When you work the night shift at a Quick Stop on the bad side of Tulsa, you see a lot. I learned that within the first week of getting a job here. Sometimes you see things that are kind of funny, like a few boozed-up teenagers stumbling around the store for an hour, having absolutely no idea where they are. Or instead a rumble might start right outside the store, and of course the manager sends the new kid, which just happened to be me that time, to clean up the mess.
Nothing could have prepared me for tonight, though, absolutely nothing….
"Good luck on your finals, sweetie," Mrs. Robinson said, reaching over to give me a hug.
I finished bagging Mrs. Robinson's groceries, and watched her slowly hobble out of the store, fingers clutched tightly on her cane. One of these days, she's gonna leave and never come back, I thought. I felt kinda morbid for thinking something like that, but she's old…really old. Gotta die someday, right?
Just as I was opening my book, the doors of the Quick Stop slammed shut with a bang.
I looked up to see a guy about my age standing at the front of the store. He was tall, blond, and tuff; I knew who he was, and he was making me nervous. He just stood there, breathing heavily with a wild look in his eyes.
"Dallas, you alright?" I asked apprehensively. He looked up at me, slowly walking forward until he reached the register.
"Give me some money," Dally hissed, looking pointedly at the gun he held in his hand.
"I can't do that. Come on man, just leave," I faked a carefree attitude, while inside I was panicking.
"Do what I tell you, dammit!" he said louder, slamming a tightly clenched fist onto the counter. He looked close to tears, but that was impossible. Dallas Winston didn't cry.
From across the store, I met eyes with one of the shelf-stockers, Camille. She raised her delicately trimmed eyebrows in question and made a finger gun. I gave an imperceptible nod, and watched as she gracefully disappeared to the manager's office.
"What are you doing?" Dally asked, turning his head to look in Camille's direction, but she was already gone, "You told someone, didn't you?"
"Ummmm, no," I was shaking and my hands were sweating. Dally stared at me with suspicion. He knew I was lying.
"Then open up that register and give me the damn money."
I could see the anger, sorrow, and frustration in his face, that mixed with the gun could result in something not so good. Like my death.
Resignedly, I did as he asked, and started handing him twenties. It doesn't matter anyway; Camille just called the fuzz.
I nearly emptied the machine, and as if on cue, there came a distant sound of sirens. Dally quickly shoved the last few bills into his pocket, and ran out without a word.
I walked out into the parking lot. A bright, full moon lit up the night sky, and the only thing ruining the beauty of it all was the scream of approaching sirens.
"He went that way!" I shouted and pointed as several police cars drove into the nearly empty parking lot.
Watching them quickly leave again, I began to feel almost guilty for helping them find Dally. Yes, he has a lot of money on him and he held me at gunpoint, but I'm good at reading people. Something has happened to him, probably worse than anything I've ever experienced.
Before I realized what I was doing, I found myself driving down the street after the cops. I followed them through dark, curving roads of gravel. Each neighborhood I passed looked more trashy and rundown than the one before.
Finally, I came to a stop. Dally had been cornered into a vacant lot, and he stood there with his gun pointed at the cops. A group of guys ran up behind him, frantic and worried, trying to get him to back down.
But I knew he wouldn't. He flexed his jaw, a tear slipping down his face, but he kept a calm demeanor, even as the bullets pierced his skin. He was dead before he hit the ground.
But that was what he wanted, and although his friends were sobbing in grief, I felt a little less guilty than I had just minutes before.
I turned my car around in a driveway and headed back to the Quick Stop; the police still needed to question me.