By Jade Lewis
5 Years Ago
“Hey, Jasper, you’re phones going off again,” Tyler said. “It’s your mom. Aw. she’s worried about you.”
Jasper snatched his phone away. “She’s fine. Probably just wondering where I am. Once we make off with this score, we both can afford to go to another Zone. In and out. You remember the plan?”
“Yeah, I go in and distract the clerk. You sneak in from the back and lot the register and the safe. The store isn’t busy right now, so it should be easy. If things start to go south, then make sure you get the **** out of there. That about cover it?”
“Yep, okay, let’s–” Jasper’s phone rings again. “Ugh, stop calling me!” He turned his phone volume down to silent. “I’ll talk to her as soon as we’re out.”
“Fine by me, let’s do this,” Tyler said, crossing the street. He kept his head up and walked like nothing was wrong. That’s one of the things Jasper liked about him. He was a good ***********. Once Tyler gave him the signal, Jasper hurried down the alley and around to the back of the store. He pressed his back against the wall and peeked around the corner. The door to the store opened, and an employee had two large garbage bags. He was a tall, overweight guy who didn’t look all too happy to be doing this kind of work. The dumpster was a short walk down from the shop, so Jasper didn’t have much trouble sneaking inside before the door closed.
The backroom smelled worse than the outside did. Jasper figured it was either the mountain of garbage in the corner or the piles of dead fish on the counter. “How can anyone stand this smell?” Jasper thought, trying not to gag. He hurried through the backroom and entered the storage area. He peeked through the small window in the door and saw Tyler still talking to the clerk. They both were laughing at something Tyler said. The clerk was some teenager with green highlights in her hair. She was quickly falling for Tyler’s charms. Tyler’s eyes flick towards the door and promptly go back to the girl. He asks her something, and they walk into the back of the store.
Jasper opens the door and sneaks behind the counter. He pulled his hoodie above his head and brought up his mask to cover his face. As soon as he was behind the counter, Jasper had two options. Go straight for the safe or the register. Both hold enough credits for them to live comfortably for a long time. He only had a small backpack with him, so whatever was in the safe might be worth it, but at the same time, it could be too risky. This store was popular on the weekdays, but it was Sunday. No one would be in here, but they take the earnings to the bank at the end of the day. Jasper peeked up from behind the counter.
“I really should get back to work,” The clerk said.
“Oh, come on. No one’s in here. You can chill for a little while longer,” Tyler said. “I’ll buy something if you talk to me for a little while.”
“This is a store idiot,” The clerk laughed. “You have to buy something.”
“I mean, I don’t have to. Maybe I’m window shopping? Who knows? Maybe I want to talk to a pretty girl?”
“You’re awful. I’ve got half a mind to kick you out.”
“Aw, but we’re having so much fun,” Tyler smirked.
Jasper ducked back down and went for the safe. It was a standard keypad lock. One through nine. Four input spaces. “Okay, one through nine. Four-digit code. If I was a shop owner who didn’t care about his store that much, what would I make the passcode?”
“Hey, so, my friend’s birthday is coming up, and I want to get him something nice. More like a gag gift.”
“Oh, cool. I didn’t figure you for a person who had friends.”
“Ouch! That hurt. Oh, like you do?” Tyler asked. “I bet they don’t get you funny gifts.”
“No, they don’t. They actually want me to still be their friend at the end of the day.”
“****, girl. You don’t pull the punches; I might have to keep coming in here. Especially on your birthday. When is that exactly?”
“Why would I tell you?”
Tyler shrugged. “You don’t. I can just keep coming until I get it right or just the one time. Ethier one works for me.”
“November 15th,” The clerk said. “Happy? I know I am. Not seeing you for a whole month will be the best present ever.”
“You like me. Just admit it,” Tyler said.
Jasper rolled his eyes and typed in the date. It was a long shot, but it was better than nothing.
“So, the owner trusts you to run this shop by yourself?”
“I’m a big girl. I can handle myself. Yeah, the owner’s my dad. Derk is in the back, taking out the trash. He’s my uncle. It’s kind of like a family business.”
Jasper tried to block them out, but the loud beeping from the safe opening made him jump. The clerk turned around and walked to the front of the store. “Hello?” She asked. She turned back to Tyler. “Did you hear that?”
“Hm? Hear what?”
“****!” Jasper said, opening the safe and nearly gaining at the amount of money he saw.
