“This is supposed to be a dollar store,” the woman said, looking upset.
“As the signs in the windows say, ‘’All items, one dollar to five dollars’.”
“Then why’s it called a dollar store?” she argued.
“‘Cause that’s what they called it before inflation? Hell I don’t know, but if you want that,” he pointed to the item sitting on the counter, “I need two dollars plus tax.”
“Watch your language, young man.” With a sigh, as if it was the last money she would ever see, she handed him three dollars, waited for him to give her change back and bag her item, and then she stalked out of the store.
Alfie rolled his eyes dramatically when Pat, his co-worker at the front counter, looked at him. He got a grin and a mouthed ‘Gotta love ones like that’ in return. At that moment Mr. Knox came out from the back room with his assistant. They held a hurried conversation and then Knox walked up to the counter to tell Alfie and Pat that he was leaving for an hour. Without waiting for a reply he returned the way he’d come, his assistant in tow.
“So we’re in charge now?” Alfie asked.
“Yep. Big whoop,” Pat answered. “He’s been doing that more often these days. It’s probably why he hired you when Dember quit, so we could take bathroom breaks without leaving the store unattended.”
“If we have a problem do we call his assistant?” Alfie refrained from commenting that Dember hadn’t quit, he’d been arrested for receiving stolen goods. After all that was something he figured he shouldn’t be aware of as far as Pat was concerned.
Pat shrugged. “We can call but if he’s busy he’ll ignore us, which he always is when Knox takes off.”
“Speaking of bathroom breaks…”
“Go,” Pat said with a chuckle. “I think I can handle the ‘massive’ crowds for a few minutes on my own.”
“Thanks. I’ll be back in a couple.”
Alfie walked quickly to the miniscule bathroom at the back of the shop, leaving the door cracked open an inch. Seconds later a paw pulled it a bit further open and a large black cat slipped silently from there to the door of back room, pushing it open just enough to slip inside.
The cat inched its way to the nearest set of shelves, leaping up to land gracefully on top of them. He peered down, looking for Knox’s assistant, and then crept from shelf top to shelf top until he was as close as possible the man.
The assistant stood at the back door, talking to a kid who couldn’t have been more than eighteen at most. The kid pointed to the large box standing just inside the door. The assistant nodded, kneeling to check the contents. A minute later he walked to a desk in the far corner of the room, well out of the kid’s vision. He opened the door to a cubbyhole on one side of the desk.
The cat jumped silently down to the floor to crouch under the set of shelves closest to the desk. He observed with interest as the assistant removed a tall stack of papers from the cubbyhole to reveal a small safe hidden behind them. From his vantage point the cat wasn’t able to see the combination to the safe as the man spun the dial. He resisted the impulse to creep closer. At least now he knew where the safe was.
The assistant took out a bundle of cash, counted out what he needed, put the rest back into the safe and closed it. Then, after he put the papers back where they’d come from, he shut the cubbyhole door and returned to the kid.
“You come up with more of those, we want them as well,” the assistant told the kid as he handed him the money. The kid counted it, grinned, and nodded before disappearing from the cat’s view down the alley.
The cat quickly left the back room, returning to the bathroom. Alfie walked out a moment later, tucking his shirttails into his jeans as he strolled back to join Pat behind the counter.
“I can see you were overwhelmed with business,” Alfie said with a laugh when Pat glanced up from the book he was reading.
“Yeah, made the shop, humm, no money? I still can’t figure out how Knox stays open as slow as we are, but hey I’m not complaining as long as he pays me my miserable salary.”
“I’m with you on that,” Alfie agreed, pulling out the magazine he’d stashed under the counter when the crabby woman had come up to pay for her purchase.
The two young men recommenced their literary pursuits, whiling away the time until they were off for the day.
* * * *
The Beauceron sat on his haunches, waiting with all the patience of his breed for the Siberian cat to gain entrance to the dollar store. His eyes followed the cat’s path as it crept from the fire escape to the roof of the next door building. For a moment he lost sight of the cat before it reappeared on the edge of the roof and jumped down to the one belonging to the dollar store.
Three minutes later the back door of the store inched open. The Beauceron entered, waiting for Alfie to close and lock the door again. Then he shifted and with a thought clothed himself.
“Where’s the safe?” Terry asked.
Alfie led him to the desk, opened the cubbyhole door, and removed the stack of papers.
“Sort of amateurish but it works,” Terry commented as he knelt to study the safe. Then he removed his tools from their case on his belt and set to work. A few minutes later the safe door swung open. “And we have lift-off,” he murmured as he read through the papers in a file folder which sat on the safe’s top shelf.
“Enough to clear Dember?”
“Oh yeah, and send Mr. Knox and company away for a good long while.” He took his cell from its holster, laid the papers out on the desk, and photographed them one by one while Alfie stood watch. When he was finished, Terry returned the folder to the safe, closed it, and put everything back the way they’d found it. “Now to see what was in the box you told me about.”
It took Alfie a minute to find where Knox’s assistant had stashed it, high up on one of the shelves at the side of the room furthermost from the door that led into the shop.
“Nice haul,” Terry remarked as he took pictures of the box’s contents. “Let’s get out of here and send all this info to our friendly snitch to pass on to the cops.”
Thanks for sharing your awesome story, Edward! Can't wait for the next part. I've posted at Ed's blog, a review of my favourite genre. We've swapped as always. Also, I've put an article up @ RLJ sweeties, which I think you'll find rather debatable if not interesting. http://redlipstickjournals.blogspot.com
Happy Yaoi Hunting