say it, but I was expecting a little more cloak and dagger and a little less alcohol. Though I’m not objecting. This is a nice change.” I took a sip of my drink and raised an eyebrow at him. He threw back his head and laughed, shoulders shaking.

    “I like you,” said Death, fighting to keep his face straight. He stood, downing the rest of his drink. “Truly, I do. But don’t let me keep you. Places to go, people to see, right?”

    I didn’t know how to respond. “Until the next time, darling,” he said, giving me a wink. Death raised his arms. The lights flickered, rattling in their fixtures. On the wall behind him, I saw the shadow of dark wings unfurling.

    He reached forwards, his leather jacket becoming a cloak of darkness, draping over his shoulders, and touched his hand to my forehead. Ice ran through my veins as I felt the bullet wound on my abdomen reappear, blood dripping down my chest.

    Then I was gone.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A powerful story with a lot of symbolism thrown in for effect. You know it would have made a great Twillight Zone story and still might. Think about polishing it and submitting somewhere,

        1. Witt.Stanton

          Everyone, thanks for the great feedback! I really love reading what you guys think about my work, and this time is no exception. Kerry, your comment made my day 🙂

  25. ReathaThomasOakley

    A moral dilemma
    (One month after time of last prompt, where I still need to add comments to several)

    Horace sat and listened to the engine crackle as it cooled in the night air. To his left the house sat, massive, bathed in moonlight, waiting.

    “My home,” he laughed, “what I thought I wanted. Stupid, stupid, stupid.” He pushed open the door, climbed down, unstrapped his carpet bag from behind the seat, and laughed again as he walked toward the porch.

    “What a fool I been, had to have the biggest house, fastest roadster. Now, I’d trade it all for one cuppa coffee and Sarah…” He stopped and sniffed, “Cigar smoke. Who…”

    “Morning, Horace,” as his eyes adjusted to the silvered dark he could see someone in one of the rocking chairs, John Palmer, Sue Ann’s father.

    “‘Bout time you was comin’ back. We was gettin’ worried.” He chuckled. “Well, Sue Ann was worried. Me? I was hopin’ you’d shot yoreself and was roastin’ in hell.”

    “How’d you know I was…” Horace started.

    “Oh, I got my people, got a telegram you was headin’ back. Wanted to be here, to welcome you home, parked round back.”

    “Get offa my porch, offa my land.” Horace dropped his bag and clinched his fists.

    “Yore porch? Yore land? Boy, seems like I gotta school you. While you been gallivantin’ these four weeks, I been workin’ with the bank, I done bought up all them mortgages. This here’s my porch, that’s my automobile, them’s my groves. You? You ain’t got nothin'” John looked at his cigar. “Heard you was over Tampa way. Shoulda had you get me some more of these in Ybor City. Tell me. You find that gal?”

    “You got people, you know I didn’t.” Horace picked up his bag and turned.

    “Yeah, she’s long gone. Prob’ly found her some other fool, some fancy man. Where you goin’? I got things to say to you.”

    “Think I’m gonna stand here, listenin’ to you there, pointin’ a gun to my head? Take it, take it all, don’t matter no more.”

    “Boy, I ain’t figgered out why, but seems my Sue Ann’s bound and determined to have you, you, and this here house.”

    “Now, how’s she gonna do that?” Horace could hardly believe what he was hearing. “I got me a wife, got me a baby, just gotta find her”

    “Boy, like I say, you ain’t got nothin’, no proof, no place. Oh, you was seduced by a little dark bit, even brought her into this house you built for Sue Ann. I hear tell there’s a bastard out with them crazy ole women.”

    “Stop it, stop that talk. It ain’t that way.” Horace wanted to keep walking away, but his feet seemed rooted to the ground.

    “Yes, it is.” John stood and tossed his cigar over the porch railing. “Here’s the rest of it. You gonna come into this house, get cleaned up, I can smell the booze from here, then you gonna start courtin’ my Sue Ann agin. Everthing’s gonna be like it was, ‘cept everthing what you owned is gonna be in Sue Ann’s name. You get outta line once, and it’s all gone.”

    “I’m so tired,” Horace started, “so damm tired.” He walked toward the porch.

