"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen," Benny said, holding the gun out in front of him with both hands, his straw cowboy hat pushed down low on his forehead. "This is a robbery."
A lady screamed and Benny forgot what came next. He played the scene over in his head. Thelma standing in the store. People backing away from her. Oh yeah.
"Nobody lose their head," he said, turning in a circle so everybody could see his gun. "Simon says down on the floor."
The screaming lady put both her hands over her mouth. Her eyes looked like big marbles in her face. A man and his little boy just stared at him like he was an alien or something. Nobody got on the floor.
The fat man behind the counter reached out. "Give me that, son, before you hurt somebody."
Benny shook his head. "Simon says – "
"I can't understand a word you're saying," the fat man told him. "Hand over that paint gun now and stop this nonsense."
Benny felt his face get hot. Tears stung his eyes. "Not a paint gun," he shouted. "Put money in a bag!" The heavy gun started to shake in his hands. "Simon says – "
"Boy, I'm not telling you again," the rude fat man interrupted. "Put the toy gun down and stop disturbing my customers." He started to come around from behind the counter. "Where's your folks? Do they know what you're up to?"
Benny backed away. Mama doesn't know anything 'cause she's dead. Daddy's in the bathroom. We need gas money. This isn't the way it's supposed to go!
Frustrated, his eyes filled with tears. He didn't know what to do. The fat man got closer. Run! He turned, stumbled over his feet, and pounded out the door.
"Wait!" he heard the man yell. "I want to speak to your folks!"
"No!" Benny sobbed.
He didn't want Daddy to see him crying like a baby. He ran around the corner of the store. Stupid boy! He hit himself in the forehead with the gun handle. It hurt and made him cry harder. He tried to squeeze behind a row of garbage cans to hide, but the space was too small and one of the cans fell over. The lid popped off with a loud rattle and stuff spilled out.
"Oh man." He had to fix it before anybody saw. Grabbing the edge of the can, he gave a mighty grunt and pulled it upright. Two bags stayed on the ground. The white one squished and smelled bad. Benny thought he might barf before he got it back into the can. The second bag looked like the kind people took to the gym, green and blue, with a zipper and handles. Why did somebody throw this away?
It had something in it.
Benny squatted, laid the gun on the ground and unzipped the bag. He looked inside and his heart jumped. Money? Lots and lots of it! He started to pull some out to get a closer look, to make sure it wasn't play money.
"Hey, boy! What're you doing there?"
The fat man had come out a side door near the back of the store. Benny grabbed the gun and the bag and ran.
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