A liquor store hold-up doesn't go as planned in Aidan McNally's flash.
Sean opened the door of his old Cadillac and stepped out into the empty streets. He approached the liquor store with a blinking neon Open sign hanging on barred doors. Sean pushed the door open and locked it behind him. He made his way to the check-out counter. "Put your fucking hands in the air right now."
A bald man wearing a black baseball cap embroidered with gold letters and an American flag stood behind the register. "Alright." He raised his arms.
Sean smashed the security camera with the butt of his pistol. "Open the register." He threw the backpack on the counter. "Put the money in there."
The clerk dropped his hands. "No." He pushed the backpack off the counter. "Get out of my store, asshole."
"You heard me, shithead."
"Put the money in the bag, old-timer, or I'm going have to kill you."
"I didn't fight a war for fucks like you. This is my store. I earned it. So fuck off."
"Empty the goddamn register right now."
"Are you deaf? I said, no."
"You're going to be dead in three seconds if you don't open that register. Three. Two. One."
The clerk opened the cash register. "Happy? You, son of a bitch."
"Yes. Now, put the cash in the bag."
"Who do you think you are? Robbing good, hard-working folks. What's your name?"
"Your name, jackass."
"None of your business. Quit stalling and put the cash in the bag."
The old man put the money from the register into the backpack. He started with the pennies and worked his way up until the register was empty and the backpack was full. "How am I supposed to pay my bills now?"
"That's your problem, not mine."
"You're making it my problem."
Sean snatched the backpack off the counter. "Give me your wedding ring."
The old man twirled the gold band on his finger. "Over my dead fucking body."
Sean cocked his pistol and pointed it at the old man. "I can make that happen."
"Do it. Shoot me."
"You heard me, chicken shit. Pull the trigger."
"You're insane, man."
"What's wrong tough guy?" The old man grabbed Sean's wrist and pulled the gun closer to himself. "Too afraid to do it? Did Mommy have a coward criminal?"
"Do it, put your money where your mouth is."
Sean's hand started shaking. "Man, just give me the ring. I'm not a murderer."
"Could have fooled me. You look the part."
Sean checked his wristwatch. Sweat dripped down his brow, making the mask wet. "I'm running out of time. Please, don't make me murder you."
"No one's making you do anything. Matter of fact, why are you doing this?"
"Shut up. You stupid, stubborn bastard. Give me the ring."
"Tell me, what made the man I see a thief?"
"The gun and mask."
"I'm asking about the man behind both."
"He wants your ring."
"Tell him to get his own."
"He's not interested in that idea."
"This ring is all I have left of my wife. He'll have to shoot me."
Sean lowered his pistol.
The old man laughed. "Take my advice. Get a different line of work. This one doesn't suit you."
Sean breathed heavily, flaring his nostrils. "I told you to shut the fuck up." He slammed his fist on the counter.
"Shut up and give me your ring."
"Why? Because you had a shitty go of it? Go cry about it."
"No, you stop. Stop taking you problems out on the world. The world didn't cause your problems, dipshit. You did."
Sean pressed the pistol against the old man's forehead. "I won't ask again."
"Don't carry a gun unless you got the balls to pull the trigger."
Sean shot the old man. He hopped the counter and removed the ring from the old man's corpse. He put the bloodstained ring on his finger and rushed out of the store.
Sean opened the door of his old Cadillac and got in. He threw the bag on the passenger seat. Sean put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car grunted, but didn't start. "You have got to be fucking kidding me." Sean tried the key again. The car's motor choked and died. Sean glanced in his rearview mirror.