    “That’s right, boy, you doin’ the right thing,” John helped Horace up the steps, then stopped. “Oh, one more thing. Sue Ann’s been busy here. Finished up the house, got all her furniture in, even got that attic all done, so’s you won’t hardly recognize it. New plaster, new paint, new wallpaper. Yep, she’s got it all finished.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Wow. That John Palmer is some high level creep.

      “Sue Ann’s been busy here. Finished up the house, got all her furniture in, even got that attic all done, so’s you won’t hardly recognize it. New plaster, new paint, new wallpaper. Yep, she’s got it all finished.” That part gave me goosebumps.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks so much. This is almost the final part of something I started January, 2015. I’ve been able to use most of the prompts to move the story, which stretches from 1905 to 1970.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Horace has got his work cut out for him. I haven’t been here for awhile so I might have missed your last prompt, but I liked what you did here, and it was still enough so I can stay with the thread of this story. Love the dialogue, you handle it so beautifully! Awesome work!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Smokin’ response girl! YOUR CHARACTERS LITERALLY JUMP OFF THE WEB SITE WHILE I’m reading. That’s an unusual feeling I rarely get reading anybody else’s work, including mine. Can’t wait for you to put this all together.

  26. nicholassaw48

    You know how you always imagined yourself to be a hero. Well, I did. But if there is one thing I realized today, is that…I’m not a hero. Not a chance. At all.
    When the man suddenly cut in front of me on the line for the counter at the local grocery store, I at first tried to tell him to get to the back of the line. But then he pulled out a gun and pointed it at the cashier, a young petite woman. I backed off immediately.
    “Stop what you’re doing. Give me all the money in the register,” the man said.
    His back was to me, and I could have done something then. Maybe wrestle the gun out of his grip? Hit him hard enough in the head? I don’t know what I could have done. All I know was that I could have saved the life of the cashier girl.
    When the girl was too slow to respond, the man shot her. I saw the blood flying first, then heard the deafening noise of the gun. The girl dropped down instantly, her cry stuck in her throat. The pain showed on her eyes, her dead eyes. Blood ran down from her forehead, where the bullet had lodged, a dark red hole.
    The man stared at the body for a second before reaching over and taking the cash on the counter. I just stood there and watched the man leave the store. He didn’t look at me once throughout the entire ordeal. Everything had happened so fast. A flash. An instant. And I did nothing.
    A life was lost and I did nothing.
    That’s why I say that I’m not a hero. Not a chance. At all.

    1. jhowe

      Great story and so real. This is what most people would do in this situation when a gun is involved. It’s the best move. But even so, the guilt would always be with the person.

  27. jhowe

    Arabica Breakfast Blend. A little wimpy, but the strongest they have. Seven Eleven never was my idea of a coffee mecca. But the addicted must have their fix.

    The line at the counter is long for a Sunday morning. Cigarettes, lottery, Slushies, Diet Coke. The man in front of me pulls a gun from his pants and starts waving it around like a scarecrow swatting flies. A woman screams, the gunman yells, the young girl behind the counter crumbles to the floor.

    “Get up!” the robber says. “Open the cash drawer, now!” The girl whimpers and the man jumps the counter and whips the pistol across her face. “Get up and open the damn drawer!”

    She rises, crying, forehead bloodied and pushes the button on the register. The man scratches his arm, twitching, eyes darting as the girl shoves the small amount of cash into a pillow case he produces from inside his shirt, the shirt I gave him two weeks ago for his birthday.

    “And now you, people,” the gunman says, pointing the gun into a woman’s face. He holds open the pillow case. “Purse. In here.” She drops it in with a shaking hand.

    When he gets to me, I stand with raised arms, looking into his watery eyes. He pushes the barrel into the hollow of my throat and I wait for the recognition. It doesn’t come. I reach for my wallet and drop it in the bag. He smiles sardonically with blackened teeth.

    Outside, I start my Audi and pull a nine millimeter Glock from the glove box. My cell phone rings.

    “Harry, man I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you. You gotta believe me, I didn’t know until I saw your license.”

    “I assumed that was the case, Phillip.”

    “Harry, I’m hurting bad. I’m really sorry.”

    “What do you need the money for?”

    “You know, just food and stuff. The baby’s sick too and needs cough medicine.”

    “Or maybe some Sudafed, a little drain cleaner? You’re not doing any cooking on the side, are you Phillip?”

    “No, God no, Harry.” His shrill voice cracks.

