Betty, a bedraggled paleface skank of shrunken proportions, has stuffed $41 in merchandize under her ill-kept clothes. Ron stops her at the door, makes her put down her goods and tells her she is banned from the store. She tells him that she knows the rules, has been around and that unless he has her arrested and she signs a ban notice she can come in whenever she wants.
Ron calls the cops at 3 a.m.
The cops respond and arrest Betty, taking her out as she argues.
At six a.m. Betty sneaks in the out door while Ron patrols the in door, buys a small item in defiance, and snickering, slips by the retail food tyrant.
Betty sits in her car across the street looking at Ron, waiting for him to leave so she can come pillage.
Ron points her out to Larry, relieving him for the morning.
Betty clenches her jaw and narrows her peepish eyes, determined to wait out this shift too—eventually they were let down their guard and Betty will be in the door and under the radar…
The next night, Bobby, a homeless drunk who often seeks shelter on the store’s interior bench, comes to sit. Ron lets him, but only for a while, just long enough to warm himself up and not disturb the customers.
There is something in the night that Bobby fears.
Small, shock-haired with leathery tan, Bobby slinks and, shuffles and scampers, forever on the lookout for his hunters, the police and the thugs. The police do not hurt him, but make him move, they flush him out for the hunters.
The following night I step off the bus and see Bobby curled up in a loose fetal, his head pillowed on a wad of crimped plastic shopping bags, shivering on the cold concrete.
Three hours later Bobby staggers in the front door, half his face curb-scraped, both eyes puffed and swollen, his oft-broken nose bleeding, his wild hair clotted with blood from the sneaker rips in his scalp. He can’t speak through his swollen and cracked lips, rubbing his jaw at the base.
The Hawthorn Hoodrats, the thugs who have tried Big Eric, Columbine Joe and me, with no success, have gotten their favorite prey once again, when he’s ripe, at the beginning of the month, when he has cashed his disability check…