“Man, I hope my friend doesn’t take too much longer. I was supposed to meet him in a couple of minutes. He needs to hurry up.”
“You’re friend lives here? I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed on you.”
“He won’t do that. We’ve got a big night planned. We–”
The door to the shop opened, and two men walked inside. Fully decked out in guard uniforms. The clerk hurried to the front and greeted them.
“Hey, welcome to Sun’s Shopee. How can I help you?”
“We’re looking for this individual. Have you seen anyone like him around here? We’ve picked up some unusual movement outside your store,” The guard said, holding a picture up. Jasper kept his head down, but he could see a small piece of the picture. It was him. “We’re offering ten thousand credits to his arrest.”
“Wow, he must be something to get The Guard worried. Did he kill someone?” The clerk asked.
“We can’t disclose that. Have you seen him or not?”
“I have,” Tyler said, coming out from behind the isle. “Black hair, green eyes, tall, and he has a scar under his left eye. Yeah, I’ve seen him. Are you actually giving out a reward? How long would that take?”
“Excuse me? Ty, what the **** are you doing?”
“Yes, the reward will be transferred immediately after the arrest of the individual. When did you last see him?”
“A couple of minutes ago. In the back of the store. If you hurry, you might just catch him,” Tyler said, pointing at the storage room door.
“Stay right here!” The guard ordered as both of the guards headed into the back. One of them turned to the clerk. “We need you to come with us.”
“Why?” The clerk asked. “I’ve got a store to run.”
“Lock the door and come with us,” The guard said before disappearing into the back.
“Son of a *****. Seriously?” The clerk said. She locked the doors and flipped the sign over to closed. “Don’t steal anything.”
“Okay,” Tyler grinned and watched her go into the back. “You can come out now.”
Jasper lifted his bag over his shoulder and hopped the counter. “The **** was that?”
Tyler tilted his head. “What? Did you seriously think I would snitch? Just for some credits?”
Jasper’s face softened. “Maybe.”
“Wow, dude, I thought we were cool. I’d never pull some shady **** like that,” Tyler looked at the bag. “How much was in there?”
“Not much. Maybe five grand? Let’s just go before **** gets worse.” Jasper hurried to the door and unlocked it. He peeked through the blinds. “Okay, I think we’re good.” Jasper walked out of the store and hurried to their meeting spot across from the shop. Tyler trailed behind him with a somber expression on his face. “What’s wrong with you? Look, I’m sorry, okay. I didn’t think you would’ve sold me out. It was in the heat of the moment. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s not that,” Tyler said, backing away from him. “How long have we known each other?”
“Like two years, I think? Why bring this up now? Look, we can talk about this at your place. Once we split the take.” Jasper started to walk down the alley but noticed Tyler didn’t move and stopped. “Ty?”
“I’m sorry, man. I really am. Leave the money and go.” Tyler held up his phone. “The guard knows where you are. They’ll be here in a few minutes. You need to run. I bought you some time but not much.”
Jasper couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “This is a joke, right?” He laughed.
“No, not a joke. I…made a deal with them. Turn you in and get cleared of everything. But, if you’re not here when they get here, then who can say what happened?”
“Why do you want me to leave the money? Why go through all this then?” Jasper asked. His heart was racing, and he felt like punching Tyler right then and there.
“I know you’re upset–“
“UPSET?! I’m ******* furious! How could you do this?”
“Time’s up, man. Make a call. If you cut down that side alley, you can make it out without being seen. Your mom’s place is around here, right? Go stay with her for a while. Don’t make this harder than it has to be, Jasper.”
Jasper could hear the sound of footsteps rushing towards them. “****!” Jasper said, throwing down the bag and sprinting for the side street.
“Where did he go?” A guard asked.
“Beats me. But I did get the credits back. So, that’s something,” Tyler said. Their voices were becoming smaller as he got farther away from them. He didn’t stop sprinting until he got to his mother’s back door. He hurried inside and slammed the door shut.
“Mom! It’s me! Are you here?” Jasper asked, panting like a dog. “Ma!” He pulled out his phone and saw he had ten missed calls from her. He dialed her number and waited.
“Jasper?” A voice answered. “Where the **** are you?”
“Ben? Why are you picking up mom’s phone?”
“Why were you not picking up her calls, *******? Huh?! Why?! Well, I guess I got to break the news to you,” Ben said.
“Are you crying? What happened?” Jasper asked.
“Mom’s gone, dude. She passed an hour ago,” Ben said, sobbing into the phone.
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