Trying to shake the thought of the old man out of her head, Daisy went back to her reading.

She’d brought in a small stack of comics with her to get her through the night, and with the one finished, she’d moved on to the next. A few pages in and she heard the doors sliding open behind her again, accompanied by the sound of more than one emergency vehicle crying its way past the building.

“Welcome to Drug Corner,” she said, setting the comic down on the counter and turning to the doors as she had done with the old man.

It was two men.

One short, the other tall.

They were both young and both were in heavy coats, their hoods pulled over their heads so that she couldn’t see their faces. Not that she was really looking. Other than her obligatory glance, nod, and recitation of the scripted greeting it was store policy to toss out each time someone walked into the store, she’d hardly given them a second look.

She’d noticed them only in a peripheral sense as they entered and then moved quickly into the back of store. She figured them for pharmacy customers and got back to her comics.

Three issues later and the two men were back.

She could see them out of the corner of her eye as they approached her counter in a slow, almost cautious manner. Each had their hands in their coat pockets. They whispered back and forth with a furiousness that cried argument to Daisy and the hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention.

Apart from the way the two acted, she also noticed that neither had products to buy; no cart, no basket, nothing. Sure, they might have come into the store just to purchase cigarettes, or maybe they couldn’t find what they wanted and they were leaving the store, or approaching her to ask where to find something, but she didn’t like the way the two made her feel. And she’d long since learned to trust the way people made her feel.

The two stopped about twenty or so feet from her register and the whispered argument increased in intensity. Whatever they were here to do, Daisy could see that the tall one didn’t like it. She could also see that the tall one wasn’t in charge. To go along with the furious whispering, there was a lot of head-shaking from the tall one and head-nodding from the short one. Gestures one normally made with a hand or pointed finger to hammer a point home was all being done with their heads as their hands were still stuffed deep in their coat pockets.

Eventually the short one regained control and the two bellied up to the counter.

She stared at them.

They stared at her.

The short one sneered at her. Confidence rolled off of him like the steam from an animal that had been slaughtered and left to die in the snow.

The tall one’s eyes darted to everything but her. His face glistened with sweat and he swiped at it with an arm still attached to the coat due to the hand buried deep in the pocket.

Daisy sighed and rolled her eyes. She knew what was coming. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last. And so, as the short one tried to use silence and his presence to intimidate her, she decided to get things started.

“Can I help you?” She asked. She tried to keep her voice neutral, tried to keep the routine boredom out of it. She didn’t think she’d been all that successful.

The short guy smiled even wider. Then he spoke, his voice strong and commanding.

“That depends on you, bitch.”

Bitch. She shook her head and sighed. It was going be like that, then.

The short guy pulled his right hand out of his pocket. As she suspected, it held a gun, a revolver. His knuckles were white around the grip.

He pointed the gun at her and she looked down the barrel with a look of contempt pasted on her face.

“Unless you want me to empty this gun into that pretty face of yours, then you better hand over all the cash in your register.”

To be continued . . .


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