A very short story by: M. Scott Anderson
Sitting at the kitchen table, I stirred my arnold palmer with my straw. I didn’t care for tea but it was all Jane had in her fridge. I tried to focus on the lemonade and hide my distaste from her as she busied herself from the stove to her island, cooking lunch.
She was going on and on about her job, I was barely listening. Jane may be my best friend but it’s hard to keep up with her when you’ve never met the people she was talking about. “And then Henry decided his job was more important and took over the copier… oh nuts.”
“What?” I ask being snapped back into the conversation.
“Can you run down to the 7/11 and get me some peanuts?” Jane asked.
“It right down the street and I’m sure they have a jar of peanuts,” Jane batted her eyes to persuade me. Little did she know I would have gone just to get a decent drink.
In a few minutes, I was at the 7/11. I wasn’t the only one. A girl, whose life was on the wrong track, stood behind the counter twirling her hair and stared at the clock. There was also a guy in a red shirt in front of the beer case surveying the options.
I walked down the aisle with the assorted nuts. None of them were in jars. I settled for getting several small dollars pack of them. I headed back to where the drinks were when the gunman entered and shot the ceiling. “Everyone on the ground, this is a robbery. I don’t want any trouble. I just want the money in the cash register.”
I hit the ground dropping all the nuts in my hands. The girl was audibly crumbling behind the counter as the gunman instructed her slow movements.
The redshirt guy shimmied over to me, “we got to do something.”
“What?” I said trying not to say anything too loudly.
“You got to bum rush him,” the guy said.
“I would do it but you’re probably stronger than me and that guy is pretty big,” he said. I didn’t get a good look at the guy so I had the trust him on that.
“Don’t yall do anything funny back there,” the gunman said to us.
“See, no,” I said. “He’ll shoot me. He’s already shot the ceiling.”
“He’ll be thrown by you running at him. He won’t know what to do. He may even shot us all once he’s done. No witnesses,” the guy’s voice sounded serious. “Trust me, I work at the CIA.”
Maybe it was the stress of the situation but for some reason I bought all of it. I stood up and ran toward the gunman. He spun around and pulled the trigger. The bullet flew into my shoulder but I kept running and tackled gunman. The gun flew across the ground and I heard the guy say, “Call the cops, I got the gun. He’s not going anywhere.”
“I got shot, you asshole.” I screamed grabbing the place where I was bleeding.
Everything between that moment and when I was sitting in an ambulance was blurred. The cops were talking to me about what happened and asked about why I did something so stupid. I mentioned that the CIA agent told me what to do. That’s when I found out he’s just the janitor at the CIA.
After the cops restrained me from trying to kill the guy who almost got me killed and about an hour of statements later, I found myself in my car driving back to Jane’s house.
She exited her house. She looked a little frantic and a little upset as she approached the car that I had stayed in, no doubt worried about my long absence. “Where have you been? Where are the nuts?”
I decided to tell her what happened later. “Arnold Palmers suck,” I said. Rolled up my window and drove away.