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Have a great day, guys!!
I’m a believer in defining moments. I believe events/situations often propel us to follow certain paths. Recently, I journeyed back in my own life to find the defining moment that could have driven me to write my latest release GOTCHA!
Amazingly, I stumbled across a situation. You see, my heroine in GOTCHA! works at a pizza place. And so did I.
It was 1984, and the beginning of a very dire day. I was caught by six of LAPD’s finest, guns drawn, while I had thousands of dollars strewn around me on a bad hair day. The bad hair is an added little detail that some wouldn’t consider important. But let’s face it, if all eyes, all attention, guns included, are going to be focused on you, don’t you want your hair to look good?
I worked at Pizza Hut in the big city of Los Angeles. The day before, I’d gotten a new perm. Let’s just say the hairdresser could have uncurled me an hour earlier than she did. I woke up late that morning, pulled a pair of shorts under my huge T-shirt that read “Bad Girl,” grabbed my uniform and headed to work with my hair looking like I’d stuck my fingers in an electric outlet.
Anyway, I was at work and other than getting dressed, taking a pee break, and trying to tame my hair, the only thing left to do was count the register drawer. However, when I opened the thirty-minute safe, I found the weekend manager had failed to make deposits, so I had thousands of dollars to count and deposits to fill out. I was pissed. I tossed the money onto the Pizza Hut floor so I could make heads and tails out of the register receipts. I was furiously counting money when I heard a tap on the window to my right.
The first thing I saw was the gun. Now, I’d never had a gun pointed at me, so I didn’t take it well. Then I saw the man behind the gun wore a police uniform. I relaxed a smidgeon, but then I heard another tap. At the window to my left was another officer with another gun. Let’s just say, there were several more taps before I was: 1) motioned to get up, 2) told to hold my hands in the air, 3) told to go answer the ringing phone. (Have you ever tried to answer a phone with hands in the air?)
Turned out, my cook had accidentally set off the alarm. The alarm company called the police. The police saw a crazy woman in shorts and a slept-in “Bad Girl” T-shirt with electric-styled hair, sitting in the middle of the floor, slinging money and they called for backup.
After a long phone conversation during which I tried to convince them I worked there, I was removed from gunpoint. Their farewell warning: I didn’t have an alarm until the alarm company came and reset it. Fine, I said. I had bigger problems, I’d peed in my pants when I saw the first gun and really needed to change clothes.
Anyway, it was after the lunch crowd, empty restaurant, and time for a bathroom break, when an irate man came in, demanding his credit card be returned. We didn’t take credit cards and due to his lack of cash to pay for his meal, my manager had taken his card a few days prior. Suspicious when I heard the story, I’d called to see if the card was stolen. It was. Told to cut the card in half and send it in, I was going to receive a hundred dollar reward. Cool, right?
This irate guy wanted the stolen card back. I didn’t want to explain about my reward, so instead I did what most of you would have done. I lied. I said the card was in the thirty-minute safe, and explained he’d have to wait. (Meaning I had thirty minutes to come up with a better lie.)
He wasn’t happy. And to make his “not-happy” point clear, he pulled out a huge, HUGE, hunting knife and proceeded to clean his nails. So, I did what any normal woman with bad hair would have done. I smiled, pretended not to be panicked by his oversized fingernail cleaner, peed my pants for the second time that day, and hit the silent alarm. But opps…the alarm didn’t work, remember?
So I went to the phone and pretended to answer an order, with my back to the armed credit card thief, (imagine me thinking he was right behind me with knife ready to plunge) and called 911. They gave me a great piece of advice. Hit the alarm.
Try explaining the whole guns at the window to a 911 operator while panicked didn’t work well. The operator then asked one question. Was anyone in the restaurant other than the cook and me and the nail cleaner? I told him no and he said to get my cook, who was in the back making dough, and run out the back door.
I was about to bolt when a woman with a baby came in and seated herself. Now, I’ve always been the “save yourself” kind of person, especially when I blamed the woman for not noticing the man cleaning his nails with a knife big enough to skin Bambi, but . . . there was the baby.
I walked to the booth and whispered for her to leave through the emergency door. I turned around to get the cook and run out the back when two shady looking dudes walked in. For a second, I thought they were with the credit card thief. But nope, one of the two men came sauntering toward me and the other headed toward the bathroom.
I was prepared to explain that we were . . . out of dough or needed to close for mold inspection, anything to get them to leave so I could escape the big knife.
But that didn’t happen, because the shady-looking dude pulled out a gun. Then in an equally shady voice, he told me to get behind the counter. (See what I mean about it being a bad day?)
I promptly made up my mind. If I lived through that, my pizza and perm days were over and I was buying stock in big-people diapers. Then the second man, who appeared to have gone to the bathroom, came charging around the corner with his gun drawn, and they both turned their weapons on the knife-wielding credit card thief. Yup, they were undercover cops 911 had called to my rescue.
I proceeded to drop to the floor, bad hair, wet pants and all, and had myself a cry.
Looking back, I think the whole bad-hair, knife, and gun experience was the catalyst for my writing humorous romantic suspense and maybe GOTCHA! in particularly. I hope you enjoy my