The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 184: Louella Misses Some Checks

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     THE POLICEMAN finished interviewing everybody present during the supermarket robbery and flipped his notebook shut. “We’re going to need you to come down to the station house and look at some photos,” he said to Louella and Len. They both nodded.
     “Don’t know what good it’ll do,” said Len. “I mean, they had me down on the floor with a gun to my head. But I’ll do what I can.”
     Louella looked around to see if her boss could hear. He was on the phone again. Probably this time it’s the public relations people, she thought grimly. “I might be able to help,” she said, “but it all happened so fast--”
     “That’s what they all say, ma’am,” said the officer.
     Ma’am? Do I look like a ma’am to you, guy? thought Louella, glancing habitually to see if he was wearing a wedding ring. He was. Too bad.
     Bob was coming their way. “Well, we’d better get back to whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing,” she said.
     “Yeah,” said Len, “like being the security guard. I don’t feel all that effective tonight, let me tell ya!” He laughed nervously.
     The policeman gave them a curious look, handed them his business card, and waved to Bob as he left the store.
     “Well, it’s heads-up to open back up again!” crowed Bob. “No real harm done--turns out they only got maybe $3,000. That’s chump change, right?”
     “No harm done? What about Petra? She’s in the hospital!” Louella not only suspected her boss of collusion with the robbers, she added him to her mental category called Jerk.
     “Bob, I need a break really bad,” she said. “I’ve got to sit down.”
     “You go on in the back, then,” he said. “I can handle the register for you. Give it 30 minutes, okay? You can lie down on the cot behind the meat locker.”
     Never let it be said they don’t give us great benefits, Louella thought as she headed toward the employee locker room. He ought to be sending me home, but no! I get to lie down on a cot where I can smell raw meat! All so he can get a few more hours of work out of me!
     She jerked open the door and went to her locker. She always set the combination so she only had to pull on the lock to open it. This time it didn’t open, and she had to set the three numbers to get inside. That’s odd, she thought, l. Who would’ve messed with my lock?
     She opened her battered Coach purse and felt for her breath mints. She noticed things felt different--the wallet was on top of her keys, the tissue was on the left side instead of on the right. Oh no! Don’t tell me they were robbing me in the back while they were robbing the store up front!
     With trembling hands she unsnapped her wallet and counted the money. Everything was there--all $45 and change. Her credit card was in its slot. What the--
      I know I’m not crazy, she thought. Somebody’s been through my things and didn’t want me to know it. But why? And who?
     She idly flipped through her wallet and glanced through her checks. Blank stubs? But I fill everything in! What the hey--!


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This story was published on May 5, 1999.