Late Night Call

“It’s three in the morning. Are you drunk?” Larry asked me. “No, I just had to talk to someone and couldn’t think of anyone else,” I replied with desperation. “Can’t this wait until the morning, dude?” Larry asked, “I have to get up in six hours for work.” He sounded angry, but mostly tired so I pressed on. “No, this can’t wait, seriously. I’m sorry, but this is urgent.”

“Okay, what’s wrong that you had to wake me up?” Larry asked, and I was ready to talk. I was ready to talk until I couldn’t utter another word. I was distraught and scared. Larry was my best friend, and I knew he’d listen. I wasn’t sure if he could give me the right advice, but I knew he’d listen.

“I don’t know where to start.”

“Try the beginning. Come on, man. It’s too late for this.”

“Alright, but have a little bit of patience.”

“Yeah, just start talking before I hang up.”

“Okay, I fucked up,” I replied and paused for a response, but Larry didn’t respond so I pressed on.

“I got off work at ten and had to close the store. My manager was in a tight spot and left me with the keys,” I said, took a breath, and continued,”I was kind of pissed off when he asked me to do it, but he said he had no other choice. He even offered to give me an extra day off with pay.”

“So what’s the problem?” Larry asked.

“The problem is what I did before I left.”

“And that is?”

“Well, I was getting the store all shut up. I let most of the employees go, and I left one cashier with me so I didn’t have to run around like a maniac. There weren’t any problems, so I locked up and got ready to count down the last till so I could get the hell out of there.”

“Can you speed this up, man? I’m falling asleep,” Larry said impatiently.

“Sorry, so I count down the last till and leave it by the register. I let the last cashier go for the night and locked the door. I go back to the register and grab the till so I could put it in the office and start the deposit. My manager left me instructions for the closing procedures and the combo to the safe. I counted everything and wrapped the deposit so it could be taken to the bank in the morning. I followed the instructions perfectly.”

“So what’s the problem then?”

I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I was having trouble finishing my story, and even though I paused I knew Larry wouldn’t hang up. He wasn’t the kind of guy that would let a story go unfinished. The only problem was that I didn’t know how to get to the next part of the story. I was like a comedian without a punchline. It was hard enough to make the phone call to Larry, let alone get this far into the story. But I did wake him up, so the least I could do was finish my story.

“Are you there?” Larry asked.

“Yeah, sorry. I’m just having trouble explaining this.”

“Take a breath. Just breathe and try to start again,” Larry said with a comforting tone.

“I left with it,” I said. I was being vague on purpose so Larry would ask me what I meant instead of me telling him. And that’s exactly what he did. “You left with what?” He said sounding confused.

“I left with the deposit and everything else in the safe,” I said in a hurried tone.

“You did what?” Larry said sounding confused as if he heard me wrong.

“I left with everything. I took all the money and locked up.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I robbed my store and left. It was an impulse. I don’t know why I did it, but I did. I fucked up.”

“I hope you’re joking,” Larry said.

“I’m not joking. I just up and left with everything,” I said.

“What the fuck were you thinking? How much did you take?”

“I wasn’t thinking, man. I took everything, which was a little over ten grand.”

“This isn’t good. What the fuck, dude. This is bad, really really bad.”

“I know, but I don’t know what to do. That’s why I called you,” I said, sounding more desperate than when Larry had first picked up the phone.

“What do you want me to say? You just called me at three in the morning to tell me you robbed your store for a shit load of money. This is beyond a fuck up, man. Where are you?”

“I’m out front of your place.”

“What? How long have you been here?” Larry asked. He sounded like he was shocked to hear me say that, but deep down I knew he understood. I didn’t know what else to do, and he was the only person I could turn to. He might not of agreed with what I did, but he would help me through anything. Whether that be good or bad; he would be there for support.

“I’ve been here since I called you. I didn’t know what to do. I’m freaking out. Like beyond freaking out. I’m so fucked, man. I am absolutely fucked.”

“Alright, first off get the hell inside. I’m unlocking the door now,” Larry said and hung up. I closed my phone and shut the engine to my car. I still sat in my car with my head on the steering wheel. I was emotionally drained and knew the night wasn’t over. My night was only going to get worse, and facing Larry was going to drain me. Larry knew how to give that look of disappointment only a parent could give. He wouldn’t belittle me, but the look in his eyes would be enough to make me feel small. It was already past the point of no return with Larry. I had to face him now, and he was waiting for me. I lifted my head up and rubbed my eyes. The light on his front porch was on when I lifted my head. So I got out of my car, locked it, and made my way up to his house. The door was open a crack and I stepped inside and locked it behind me. Larry’s foyer led to the kitchen, and the light was on. He was in the kitchen waiting for me.

“Is that you?” Larry yelled from the kitchen.

“Yeah.”

“In the kitchen. I just put on a pot of coffee.”

The ten second walk to the kitchen felt infinite. My legs were shaky, along with the rest of my body. I was more nervous about seeing Larry than I was about the consequences that were to follow my recklessness. I turned the corner into the kitchen to find Larry sitting at his kitchen table, staring at the coffee pot.

“Hey,” I said, being at a loss for words.

“Sit down. The coffee is almost done.”

“Okay, I think I might need a cup.”

“You and me both, bud.”

Larry and I both stared at the coffee pot. He was waiting for the coffee to finish. I was hypnotized by the drip. In a weird way it was calming and gave me time to think. I’m not sure if Larry ever took the time to glance at me, as I was only fixated on the drip. I didn’t want it to end for a few reasons. Not only was it calming, but it also prolonged the inevitable: Our conversation.

