Friday, October 4, 2019

Operation Food Giant

I'm finishing up a new book, a children's book set in 1970s
Seattle. This is another thrilling chapter.

            “Guess what I have?” Billy Mitchell grins and holds up a crumpled paper bag.
            “A tarantula?”
            “Wrong.” He puts his hand in and takes out something resembling a small mummified lollipop. He waits for us to respond.
            “What is it?”
            “A stink bomb!” Then he’s happy when we crowd around closer. “Guess what I’m going to do with it?”
            “Bomb something?”
            “I’m going to stink bomb Food Giant!”
            We follow him like fools. He explains his plan, how he’s going to set it off in the dog food aisle. We stop before going inside and he tells us to be ready to run. Jesse looks nervous. We watch Billy Mitchell follow an old man and turn towards the aisles.
            “Hi there!” The manager smiles at me. He’s holding a watermelon.
“Hello.” Now I feel like an outlaw. He still remembers me from the Robin Hood contest and here I am in a gang about to bomb his store.
But he smiles, “See you around,” and turns to carry that watermelon indoors.
Five seconds ticked. We knew it was going to happen. Then it did.
First Billy Mitchell appears around the check-out, running full tilt, followed by the sound of someone screaming. Jesse and I step back from the doorway.
More people inside are reacting. I hear someone coughing and more yelling. Jesse pulls my arm and we run around the brick corner.
Billy Mitchell is half a block from us already. He leaps off the curb and we chase him across the street where we can hide behind the hedges next to the other parking lot. I take a quick look behind us and I don’t see the manager or the butcher jumping out the back door.
We collapse on the sidewalk and wait until we can talk.
            Billy laughs. “You should have seen it!”
            “Did they recognize you?”
            “Of course not,” Billy grins, “I took off!”
            We listen. We’re hoping to hear pandemonium spill from Food Giant.
            Billy Mitchell gradually peers over the hedge. He’s still holding the crumpled paper bag balled in his hand. I remember the first time I met him, the first day of third grade. He offered me a stick of gum from a pack that snapped like a miniature mousetrap when you pulled one out. “I want to see what’s happening.” He can’t resist. He leaves us and runs back. He’s already on the road to doing time and he doesn’t know the first rule of his chosen life: you never go back to the scene of the crime.

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