    “Meet me at the barn, and bring my wallet.”

    “Look, Harry, I’m just making a little, for me and Lisa. I swear I ain’t selling it.”

    “Meet me at the barn in five minutes.” I end the call.

    Phillip approaches, hands shaking, eyes unfocused. “Don’t kill me, Harry. I won’t do it again, I swear.” His head bobs, lips wet with saliva.

    I reach into my jacket pocket and Phillip sobs, holding his palms up. I pull a small manila envelope from my pocket and hold it out to him.

    “What’s this?” he says, sniffing.

    “A little taste, to get you through, until the next batch hits the streets.”

    He takes it, tears it open, peers inside, dips his finger. “Thanks Harry. I’m really sorry about pointing the gun at you. It wasn’t loaded.”

    I hold out my hand. “My wallet?”

    “Oh yeah,” he says, pulling it from his front pants pocket. “Can I go now?” his eyes are fixed on the envelope.

    On the way to the car, I check the wallet. The cash is gone. I shake my head. If the little bastard wasn’t the only tweaker around who even remotely understood chemistry, I would have shot him.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You make the belly side of life so real it hurts. It’s a wonder how you change your style like a lizard wandering around changing colors to suit his background. It reads so easy, is it that simple to write?

  28. XChen

    Almost everybody I know loves weekends. Not me. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the free time, but sometimes I find weekends extremely boring. Then it happened two weekends ago.

    I woke up that Sunday feeling refreshed. I did not go out with friends the night before, and I did not watch Netflix until 3am like I often did on a Saturday night. I hate spending money on things that I cannot keep. Food is one, and a night out with friends is another one. I make exceptions to two things only – Netflix subscription and daily coffee.

    While I could never run out of shows to watch on Netflix, I ran out of coffee that Sunday morning. So I put on my sweats and walked down to the grocery store at the corner of the street. I grabbed the cheapest one on the shelf, lined up at a register, and was excited to use this expired coupon. I get a thrill every time I fool a cashier.

    “Stop what you’re doing. Give me all the money in the register.” A voice interrupted my silent rehearsal of the coupon trick right behind me. I turned back quickly and had a glimpse of a person covered with facemask and a long black robe, pointing what seemed like a gun at the cashier.

    My heart was racing fast. I thought about running. He’ll shoot you then, stupid. I dropped that idea. Can I use this bag of coffee to shield myself if he were to shoot? I decided that might work. I felt a little better.

    The cashier had her hands up first and soon started collecting money in the register as instructed. Her hands were clearly shaking and she was habitually counting the money at the same time, so it was taking longer than I expected. The robber yelled at her for being slow and drew closer to me. Now I could see his arm extended on my right side without having to turn my head.

    His sleeve was long enough to cover his hand holding the gun. That did not look like a gun. This sudden discovery got me excited. Then I sensed the robber’s shallow and quick breaths. Oh man he’s nervous. Now this new discovery got me really excited, and I forgot I already assigned my bag of coffee as a weapon shield.

    I quickly pushed the robber back and simultaneously hit his head with the bag of coffee, making him drop his fake gun in the process. The shoppers around me soon joined forces with a few grabbing him and someone grabbing the “weapon.” The robber surrendered immediately.

    As I picked up my eyeglasses on the floor and rose up, I was swimming in people’s praises. I was extremely pleased with my actions, especially under the circumstance where my actual stake was significantly lower than what others had perceived.

    “This guy’s got the newest model of CZ 75.” Someone suddenly commented.

    I immediately fell down to my knees.

  29. Hiba Gardezi

    I wake up to a dramatic play of light and dark on my legs caused by the beams of light streaming in through the window.
    I lie on my bed in my bedroom before the window sill. In reality.
    But if you ask what my heart most desires and my soul dreams up as I sit in silence looking at the blank canvas and clean brush lying on the floor I’ll tell you I see beauty.
    I lie not in bed but on grass. Long foresty grass that smells like rain and dewdrops and all sweet smelling things. Between the tufts of dark and light green I see flowers. Boldly colored, beaming and looking up high at the sun in the most prideful manner possible— but wait, this is art. Nothing is ‘impossible’. Let’s change that to the most prideful manner.
    Ooh! What fun it is to just lie in bed and dream! How glad I am that there is something called a ‘Sunday’.
    Now I can spend my hours in nourishing my soul and not delivering burgers and fries all day.
    An artist I am and art is what I’ll do!
    I quickly jump out of bed and do twelve jumping jacks.
    All set…get ready…and— wait I need coffee.
    I skip to the kitchen spraying lavender scented perfume as I go. On checking the whole house I find “NO COFFEE!”
    The nearest grocery store is just a block away so I decide to walk. That way I can look around and think of men as elves, clouds as ships, buildings as cottages and of myself as a princess!