“What do you want?” Larry asked.

“What?”

“What do you want in your coffee?”

“Oh, just a little cream and a little sugar.”

Larry fixed two cups of coffee and placed a cup in front of me. He took his seat and sipped his coffee. He didn’t say anything, and I wasn’t sure if he was waiting for me to speak. Before I could he cleared his throat.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” He asked, as only a friend could when you make a mistake.

“I wasn’t thinking.”

“Yeah, you said that, but what could possibly make you do something like that. Really, what the fuck were you thinking?”

“I don’t know. I just did it, and it didn’t cross my mind until I left and set the alarm. At that time I couldn’t do anything. I already took the money and left. I couldn’t go back in the store without sounding the alarm.”

“You set the alarm. You couldn’t just go back in and shut it off?” Larry pressed.

“No, I couldn’t. There are two different codes for closing and opening. I told you it was last minute, and my manager only gave me the code to close up.” I said in all honesty.

“You couldn’t of just put the money back and let the alarm go off? I’m sure they wouldn’t of been pissed about the alarm going off. It wasn’t your responsibility in the first place to be closing the store.” Larry said, making a valid point.

“I didn’t think about that, and I told you I was freaking. I thought I was already fucked so I left. I just got in my car and got out of there. I didn’t know where to go so I drove around for a few hours, and I didn’t want to go home so I called you.”

“Yeah, well thanks for that,” Larry said sarcastically.

“I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry, really I am.”

“No you’re not. If you were sorry you would of turned yourself in.”

“Are you serious? The last place I want to be is in jail.”

“Well you should of thought about that before you committed grand larceny.”

“What do I do then? What can I do?” I asked

“For right now just enjoy your coffee. Go pour another cup and relax. I’m going to call my work and call out. There is no way I’m going to make it in after all of this bullshit you brought me.”

“I’m sorry, Larry. Really, I am truly sorry.”

“Just relax, there’s nothing you can do now.” Larry said. He got up and left the room. I also got up and poured another cup of coffee. He was right, I needed to relax and just stay calm. There was nothing else I could do, and freaking out was not going to help. I sat back down, took a sip of my coffee, and rested my head in my hands. It was the most at ease I’ve been the whole night. This is why I turned to Larry. He knew how to calm me down and was my only true friend. He always had my best interest at hand, and I loved him for that.

Ten minutes later Larry returned and sat back down. He took a sip of his coffee and spit it back in the cup. “I hate cold coffee,” Larry said and got up to pour another cup. “What are you thinking about?” He asked. I didn’t respond. I couldn’t respond. Although I was calmer my mind was still racing. It felt like my head was going to explode. Thankfully it didn’t, but it sure felt like it.

“What do you think you’re going to do? Larry asked

“I’m not sure yet. I think I might just take off. What else can I do? I can’t go to jail.” I replied through my strained throat. Larry didn’t say anything. His back was faced to me as he poured another cup of coffee. “I can’t.”

“You can’t what?” He asked.

“I can’t go to jail.”

“Okay, so then what? You’re just going to flee? Just get up and go?”

“Yeah, that is the only thing that seems plausible right now.”

“You don’t expect me to go with you, do you?”

“No, not at all. This is my mess.”

“You’re damn right it is,” Larry said sounding angry for the first time.

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing to me. You have no reason to say sorry to me.”

“You’re right. I think I should just go,” I said

“Where are you going to go?”

“I don’t know, but I can’t wait around. I have to do something. And I should leave before anyone gets to the store to see the safe empty. What time is it?”

“It’s quarter after six.”

“Okay, the store opens in almost two hours. I should get going soon if I’m going to be out of the state before someone gets there.”

“Okay, if that’s what you think you got to do. Have another cup and calm down before you leave.” Larry suggested.

“Okay,” I said, accepting his offer.

I got up and walked to the coffee pot to make my last cup of coffee before I left. I knew I had to get going, but I wanted to make this last cup of coffee last. This would be the last time I would see Larry. And after all, he was my best friend. I would have many regrets when I was gone, so I tried to make this last encounter last as long as I could.

As I was pouring my last cup Larry’s doorbell rang. I looked back in a hurry and Larry put his hand on my shoulder. “Relax, it’s my neighbor. He comes over early on Tuesdays. He’s an older guy that comes over for coffee. He’s lonely and his wife passed recently. It’s the least I can do.” Larry said, and made his way to his front door. I sat back down and put my head in my hands again. The two cups of coffee I drank had me jittery. I sat and waited for Larry to return with his neighbor. When he came back in I would leave and be on my way. I had no choice, and I had to be leaving as soon as possible anyway. I didn’t need to intrude while he had company. I just rested my head, and I heard footsteps. Larry was on his way back in the kitchen, and I’d be on my way out.

A hand rested on my shoulder. I still kept my head in my hands.

“Mr. Kofta?”

I looked up and nearly fell off my chair.

“I’m Officer Shandie, and I’m going to need you to come with us.”

There were three police officers in Larry’s kitchen, and Larry was standing right beside them. He looked at me in disappointment, like only a parent can look at their child. Officer Shandie pulled me up and put my hands behind my back. He cuffed me and led me to the front of the house. All of the police officers followed, along with Larry. I was being put into the back of the police cruiser when Larry stopped them and spoke up.

“I can’t keep bailing you out. You’re not running from this mistake.”

Larry stepped aside as I was put in the back of the car. The door was shut, and my fate was sealed. Officer Shandie got in the cruiser and backed out of Larry’s driveway.

The only similarity Larry and I had that night was when I leaving to be taken to the police station. We both had our heads down.

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