Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2242587-The-Little-Thief
Rated: E · Non-fiction · Family · #2242587
A lesson always remembered
The Little Thief

When Theresa was six years old, she had a moment when she was sure her short life could soon be over!

She had gotten into trouble, a lot of trouble! Even far more trouble than her little brother Roger had ever been in. This was pretty bad, since Roger was the one always known as the “Trouble maker” in the family, and no one ever topped the things he did.

It all began the day she and her best friend Lucy tried to steal bags of potato chips!

That fateful day

Lucy and Theresa were good friends, they were the same age, and also, in the same classroom at school. Lucy lived not far from Theresa’s house, just a short block away. Being so close, made it possible to visit each other, which they did often. The walk between their houses included crossing a major street, one with a stop light. Once you crossed that street, there on the corner, sat a little store named City Market. The second house beyond City Market was where Lucy lived.

The week following Theresa’s sixth birthday, she decided to visit Lucy. Once there, both girls began planning what they were going to do for the day. Lucy showed Theresa a dime she found from her dad’s favorite chair. Coins often fell out of his pocket when he sat there, and it was Lucy who was the first to reclaim those fallen coins.

Theresa also had a couple of dimes she had received from her birthday the week before. With both having money, it was decided they would head to City Market and buy some candy. Afterwards they planned on heading to the school playground, which was located across the street from Theresa’s house. It would be a good place to eat their goodies.


With money in hand, they headed off to the market. They had just left Lucy’s house, when Lucy suddenly turned to Theresa and blurted out, “When we get in the store, lets take some chips”. She didn’t say, “Let’s buy some chips”. Now this completely caught Theresa by surprise. She had a feeling she knew what, “Lets take some chips” meant, which was, “Lets STEAL some chips”. Theresa turned to Lucy with a horrified expression on her face and all she could think to say was, “I don’t have enough money”.

Lucy looked at her with eye brows furrowed, looking somewhat perturbed, and said, “We don’t need any money, we can just put them under our shirts, no one will ever know!”. Well of course Theresa didn’t want to have any part of this. She wanted to protest, but Lucy seemed to be so much cooler than herself, and because of this, she was always wanting to impress her. Also, Lucy could be really persistent. So it was that Theresa, as usual, gave in, even though she knew better.

Off to The Store They Go

Once in the store, both girls headed straight for the chip isle located at the back of the little Market. When at last there, each girl took a small bag from the shelf and slowly put it under their shirt tops. They very carefully pulled and tucked the front of their tops into their pants, figuring this would hold the chips in place.

After seeing how easy it was to take one bag of chips, they thought, why not more? There was still so much more room left under their tops, so Lucy whispered, “let’s take more, there’s plenty of room”. Theresa nodded in agreeance, and grabbed THREE more bags of chips!

By the time they were done stuffing the bags under their tops, it looked as tho both girls had large balloon size bellies, ones ready to explode! They were so excited at the prospect stealing, and of eating, all those chips, that they were completely unaware of the fact of not being alone They were being watched.

During their whole escapade, Mr Owens, the store owner, had been keeping an eye on them. He had been watching them from the moment they had walked into his store. He recognized, and knew, Lucy very well. She was known by him already for shoplifting in his store on prior occasions. He was amazed how, each time she stole something, she never thought of looking around to see if anyone was watching her. He would have thought she’d have learned by now.

Once both girls were sure they couldn’t fit any more bags under their shirts, they agreed it was time to leave. Lucy whispered to Theresa, "We can't just walk out of the store without buying something". Since they each had a little money, they decided each would grab a five cent piece of candy. That should do it.

Caught Chip Handed

Waddling up to the counter with a crinkling sound, and over sized bellies, both girls, as nonchalantly as possible, looked up at Mr. Owens. Now Mr. Owens was a very tall man, taller than most men, and it made both girls feel like they were looking up at a giant. He stood there with a very grave expression upon his face, which was not really unusual for him. Lucy began feeling a little nervous, again, this wasn’t her first time. She set the two five cent candies along with a dime on the counter. Mr. Owens looked from the candy, and then at the dime. While still looking down at the counter, and only moving his eyes, he looked to Lucy and asked, “How about those chips under your shirts, which one of you girls is going to pay for those?”.

That was it, upon hearing those words, the blood from Theresa’s face drained, her stomach knotted up and her pulse quickened, and she turned as white as a ghost! Panic like she had never known before pulsated through her entire body! How did he know? Did Lucy somehow tell him? Was this some sort of mean trick on Lucy’s part, because she could do mean stuff like that sometimes. All Theresa could think to do in her panic was cry, after all she was only six years old, what else was a six year old to do?

Theresa and Lucy looked at each other, Lucy having the same response, also began to cry. Both stood there with tears flowing from their eyes. This, unfortunately for them, did not phase Mr. Owens one bit. He just put his hands on his hips, furrowed his eye brows, and continued glaring down at both girls. Slowly in unison, they began to pull the bags of chips out from under their tops and set them on the counter.

