Lois pulled into the handicap parking spot closest to the main doors. It was Tuesday night, and this was her usual trip to Charlie’s Big Box for milk, eggs, and other staples.
She locked her car and walked toward the main entrance, pulling the hood over her head to avoid the frigid wind.
Two high school girls hurried past her, giggling. Lois saw one of them take an mp3 player out of her coat pocket. The other girl had something in her hand too. They were headed for an old panel van.
She went after them, limping due to the pain in her back.
“Who do you think you’re fooling, Girls? They’ve got security camera all over the store.”
The girls walked faster. The side door of the van opened and they jumped in.
Lois reached the van huffing and puffing. Her back was beginning to throb. She banged. “Open this door.”
The door slid open and two young men reached out and grabbed her. One was wearing a Harry Potter mask. The other looked like Dumbledore. They pulled her inside and shut the door.
“You’re only making it worse,” she said calmly. “I’m trying to help you. Believe me—it’s not worth it. You don’t want to live a life of crime. It may seem glamorous on TV, but—”
“—shut up, Old Woman,” said one of the men.
The two girls climbed up to the front passenger seat and went out the door.
Dumbledore hopped into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
“Don’t be a fool, Young Man,” said Lois. “If you drive away, this is an abduction. Do you want to go to prison? Release me right now, and we can forget all about this.”
“But you won’t forget, Lois,” said the the man in the Harry Potter mask.
“How do you know my name?”
“Oh, I know all about you, Lois.” He turned and shouted to his buddy. “Let’s go.”
“You apparently don’t know enough about me,” she said. “I’m the senior Loss Prevention Tech at this store—been here for ten years. I’ve seen plenty of punks like you come and go—mostly to jail.”
“I wouldn’t worry so much about where I’m going, Lady.”
The van drove out of the parking lot.
After a couple of minutes, Lois said, “What’s your name?”
“Potter. Harry Potter. Haven’t you’ve heard of me? I’m a wizard.” He whipped out a pistol. “And this is my magic wand.” He laughed.
Dumbledore laughed too.
“Very funny,” she said. “It’s good that you two have a sense of humor. You’re gonna need that in prison.”
“Shut up.” He backhanded her in the face.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, mocking her. “Did that hurt your back? Because I know you’ve had two surgeries on it. But you won’t have to worry with that anymore.” He took out a black handkerchief and blindfolded her.
“Why would you want to hurt me? I mean, what’s in it for you?”
“A new van,” said Dumbledore, laughing.
“Shut up, Man,” said Harry.
“Is this where we turn—Franklin Avenue?” said Dumbledore.
“Don’t tell her where were going, you idiot. That’s the point of the blindfold.”
“It’s not gonna matter when she’s dead.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, “that’s true.”
Harry and his partner walked into Charlie’s office. Charlie was sitting at his desk eating a pizza.
“Well?” said Charlie, “did you do it?”
“You mean, did we kill her?” said Harry.
Charlie waved his arms frantically. “Don’t say that. Somebody out there might hear you.”
“Sorry,” said Harry.
“And shut the door,” said Charlie.
“I’ve got it.” It was a woman’s voice.
Harry and his buddy separated, revealing Lois, who stepped inside and closed the door.
“Did you really think you could get away with it, Charlie?” said Lois.
Charlie was stunned.
“We won’t take up much of your time,” said Lois. “We know you’re busy running your store. So as soon as you pay us what you owe us, we’ll get out of your hair.”
“I don’t owe you anything,” said Charlie.
“Yes, you do,” said Lois, “and you’ve done everything you can to avoid paying up. It was a workplace accident, and I haven’t been able to come back to work. You owe me two-hundred-thousand dollars—minimum. And I happen to know that you keep a large amount of cash in your safe.”
“Not two-hundred-thousand,” said Charlie.
“Fine,” said Lois, “then I’ll take whatever you’ve got as a down payment.”
“No,” said Charlie.
“No?” said Lois. She nodded to Harry.
Harry pulled out his pistol and pointed it at Charlie.
“So this is the thanks I get for giving you a job?” said Charlie to Harry.
“You haven’t paid us yet,” said Harry.
“You didn’t do the job,” said Charlie, pointing at Lois. “But you still can.”
“Harry and I have a deal,” said Lois. “I’m gonna pay him for doing nothing. Now get the money out of the safe.”
Charlie got up slowly and went to his safe. “You’re crazy, Lois.” He unlocked the safe and opened it.
“All of it,” said Lois.
Charlie spun around with a gun in his hand.
Lois kicked him in the face.
The gun discharged, the bullet barely missing her. The silencer muted the sound of the shot. Lois figured it was unlikely that anyone outside the office heard it.
She snatched the pistol from Charlie’s hand. “You’re more stupid than I thought, Charlie,” said Lois. “Now put all the cash on the desk.” She raked her arm across the desk, knocking his pizza box and Pepsi can to the floor.
Charlie gathered up all the money from the safe on placed it on his desk.
Harry’s eye bulged at the sight of the cash. “Now we’re talking,” he said, grinning.
Lois yanked down a cloth shopping bag that was proudly attached to the wall for display purposes: Charlie’s Big Box – where everything is bigger and cheaper. “Fill ‘er up, please.” She threw the bag at Charlie.
He began to put the cash into the bag. “I’m sorry about your back, Lois—really. I should have covered your expenses sooner.”
“Right,” said Lois, “and what about my pain and suffering?”
“Yes, of course, that too.” He put the last stack of cash into the bag.
Lois picked it up.
“So are we good?” said Charlie.
“Well, let me think.” Lois turned the gun on Harry. “Sorry, Son.”
Harry couldn’t seem to comprehend what was about to happen.
Lois put a bullet through the center of his heart.
He collapsed without firing a shot.
His buddy went for the door.
She dropped him with a shot to the back of the head.
“What a shame,” said Lois, turning to Charlie.
“No—wait!” Charlie held up both hands.
“You know, there’s something you forgot about me,” said Lois, picking up the bag of money. “It’s the reason you hired me ten years ago.”
“What’s that?” said Charlie, shaking.
Lois nailed him right between the eyes. “That I’m a bad-ass.”
She walked out.