Modus Operandi

By on Sep 12, 2011 in Fiction

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Modus Operandi graphic

The couple strolled to the front of the restaurant, the woman holding onto the man’s elbow.  Mr. Dullens walked briskly up a side aisle and reached the checkout counter a few steps ahead of them.  David stood behind the cash register, talking to himself as he scribbled on a piece of paper.  “Two Caesars, dressing on the side; two halibut specials, one coffee, one decaf.”

The man slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the counter.  “This should cover it.  We never did see the total.”  He and the woman headed for the door.

“Why don’t you look in her purse?”  Mr. Dullens stepped in front of the couple.

“I beg your pardon?”  Clutching her purse to her bosom, the woman gaped at the manager.

“Are they all in there?  Or maybe,” Mr. Dullens looked from the woman to the man, “you put the others in your pocket?”

David held his breath.  The woman looked at her escort and rolled her eyes, and the couple headed for the door.

“Someone saw you.”  Mr. Dullens stepped back and to the side, blocking their way to the door.  “Maybe you owe the boy an apology.”

David stepped out from behind the cash register and stood at his manager’s left side.

You are not a child.  You are not in the wrong.  Look at her; do not look away.  Look at him and do not look down.

“You can’t keep us here.”  The woman’s tone was crisp and frosty; David expected to see a puff of mist arise from her mouth, as when one speaks outside on a chilly morning.

But it is always warm, here, even in the winter.

“I’m not trying to.”  Mr. Dullens sidled to his right, just enough to let them pass.  “I’d simply like to know why you did it.”

The man buttoned his sports jacket, grasped the woman’s elbow and steered her toward the door.  “For the same reason my dog licks his balls,” he said, winking at the manager.

The couple walked out the door.  Larry Dullens shook his head, the exasperation fading from his eyes.  He stifled a conspiratorial grin, placed his hand on David’s shoulder and studied the young man’s quizzical face.

“What say I help you clear that table, huh, David?”

David followed Mr. Dullens back to table six, listening intently as his boss muttered to himself.

“Because he can,” the manager chuckled.  “Because he can.”


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Robyn Parnell's C&W song, "If You Can't Live Without Me Then Why Aren't You Dead?", mercifully remains unpublished and unrecorded, while her fiction and other writings have appeared in over eighty books, magazines and journals (several of which have not filed for Chapter 11 protection). Notable publishing credits include her children's picture book, My Closet Threw a Party, and her collection of short fiction, This Here and Now. Current projects include adult and middle grade novels, a second short fiction collection, and whatever else might be found at