My Friend, the Thief

We took the bus to go shopping downtown.  We weren’t old enough yet to drive, and it was a boring Saturday. Debbie suggested the shopping trip.

We had a shopping center (before malls) within walking distance of our houses. A bus trip was more adventurous. Debbie was always up for adventure. She had moved in the summer before 4th grade. We were buds even though she stole some of my troll doll clothes that I’d made out of odd socks, after playing with them one day.

We had on our jeans and flats.  Little did I know that my big flat feet needed arch support. I was a cool teenager, so I wore the flats, no socks.  I had my babysitting money burning a hole in my jeans pocket.  Debbie had her allowance.  I was looking forward to a piece of cherry pie at the soda counter. I felt like an adult ordering pie and a drink and paying with my hard-earned money.

We walked into Younkers, the big department store in downtown Des Moines. I had my purse on a long strap over my shoulder. Debbie had hers too, brown, with fringe. We stopped at the make-up counter. Debbie tried on a few of the sample colors, making various pose faces in the round mirror on the counter. No one came over to help us. We must’ve looked like we had no cash.

I turned away from the make-up counter (I didn ’t have enough money) and suggested we look in the clearance racks.

Just then, a woman came up to us and took Debbie by the elbow. 

“Open up your purse,” the woman said.

I was horrified. Why was she picking on my friend?

“I’m undercover security,” she said. “I saw you put that lipstick into your purse.”

“She wouldn’t do that!” I said.

But Debbie had done it. She opened up her purse, revealing the stolen make-up.

“Come with me,” the woman said to both of us.

“But I didn’t do anything!” I protested.

She led us to a back office, where we had to empy our pockets and the contents of our purses. I had a bunch of wadded-up Kleenex, my babysitting money, a Chapstick, a comb, and a maxipad, in case I got my period.

The woman picked though my stuff. I glared at Debbie, who sat there, looking defeated.  How dare you get me into trouble!

But she’d shoplifted before, at Ardan’s. Her MO was to carry it around with her in a big store, then drop her purse along with the shirt and stuff the item in with everything else as she picked it up off the floor. I was dismayed. She called me a goody two shoes.

I didn’t steal, but I accompanied a known thief.

The woman let me go but kept Debbie. Now I was really mad. The shopping day was ruined, and I had to ride the city bus home by myself. It was something I rarely did, and I wasn’t sure I knew how.

I found my way back to the bus stop, and sat down on the bench. I remembered the bus number that would take me north and west of downtown.

When I got home, my disappointment must’ve showed.

“How was shopping?” Mom asked.

“Okay,” I lied.

“What’d you buy?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

Debbie’s mom lived across the street. It wa s only a matter of time until Mom would find out everything.

Debbie, why did you have to go and ruin our fun day downtown? All for a lipstick that you had money for.

You got me into trouble.

And I didn’t get my piece of cherry pie.

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