Shoplifting Accomplice

“It just takes a bit of courage.” He winked. “And good timing.”

“They will see it.” I replied.

He straightened his back, looking agitated for a moment.

“You are just not cut out for action, are you?”

“I do not want to get caught.”

“You won’t. Trust me” He looked me straight in the eyes and nodded slowly.

I scanned the surroundings. Everyone seemed busy in their own little worlds. A man was checking out a leather wallet by the shelf. A woman was holding up a porcelain tea-set for a close inspectorial look. There was no one near me. It’s time to act now.

“Okay, I am taking it.”

“Now!” he urged.

I reached into the display case and pulled out the diamond encrusted watch. It felt heavier than I thought. The salesperson was nowhere to be seen. He grabbed my arm and shoved the watch into my pocket.

“Go go go!” he commanded.

Adrenaline kicked in. I walked swiftly towards the entrance. My senses were on the highest alert and my body was burning now. If I could, I would dash to the entrance and then out of the mall. But it would create unnecessary attention and that’s not a good thing.

“Damn it! Run now!” He seemed to have heard something. He slapped me on the back and pushed me forward. I broke into a run.

No sooner had I gone more than 5 steps when a force propelled me to the ground. Someone wearing the clothes of a security officer was on top of me.

“Do it! Do it!” He shouted into my ear.

I understood the point. But it was too loud. I shoved his face away.

With my free hand, I dug into my pocket and pulled out a pen knife.

I swung it upward and missed the security officer’s face by a few inches. He leapt backward in shock and pulled out his revolver, pointing it straight at me.

“He won’t shoot. Its beyond his pay grade.” He looked me straight in the eyes for the second time. “And the report-writing and clearance would be a pain in the ass.”

The security officer was shouting something, but I was not hearing it. My body was burning.  How did things escalate so quickly? Why do things always escalate so quickly with him. I took out the watch and held it out. A sparkle off the diamonds blinded me. Somehow, it made me feel alive at the moment.

“Throw it at him and run.” He said.

“And get shot” I added.

The lips of the security officer continued to move. But as I mentioned earlier, I was not hearing it. I was not hearing it not because I did not want to. I was not hearing it because I was not able to. I strained my ears. Nothing. Oh Lord I have tried.

“Right now, you should do something instead of just talking” I suggested.

A crowd had gathered around us. People were watching the stand-off between me and the security officer. Strangely, no one seemed to be scared. Did anyone ever considered for a moment that the security officer might miss his mark? An innocent spectator would be killed. Maybe, they too, believed that he won’t press the trigger. As things were, he was pointing a revolver out at me. I was pointing a 70 000 dollars-worth diamond encrusted Rolex Yachtmaster out at him.

“Don’t forget the knife!” He reminded me. I looked at him, he was crouching near the cashier counter, hidden from everyone. He always makes the right decisions.

The thought of the pen knife in my right hand spurred me to action. I charged towards the security officer for a reason which eluded me. I was not sure what happened afterwards, but something must have happened, as a searing pain exploded in my chest. I stumbled forth a few steps. Energy drained from me. My legs buckled and I dropped to the floor like a twig snapped in half. The watch tumbled lifelessly out of my hand.

It is often believed that a person’s life would flash before him at the final moments of death. Books talked about it. Movies reinforced it. I understood now that this is inaccurate. What I had was not a movie about my summarized lived experiences flashing before me. I did not see a younger me building a sandcastle, nor did I see a younger me chasing after a cat. What I had was a realisation.

At that moment, I realised that a fully grown man could be killed for stealing a watch. This realisation led to a question. Does it mean that he is not worth 70 000 dollars? This question led to another question. Even if he is not, there are many of that watch but just one of him. He is irreplaceable, isn’t it? 

“Yes, not worth 70 000 dollars.” He swiftly answered my question. “However, irreplaceable though.” He added. He always knew what I was thinking.

“Then why?” 

“Well, who wants to replace him anyway?” He stifled a laugh.  

“Help me then” I replied. My head was throbbing. I could not process the laugh.  

With what remained of my energy, I turned to looked at him. He stood up and walked towards me. He was so calm. In fact, he was too calm and I do not know why. 

A knee-high mirror was placed at the far end of the wall. It was used for the moments you looked into it to see how the shoes looked on you. But there were no shoes on me right now; there was only blood gushing out from my chest and he was looking at me. He was looking at me to see how I looked on him.

The security officer came into my view. He looked me straight in the eyes and his lips moved. I felt something approaching sadness with the way he looked at me. But he needs to speak louder so I could hear him.

“What’s next?” I croaked. I felt tired and sleepy. I could barely sustain myself any longer.

“Nothing” He said. “What’s left to do is nothing.”

“Please replace me.” I asked. This time, I looked him straight in the eyes. But he did something I have never done before. He looked away. My body burned. 

I turned to the mirror. I could see the security officer standing next to me. I could see the crowd, as they were, looking at me. Some lips were moving.

I could see one man on the floor. He was bleeding out, like a wounded deer shot in the lungs.


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