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The Job Interview
About the Author: R.T. Lawton is a retired federal agent with over 140 published short stories to include 44 sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. He also has six story collections in paperback and in e-format for Kindle and other e-readers.

Eighteen-year-old Junior McClendon sat straight up in bed when the alarm clock started blaring country western music over its radio speakers and tried to remember why it was he had to get up this morning. Oh yeah, the job interview at a hardware store. High school graduation was coming up fast, his mother was moving to Florida in a couple of days to live with her newest boyfriend and there was no room for Junior in her new family situation. 

He sank back onto his pillows. No real sense in getting up. He’d already sat through ten of them interviews in the last few days with no luck at all. Half of the problem was he didn’t have the skills that companies were looking for, and the other half was the companies didn’t have jobs to go with the skills he did have, which weren’t many. Seemed getting high scores on video games didn’t count for anything with job recruiters.

It was frustrating. What made him think this week’s job search would be any different? He might as well rob banks for a living.

For several minutes, he stared at the ceiling. Now that was a thought. The more his mind dwelled on this last idea, the more he figured, well, hell, why not? His lack of funds to pay rent was going to be a huge problem after his mom moved out of state. Two more weeks without a job to provide income and he’d be out on the street by himself. No safety net available for him, just sleeping in a cardboard box in some alley and scrounging in dumpsters behind fast food joints for something to eat. Not much of a future. Might just as well go where they kept the money, see what kind of a job he could do there, even if it was a Bonnie and Clyde type thing. And, him without a Bonnie.

Seemed to him, if you thought about it, all you needed for a successful bank robbery was a disguise so they wouldn’t recognize you, a gun to show you meant business, a note to tell the teller what you wanted, some fortitude to see you through to the end and a good escape plan for the getaway. Hell, any idiot could do it. Only the stupid ones got caught.

With his brain turning over the possibilities of this new direction in life, Junior continued to stare blankly at the ceiling. In his mind’s eye, he was writing and rewriting notes for the bank teller. To his way of thinking, the wording had to be just right, simple, yet precise in meaning. Any unclear use of words could muddle up the whole deal. That’s where his C+ in English class would come in handy.

And then, there were disguises, something to cover his facial features, but not restrict his vision. A pillowcase with eyeholes cut in it was definitely out. If the pillowcase happened to get a little sideways, you could inadvertently walk into a wall, or worse. Nope, it had to be something easy to manage and yet put together from objects currently available in his mom’s apartment. He’d have to think on that one, and on a good escape plan.

That left the gun. He did have his granddad’s old style western six-shooter with a long barrel hidden in the back of his sock drawer. He guessed he could saw a few inches off the barrel to make it easier to conceal under his jacket, but then the shortened gun might look funny, plus he’d lose the blade on the front sight. Any alteration like that might lessen the value of the gun in case he ended up pawning it for money to eat on. Okay, he’d keep the gun as it was, he’d just have to zip his jacket up a little higher after he stuck the revolver in the front of his belt, right behind his large western buckle.

Growing more excited at his new prospects, Junior sat straight up again, slung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. Time to get dressed and gather what he needed. He also had to find out when banks opened for business in the morning. Best to get moving before the day got away from him. As they said in cowboy movies, he was burning daylight.

This story appears in our DEC 2019 Issue
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