A Simple Little Question

"Hi, can I help you?" asked Alan, smiling at the old lady before the counter though he was really wondering how in the hell she was still alive. She looked, to him, to be at least ninety, with skin more wrinkled than his dick after spending the night with some bitch he picked up at a bar.

Alan was good that way, at hiding what he truly thought. What he truly felt. No one that worked with Alan knew the real him, the one that was angry and hateful, and would find it rather amusing to see such a sweet, little old lady get hit by a Mack truck.

"I want a Bingo lottery ticket," said the old woman, rather demanding.

"We don't have those ones," replied Alan, wondering why in the hell people always looked at what tickets you had then asked for something that was not there. "All we have are the one dollar tickets."

"Why the hell not?" demanded the woman.

How'd you like me to short circuit your pace maker, you fucking senile old hag? thought Alan, keeping in his rage.

"Everybody else has them!" she practically shouted.

You are so lucky there are other people in the store, bitch, thought Alan. I'd make sure they never found your fucking body.

"Why don't you have them?" she fired off again, the three questions trailing one after another like one long one.

"I don't know, ma'am. Why don't you go home and write a letter to the company and ask them?"

The woman looked at him for a moment, her face twisted up in thought, and slowly began shaking her head in agreement.

"That's a good idea," she said. "I think I will."

Probably got nothing better to do with what little time you have left on this world, thought Alan.

"Pack of Reds, and five in gas," spat the man that replaced the old woman, throwing his money down on the counter.

Alan hated them too, the people that couldn't even take a second to act as if you were a real human being also. They ordered you around like they were your fucking boss, or they'd drop their money just inches away from your outstretched hand, or they'd bitch and complain just because you carded them for buying their fucking beer.

Damn but I hate these fucking people, he thought, tossing the man's cigarettes down like the man had his money.

"Eight-thirty-nine," rattled off Alan, scooping up the nine dollars that the man had dropped. He punched it into the register, the familiar cha-ching of the changer dropping the man's change nothing more than background noise to Alan.

The man just stood there starring at Alan.

"Was there something else, Sir?" asked Alan, all smiles.

"Where's my damn change? I gave you nine dollars."

"Right there, Sir," answered Alan, pointing at the black and silver change machine, its cup holding the man's coins.

The man muttered something, definitely not an apology, and strolled away.

"Why don't you go home and beat you wife," snarled Alan, almost silently.

Turning to go back to reading his magazine, Alan didn't notice the man hesitate for a second, an expression of rage playing over his face as he suddenly thought of how much he hated his wife's damn nagging about his smoking. And since he rarely read the local paper, Alan would never see the story about the same man being arrested, later that night, for nearly beating his wife to death in a fit of uncontrollable rage.

No, Alan was completely oblivious to the power that he had.

The one good aspect of the job, the one thing that Alan could always count on, was that oil companies were greedy. Every Thursday, as certain as clockwork, he could count on his manager raising the gas prices, pissing people off and slowing down business.

Oh, there were still people that came in, like the two previous ass holes, but it wasn't the constant stream of morons as was usual. Nope, on Thursdays, Alan could count on the night getting slower as people drove on by, hoping that the next station would be a little cheaper.

Nearly a half hour went by uninterrupted, and Alan was starting to think about firing up a blunt, when the electronic beeper for the door went off. The irritating buzz was another thing that Alan hated about his job, the wobbly screech almost as annoying as the buzz of a fly, and Alan wished he knew how to turn the damn thing off while he was there alone.

Looking up from his High Times magazine, Alan smirked as he saw that it was only the armored car guy, showing up to fill the ATM. Looking out at the grey and black vehicle, Alan briefly wondered how much money they carried in there, the armored car often the subject of one of his dark fantasies.

Alan watched subtly as the guard, Cliff was his name, wheeled in a small cart and went about opening the ATM. The stacks of green inside the metal box of the cart looked as inviting as hell, and for the thousandth time Alan wished he could think of a way to cap both the guards and just vanish.

Maybe I should try and get a job with them, he thought. Yeah, I wonder how many guards have robbed the place from the inside?

So engrossed in his thoughts was Alan that he didn't notice that Cliff had finished filling the ATM, and was sauntering over to the counter, until the man was almost there, calling out to him.

"How's it going, Al?" asked Cliff, pissing Alan off with the unwelcome abbreviation of his name, like he was some sort of friend.


"Prices pissin' everyone off again?"


"Gimme a pack of Lights, would ya?"

"Sure, Cliff," said Alan, pulling the cigarettes from the pack rack. "Say, Cliff, can I ask you something?"

"As long as it ain't for a loan," replied Cliff, snorting at his own joke.

"All that money you guys haul around…"


"Did you ever think about capping your partner and just taking off?"

"That ain't funny, kid," growled Cliff, throwing his money on the counter. "Keep the change."

"Sorry," muttered Alan, looking pissed as Cliff swaggered away.

"Dumb shit," swore Cliff, barely loud enough for Alan to hear. "What kind of shit is that to…"

The guard's voice drifted away as he stepped out the door, and Alan turned back to his magazine, hoping that the rest of the night would be just as slow.

Concentrating on an article about growing hemp in a wooden tub, Alan never noticed how Cliff slowed down as he neared the armored car, the man's mind turning over what Alan had asked him. Alan couldn't see the rear of the car, so even if he had been looking he wouldn't have seen how Cliff hesitated before lifting the cart back into the vehicle, or the thoughtful expression now on the man's face.

And, of course, since he didn't read the paper, he would never know the tomorrow's headline about the fifteen year veteran of a local armored car service that suddenly killed his partner and took off with almost two million dollars.

And, since he never paid attention to much that went on around him, Alan would never know the power he had.

But that might not be a bad thing.


A/N: Just something I came up with, today, at work, while we were watching the armored car guys come in a buy stuff. Of course I didn't ask them that question, they just didn't look like they had a sense of humor.

Sometimes I wonder why I think of this shit.