short fiction / Uncategorized

At the Shopette, Pt. 1

I was always a baseball fan, ever since my granddad signed me out of school one day to watch the Baltimore Orioles in the 1973 world series. In junior high, we collected baseball and football cards which I usually bought with my allowance, but as luck would have it, Bill Cooper had trumped me lately, outdoing every card acquisition I could manage. I wasn’t happy about it at all. Bill was two years older, already in High School and ROTC, and doing adult things. He smoked, he went out with girls, he stayed out late. He made sure everybody knew how cool he was.

My step-dad was stationed in Mannheim, Germany and had just been promoted. He was proud of it. I had to concentrate and answer the phone, β€œTaylor’s Quarters” every time it rang instead of the usual hello. I missed my grandparents, but I liked Germany. There was mystery in the forest and color streaming through the narrow city streets. The base offered just about every sport to military kids which suited me fine.

On a regular Wednesday afternoon, I found myself shopping at the Shopette. This was during school lunch, a fast and furious snack grab. I was scoping the chips out when I noticed the bubblegum packets with the sports cards. I really could use a new one. I looked at them, then looked away. There were a lot of possibilities in a bubblegum wrapper. Rookie players I might not have. I glanced at the clerk, sweat collecting on my upper lip. She didn’t seem to be paying attention. I hesitated too long. I grabbed a pack and went to tuck them into my pocket.

“Hey!” she yelled.

Somewhere from behind, the sweeper guy from the store grabbed my arm. I was apprehended, a bubblegum baseball card bust. The sweeper guy had a firm grip on me as we headed for the back office while the clerk called the military police. He opened the door, and the room looked so strange, so wrong. It was small and colorless with an adding machine, desk, filing cabinet and a couple chairs. It was The Room we never knew existed in a store, a room of narrow secrets and business deals. Bad bubblegum business. I waited for a time that seemed forever.

What would my parents say? What was I missing at school? What were they going to do to me? What would Bill Cooper do? I heard a woman’s voice.

“He’s in here, caught him red-handed….”

The door opened and two military cops walked in.

“So, we have a little trouble here?” asked the tall, blonde cop speaking to the clerk.

“Yes, we do. A theft issue. I will leave it in your capable hands,” she said and shut the door with a loud click……..



33 thoughts on “At the Shopette, Pt. 1

  1. Great story, Lana. You pulled me right in and I’m not even a baseball fan. The tween angst and petty shoplifting scene were like something right out of Judy Blume (one of my favorite authors at that age). Loved this: “It was The Room we never knew existed in a store, a room of narrow secrets and business deals.” Oh yeah, the room you never want to find out about. And a military step-dad who makes you answer the phone “Taylor’s Quarters” doesn’t sound like one who’s going to go easy on you. πŸ™‚

  2. Yep, thereΒ΄s that crucial moment when you can get away to pick something unnoticed πŸ˜‰ I think all kids go through the same temptation at a shopette, it seems so easy but I never dared and would have hesitated to long too! πŸ˜€ And yay! for working in Germany in your story! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰ xxx

    • I think many teens struggle to get impulses under control, Sarah. This story has some grain of truth to it. I sometimes steal the Rock Guy’s experiences (I have no shame) and put them out on the Internet. He was a military kid who lived in Germany for 3 years. He has many, many stories from there. I have a written a few of them and had hoped to submit them for publishing (I think his life is more interesting than mine). This particular story was rejected, and I couldn’t really figure out how to redo it. πŸ˜€

      • Oh wow! ThatΒ΄s awesome that you can “steal” stories like this from him πŸ˜€ Where in Germany did he live back then? Mannheim? IΒ΄ve never been there but a friend of mine used to work at museum there. πŸ™‚
        It is strange how most of us seem to think that other peopleΒ΄s life is more interesting than our own… And I actually think we are all wrong for thinking so! πŸ˜€
        And IΒ΄m sorry that this story was undeservedly rejected – it must be so difficult to get anything published these days, much worse than say 40 years ago I imagine…

      • Yes, he lived on base in Mannheim. He loved living in Germany, and would probably go back if he could, ha ha. He truly has had some interesting experiences in his life. He left home in his twenties to go to L.A. to try to be a rock star, and of course, he had tons of experiences there, LOL. Thank you for your kind words, Sarah. It is difficult to get things published these days, there are so many talented writers out there. But still we try. I hope you have a lovely weekend! πŸ˜€

      • I think he would find it much changed though πŸ˜‰ At least thatΒ΄s what my mom and her friends always tell me.
        It must be awesome to listen to him tell all those exciting stories, like rummaging through a treasure box – the perfect guy for you really πŸ˜€ Much love! xxx

  3. Pingback: At the Shopette Pt. 2 | L.T. Garvin

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