There is the door, I thought. There are only 15 more steps and then I don’t have to worry about anyone trying to stop me. I saw the exit with two ladies checking receipts from purchasing customers. I walked right past the ladies with relief because they paid no attention neither to me nor Lenny. I am finally safe, I thought, this is truly a phenomenon.
But I wasn’t safe. I wasn’t safe from myself because I had just let someone’s illegal actions engulf me as an accomplice. I had just allowed Lenny to steal a game cartridge in front of me, but because I had aided him, there was no backing down now. I couldn’t tell anyone else. I didn’t want to get in trouble and I especially didn’t want others to think differently about me if they knew that I was a petty thief.
Lenny told me it was over. It was far from over. My brain was at war with my conscience, trying to spread an emergency code to the rest of my body. My mind kept telling itself over and over again, never again, Jeremy. Never again. The guilt sunk deep into me; it felt so wrong. But another thought sprang into my head, can I forgive myself for what I just did, can I possibly justify this course of action? It was Costco after all; it shouldn’t have been such a big deal.
“Man, that was really easy.” Lenny said. “Now since I did it, it’s only fair that you do it too.”
Oh crap. He just said the line. The line that drags me into the world I never sought to bring myself to. In church, pastors and followers would always say how I was such a good kid and how I had never forsaken God. I couldn’t stand the thought of myself if I stole, because it would ruin my image, or what I thought was my personal image.
Lenny drags me into Costco again accompanied by a stranger so that we could get in. I can’t reiterate enough how much Costco’s security sucks. We get to the gaming section again. This time, it was my turn. Lenny took the role of the lookout and I trembled with sweaty hands. I attempted to open the box, but I simply couldn’t open it.
“I can’t get it open,” I said. I had a hard time using the screw driver to my advantage.
“Try twisting the plastic,” he said.
I twisted the box’s case, and it magically opened just enough. I grabbed the game and gave it to Lenny so that he could put it into his pocket. We strode off to the door once again, this time, feeling that I had blood stains on my hands. Again, we made it to the front door and for a second time, we got outside. I thought we escaped unharmed, but the same whispering thoughts came back to haunt me.
“We’re safe and sound,” Lenny said. I don’t know what came over me in that moment. I had an adrenaline rush; my heart pumped blood faster than normal. There was a feeling inside, like my libido, that was full of thrill and excitement, yet my head couldn’t stop throbbing. My thoughts kept echoing how cool stealing was. I sat in the car, solemn, as Lenny played the games we stole on the portable device he brought.
Stealing became a temporary obsession. I was like a filthy British teenager trying to find the most insane, hardcore porn there is on the $9.99 per episode porno sites, or like how a little first grader is nostalgic during his or her stay in band camp. All of the sudden, we were doing another round of stealing on the same day, this time trying to see how many games would fit in Lenny’s pockets within an hour. By the end of many rounds, we shoplifted all the games that amused us with any slight curiosity. Listen to me Jeremy. It’s me, your conscience. You’re doing the wrong thing! Don’t let Lenny take advantage of you! Do something!
“You’re not bored now, are you?” Lenny said. I didn’t reply. The car ride home was in a humble atmosphere as I feared the next thing I would say would jeopardize the whole operation. “I can’t wait to try all of these games when we get home,” I murmured. The guilt tore my heart as every time it pumped. My head waltzed towards destruction.
We arrived at Lenny’s house and left all of our loot in his parents’ car. That night lasted only for a mere second – I went to bed before I knew it. During my slumber, I had awful dreams that came from the after effects of stealing. My body perspired while I tossed and turned in the blankets. Lenny, who was sleeping a few feet away from me, snored. I kept waking up from nightmares and walking around Lenny’s house. The house was too silent; the air was too pristine. I found myself constantly going to the restroom and staring at myself in the mirror as I splashed water onto my face. It might have been quiet, but my demons were hollering, trying to break free.
The next night, we went to Fry’s. Unlike Costco, Fry’s was a more dangerous place with surveillance cameras and door alarms. The place specialized in electronics where Lenny would have loved to take everything. I looked around for guards and then at the cameras and printers and thought how to steal them from the store. I shook my head in attempt to wipe away those terrible thoughts.
“Come over here, Jeremy. Wouldn’t it be cool to steal this new game right here?” I looked over. It was a brand new RPG game for the PC that had come out the previous month.
“No, Lenny, I can’t do this,” I whispered.
“Sure you can,” he said. “Remember what you did yesterday?”
“Well, that was Costco. Besides, how do I know that the alarm won’t go off when I go through?” I said.
“There’s only one way to find out,” he said with a chuckle. I predicted that Lenny was going to use peer pressure on me again and I was right on the money. We went on and on; I argued the ethics of stealing and the consequences of getting caught while he argued that it was for the interest of our entertainment.
“Ok, then why don’t you do it?” I asked.
“Because I did it last time,” he said. I gave up in persuading Lenny. I had poor argumentative skills and could not stop myself from doing this heinous act. My superego and ego gave up; the little shoulder angel was defeated by the little shoulder devil.
Minutes into our covert operation, I managed to tear off the wrapping and taping that concealed the CD in the box with my fingernails as Lenny watched guard. The CD inside the box was, however, inside a hermetic case. Lenny was skeptical about bringing the case, but he said it was a necessity because it contained the serial number and activation code to play the game. I stated that the case may contain a security precautionary device that would trip the door alarm. I was frightened by the very thought of getting caught at the entrance that goose bumps had risen.