Waiting For The Reward

Ezra Azra


© Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@sylviacreate?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Sylvia Szekely</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/jv1hChnGHyE?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

by Cole Keister:

Photo by Max Kleinen on UnsplashPhoto

by Cole Keister:


by 100 files:


Shivvy, the shop attendant, was alone in the Corner store. Her shift had started two hours ago. It was snowing; had been for hours; already six inches, at least, on the ground.

The six o'clock news said the City was in for a pummeling because this was the beginning of its annual snowstorm. This time tomorrow there would likely be twenty inches of snow everywhere. Most of the City would close down for at least forty-eight hours.

This store of the Company's had stopped making a profit a year ago. There was a significant population shift happening out of this suburb of the City.

Headquarters in another State had notified this Manager the store would be closing by the end of the current fiscal year. A final date would be decided within weeks. The six workers involved would be paid a year's severance pay if they remained until the final date, whenever that would be within the current fiscal year.

Because she was searching the newspaper ads, anyway, as she leaned over the counter, next to the cash register, she did not pay attention to the three customers who entered and went to the shelves.

Shivvy was out of practice noticing customers because there had been so few, decreasingly, in the previous few weeks.

Those three customers were the first in the first two hours of her shift. And, too, most probably, they would be leaving without buying anything.

She was right about them not buying anything; she was wrong about them leaving.

The three customers emerged from behind the shelves. They were dressed in identical sweaters and ski masks. One went to the front door and adjusted the hanging "Sorry, we are closed" sign.

The other two went to Shivvy at the counter. Shivvy had been so focused on searching the job ads in the newspaper spread out on the counter, she became aware of the robbery in progress when one of the robbers tapped on the counter with their gun to get Shivvy's attention. They pointed guns at her. They did not need to speak.

Shivvy froze, and because she froze she could not raise her arms above here head as hard as she was trying. Also, she wanted to step back, but her legs refused to obey her.

The one robber motioned with their gun, almost politely, for Shivvy to come out from behind the counter. It might have been because of the ‘almost politeness’ that Shivvy unfroze. Shivvy obeyed as fast as she could, pleading as she obeyed. "Please, I am just a worker. Take whatever you want. I'll do whatever you want."

While the one pointed their gun at Shivvy, the other robber went behind the counter.

"Face the wall. Close your eyes. The less you see, the less reason we will have to kill you." Shivvy obeyed. The robber was speaking extra slowly. Shivvy figured that was because the robber was faking the accent. The faking was so fake that Shivvy had to concentrate to understand the robber.

The robber who went behind the counter took all the money out of the cash register, and scattered it on the floor. That robber proceeded to swipe things off the shelves, down to the floors.

The robber guarding Shivvy ordered her to get to the floor and lie face down. Shivvy obeyed. The robber knelt on the floor next to Shivvy's head and whispered in Shivvy's ear.

"These masks are killing us. We are taking them off now. If you so much as peep at us, we will kill you. Just remember, you are not Wonder Woman; I am, with a gun I am itching to use."

Wonder Woman! Shivvy had heard those words spoken in the bus! Teenagers in seats behind her. They would not recognize her because in the bus she had been bundled up for the snow. She couldn't be certain about the robber's voice, because she, Shivvy, had been wearing ear muffs.

The two robbers took off their masks. The robber at the door had removed their mask earlier on when Shivvy went down to lie face down. That robber was standing guard at the glass door, looking out, just in case a customer approached.

The robber from behind the counter took over guarding Shivvy. The other robber went to the shelves deeper into the store. Shivvy heard that robber swiping things to the floor, off the shelves.

The one guarding Shivvy, hissed at her. "Stay down until the police get here. We will phone them." The robbers left.

Shivvy lay on the floor, face down. She heard the police sirens approaching. She lay there until the two officers entered the store, and said she should pick herself up.

The next day, at the police station, the Manager of the store was puzzled while he was telling the police the robbers stole nothing. Even the money from the cash register was all recovered from the floor.

The two detectives assigned to the case examined all the obvious possibilities.

Disgruntled workers? Not likely. The workers were going to be paid generous severance pay when the store was closed down permanently withing months. Moreover, as was the Company's custom, when the date of closure was determined, the workers would be offered to buy the remaining products at over half price discounts.

Career gangsters? Not likely, because the cash register money was not taken, and nothing else. For the same reasons, no other kind of criminal.

An inside job? No, because the investigation revealed the Company had terminated all insurance coverage of that store a week before in preparation for its imminent permanent closure.

Most puzzling of all, the robbers left not even a speck of a forensic clue. The haphazard manner in which they had scattered stuff on all the floors, indicated the robbers did not care about accidentally leaving traces of themselves by their chaotic recklessness.

Shivvy came the nearest to being a suspect. The robbers had not hurt her, even the slightest. That was unusual. From where Shivvy was face down on the floor, had she twisted ever so slightly, she could have seen the security mirror located in a corner high up near the ceiling.

Just about every Corner store in that suburb had such a mirror, because just about every Corner store in that suburb was a franchise of the same Company.

Shivvy had said she was too paralyzed with fear to have thought of risking being sneaky.

In less than a week, the police investigation came to a frustrating end. At least one Detective would not close the book on Shivvy.

The Company was allowed to close down the store, and to make the offer to the workers to buy whatever goods they wished, at seventy percent off. Shivvy bought the only squeegee pail-and-mop set.

She made a good impression on the Manager and others when she volunteered to use her purchase to help clean up before all of them went their separate ways, for good.

At home, she retrieved a tuft of hair she had surreptitiously tucked inside that squeegee pail just before the police had arrived in the store while she was still on the floor, face down.

The tuft had floated down next to Shivvy's face when two of the robbers standing near her had hastily removed their stifling ski masks. It was because she knew she had the incriminating tuft of hair, that she did not tell the police about those robbers’ shoes.

As she lay face down on the floor in the store, she saw the robbers’ shoes which, at times, were about a finger’s thickness away from her eyes. She recognized the shoes as those of those loudly obnoxious teenagers on the bus which those teens had offensively kicked onto the seat backrests in front of them.

She believed most other citizens would agree with her that the police in that City were bound to fail in their investigations. She felt it in her bones, as they say, that those robbers would strike again, soon. No doubt about it, the police will offer a reward. She saw reward-offering posters everyday along the streets when she was on the bus.
Shivvy started right away figuring out how to collect the reward without incriminating herself.

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