🐤 The Lucky Canary ~ The Dollar Store Bandits are Back in Action



Three thirty a.m. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, with the exception of the three men sitting in a beat-up Toyota in an alley running parallel to River Road.

The Tuna glances to his left, “Tone, turn off your phone. I don’t want no lights in this car. We got to be invisible.”

Tony glances at the Tuna, “Tune, one more minute, I’m almost to level twelve.”

Nick reaches over Tony’s shoulder and takes the phone out of Tony’s hands. He turns it off and sticks the phone in his pocket.

“Thanks, Nick. Tone, that’s strike one, two more and you don’t drive no more,” says the Tuna.

“I could never hit a curve ball, Tune. We’re talking baseball, right? Is Legos gonna start a team? I wanna be number 7. I used to play first base in high school,” says Tony.

The Tuna ignores Tony. He says, “We gonna go over the plans. I don’t want no slip ups. I don’t want no goofs. I don’t want somebody saying I forgot. You understand this?”

Nick nods.

“Tune, we’re not invisible. I can still see you,” says Tony.

Nick taps Tuna’s shoulder, “I got this.” Nick taps Tony’s shoulder, “The Tuna meant we was to be invisible to the cops not to each other. That’s why you can see me and the Tuna and why we can see you. The thing is, the cops can’t see us.”

“That’s the coolest thing I ever heard. Like, we can go into a bank and rob it and nobody can see us,” says and excited Tony.

“Tony, the Tuna’s gonna go over the plans. He don’t want no slip ups, goofs, mistakes, or I shoulda thought of that before. You understand what I am saying?” asks Nick.

Tony nods and turns toward the Tuna, “I mesmerized it, Tune. I won’t forget anything. I’m ready for everything.”

The Tuna momentarily wishes Legos were here and would say, ‘you mean you memorized it. The Tuna knows Tone wouldn’t understand. So, it doesn’t matter. The Tuna bends over and reaches into a large brown paper shopping bag and pulls out three fedoras, three pairs of Dollar Store fake glasses with a fake nose attached to them. His hand dips down into the bag again and he pulls out three COVID-19 face masks from the Dollar Store. Each mask has a makeshift slit for the nose to stick through and a hole over the mouth for speaking. There is a D on one cheek and an S on the other cheek. He hands a set to Tony and Nick. “Nick, you wait a minute before you slip your disguise on. I got something else for you to wear.”

Tony looks hurt. Nick nods.

The Tuna reaches into the paper bag and pulls out a white t-shirt with the words, Health Department Inspector printed in red block letters. He hands the t-shirt to Nick along with a clipboard with a piece of paper attaches and a pen hanging by a string to the top of the clipboard.

“Tune, I know I’m not the smartest guy in the neighborhood, but how are these masks gonna protect us from the vitrus?” asks Nick.

You mean virus, thinks the Tuna. The Tuna says, “It’s a city ordinance, you can’t enter a place of business without a facemask. We don’t want to break the law.”

“Nick, tell me what you gonna do. Don’t miss nothing,” says the Tuna.

Nick pulls the white t-shirt over his head. He fits his Dollar Store glasses and fake nose on. He puts the fedora on his head, tilts in down and bit toward the left side, “How do I look? Can I take a selfie for Tinzi?”

“Put the phone away. You crazy or something?” says the Tuna. “Tell me what you are going to do.”

Tony taps Tuna on the arm, “I can tell you, Tune. I mesmerized everything.”

“Nick is gonna tell me. We don’t got all night. We got to get this done before they open for business.”

Nick says, “I gets out of the car. How am I doing so far?”

Tone interrupts, “You forget to say you opened and closed the car door.”

The Tuna instinctively reaches in his pants pocket for a gun, then remembers he stopped carrying a gun when he hit fifty.

Nick continues, “I walk up the alley. I knock on the door with the light on. When they answer I tell them I’m the city health inspector making a surprise health inspection. When I get in, I check to see if anybody is not wearing a mask. If a worker is not wearing a mask, I tell him to leave and not come back until he has an official Dollar Store mask with a D on one cheek and an S on the other and a note from a dentist, chiropractor, doctor, or veterinarian. . . .”

The Tuna shakes his head, “Where’d you come up with this doctor stuff. Why would anyone need a note from their chiropractor or veterinarian or dentist?”

Nick says, “I added that part in case they don’t have medical insurance, but they have a pet, bad back, or need a root canal.”

Tony jumps in, “That sounds pretty good, Tune. You know Manny Spinoza? Manny only goes to a chiropractor. He swears by them. Me, I don’t need one, I know how to stand against a wall and wiggle my back and make it crack.”

The Tuna feels tempted to drop the caper, but figures it still has a chance to work at 3 a.m. He says, “Go on, Nick. Member, it’s all about timing. I gotta do what I gotta do in privacy. I don’t want no witnesses.”

Nick says, “I march everybody who gots a mask into the lavatory and have them all show me how they practice washing their hands. I’m gonna time them and make sure they wash their hands for five minutes.”

The Tuna says, “Twenty seconds.”

Nick answers, “Okay, five minutes twenty seconds.”

“What are you gonna do, Tone?” asks the Tuna.

Tony scratches his head. “I’ll have it in a minute, Tune.” Pause for twenty seconds. Tony says, “I got it, Tune. I drive out of the alley and take a right on Second Ave. When I get to the stop sign, which is not far from the end of the alley, I take a right on Riverside. I drive down the block and take a right on Chestnut Street and come back down the alley and wait for you guys.”

“What if a cop comes in the alley, watcha going do?” asks the Tuna

Tony blurts, “Get the hell out of here. I got no excuse for waiting in the alley.”

The Tuna says, “Tone, remember what I told you do if a cop stops you? Think about it.”

Tony pats his pants pocket. He looks over at Tuna, “No worries, Tune. I member.”

The Tuna’s blood pressure spikes. He says, “It’s go time, Nick. You go first. I’ll count to twenty, then I’m going in while you got them washing hands. I only need two minutes. When they start washing their hands, you tell them you are going to inspect the rest of the store while they are washing their hands. No one leaves the lavatory until you tell them it’s okay to leave. If they come out too early tell them there’s a big fine.”

“How big, Tuna.”

I’m too old for this, thinks the Tuna. “It’s really big, Nick. Make something up.”

“Is a hundred thousand big enough, Tuna?” says Nick hurrying toward the lighted door.

The Tuna regrets not being more specific with Nick as he shuffles toward the door.

Nick bangs on the door. The door opens. “Surprise. Early morning health inspection.”

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