The tell-tale tart

Published 7:56 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Looking back, he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the risk. The challenge. The daredevil rising to the surface. Maybe because it was there.

Walking down aisle 12, looking for popcorn, Kayden strolled past the candy and it caught his eye. Childhood memories mingled with taste buds and he stopped. There it was — a box of Sweetarts.

Staring at the shelf — to this day he doesn’t understand why — he acted impulsively. A glance left and right proved the aisle deserted. Had one not been studying the situation, he would never have seen the man deftly grab the box of tarts and stuff them in his overcoat pocket.

Turning left, Kayden saw a woman round the corner. Had she seen him?

Pushing her cart to the checkout counter, he saw her talking to the cashier. What were they saying?

Kayden pulled his hand out of his pocket. It still bulged. Someone walked past and appeared to notice his coat. They had seen him!

“Be calm,” he commanded himself. His hands were sweating, his heart thumping.

There were 20 yards to the exit. Twenty steps to freedom.

He wanted to run.

“Be cool,” he said again. “Act normal.”

The box felt huge in his pocket.

Grabbing a loaf of bread, he stepped into the check-out line. To his right, in the corner, stood the store manager.

He was looking his way!

At the register, he placed the bread on the counter.

What was taking her so long! Why wasn’t she looking at him?

Scanning the bread, she reached under the counter.

She knew! She knew! What could he do?!!

To his right, he saw the store manager was walking his way.

He knows! He knows! I’m done!

Reaching into his coat pocket, Kayden grabbed the tarts and slammed them on the counter, smashing the box.

“I confess! I confess!” he stated defiantly, half sobbing, half screaming. “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean to take it!”

“What the…,” thought the cashier, straightening up.

With a puzzled look, the manager walked over, as a blue tart rolled off the counter, bouncing on the floor.