This is a short story I wrote on about a fifteen minute break from working the restaurant at closing time.
At approximately 1:30 am Eastern Standard Time, at a family-dining chain restaurant in central Florida, an ex-employee pushed his way through the back door and into the kitchen. His two friends quickly darted past, much to the surprise of the hapless dishwasher.
The kitchen was immaculate, as he knew it would be. The Associate Manager was in the office accounting for the daily sales, just as he knew he would be. There were no waiters, just the night maintenance guy, the manager, and Flo, the closing waitress.
This was going to be easy.
Imran walked out to the front of the restaurant as his two associates checked out the dining room and the restrooms.
Florence Summers was twenty-two years old, drop-dead gorgeous, and graduating from the University of Florida with a pre-med springboard to Johns Hopkins Medical School where she had already been accepted. She really hated the closing shift. She finished counting, picked up her guest checks, rolled her bills into a wad, and placed it in her purse. Almost enough for my first car she thought.
Imran ambled around the corner, startling her.
“Imran! What?”…She was looking at the automatic pistol in his left hand.
“Take it easy Flo, everything’s gonna be OK. No one is going to get hurt,” Imran offered. He really liked Flo and thought they would make a good couple. She was always so nice to him and always took time to sit down and speak with him in the break room when she was able. She was nice to everybody, one of the genuinely good people who worked here and treated him with respect.
Imran, what are you doing? Are you robbing us? Do you want my tip money?” She was extending her wad of fifty dollars to him like a child.
Imran was embarrassed by this gesture of terror and the look on Flo’s face.
“No. No, Flo. Put your money away. I would never hurt you or take anything from you. Please.” He gestured to her to put her money back.
“Come with me. We are going to take the money from the office and go. You don’t need to fear anything. Just go along with us. We’re going to put you in the walk-in and leave. I will call the police when we leave to come and get you out of the reefer. Come. You shall see.”
Imran guided her to the kitchen where Franco and Noki were waiting nonchalantly, their guns listlessly dangling by their sides.
They smiled as Imran approached.
“How long?” Imran asked.
“Two minutes,” Noki shot back while rolling up his sleeve to read his watch dial.
“Come on Flo. Just wait in here. I’ll be right back,” Imran assured her.
“I know you know this isn’t right Imran, but I also know you feel like this is what you have to do to survive, so I wish you good luck in your future,” Flo said as she entered the walk-in cooler.
Brandon, the fifty-year-old maintenance man was shivering in the rear of the cooler, waving his arms to keep warm. He looked scared. They both turned to the door as Noki locked it from the outside.
“Brandon, it’s OK. I talked with Imran and he assured me they were only going to take the money. We are going to be fine,” she assured Brandon.
“Seriously? I know it’s corny, but I am too young to die,” Brandon chattered nervously.
“No, don’t worry. I trust Imran. He’s a nice young man, he is just really confused right now. I hope he doesn’t get hurt in his recklessness is all,” Flo said as she rubbed her arms.
At that moment, the cooler fan stopped spinning, instantly bringing a sense of warmth and hope to the two hostages.
As the manager emerged from the office, the thieves shoved their stolen guns in his face and had him empty the safe of its contents.
Now laughing and joking, they assured the manager all they wanted was the money and that nobody would be harmed.
“Everyone just stay calm and remain here until the police arrive, which will be in a few minutes. I turned the cooler off, so you won’t be too uncomfortable,” Imran said as he looked into Flo’s brightening face.
The entire time, Rick Speers, the Associate Manager, was staring at Imran. He wanted to be able to give a crystal-clear account as a main witness to this crime. He entered the cooler joining Flo and Brandon.
Imran stepped back and out of the cooler. He motioned to Noki and Franco.
They removed the lock, opened the cooler door, and opened fire, killing all three people.