    * * *

    “Imaginary pixie dust.” The shopkeeper says dully as we go through my daily checklist of supplies .
    “Check, Paw Son!”
    “It’s Mr. Dawson.” He grumbles putting my imaginary pixie dust into a shopping bag.
    “It’s my nickname for you, you know. To mark our friendship!”
    “Invisible can of morale and happiness.” He rolls his eyes. I’ll call him ‘Paws’ then.
    “Check! Though some people tell me I have enough of that.” I wink at him.
    “Rainbow colored whipped cream.” He gives old Dan a look like ‘I’m bored of her’.
    Look who has got attitude.
    “A yoyo.”
    “Fresh flowers.”
    And, now! For the prized moment of truth and fun! I close my eyes waiting for him to say ‘coffee’ but instead I hear a rough voice.
    “Hands up, Oldie! Gimme yo cash!”
    I look up at a tall muscular man in torn jeans and a faded shirt pointing a gun at Paws.
    “First of all that outfit is dope!” I tell him. “Second of all so nice of you to come in here and give Paws a gun.” I turn to Paws “Is it your birthday, Paws?”
    He begins to open his mouth.
    I shake my head. “No formalities, Paws. We’re BFFs. I’ll get you your present today” I touch a cute panda key chain on the counter.” What d’you say to this?”
    He looks like he really wants to say something.
    “Oh yes! Back to business. Mr. whoever you are” I say to the man with the gun, “real nice of you to come but if you would just wait for five minutes so I can buy my coffee and then we can all celebrate. Guess who has candy?!” I shake a lollipop at him.
    I look at Paws expectantly.
    Suddenly, I realize.
    “Oh, Paws! Are you out of words?” I rub his shoulder with a sympathetic look. “It’s okay. That’s what friends are for. And I really have forgiven you for the way you’ve been treating me lately.”
    Just then the man with the gun walks out of the store.
    “Hey! Where to, Old Fella!” I shout “Wait! We’re having’ a party! At least leave the gun.”
    Paws comes over and hugs me. “Thank you”
    “Awww, you’re welcome.”

  30. chandra_wd_writer

    I typed this out in a few minutes to keep the writing habit alive. Hope it isn’t too bad.

    It would have been like any other Sunday if I did not run out of coffee at home. Without the morning coffee in my system, I could never go on with my chores.

    Sundays aren’t fun. Neither are Saturdays. Neither any other day in fact. I am living alone all by myself after my son left me. I never heard from him. I just hope he is safe. After my husband had left us when my son was eleven, I had struggled to make ends meet. All I could afford was a small one bedroom in a not so decent neighborhood.

    My son left me two years ago. He never left a note. Every time my phone rings, I think it’s him.

    I don’t have a lot of things to look forward to in the weekend. I just stay home, cook for the week, do dishes, watch TV, go to church, buy groceries, talk to neighbors, call some friends and family.

    I drove to a neighborhood grocery store. It was around ten in the morning. I thought I would buy coffee and some groceries.

    I was waiting for my turn near the checkout while a beautiful girl at the counter tried to help the impatient people in the line.

    Just when my turn came and I was taking stuff out of my basket, there rushed a masked man in a hoodie. He came out of nowhere and before I realized he pointed his gun at the girl on the counter.

    “Nobody moves. You give me all the cash. Fast. Nobody moves,” he shouted. He then pointed the gun at the people in the queue and then in a quick movement brought his hands back.

    He probably never saw me. I was too close to the counter, and I was facing the girl. I did not turn to see his face. Like everyone else, I was afraid.

    I wasn’t sure what to do. He had a gun. I just prayed he didn’t kill anyone and ran away with the money.

    The girl at the counter took the money out in a hurry and put everything on the table. Then she held her hands above her head and begged him not to hurt her.

    He took the money and stuffed the bills into his hoodie.

