This is a special Sunday edition of Fiction Friday.  Sadly, a real-life local crime was the inspiration for this story.

Jason Rodriguez grabbed the insulated bag and jumped out of the Chevy Malibu. He was halfway to the house when several people jumped out of the bushes. Jason counted seven men, all apparently in their late teens or early twenties.

“Those are my pizzas,” one of the men growled.

“You’re Mark Briggs?” asked Jason, double-checking the name on the box.

“Yeah, Briggs, that’s me,” came the reply, followed by a guffaw.

“OK, that will be $10.70.”

“I don’t think you understand. You’ll leave the pizzas with us and get outta here. That way nobody gets hurt.”

At that moment, Jason noticed the switchblade knife in the guy’s hand. He set the pizzas on the sidewalk and waited for the gang to make the next move. To his surprise, they grabbed the pizzas and ran off in the opposite direction.

Jason decided to get out of the neighborhood before the guys came back, looking for more trouble.

When he returned to the Pizza Palace, he reported the crime to his boss.

“Are you OK?” asked Chris – always a guy to look out for his employees.

“Yeah, I’m fine. But they stole the pizzas!”

“Hey, at least they have refined palates,” laughed Chris. “How much money did they get this time?”

“No money. They just took the pizzas.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. They risked jail for a couple of pizzas?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” replied Jason.

“I’m going to have the cops come by and take a report. Go back to my office and wait for them. When they leave, go ahead and take off early.”

A moment later, Chris popped his head into the office to let him know that the cops were in the middle of something, and it would be a little while before they could get there to take the police report.

Forty-five minutes later, the cops arrived. Jason could tell that they were also trying to suppress a small smile at the stupidity of the criminals. When Jason finished with his story, one of the officers suggested that he could downtown when it was convenient.

“We’d like to have you sit with our artist tomorrow, so that we can get a composite of the guys,” he explained.

“Actually,” replied Jason, “I had a bit of time before you arrived, so I took the opportunity to do a few sketches.”  Jason flipped his sketchpad to the first of the portraits and handed the pad to the officer.

The officer quickly flipped through the pad. This time, he didn’t try to suppress his amusement.

“You’ve got some talent, kid.” He handed the pad to his partner. “Recognize any of these guys, Marv?”

“Good Lord,” replied the younger officer, “Any of them? Heck, I recognize all of them. Clarence Billings lives in that area. Let’s start there.”

Ten minutes later, the officers interrupted a game of Old Maid at Clarence Billings’ house.

“Here we go, Bob.” Officer Marv pulled a pizza box from the trash. He turned to Billings. “You’re getting soft, Clarence. You leave this kind of evidence laying around?”

“So what. It’s a pizza box. We got hungry and ordered a pizza. Is that a crime?”

“There’s only one problem, Clarence. This pizza was supposed to be delivered to Mark Briggs.” Marv pointed to the sticker that contained the information about the delivery. “Being in possession of this particular box does create a bit of a problem for you.”

“You guys are all coming with us,” ordered Bob. “You’re being arrested for robbery and general stupidity.”

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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