Swenson eyed the clock over the front entrance—15 minutes until closing. These were always the longest minutes of the day, the time when he most expected to be robbed at gunpoint, although it had never happened. But tonight he feared more than other nights that his convenience store would be subject to crime—he had only to turn on the TV to justify that fear. Needless to say, he had suspects in his mind: the Greek kid with the shifty eyes and the extra tall ten-year old topped his list. He was ready with his Smith & Wesson.
At ten of the hour, Mrs. Livingston came in, a little wobbly as usual, a giant bag by her side. He called her “Livvie.”
“You just made it,” said Swenson. Livvie waved a fist at him.
A few seconds later two teenage boys he’d never seen before threw open the door. Swenson cursed under his breath—he should have locked the door.
“What do you boys want?” he asked from behind the counter.
The boys looked at each other—they were about ten feet away from Swenson at the start of the cereal aisle. They whispered to each other.
“Come on boys, I’m closing.”
As if an alarm had gone off, the boys ran out of the store.
“Idiots,” said Swenson. He looked around for Livvie, but she was nowhere to be seen.
In the first alley by the store, an old woman, hunched over a large bag, slowly pulled out two boxes of cereal. The two teenagers watched her as if she were performing surgery..
“Take this to the shelter,” she said.
“Drop it!” yelled Swenson, his gun pointed at the trio of shadows.
A single shot echoed off the brick walls. The boys ran while Livvie charged Swenson, yelling expletives on the way.
Swenson dropped to his knees, sobbing: What have I become?