Monday, November 10, 2008

Nadine, Chapter Nine

They went to Rendalls where there were big display bowls of makeup, eye shadow, moisturizer, foundation, rouge and lipsticks. Nadine had to steal one of each the items. They assured Nadine that they would form a "testudo", the Roman turtle defense formation, by crowding round Nadine and nobody would see her when she shoplifted. Nadine’s heart was palpitating so quickly that she could not stop herself from shaking. She wanted to grab one item and rush out of the shop, but her friends said she had to take all six items. She grabbed them from the different display bowls and shoved them into her school bag.

Unknown to the girls, Rendalls had security personnel surveying the store. The girls walked out of the door trying to look as calm and innocent as possible.

Two plain clothes security guards said, “Excuse me young ladies, do you have anything you forgot to pay for?”

It was then that Nadine knew who her friends were. Her friends denied they knew her and quickly left the store. Nadine was left holding the baby, so to speak. The guards took her to the manager’s office. He was a big white man and was busy talking on the phone. Nadine sat in the chair for a long time outside,

“I have to pee.”

They said, “You can wait.”

At last, after an eternity, the manager got off the phone.

“So you go to Auckland Girls’ Grammar School?’

“Yes.” She said, barely audible.

“What is a little thief doing in the best school in Auckland? Eh!” said the manager.

“You should go back to India!” One of the security guards interjected

The manager asked for Patel’s phone number and dialed slowly.

Nadine really needed to pee but she did not dare to tell them. She was in tears and she was wringing her uniform skirt in her anxiety. She felt her legs getting wet and warm.

“Hey, Ted, look at her, she really needs to pee, she is wetting the floor.” Said security guard Mike said,

“Take her to the girls room and tell the janitor to clean up the office.”

Nadine came back to the office with a big wet patch in front of her skirt. She had twisted her skirt from back to front.

Patel apologized to the store manager, and promised that it would not happen again. The Store manager said because the Indian community was known to be quiet law abiding citizens, he would not press charges but he warned Nadine and her girl friends or her gang not to set foot in his store again. Otherwise he would not be so lenient.

“Mr. Patel, I trust you understand, we have a crisis with shoplifting here. You are a business man yourself.”

On their way home in their old beat-up pick up. Patel told Nadine how serious it was to shoplift. He made her promise not to do it again or hang out with those girls.

“Those girls are bad influence, what’s wrong hanging out with Sashi and Archana?”

Nadine rolled her eyes and didn’t say anything. She wouldn’t be caught dead with these two goody-two-shoes. A leopard does not change its spots. The next day, when Nadine went to school, she was with her old friends again. She proudly told them what had happened in the manager’s office.

“No, I was not scared. Do I look scared? The manager was an A**hole and a pussy-cat. I got him all wrapped round my pinky finger.”

Desperately wanting to be part of the gang, Nadine forgot her father’s words. This time, the next day, the target was George Courts. Her friends said it would be easier.

She only had to steal an expensive blouse and a pair of lacy red knickers. They suggested she took the items to the fitting room. Then it was up to her to use her brains to decide the best strategy. Nadine decided if she wore the blouse inside her jumper, and the pair of knickers, no one would suspect that she had stolen anything.

The girls were giggling at their success as they were going to leave the store. But jubilation was premature: Nadine was stopped. Again her so-called friends left her in the lurch. A female security guard brought Nadine into the store and questioned her. Nadine was in tears. The guard told her to go to the fitting room and remove what she had taken.

The security guard,” Oh Shit! She peed in the knickers.”

The guard screwed up her face and took the offending merchandise and left them on the manager’s desk.

“Scene two of ‘the shoplifting production’ was a repeat of “Scene one.” The manager told Patel and Nadine that the business association had been issued a bulletin to look out for school girls shoplifting. They knew Nadine was a repeat offender.

“We are sick and tired of girls like you, two days in a row. I don’t know what kind of mother you have,” the manager shouted.

Nadine murmured, “This is precisely my damn mother’s fault.”

“What did you say?” asked the manager.

“Nothing,” whispered Nadine.

Patel paid for the wet knickers and apologized on Nadine’s behalf.

As the enormity of this offence was so great that they warned Patel and Nadine that strike three would mean a quick trip to the Central Police Station at Vincent Street.

Patel in his quiet way told Nadine,” Stay at home.”

“No way!” protested Nadine.

Patel said, “I hope you understand the seriousness, it is home or jail.”

Nadine kicked a stinking fuss and tormented Smita. She stole money from the till.

“I will tell Dad,” squealed Smita.

“Shut your trap! or I will shut it for you,” Nadine slapped Smita’s face.

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