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The Jiffy Express door made a grating sound as a girl with an orange visor pushed on the doorís silver handle. A sign on the glass read: no shoes, no shirt, no service. Below that, a circular white sticker with a smiley face, read Pull.
She walked inside the convenience store. Her visor was resting low on the long sloping plane of her forehead. A faded mauve dress moved with her hips. She stood in the candy aisle.
What should I have today? she thought. A Snickers would be nice, but those damn nuts stick in my teeth sometimes. A fireball, wow, I remember when Tommy Dane bought a bag and scraped the hot stuff off. Force fed it to that pug and killed the poor thing. A Mars bar? Never had it. Milky Way is good, but no, always leaves me still hungry. Pay Day Ė fruit cake for grandma. Lifesavers: Taste good for a secí then I always bite into them. Makes my back teeth hurt. Pop Rocks, now that was a candy. Tommy loved those.
She stood in the candy aisle for ten minutes. Several times she picked up different bars, examined them, read their labels, and then put them back. The cashier watched her carefully as he scratched beneath the fold of his green and white work shirt, exposing a gaunt midsection and a hairy bellybutton. He wondered if she were a shoplifter. His Jiffy Express vest and name tag were hanging behind him, on a partially assembled potato chip rack.
She approached the register with a long stride and downcast eyes. A belt, several sizes too large, hung on her hips in a loose fashion. Her hands were empty.
Can I help you?
Iíd like some Pop rocks.
Iím sorry, you say pop-nocks?
No, she said, looking up at the security camera near the door, Pop-rocks. The little candies that fizz in your mouth.
Popocks, did you look by other candy?
Then we no have them.
Her eyes came up a bit, to stare at the cashierís beard.
Iíd like some cherry Pop Rocks.
We have none.
Look in the back.
No, not out of stock. We no carry these rocks. Very sorry.
I said look in the back.
The convenience store was empty at this time of night. A security camera focused on the register where the woman argued with the cashier. She had blue-blond hair to the middle of her back. The man turned his palms up toward the florescent lights. His shoulders shrugged. At 1:54 in the morning, the woman shot the cashier.
The initial blast tore apart his chest. His green and white shirt shredded into grotesque sleeves. He fell back, a tattered puppet, against a pile of hot dog boxes.
The gun nearly jumped from her hand, surprising her with a violent kick for such delicate hands. Her first two shots slammed into the manís chest. Dull gray bullet cartridges ejected to the left of the ivory-handled gun. One landed next to a package of baseball cards. Her eyes blinked from a trace of gunpowder in the air.
Her last three shots were to his head. She had to lean over the counter to reach him, as he rolled Ė clinging to life, behind the storeís metallic gray safe. A splatter of blood landed on the translucent orange visor, lifted high on her temples, with strands of blue-blond hair falling disheveled into her eyes.
She reached for a partition near the register and tore down a rack of small items: film, vitamins, condoms, batteries. She ripped open a package of condoms and flung them at the cashier. He was lying in a slow forming puddle of red and black. The gun set on the counter. She tore open some Sunny-Day vitamins with her teeth and poured them into her hand. She lifted the pills to her mouth for a second, reconsidered, and fled from the store. The vitamins dropped to the floor.