    “Nobody moves,” he said. Then he slowly backed off and started walking backward while still pointing the gun at us.

    All of us just stood there with our hands above our heads. I was still praying. What else could I do when he had a gun?

    When he was close to the exit door, he looked at me. When our eyes met, I knew who he was. There was no doubt. It was him, my son. I wasn’t sure if he realized that I recognized him.

    1. jhowe

      This is a good concept for a story while following the prompt vey well. The lonely widow, her son abandoning her, and then the robbery. I think I’d suggest that the son and mother would definitely recognize each other, so a more dramatic last paragraph might have worked better. Good job for typing it our in just a few minutes.

  31. Anna Golova

    The masked robber forced the cashier to give him the money. I watched as the boy put the bills in the bag and hesitated. I couldn’t deside whether I should do something. I had taken some self defense classes, but I never practised them in dangerous situations. The thief pointed the gun at the cashier’s face.
    “Faster! I don’t have the whole day!” He yelled.
    The chashier almost cried. I couldn’t just stand there anymore watching. I ran towards the robber and grabbed his jacket. He turned around trying to punch me, but I dodged the punch kicked his leg. That must have hurt because he screamed in pain. With rage he hit me with his gun. I felt light-headed. Everything was moving around.
    “That’s what you get for interupting my work.”
    He now stood just before me. He reached for my sunglasses.
    “I could use these.” He said smiling while he took them off. “I hope you won’t…” He shut his mouth when he saw my face. “James?” he mumbled.
    I didn’t know how he knew my name, but I hadn’t any time to think about it. I took the opportunity to kick him and grabbed him by the shoulders. I wanted to know who this bastard was. The robber was still bent over from my attack when I grabbed his mask. When I pulled it off I saw an old known face.
    “This can’t be true” I whispered. Before me was standing my best friend from high school. “Benjamin, what are you doing?” I asked in unbelieve.
    “I’m sorry” he answered. His eyes looked sad. “This has to be done” he said. Then he pulled the trigger. I fell on the ground and saw him running away. I felt dizzy, everything was blurry. I slowy closed my eyes and started loosing my senses.

    1. jhowe

      If Benjamin had asked me, I’d have advised not to attack the robber with a gun. But then again, if he hadn’t, your story wouldn’t have been as interesting. Good job creating tension.

  32. Pete

    Ren and Chuck weren’t Mormons. Not as they walked along the sidewalk in short-sleeved button downs and black slacks in the thick of summer. Not with their trimmed haircuts, or Ren with his black Buddy Holly glasses and shoulder strap bag. Not as they carried stolen bibles Ren had lifted from a hotel room. Not even close.

    “The ladder to heaven?” Ren shook his head. He’d been good and worked up since he woke up and found there was no coffee left. So they headed to Starbucks. And since they were up and out they’d might as well make a few stops along the way. Check a few prospects, Ren had said.

    Now the pair hurried away from a ranch style house where a scowling old man made no secret of watching them from the window. Chuck shrugged.

    “What’d I say wrong?”

    “It’s Latter Day Saints. L-A-T-T-E-R. As in later. After. My God you’re an idiot.”

    When Ren like that it was best to just let him vent. But it was plenty hot enough outside without all of his huffing. Too hot for coffee too, he thought. But Ren always drank funny things.

    “I’ve told you before. I’ll do the talking. You are never to speak.”

    “Let’s just go get your coffee, okay?”

    Chuck nodded. Fine. He was just hoping he’d get a croissant out of the deal, considering Ren had that gift card he’d lifted from a job last week. Honestly Chuck liked this Mormon gig the best. The walking, the dressing nice. The ties. Everything but the conning and stealing.

    Walking in there was a line, and this made Ren huff some more. He tapped Chuck on the chest.

    “I gotta piss. Hold our spot and no talking, okay?”

    Chuck nodded. Even through his moods, Chuck listened to Ren. Ren was a guy with ideas. It was Ren who’d helped Chuck get through juvie, got him out of juvie. Ren always had the next move and together they’d been through three states. Lots of camping and side jobs and schemes but so far they hadn’t starved.

    So Chuck stood in line. Quietly. He liked the jazz music, it went nice with the air conditioning. He stared outside, at the lazy traffic. He bobbed along. He hardly paid attention to the guy who entered, then brushed past him and into that nice family up front. The guy who pulled a gun on the nice little girl at the register.

