My Robbery Debut

Does anyone remember those fabulous playsuits from the late 1970s?  I had a golden coloured one with white trimming.  I loved it and it was great to put on over my bikini when I headed off to the beach to meet my mates.

It came in handy one day when the circle of friends I was with decided to play Truth or Dare.  We were bored – it was the long summer holidays and although it was very hot on the beach, the sea was rough and the red flags were up.  Hence the suggested game.

I was fourteen and quite giddy with the prospect of being a member of the cool gang (surfer boys and girls) therefore when the bottle landed on me and I accepted a Dare (I would’ve had to make up a truth – my life being so boring up until then).  My Dare, as suggested by the gorgeous blonde Adonis known as Scott, was to steal something from the local shop.

A dilemma for the honest citizen of Mudjimba Beach.  And I was honest – honest.  I glanced around at the group. Blue, brown and green eyes stared back at me with just a glint of teasing.  I knew I had to do it.  I’d drunk deeply from the bottle of this friendship circle and now I must earn my place.

It was a typical general store with Coca Cola posters and souvenir postcards and beach goodies. I browsed slowly, picking up items and putting them back down, contemplating long and hard as to what I should take.  Pens, pencils, sweet smelling erasers in fluorescent pink, or a notepad with a Koala on the front.  Of course my biggest dilemma was not what to take but where the hell to hide it when I took it.  No pockets and no bag.  This lack of planning clearly showed my naivety as a thief. And the damn playsuit was clearly not the right thing to be wearing for my debut.

I moved towards the door aware of the shopkeeper’s eye on me.  His name is gone from my memory now but I do recall what he looked like.  Tall, middle aged with a longish beard and the sort of mahogany colour you get from regular bouts of time in the ocean on a surfboard.  He was holding a surfboard behind the counter and was rubbing wax up and down it, the distant tune of Cold Chisel playing in the background.  Despite his activities, he was still watching what I was up to.  A teenager lingering in a shop with no bag and clearly no money must have spelt trouble.

My hand was on the door handle and I was about to scarper when the bright red wrapper of a Cherry Ripe chocolate bar caught my eye.  They were placed on a shelf to the left of the door.  I looked out of the shop window; saw my friends sitting on the swings of the playground opposite.  I couldn’t go back empty handed.  I turned slightly pretending to be looking at the Women’s Weekly magazine on the shelf above and snatched up the chocolate bar shoving it down the front of my playsuit as quickly as I could.  A small rectangular shape formed at the front so I wiggled the elastic at the top slightly and the top ballooned over it.  I opened the front door hearing the little bell tinkle as I did so.  I crossed the road ever so slowly expecting Mahogany Man’s hand to touch my shoulder at any minute.  But it never happened.

When I ate that chocolate bar to the cheers of my friends, I felt sick – it stuck in my throat and I knew my days of stealing were well and truly over.  Funny thing is not long after that I got a Saturday job in that store.  There was a new owner by then and one of the first things she told me was to watch out for shoplifters.