His teeth chattered against the revolver’s cold steel.
On the office wall, a sign read: NO ACCIDENTS IN 6 DAYS. 6 was written neatly in red with a dry erase marker. It hung next to a calendar along with various reports: sales averages, a labor matrix, and schedules. Below that, a laminated sheet, stating the top five reasons ‘Why Saying Yes!’ will make you successful in business.
The woman holding the gun let it lay soft in his mouth, a tongue depressor. Open up and say “Ahhh”. One slight movement of the finger. It won’t hurt. Just one little twitch. One bend. She wore a black balaclava, now pulled back over her face. Her eyes green, smooth, almost creamy, reminding the man of a key lime pie. Her nose a button, cute and small. She was too beautiful to be a thief, but here she was, robbing a restaurant’s manager at gun point.
His voiced was muffled from the obvious intrusion.
“What did you say Fat Man?” She removed the gun.
“Do it,” he said.
“The combination first.”
Being a restaurant manager isn’t easy, especially on the bad side of town where criminals will risk jail time for a few thousand dollars. Fat Man rested his head against the white-bond wall. Sweaty rolls of skin rippled under his chin. His eyes agape, hoping it would be over soon. He was glad he decided to let everyone else go home for the night. He wasn’t glad that he was being robbed at gunpoint though. He looked up at the four fluorescent bulbs that glowed above a prismatic sheet lens, reminding him of the light described by people who had near-death experiences. How fitting.
“This. Is this all the fucking cash, Fat Man?” the woman said, now grinding her teeth. Her words navigated between them, yet they could still be understood with much clarity.
“That’s all of it,” Fat Man said, still focusing on his artificial entrance into Heaven. “It’s all I have access to.”
“I eat too much,” he confessed to her. “I enjoy pornography. Especially the violent kind. I know the scenes are staged, but I pretend they’re not. I also sell food beyond its shelf life for financial gain.”
“Three out of seven is better than four.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Fat Man continued. “If you kill me, I’ll go to Hell.”
“What makes you think you’ll go to Hell? Your behavior isn’t uncommon to people like you. Middle-aged, overweight, sexually deprived. Everyone needs an outlet. Fortunately for you, McDonalds and the Internet provide a safe way for you to do so. No harm, no foul.”
“I prefer Burger King actually. I like The Whopper.”
The woman snorted. “The thing about selling spoiled food to the public could punch your ticket to the pit of eternal fire, but probably only if you killed someone in doing so. Tell me Fat Man, have you ever killed anyone before? Especially for something personal? Like for money?”
Without hesitation he replied, “Absolutely not!”
“Then you’re okay.”
“How about you? Have you ever killed anyone?”
“I haven’t had to but that doesn’t mean I won’t.” She let the gun shimmer against the fluorescent light. “You see this gun? It has been used in six robberies. This robbery makes seven. And you know what they say about the number seven.”
“It’s the number of deadly sins?”
“It’s also lucky. I’m not sure for whom, but they say it is, whoever they are.” She lifted a black duffel bag, now loaded with cash. “I’m done here. I can still put a bullet in your brain if you want. If you think that would help, you know, with your guilt.”
“I gave up on myself a long time ago,” Fat Man said. “I’d like to enjoy my vices while I can, even if it is for a short while.” He considered giving the woman a chance to walk away. Besides, she was a great conversationalist, the best one so far. “Did you know that a large percent of alcoholics and pill addicts wait tables?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Care to guess why?”
“You got me Fat Man. Why?”
“Because of cash tips. Instant moolah. They can work a few hours, get paid, and then get bent on whatever they choose.”
“So why aren’t you waiting tables?”
“Consistent money. I know what I’m bringing home every week. Plus I don’t have to kiss the proverbial ass all the time to get it.” Fat Man crossed his fingers and let his hands rest on his head. He played with a silver ring, turning it around a bloated digit. “You gave me time to think things over, lady. I’ve decided that I’m not going to let you leave with all the money from the safe.”
“Really?” she said.
“Yeah. I think we should split it, fifty-fifty, and go our separate ways. What do you think about that?”
“I think you have a fry lodged in that fat head of yours if you think I’m sharing any of this money that I took all the risk for with you.”
“I thought you’d say that.” Fat Man crossed his feet, completely relaxed now on the tiled floor of the restaurant office. “But I forgot to tell you something about me. About why I know I’m really going to hell.”
“Why’s that, Fat Man?”
He continued to turn the ring slowly. His eyes focused on hers. He could tell she was losing patience by the way her eyebrows slanted.
“Are you going to answer me?” she said, removing the balaclava completely. “Why is it so hot in here all of a sudden?” Her auburn hair was tied in a bun. Red strands matted against her neck from sweat.
“I want you to answer something for me first.” Fat Man’s sweaty forehead wrinkled as he concentrated. The woman slowly moved the revolver to her mouth, now gaping, and slipped it inside. The cold steel now rested on the tip of her tongue. Say “Ahhh”.
Still in the corner, Fat Man raised his right leg and rested his hands on his khaki knee, a silver reflection occasionally blinding the woman’s eyes as it spun. “And I was willing to split the cash with you, lady. Now drop the bag.”
The bag fell to the floor.
“Kind of uncomfortable, isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite understand you,” Fat Man said. “Here, let me help.” The woman removed the gun from her mouth and placed it against her temple. “Now will you answer me?”
Small breaths evaporated from the woman’s mouth. Her tanned skin was now pale, matching the office walls. Finally finding words, she said “How? How did you do that?”
“You asked me if I had ever killed anybody. My answer was no. I haven’t. What I didn’t tell you was that people, when they threaten me, hurt themselves. It’s not always this extreme, the gun to the head. But you were willing to kill me. And for what? Sloth, gluttony, and lust? Who made you God, judger of all things? And since we’re judging, you just committed a sin of your own, didn’t you? Greed.”
Fat Man rubbed his fingers in shame at her. A small puddle dribbled between her legs.
“I – I…”
“Will I and I be your last words?”
Her mouth moved, but nothing came out, just more air, a gasp really.
“You should’ve said yes when I asked you to split the money with me,” Fat Man said. “Saying yes would’ve made you more successful. It usually does in business.”
She squeezed her eyes closed and pulled the trigger, sending a small explosion of skull and brains against the wall calendar. She landed on her knees first, then timbered over to her side, splattering the opening of her head onto the tiled floor, revolver still in hand.
Fat Man stepped over her and reached for the phone. He hit one key on the pad and spoke.
“I have a Code 3,” Fat Man said. He careened his neck, searching for the hole in the woman’s head.
“Yes it is….I realize it hasn’t even been a week.” Nudging her shoulder, Fat Man was able to angle the woman’s neck just right, now enabling him to look down through the tunnel in her noggin. He bowed his head, pitying her.
“You can be here within the hour? Thank you.”
Fat Man released a sigh as he felt behind the safe and released a lever. A small hatch popped ajar on the floor, right by the woman’s head. He slid the revolver with his foot into the hidden compartment, joining it with the other guns he had collected since taking over the restaurant. Then, with an Expo marker, he erased the number 6 from the accident sign, and replaced it with 0.