“Dollarama is great, though,” Rob said, standing over us on the city bus, “they’ll like say stop but they won’t do anything. You fill your pockets and leave.”
So we went to Dollarama. Harmun and I ran distraction while a couple aisles over Rob stuffed his hoodie with stale candy. Harmun and I swore loudly and touched things and laughed at our own jokes. Employees watched us. They appeared in whatever aisle we were in, adjusted stuff, glared. Every time I’ve seen someone shoplift it was a mother with a stroller or a man in a suit. Once at a grocery store I saw a white-haired bean of a grandma slip a bottle of MSG into her purse. She winked at me and shuffled off to the magazines.
At first I wanted to sit outside, watching people push their clattering carts.
“If you want some,” said Rob, “You have to contribute.”
I didn’t really want candy but I did want to contribute.
There was also no way for Dollarama to tell we were Rob’s accomplices. I wouldn’t have helped otherwise. Rob came in after us and would leave while we distracted the cashiers.
Harmun was snagged on a basket of DVDs. He was sifting through strata of Disney knockoffs, Vietnamese action films, and Korean Pixar imitations. “Who even makes this shit?” he laughed. Harmun loved this stuff. Once at a pawn shop we found a bunch of Nollywood anthologies and he practically crapped his pants. It probably meant the stuff was stolen from a Nigerian family, but before I said anything Harmun was counting toonies into a bearded picker-man’s hand.
Harmun was holding three DVDs when a woman bellowed, “Excuse me.”
We assumed it wasn’t for us. They’d shoot glares but they’d never do anything.
We looked up.
It was a lady, a squat lady with grey hair and a green Dollarama apron cascading over her belly, round pug-eyes bulging. Her squatness made her more puggish. She was hard to take seriously, but the pin on her chest said Manager. She strode right up to us. She stood in our space.
“Yeah?” said Harmun.
“I have to ask you to leave,” she said, “You’re bothering my customers.”
“Yo,” said Harmun, “We are customers.”
(He really wanted to buy those DVDs.)
“I don’t give a damn,” she said.
“What did we do?” I asked, “Why are you throwing us out?”
“I don’t have to answer that,” she said, “just get out of my store.”
We didn’t move.
I muttered, “Public property…”
Her eyes flared, mouth warped. She snatched the DVDs from Harmun. She shouted, “OUT.”
We waited for Rob on a bench by the door. Harmun forced a chuckle. I thought about Rob on the city bus, his brags about shoplifting. Harmun laughs, Rob brags. He brags about his girlfriend, too, where they fuck. In the woods, behind the theatre, at her parents’. Rob’s scared shitless he’ll lose her. He twists himself towards her, demanding what she wants and likes, slipping arms over her even when she’s angry. Rob bragged about shoplifting in the same voice that bragged about Clara.
I was thinking that when the white mall security Civic pulled up to the curb. Two guards, a guy and a lady, got out. The lady guard held open the door and as she held the door he looked at us and nodded.
“Boys,” she said.
When the pug-eyed manager pointed him out, Rob had the Twix bar I requested half in his hand and half in his pocket.
We waited three hours until Rob’s dad showed up. Rob would have to pay the fine. He wasn’t allowed to hang out for a while. Harmun and I took the city bus to Blockbusters. We didn’t chat. We bought popcorn and rented a game that wasn’t much fun, then went walking, because that’s about all you can do in our neighbourhood. An ice cream truck came by. We pooled cash and split a sundae, sat on a park bench while the sun set eating ice cream with white plastic spoons. Some kids played cops and robbers on the jungle gym. We watched them, then went back home.