Once all the chips were on the counter, Mr. Owens pulled out a piece of paper, and pen, which he kept next to the cash registrar. He then asked Theresa for her phone number, he didn’t need to ask Lucy, for he already knew it by heart. He advised them that he was going to immediately contact their parents. Theresa looked up at Mr. Owens, her parents, did he really need to call them? He had the chips, they didn’t get stolen. Why call her parents??? At hearing this request, any pigments that were possibly left in her face were now completely drained . She looked down at her feet with thoughts of, “Can I run fast enough?”, she knew better, nope, there was no way, this was not an option.

She looked back up again at Mr. Owens while trying to think of a good response. Maybe, just maybe, she could beg him to please not call her parents. Doing so, she could not help but notice a slight smile on his face! Did he have this smile the whole time while he watched them in their terror? Was he enjoying all of this? She was just a little girl, what kind of person enjoys tormenting little girls! Then it struck her, he's not the problem, the greater problem to think about were her parents.

Visions of her Pappa finding out what she had done, now that was what she had to focus on! Well, if Mr. Owens liked seeing terror, he hit the jackpot this time, because no other little girl could have been any more terrified than she was at that moment! Theresa was experiencing a fear level the likes she had never felt before, or since for that matter! In her mind, she was as good as doomed, her short six year old life, as she had known it, was over!

What torture! It took quite a while before Theresa could bring herself to give Mr. Owens her phone number. Once he had the number written down, he pointed towards the two chairs which were always kept by the entry door, right across from his counter. All he said was, “Sit!” Both girls obeyed and immediately walked over sat down. The door, even though it was within inches from where they were seated, felt as though it might have well been a million miles away. Could they run? Naw, Mr. Owens would catch them, and then who knows what he would do. Call the police maybe? No, they knew they had to stay put, and face the consequences.

The Wait

And so it was that Theresa solemnly sat sadly next to Lucy, while both waited, for what had seemed like an eternity. Theresa frozen in that constant feeling of complete, and utter, terror. All they could do was continually watch the door, just waiting for that moment, the one when one of their parents would come walking through. She knew it would be her Mamma coming, because her Pappa was still at work. She would try and deal with one terror at a time, at least for now. Having to face her Pappa would come later.

During the entire time, Theresa had not stopped crying; where as Lucy, after her initial first few tears, had completely stopped. It had been not much longer after the chip bags had been set on the counter. No more tears. Not even one! Theresa didn’t learn about that not being Lucy’s first time until later. That was why Lucy had no fear what-so-ever for what was to come.

Staying vigilant at his cash register, Mr. Owens had no trouble keeping an eye on both girls. It wasn’t bad enough that Mr. Owens would continually glare at them, no, he would regularly inform them of his plans for their futures. These plans included the following, after they left with their parents, with much pleasure, he would contact every store owner, and manager, in the entire world. He would inform them about their attempt at stealing the chips! He would include a picture of each of them. He said he would write in big, bold letters on each picture; LOOK OUT for “THESE LITTLE THIEVES”! This way all store owners, managers, and employees, would be warned. They would be told too keep an eye on these thieves from the minute they walked through the door of the store, until the moment they left.

Upon hearing this, Theresa’s eyes grew wider, her heart raced, visions of her face on a picture posted in every store filled her mind with horror. She envisioned, written in huge letters under a picture of her, written: “Thief, be on guard! This is what she looks like” or “Don’t let this one walk alone in your store, she’ll steal what you have, especially the potato chips!”. What this meant now, was even if she survived her Pappa’s punishment, she would still be doomed forever. She would never be able to walk into another store again without someone following her like a criminal!

Mom Arrives

At last Lucy’s Mom had arrived, and after briefly speaking with Mr. Owens, she then took Lucy home. No scolding, no threats, just, “Vamos Mija a la Casa”, (come on daughter, let’s go home), in a very calm voice. It wasn’t to long after they left, that Theresa’s Mamma appeared. The first thing Theresa’s Mamma did was to go up to Mr. Owens and began apologizing profusely. You see, she had been a regular customer, and had known him for years. So, in her most sincerest tone, she assured Mr. Owens that this would never, ever happen again. She just couldn’t understand what Theresa had been thinking to do such a terrible thing, all the while looking at Theresa, and slowly shaking her head back and forth.

She then assured Mr. Owens that Theresa’s father would hear about this! After all, everyone knew, if you wanted real results, let the father know about it. Terror, terror and more terror, how much more must Theresa endure! All she wanted to do was go home and stop this endless day of horror and humiliation! Go home, face the consequences, and get the punishment over with, once and for all. At this point, she had even resigned herself to face Pappa, and take what ever punishment he was going to give her, but no, her Mamma had other plans.