    Chuck didn’t think that was very nice. He eyed the bathrooms, wishing Ren would hurry. Chuck shuffled his feet. He didn’t like this guy with the gun. That poor girl was crying and carrying on as she opened that register. Chuck couldn’t stand to see a crying kid. It reminded him of things he’d rather not to think about. But this guy with the gun, waving it at people.

    He needed to be reminded of some manners.

    Later, after the interview with the TV people, Chuck and Ren were walking off, back towards the apartment but Ren was all worked up again.

    “Really Chuck, you got mud in your brains. You really do.”

    Chuck thought Ren would be happy. He’d done good. The crying little girl had hugged him. The manager gave them free coffee for a year. That reporter sure had made a fuss over them too, even called them heroes. But Ren, he was grousing all over again. Couldn’t be pleased for nothing.

    “What’d I do now?”

    Ren stopped in his tracks. Just stopped and looked like he wanted to reach up and slap him.

    “You said we were prostituting.”


    He tapped his temples. “It’s proselytizing dummy. Proselytizing the word.”

    “Like when you get a fake arm or something?”

    Ren walked off, leaving Chuck smiling in the heat. He’d stopped the bad man though. And that was all that mattered to him.

    1. jhowe

      What a couple of characters, Pete. Very entertaining and funny as hell. Was it you that wrote the story about a guy that had the talent of sticking his head up his own butt? The prostituting line got me thinking about that for some reason.

    2. MikeGill

      I really like how you make someone we are led to think of as the bad guy turn into the hero of the story. Great job with the character building.

  33. dustymayjane

    The masked gunman pointed his weapon at the cashier and ordered her to empty all the cash from her register into his bag. The poor young girl turned as white as a ghost but did as she was told. She kept her eyes off the gunman while filling the bag with twenties, tens, fives and ones. By my calculations there couldn’t have been over five hundred dollars. This dude was taking a big chance for such a paltry amount.

    I’ve always wanted to test my skills in karate and here was my chance! I’d rather it wasn’t in a situation that involved a weapon but my instinct were good. This guy wasn’t all that big and I was certain I could take him down and no one would get hurt.

    I made eye contact with the young girl as she handed the money to the gunman. I backed up one step and waited for him to take the bag so his other hand was not free to retaliate. I knew thieves, once they had the cash in hand they didn’t want to let go of it. I mouthed the word ‘duck’ and as soon as she released the bag she ducked. Good girl, I thought.

    That’s when I went into action.

    With an elbow to the gunman’s ribs and a sweep of my right foot to his left leg, he stumbled. The gun went off, shooting a hole in a case of Pepsi stacked nearby. I grabbed the weapon as he went down and threw it across the room just in time to see him rise up and come at me. I karate chopped his left ear and with a right high kick to his chest he grunted and went sailing backwards, landing on a display of Little Debbie cakes.

    My adrenaline amped up and I was ready for more. With the gun safely out of reach, I was ready to rumble with this low life scum!

    The thief apparently wanted more punishment because he stumbled towards me. When he reached out I took a hop and rounded a left side kick in the air. With a direct hit to his chin, his head snapped back. Blood spewed out from his mouth. Before he could straighten I landed a right kick to his midsection. He bent over with an HUFF, and I got in a right chop to the back of his neck. The thief lay sprawled out on the floor, unable to lift his battered body.

    “You might as well stay right there.” I told him and kept a heavy foot on his neck, rendering him immobile.

    “That was awesome!” This from the young cashier.

    “Aw, it was nothing.” I stated.

    Thirty minutes later, back in my usual Sunday morning state of dress, I took my mug of coffee and the Sunday paper to my favorite perch on the porch swing. I tucked my fluffy robe around my pink nightgown clad legs and read the Sports Section front to back. Yes the Mets won!

    It’s a great day to be alive!

    1. Pete

      So Superwoman is a Mets fan. No, great take Dusty, I loved the plan of attack forming in her head. Moral of the story: Never mess with a woman who hasn’t had her coffee!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Someone a way back mentioned never to mess with a woman who hadn’t had her coffee. Being a father of five girls, I’d like to amend that statement…… “Never mess with a woman, period!” Simplier that way. I loved the blow by blow description. I am totally amazed that he even survived that treatment. Good for her!!!


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