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The Part-Time Burglar

by Mercedes Lawry

Last March I went way down in the dumps and when I came back up, I was pretty raggedy. Everything was a little bit electric after that. I was attuned to the humidity and saved a thimble of my sweat for possible voodoo in the future. I sure as hell didn’t want to go all uneven again, so I looked for something to distract me from the litter of my mind.

My kindergarten teacher passed away a long time ago, but her reckless son, Jerry, still lived in their tiny blue house on Elm. When we were 5 and 6, I asked him to marry me. He laughed in my face and told his friends, who laughed even harder. I cried for two and a half days. Fast forward.

One Friday night when I knew Jerry would be at The Totaled, drinking himself into oblivion, I broke into his house. I do have a few useful skills. I did it for fun, not revenge, or not the full-out angry red-eyed revenge at any rate. And it was fun. The house looked pretty much the same, only dustier. I went to the kitchen where Mrs. Groat was often nursing a cup of coffee with a far-off look in her eyes, as if her real life was happening somewhere else, preferably minus Jerry. I took the teaspoons. If I’d been a vindictive bitch, I’d have taken something worth a few dollars, but I prided myself on my subtlety and wry sense of humor.

After my heist, I put on a clean t-shirt and my Steelers hat and went down to The Totaled. My second cousin was the bartender and he gave me free beer. I’m not much of a beer fan, but it was free and I didn’t want to hurt Kevin’s feelings. He was a sweet guy who was a vegetarian and cared for rescued animals. I gave him a lot of credit for that.

I watched Jerry from a back booth. He was playing pool – badly. He was a loud motherfucker. I wondered how long it would be before he missed the spoons. He might make do with the forks. He might change his eating habits. Maybe I should have taken all the cutlery. Now there’s a word you don’t often hear – cutlery.

After beer #4, I decided to head for home. I was feeling pretty good and it wasn’t just the beer. I decided I’d go back in a month or so and see if he’d replaced the spoons. Then I’d take something else – like his soap, or all his socks. Again, subtle. The notion lifted my spirits right up another notch. They should put this idea into one of those self-help books (with a cautionary footnote – don’t get caught.) I might do this three or four more times before I moved on to Suzy Butler, who invited everybody but me to her birthday party in 7th grade. She lived alone (divorced) and went to yoga every Wednesday evening from 7-9. Suzy always smelled like an Avon lady gone wild, so I had some idea where I was going to start.

Mercedes Lawry has published short fiction in several journals, including GravelCleaver, and Blotterature. She was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. Her poetry has been published in Nimrod, Prairie Schoonerand Poetry, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times. Additionally, she’s published stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.

Lead image: “teaspoons” (via Flickr user Petras Gagilas)


  1. Love this! Such wonderful treachery.

  2. Steven Gowin Steven Gowin

    Nice piece. Beautiful tone and style to match. I want to go on capers with this girl(?). I think it’s a woman. No matter.

  3. Love vindictive/revenge stories and this one was top notch.

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