Mamma Goes Shopping

Her Mamma had decided that, hey while she were there, why not do some grocery shopping! AHHHHH! At hearing this, Theresa just wanted to scream - NOOOO!!!

Her Mamma calmly walked over to the grocery carts, and pulling one out, then called Theresa to her side. Poor distraught Theresa, with her head held down, she slowly walked to her Mamma’s side, and they walked through the entire store. Her Mamma, taking her time, did her grocery shopping! All Theresa’s could think was, “Why can’t this just end!” “Why can’t this just end!” “Why can’t this just end!”…..

Finally, yes finally, after what had seemed yet another eternity, her Mamma pushed her filled cart up to the counter so Mr. Owens could ring up all her items. Mr. Owens bagged all of the groceries, and Theresa’s Mamma paid him for what she bought. Theresa grabbed a couple of the bags as quickly as possible. Yet before leaving, again, her Mamma decided to give another long apology to Mr. Owens.

At last, they walked out of the store and headed for home, each holding the bags of groceries. In one of the bags Theresa was carrying, she couldn’t help but notice, there, sitting on the top of each bag, were the bags of chips she had tried to steal. At seeing them, she shook her head, swearing to herself never to eat chips again!.

Once out of the store, Theresa’s Mamma stopped, and turned to Theresa. She said, “Mija, I want you to take this time walking home to think about what you did in that store, stealing! Stealing Mija, what were you thinking?”. She turned back and they began walking again, saying no more for the rest of the way home. Thank goodness it was only a block away.

Theresa’s mind pondered on this question, why did she do it? She also thought of what was to come. Thinking of these two things were another torture, all on top of the already terror she had been feeling all afternoon. Theresa could ponder a lot of things, and at the moment, none of them were good. She could not think of why she stole those chips, she would think on that later. Right now, the only thing she could think of was facing her Pappa, and of what was to come with him.

She began to envision his punishment for her as being, first of all, she would have to pack all her favorite dolls, and toys, for he would make her give them away. That would be a big part of the punishment. Then she would have to say good bye to her sister, and all her four brothers, with Pappa there standing, with his ominous presence, watching her every move. Belt would be in hand the whole time while she was saying good bye. He would be glaring and saying something like, “Sorry, but your sister, the thief, needs to be sent away! No dejamos ladrones en esta casa (we don’t let thieves in this house).”

Then she could see him glaring while he raised his belt high in the air, swinging it down towards her, telling her how he needed to give her one last spanking as a reminder of what a bad girl she was. Her Mamma would be standing behind him, and begging, “No Pappa, don’t hurt her and send her away, she didn’t mean to do it. I’m sure she’ll be good from now on, she won’t ever do that again”, then turning to Theresa and asking, “Verda (right) mija?”, looking back to Pappa, “Por favor (please) Pappa, stop.” and Pappa standing tall, like a cold hard statue, would be adamantly shaking his head back and forth, resolute, firmly stating, “No, basta! (enough!)”.


After the long silent march home, Theresa and her Mamma walked straight into the kitchen, and both began setting the bags of groceries on the table. Once her Mamma was through setting her bags down, she sat on one of the kitchen chairs. She motioned with her hand for Theresa to come sit in the chair by her side. Once seated, her Mamma gently reached for Theresa’s hands, and holding them ever so gently within her own, said, “Now Mija, I know I should tell your Pappa about this, but I’m going to keep this between nosotros (ourselves), you and me this time. I know you are a good girl, and won’t do anything like this again, verda, right?”, Theresa was vigorously shaking her head back and forth saying, “No Mamma, never!!!”.

Her Mamma then calmly said, “From now on, you will not be seeing that Lucy girl any longer. I know you are a good girl, and so I know it was her that made you do this!”.

There it was, Mamma NEVER blamed her kids for anything! Whenever any one of her children got into trouble, it was ALWAYS someone else’s fault! It was “Them”, “they” had always made her kids do bad things, so it was that, it was “bad” Lucy’s fault, and Theresa was saved. In her family after all, wasn’t it a known fact that all of Mamma’s six children were Saints, at least in their Mamma’s eyes.

Theresa was not going to have to endure one of Pappa’s spankings with the belt. She was not going to have to say good bye to her brothers and sister. She was not going to have to go away. She could leave all her favorite dolls and toys where they were. Her heart was bursting with joy and so much relief that she gave her Mamma the biggest kiss and hug ever, saying, “Thank you Mamma, I promise that I will never steal again!” In her mind, she thought, besides, I couldn’t steal if I wanted to, my picture will always be in all the stores around the world. They would be always watching her!

Still to this day, many many years later, whenever walking into any store, Theresa can envision the store manager running to let everyone know, “that’s the thief, keep an eye on her!”.
© Copyright 2021 Dragonfly (bjwray at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2242587-The-Little-Thief