It was a girls' day out, and they were all there. Judy Wainwright was having a coffee and pastry get together with her three girls, the twins, Cecelia and Sharon and the youngest daughter, Martine, a.k.a Marty. It was a rare treat for all of them.
('Rare' because Judy was so constantly busy with her job as a accounting assistant at a local business and also working nights in a restaurant, as a waitress. She was absolutely determined that the girls, her girls were going to get the kind of 'head start' in life that she envisioned for them. Working all the extra hours didn't really bother her.)
But today was a holiday and they were out and having coffee at a local popular bakery. Their talk was animated and effervescent.
"Momma," you look so tired, Marty was saying.
"You work too much," Cecelia, a.k.a. Sissy, said.
"Girls, I'm fine," Judy replied. "I work to keep us all afloat and it'll be okay; it's only for a definite time period."
Sharon, the 'sensible' one among the group of girls, put in, at that point: "I just think you should let us, drop out of school and get jobs and pay our ways."
"No," Judy said, "We're not going to do that. This is positively my vision for you, for my girls and I'm intent upon doing what is necessary."
The girls were, to be sure, working at the school, the state university that was located in that smallish city. That helped a bit with the school bills but Judy was responsible for most of it. It was certainly a scramble but one that she'd been successful handling, up to that point.
Nor would she ever admit to them that she was feeling tired, and beleaguered by the school costs for the three of them.
Judy Wainwright was a lovely, though a bit work worn, 39 years old. She had short dark hair, almost black with just the barest hint of a kind of red about it. Her gray eyes were among her best features, and, though she was certainly not interested in attracting a man, at that point in her life, she was physically lovely. She was a conservative dresser and the only person who knew for sure that she was lovely, without her clothes, was Ralph, who'd been gone from their lives for years and years. In fact, Ralph Wainwright had pretty much dropped off the map, at least in terms of helping with day to day items and schooling and all, he was just gone. Judy had long ago divorced him for abandonment. He was a totally 'gone' issue in their lives.
It had been long enough that the four of them had formed a kind of society of women, that was their home. Maintaining the home, mortgage payments etc, was one of the pressures that Judy was facing, facing but facing successfully up to now.
None of them, Judy, Sissy, Sharon or Marty, noticed the slim, dark haired individual with the dark glasses, as he moved silently toward them.
If they had been paying attention, maybe the hoodie that he wore might have at least tipped them off to something about him.
(As a matter of fact it was Sharon's theory that the government could well cut down on crime simply by outlawing hoodies. Sharon had a number of ideas of that nature.)
They didn't notice him but he had been certainly noticing them. He watched as they kept their conversation going and were frequently enjoying laughter about some item or other.
It was during one of those moments of laughter that he decided to move.
He'd seen the purse sitting on the side of the table. He watched and no one removed the purse to make it less accessible. Then he began to move quickly.
But not everyone in the coffee house was so busy and engaged. Justin Shields was having a morning coffee break. He'd been working late at the plant, on invoices and new orders and had told his assistant/secretary Winnie that he'd be late.
She knew, of course, what that meant for Justin and told him that it would be fine but it would cost him a scone for her. He promised to bring one.
Justin had certainly noticed the four women, when they came in and while they were talking with one another. He enjoyed the sound of their laughter and the way that the obviously got along. It was also clear to him that it was a mother —- the pretty one, and three daughters. Two of them looked like twins, which they were.
Out of the mere corner of his eye, he also noticed the kid with the hoodie and dark glasses.
"Don't quite like that," he said to himself.
Justin Shield had a background of military policing before getting out and beginning the process, with the help of his Uncle Ted, who was unfortunately long gone now, of setting himself up in manufacturing. His place, Shields and Kaufmann, named for his Uncle Ted Kaufmann, was by now a going concern. He was 42 years old and in great shape. A big man, he stood 6'5" and handled his 225 lbs rather well. He also had a quickness that might have impressed the kid wearing the hoodie, had he seen it in any way other that what was about to happen.
