As Bob headed toward the back room, soaking wet and squeaking loudly in his loafers, Benny had a brief moment of peace at the register. He watched Bob come inside and make his way back. If it wasn’t okay, Shayna would set in on him quick. Bathrooms weren’t normally for customers, but it’d been so damn cold outside that they couldn’t help but feel bad for some of these folk, wet and needing to change socks or wring out shirts, or just plain warm up. Coffee was selling fast, so he went to check the pots in the back of the store.
He crossed paths behind Bob as the suited man closed the bathroom door, pointedly ignoring what seemed to be an office with busy persons inside. Benny took his eyes off his destination just for a moment to look over at the counter again – and slipped in the wet slop that Bob tracked in; apparently their doormat was full already. He heard, at the same time, a loud noise that seemed to reverberate through his brain matter. Arms flew upwards in surprise from the slip and the startling noise, as he sucked in a gulp of air to yell. On the breath’s way in, something whizzed through his side, it seemed, and literally took his breath away, gushing out in a stunned grunt. Benny lay there, his side screeching at him, his black ball cap on the floor somewhere by his hand but he couldn’t reach. And he didn’t want to, anyway. Any air left had rushed out of him when he landed, and somehow on the way down, he ripped his shirt, because look – there was a hole – and now his head pounded. He had knocked over some cans of mushroom soup on the way down, maybe with his head, and was that the dolly of Pepsi 2-liters that was on his leg? He tried to call for Shayna, but he was still winded, and suddenly he realized he was crying with his jaws clenched – he hurt himself a lot more than he thought he could have. Very quickly now, the world faded from the outsides, collapsing in on him with utter dark.
Shayna’s insides quivered. The woman in front of her- for it was obviously a woman’s shape, face covered or not, and there was a glimpse of wavy brown hair underneath the hat she was wearing- was shaking, so much so that Shayna was afraid she’d be shot accidentally. The barrel of the gun was dark and staring at her from a mere three inches away, daring her to flinch just once before lights-out. She knew she didn’t have long on this Earth before this morning, but fighting cancer was more honorable a death than the move of a stupid, scared chit who obviously didn’t plan things beyond holding her hostage.
“You don’t have to shoot me,” Shayna whispered, barely audible. “I don’t know what hellhole chewed you up and spit you out, but this job isn’t worth my life, nor your going to prison- or worse. You don’t have to do this to get what you need.” So quiet, so low, so soft- yet Cathy heard each and every word. She moved her gun up and to the side, just a little, hesitating for a brief moment. She considered it- if she came clean to the cops on all the stuff she’d done, would they really just let her have her son back? Or is it really better to give Roller his money and hope her son was still alive after a little further “payment” had been received? She wasn’t sure which was worse.