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  • Sarah Ju

Smooth Criminal

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

by Sarah Ju


*Originally published in Kaleidoscope Paper Issue 2


Breaking a hole through the window, she climbed through the shattered glass and quickly beckoned for the rest to follow her, trailing behind her in the dark of night. Above, the security alarms began to wail, begging for someone to come save them.

“We have to move quickly,” she said. Outside, the sound of police sirens was already starting to near as they became louder, more urgent, more desperate. With the help of the other members, she broke through the safe and found exactly what she was expecting: millions of dollars. In cash. They made their escape through the back door and drove off in their van right as the police arrived at the scene.



“Granny, where are you going?” Annie mumbled through her sleep.

“Granny’s just going to buy groceries,” Rose replied. “This late at night?”

“We’re running short on peanut butter. And I know how much you love a PB&J for breakfast in the mornings.” Rose slowly closed the front door and left with a sad smile.



She knocked on the door. The answer was nearly instantaneous, as though they were expecting her.

“Hands on your head,” she said, holding her gun to his face. The man with the mustache, shaking, complied. The rest followed her as she entered the house and locked the door behind her.

“Please don’t kill me,” he whispered.

“Don’t worry. So long as you listen carefully to what I say, there’s no need,” she said.

Suddenly, the wife of the mustached man stumbled down the staircase. Seeing what was going on, she began to wail and call for the police. Bang. She was gone in a second.

“You don’t want to follow her footsteps, do you?” they asked.

“No,” murmured the man.

“Good. Just give us your valuables and you won’t have anything to worry about.” Hastily complying, the man with the mustache handed over everything he had, from his credit cards, the cash he had on him, his wedding rings, everything. She smiled.

“Thank you,” she said, and she walked out with the rest behind her.

“That was nice and easy, wasn’t it, Rose?” they asked her.

“It’s never easy,” she said.



Annie sighed.

“How was school today, Annie?” asked Rose.

“It wasn’t great. Everyone made fun of me for my old shoes.”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. Granny has a few extra dollars today. We can do a girls’ night out. How about that? We can treat ourselves for once.” A small smile danced at the edge of Annie’s lips.

After buying a pair of new shoes, eating mall pretzels, and touring the different stores, Annie was in a much better mood. Getting in the car, she hummed a small tune. Soon enough, Rose and Annie were cruising down the highway, windows down, a breeze through their hair, blasting music on the radio.



The man with the mustache saw her. She was in her car driving with her granddaughter. He grinned with a crazed look in his eyes and glanced down at the gun he held in his fist. How dare she take my wife. Her windows were down. That’s efficient. He aimed at her head. Bang. It made that same, familiar sound. The bullet seemed to move through the air in slow motion as it made its way to Rose’s head. “How dare you kill her!” he shouted.

Rose saw it at the last second. She ducked.

“Duck, Annie!” she cried. Annie was not fast enough. Rose only saw the expression of pure agony on Annie’s face as she began to cry out. She looked the direction it came from. The man with the mustache.

Shoot, he thought. I missed. She thinks she’s such a smooth criminal. She won’t get away with this one, though. He aimed again.

“Annie!” Rose screamed, but her granddaughter’s hearing was fading. Her breathing became irregular as pain coursed through her body. She could feel her vision going black. Soon, all Annie saw was a myriad of triangles dancing before her eyes. In one, she saw her grandmother and made out the words on her lips. “Granny’s just going to buy groceries.” This late at night? She had wondered. All a lie, Annie thought. “Granny’s going for a midnight walk.” “Granny’s just getting a breath of fresh air.” All a lie, all a lie.

The last thing she heard before eternal sleep took her made its way to her consciousness with barely a whisper. “Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?”

There was no reply. Rose wept.


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