Been Caught Stealing

Siobhan watched the salesclerks carefully but unobstrusively behind her sunglasses. She'd done this before, and the quickening of her heart was familiar. An old lady in a blue jumpsuit plopped down a pile of clothes and started talking loudly to the blonde salesclerk about the mislabeling of sizes. The redheaded one started to check through the items of a harried-looking mother and her three kids clamoring for attention.

Then she started to pick the items and slip them nonchalantly into the pouch under her sweater. Two candle-holders for Amy's beautiful homemade candles. An ashtray for Mike, so he wouldn't have to smoke on the balcony next time. Then the redhead was free again, and Siobhan went back to browsing. A quick escape was too suspicious. She looked at her watch a few minutes later and strode purposefully toward the elvator, snapping her gum.

Once out of sight of the cashiers, she removed the sunglasses and took off her head-scarf. Only two others were waiting at the elevator: a dark-haired man wearing a store uniform, and a girl her age in a wheelchair. She smiled at them both, and joined them in waiting. The man was probably scoping out her figure under the sweater--he looked the type.

The elevator came, and they entered. The girl in the wheelchair got off one floor down, but the man was headed for the basement. Damn--she'd planned to go out that way. She'd have to get off earlier and go down in a few minutes.

She reached for the Main Floor button, and he did simultaneously. His elbow bumped the pouch, and the ashtray slid out and down her torso. She tried to stop it before it escaped her sweater, but her arm moved too slow, constrained by the wall of the elevator. The ashtray slid out and landed on the floor of the elevator with a lound think. The man bent down to pick it up, and noticed the label on it. "Hey!" he said.

Just then the elevator doors opened, and she elbowed him in the ribs and dashed out into the basement. Many saw her heading for the exit, but none responded in time to stop her. Once out the back way, she scrambled into a dumpster and nestled under a artificial Christmas tree just through out. She heard the security men come out into the back lot, and one of them even looked in the dumpster, but she stayed motionless and he went away.

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /