Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

 Stop Thief!

There I was serving in the shop. Helping my mom and dad who were probably having a cup of tea and a bit of a break in the back room.

This young guy comes in and asks for a packet of cigarettes. Now in the late '60's anyone could buy smokes. He'd probably been kicked out the front door by his da.

As soon as I put the box on the counter, he put his hand in his pocket, grabbed the box and ran like the wind.

I was gob smacked... for a second. I lifted the flap of the counter and ran after him. A few people in the street turned to see what was going on.

He was about my age but I was taller and eventually caught up to him in the car park of a block of flats. We didn't say much but I grabbed him and managed to wrench the packet free and gave him a push.

I ran back to the shop, triumphant and got a free ice-cream for my trouble.

It wasn't the only time someone ran off without paying, but I don't remember the details, so well, of the ones who got away...

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