five-finger discount

“Just stick it under your jacket!” Chelsea hissed as she forced a package of Cool Ranch Doritos into my nervous hands.

I shot a darting glance at the globelike security camera and did a quick mental calculation of the potential years in New Haven county juvenile detention center, should we be caught. I stuffed the bag of chips under my baggy Army surplus jacket and secured the zipper.

“I don’t like this. You know how my mom feels about shoplifting Chels.” I zeroed in on her gleaming green eyes with my own sorrowful brown ones.

“Don’t look at me like that. Your mom should have given you a bigger allowance if she wanted to keep you out of trouble.” Chelsea sighed. “Just look at it this way – the establishment has ignored you your whole life, letting you fall through the cracks, they expect you to exercise a little five-finger discount every now and then. So you get caught, get a tiny slap-on-the-wrist. The worst you do is a week community service, and voila- everyone feels better. Trust me, you’re fifteen, this is what we’re supposed to be doing!”

I swallowed hard, trying to believe what my best friend was telling me. It did make sense in illogical, round a bout kind of way.

I grabbed a Snickers and shoved it deep into my jacket pocket.

“That’s the spirit!” Chelsea grinned and slapped me on the back.
We traipsed through the snack food aisle and rounded the corner. A bored, acne-ridden teenager sat behind the cash register, filing her nails.

“Hey Suzanne.” Chelsea chimed cheerfully. Suzanne sighed and didn’t even look up.

Chelsea shrugged at me and bounced along, under the security camera and out through the door of AM/PM Convenience Store. The bells hanging on the glass door jangled hollowly as we made our escape.

I hugged my arms to my chest, concealing both a bounty of snack foods and a pounding heart. My legs felt a little like jelly, and I could hear my pulse in my eardrums like the bass at a rock show.

Chelsea casually strolled around to the back parking lot and leaned against a rust-colored Volvo.
“That wasn’t so bad now, was it?” She grinned at me with mock-scorn, shaking her violent pink-streaked locks.

“I guess not.” I swallowed again. I could feel the hot dog from lunch, bumping against my larynx.

* * * * *

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