Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 9
A Quiet Afternoon on the Square
Costumes and Jewelry
The old man hit the button and unlocked the door for the couple who stood outside of the store. It had been a quiet morning during which the owner was able to get a lot of repair work completed. He’d just started on some settings when the buzzer interrupted his concentration.
He had a keen eye for a quick assessment of potential customers who could only enter the shop if he deemed them trustworthy. By himself at the shop, he couldn’t afford to take any chances. These two looked like ordinary folks. He pressed the release for the door, stood up from his chair and brushed down the wrinkles in his jeweler’s apron.
The couple came through the door with the man leading the way. He wore a faded denim jacket, jeans and boots with a cowboy hat pulled low over his features. The woman had on a sleeveless summer top over tight-fitting black jeans and high heels. Her head was coiled up with blonde curls held tightly in place with a generous application of hairspray. Around her wrist, a diamond-studded leash connected at the other end to a hairy, blonde dog wagging a black tongue.
“The dog has to stay outside,” the shop owner announced from the back of the store.
“I don’t think so, old man,” the guy told him, slipping a revolver out of the waistband of his jeans. The red bandanna tied around his neck was now pulled up over his nose and mouth. The piercing blue eyes above the red flashed a message of danger.
“No, no,” the shopkeeper squeaked. “It’s okay. You don’t need to use that. The dog can stay.”
“In case you haven’t figured it out mister, this ain’t about the dog.” He waved the gun in the shopkeeper’s face for effect. The woman moved to the front of the store and closed the blinds over the large picture window.
“I’ll cooperate. There’s no need for violence.”
“Oh, you’ll do more than that,” the guy in the hat said. He dropped a zippered nylon bag on the glass display case. “Put the good stuff in the bag.” The old man pulled a ring of keys from a hook behind the cabinet and with trembling hands unlocked the latch on the back. He pulled out a tray of Rolex watches and gold bracelets and began shoveling the velvet boxes into the bag. “And don’t forget that tray of loose stones.” He pointed the pistol toward the jewelry repair area where several diamonds awaited their settings into rings.
The woman wandered around the small store peering into the different displays as the shopkeeper emptied out the contents of display cabinets. Stopping at one with a collection of high school rings she tapped on the glass top and pointed without speaking. The dog sat down next to her feet.
“Over there, now,” he smacked the old man across the ear with the barrel of the gun. “Hurry it up,” he ordered.
“You know that’s only costume jewelry,” he told the pair, hoping to spare himself further injury by being cooperative. He held his ear with a spindly, gnarled hand. Blood oozed from between his fingers.
“Of course I know that.” He motioned with the gun. “Now, put that stuff into one of those velvet bags.” The old man found a black drawstring bag embroidered with the store’s name in silver thread.
“Don’t bother with the boxes,” the denim clad man instructed. “Just get it done.” He waved the gun around again inspiring the shopkeeper to use both hands while he loaded Timex watches and gemstone rings and necklaces into the bag with the rest of the cheaper items.
When the bag was full, the woman zipped it closed, then, grabbed both bags and backed toward the door.
“Buzz us out,” the man ordered. The shopkeeper did as he was told, pressing the buzzer again. The door unlocked with a loud click. The robber held the door open with one hand allowing the woman and the dog to pass through first.
“Now, sit down on the floor where I can see you away from the alarm.” He did as he was told groaning with the effort of stiff joints that betrayed his age.
She nodded an all clear and stepped out onto the sidewalk with the dog. As she turned to walk away, a single shot rang out. The man followed the woman outside as the door swished closed guided along on its hydraulic mechanism. They walked casually across the street to a parking spot and got into a truck. As they pulled away from the curb and out of sight, she pulled off the wig and shook out her long black hair. She tossed the wig into the nylon bag and stuffed it behind the driver’s seat.
“Let’s go get something to drink,” she said as he shifted gears in the truck.
Jeb rolled off the couch face down and landed on the floor at the clanging of the phone. Grabbing his head he whispered a few choice expletives. One hand snaked up across the coffee table knocking over a collection of beer bottles. Several fell off dumping the remainder of their contents onto the carpet.
“Yeah,” he yelled into the receiver. The noise of his own voice sent searing pain into his head.
“Our man got a bead on her yesterday,” the gravelly voice on the other end of the line told him.
“So, where is she?” He gently rubbed his temples as he listened.
“Looks like she filled up at a truck stop in Mt. Pleasant,” he told Jeb. “One of the regulars saw her with three dogs. He figured it had to be her.”
“Are you sure it was her?”
“Yep, he pulled out right behind her and checked the license plate. My guy in the transport lost her around the I-20 and I-30 exchange, but another trucker picked up the car at in a motel parking lot near Gun Barrel City where he stays.”
“Well? Did he get the job done?”
“Sure did. The package is in her suitcase along with the gun.”
“What about the tail?” Jeb asked.
“Right on target,” the voice told him. Jeb clicked the phone back into the cradle and headed to the bathroom for some aspirin. His head pounded as he smiled into the mirror.
“Oh, yes,” he said to his whiskery reflection as he rubbed the stubble on his chin. “That’ll teach her a lesson. Nobody leaves me until I want them to.”
© 2017 Peg Cole