His background made him just a little more observant than most people tend to be, and so, his take on the kid in the hoodie.
The movement of the kid in the hoodie caught Justin's eye and he saw the kid swipe the purse from the table with the pretty lady and her daughters and hustle for the door.
By the time the kid made it to the door, he was running and the four ladies were crying out. The kid was smiling. He knew that with the outside crowds, he was 'home free' as soon as he got out of the door. Mentally he was already counting the money he'd make from the stolen purse. He gave one last look over his shoulder at the women.
"Fuckin' babes," he thought to himself, "Love to get one or two of them alone. Show them a fuckin' thing or two. Naked ass kicking for them; I'd like that..."
Then the world changed for Lester, our friend in the hoodie. Justin Shields reached the door a few seconds before Lester and Lester, distracted by his thoughts about one or more of the 'babes' naked and at his mercy, ran into Justin's outstretched arm. It put him down, as though he were a tree felled by a woodsman.
The ladies had caught up to the center of the fracas by then and stood to see Justin pick Lester up by the collar and hand the stolen purse back to them.
"Thank you, sir," Judy said and the girls were chiming in.
The bakery owner had meantime called the police and a siren indicated that the police were coming.
Lester was still, at this point, having a bit of a time breathing, after being 'clotheslined' by Justin and was bent over and holding his throat.
"You almost killed me, dude," Lester rasped.
"Too bad I failed," Justin said.
It was then that the police arrived. Lester, still bent over, heard an unfortunately familiar voice, Office Bill Steffins, say: "Damn it, Lester, when are you going to learn?"
Lester looked up with a chagrin on his face at the familiar face of the arresting cop.
"Guy clotheslined me," Lester complained. "Didn't do nothin'."
"Well, we'll find out about that quickly enough," Officer Steffins said.
He did indeed discover quickly, from the testimony of the witnesses what had happened and hauled Lester away. Then, as Lester was being put into the back seat of the black and white, Officer Steffins asked if the women and Justin could come to the station to make a statement.
The girls said, in a bit of consternation: "We walked over from the university."
Then Judy said: "I can drive them, though I feel really shaken by this."
It was then that Justin put in: "Look, I'm parked right here and can take us all to the station and then wherever you need to be."
As he talked, he indicated his tan Jaguar XJ sedan at the curb.
"Cool," Marty said, speaking for all of them.
It was decided to do it that way. The three giggling girls got into the back seat of Justin's Jag and Judy got into the front.
"Lovely car," Judy said.
"Really cool," Marty put in, echoed by Sharon and Sissy.
As they went to the station, Justin introduced himself and indicated that he was the owner and CEO of Shields and Kaufmann.
"I know that," Sharon said, "Isn't that a kind of space industry place?"
"Yes," Justin said, "We do some business for the space industry along with all sorts of other kinds of projects."
"Cool," Marty said again.
They got their business at the police station taken care of, and were told that they'd be contacted if anything further was needed from them.
By the time that they were finished at the police station, Justin was busy thinking up ways that he might extend their relationship.
To tell the truth, he was simply 'taken' by Judy Wainwright and her lovely daughters, but especially by Judy.
They all went back to his car and he drove them back to the university part of town, where the coffee shop was located.
They sat for a few moments, when they'd arrived. It was Judy who spoke for the group:
"Mr Shields, we are in your debt. I hope there's a way that we can say a proper 'thank you' for your help."
"Well," Justin spoke up, realizing that this was his opportunity, "I was hoping that you'd, all of you, let me take you to dinner some time soon."
This set the three girls giggling. Judy gave them a 'please be quiet' look but it didn't work, since she too was grinning.
"Don't mind the children," Judy said, and the three girls giggled even louder.
Then Judy, apparently having made up her mind, said: "But won't you please let us invite you for dinner at our house, to say 'thank you'? We'd like that."
.... There is more of this story ...