Someone Else's Love Story

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson Read Free Book Online

Book: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joshilyn Jackson
William understands that they have been married for a long time.
    The lady sees the gun then and puts her hands up, the way robbed people do in the movies. Her mouth drops open into a bright, uneven circle. She is wearing orange lipstick that has bled into all the wrinkles around her mouth.
    “Get on the floor!” the gunman yells again.
    Now the dark-haired girl is sinking down to the ground, the poppy-covered skirt of her dress belling around her, and then the old couple does, too. The herd animals are all doing the same thing. This is a stress reliever for all of them. Even the gunman’s next blink is less of a squeeze.
    “Not you,” he says to the clerk, gesturing with the gun. “Come on out from back there first.”
    The clerk comes around the counter and lies down beside the dark-haired girl. It’s happening quickly. This is an efficient robbery, so far, but William doesn’t trust it to remain so. The person with all the power in the room is on drugs.
    William considers what to do next. The robber is a small man with a narrow chest, a potbelly, and skinny arms. He has a patch of thin brown beard on his chin that he keeps petting with his free hand. If William could get to him fast enough, he could twist him into separate pieces, easily. It would be a useful spending of the angry chemicals that he’s been riding.
    But he can feel the presence of the child sheltered behind him. He doesn’t want this boy, who, in a different universe might have gone to school with Twyla, might have been her friend, to be shot if William is not fast enough. He stays where he is.
    “Open the safe, you old piece a shit,” the gunman says, jerking the gun at the old man.
    “It’s on a timer!” the old man says.
    The robber uses his free hand to wipe at his damp nose. “You think I’m stupid? I been watching you, weeks now. You think I don’t know about when the safe’s timer goes off? I’mma start shooting all these people if you don’t get a bag and fill it up for me. And you”—now the guy is talking to William—“you can lay all the way down flat on your stomach on your own, or you can lay down flat because I’ve put one in your brain pan.”
    If William complies, he will lose some options. Still, the child is directly behind William. If William stands and the man fires toward him, the bullets will be moving in the direction of the child. William lies flat on his belly.
    He makes his arms into a pillow and rests his cheek on it. His face is now pointed directly at the dark-haired girl in the poppy dress. She stares intently at William, communicating urgency, and then her gaze slides past him to the child. So they are a set, too, like the old couple is a set.
    He hears a scuffling sound behind him, then feels a small weight pressing into his side. The child has scooted along the floor to him, and now he fists his hands in William’s shirt. He is panting into William’s armpit.
    William scans the room. The old lady is looking at him. The clerk, down on the ground, glances his way, too. Even the old man shifts his gaze to William as he goes behind the counter with the gunman to empty the safe. The herd is following his lead, so he lies still and quiet and waits for it to be over.
    Now the gunman has the bag. He says, “That’s all?”
    The old man says, “We don’t keep much cash. Everyone has a bank card these days.” He sounds both defensive and apologetic.
    The gunman empties the register drawer, too, and directs the old man to lie down with the rest of them. He grabs two cartons of cigarettes, stuffs them into his plastic grocery bag on top of the money, then swings the gun around back and forth, sweeping his gaze across all of them in turn.
    “No one move for ten minutes, or I will surely come back here and shoot you,” he says, which is truly the stupidest threat William has ever heard.
    The gunman starts to turn away. In thirty seconds he will be gone. It seems the decision to lie quietly down will pay

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