After the last time Chuck’s Pizza got robbed, Dad told me, “If some guy pulls a gun on you and tells you to open the cash register, open the cash register. Don’t try to be a hero. Call the police after he leaves.”
I didn’t know what to say. Did he know?
When I asked Daniel, he said, “Not a chance. Well, maybe subconsciously.”
But Dad didn’t say anything else that even hinted at it after that. He even used almost exactly the same words in an email for the managers to read to the staff. Maybe I shouldn’t have worried, but after what happened with Nick’s mom, anything seemed possible.
I still felt weird when I ran into her at Nick’s house.
But back to laser guy.
“Whatever you want,” I said. Then I opened up the cash drawer, and stepped back. Maybe I should have attacked him as he scooped the money out of the drawer and counted it, but I didn’t.
“This is it? One hundred-seventy bucks? Where’s the rest of it?”
I stifled my first response (”Up your ass, jerk”) because I knew it wasn’t me talking. It was the Change, and I was also stifling that.
“We’ve got a drop safe under the counter. I dropped the money down the slot before going on break. Sorry.”
My “sorry” might not have sounded apologetic, but he didn’t say anything.
“Where’s the manager? Make him get the key to the goddamn safe, and none of you, and I mean none of you, had better call the cops.”
There was no place to hide in Chuck’s Pizza. The office in the corner barely counted. Even if it had, we were all in the kitchen anyway—Phil (the manager), Jamar (who mostly made food, and didn’t like working the counter), and me.
“Here,” Phil said. Phil was in his late thirties, not the best dresser, and kind of overweight. Most of his nicer shirts had sports team logos on them, but he was a good manager and totally loyal to Dad. Plus, his three year old daughter was really sweet. She’d been in the shop a few times with her mom.
Phil pulled a keychain out of his pocket, frowning as he did it, and stepping forward more purposefully than I felt comfortable with, smiling nervously.
Quietly, I said, “Don’t be a hero.”
He let out a breath. I didn’t want to think what he might have been nerving himself up to do.
Laser guy said, “Listen to the girl.”
Phil unlocked the safe, and handed over the money in a plastic bag.
Laser guy flipped through it, pointing a laser forearm at us. “Are you kidding me? You’ve been busy for hours.”
“You know credit cards?” I asked. “Everybody uses them everywhere now. So if you want the rest of our money, try white collar crime.” As the words slipped out, I felt like I was following my mouth from a distance, awed by how quickly it moved, and how little sense it had.
If you’re getting robbed, you don’t sass your robber.
Laser guy looked at me, not saying anything for a few seconds, and then he laughed.
“Funny,” he said. “White collar crime. I’ll keep you in mind if I need career counseling.”
Then he walked out the side door, pausing to shoot a hole through our mailbox.
That put me over the edge. It seemed so stupid. Just pointlessly mean. He’d taken our money, and now he’d shot the mailbox for fun.
“I’m going home!” I tried to make it sound like I was about to cry, grabbed my backpack, and ran out the back door.
Phil shouted, “Haley, wait! You gotta stay to talk to the cops!”
I didn’t stop, and by the time he made it outside, I’d already ducked around the corner, and jumped up to the roof.