no free lunches

the thief ran from the wal-mart with the loaf of bread tucked into his jacket. in his pockets he’d put mustard, oscar mayer salami and a 24-pack of american singles. the heavy pockets made his loose jacket pound against his torso in funny rhythms as he ran.

the fat security officer huffed and puffed outside and continued after the nimbler thief. this bulbous man in the tight fitting navy polo exhaled in a funny rhythms as he ran. in between breaths he gasped, ‘get back here!’

but the thief didn’t hear. or didn’t care. he ran. the security guard stopped, doubled over, wheezed in defeat. he was just in front of the store and a stack of plastic kiddie pools marked $19.99.

sweat began to show through his shirt. suddenly, the folds in his doughy chest were visible. a small crowd began to form.

an old woman pushed her cart up to the guard. she said, ‘you know i saw the whole thing. i can testify if you need me. i’ve done it before. i’ve testified lots of times.’

the security guard said, ‘well that may not be necessary, ma’am. we’ve got the guy on video. that oughtta be enough, i’d imagine.’

then with the authority of zeus he spoke into his radio. ‘100, do you copy?’

waiting in the sunlight before a crowd the guard tried to pose like a GI-JOE.

when he heard ‘copy,’ he said, ‘yes, i’ve got a 10-84. subject went back towards the valley hollow apartments. i was in full pursuit when he attempted to assault me. the son of a bitch managed to evade me after that.’ he capped his performance with noticeably less gusto as he murmured, ‘i suggest we call the authorities.’

‘he was stealing?’ asked the old woman.

‘what’s that?’

‘he was stealing then? the man?’

‘he sure was.’

‘i just can’t believe that,’ she said. ‘somebody stealing like that. especially in a christian community like this one.’

‘yeah,’ said the guard. ‘i can’t either, especially since we’ve got it so it’s almost impossible to get away with it anymore.’

the voice at the other end of the radio said, ’10-4. do you have a description of the subject?’

a kid at the side of his mother, part of the now dissipating crowd asked, ‘what’d he steal?’

the security guard looked at the kid. he said, ‘he stole. don’t steal.’

the kid looked at his shoes and said, ‘yessir.’ the guard never heard, the words were so quiet. his mother rubbed her son’s hair.

the guard said more into the walkie-talkie. the shoppers went in to buy. the thief went west towards the sunset.

the sun was falling behind a row of young cedars and the 8 foot fence beyond them. the thief tore past the trees, ambled up the fence and danced over the barbs up top. after that, he skittered back down and jogged towards home and the kid.

a monster.


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