My name is Leep. At school I was called, inevitably, Leep the Creep. It affected me, I can’t pretend it didn’t.
So it was as Leep the Creep that I put on my ski jacket and went out to mug someone for beer money. I drank Budweiser, which I know is terrible beer, but it was cheap and most of the guys at the club drank it. Leep the Sheep. I admit I sometimes do things to be a part of the gang. I’m weak that way. And yeah, I am saving some money for a vacation. That’s why they sometimes call me Cheapo Leepo.
I couldn’t touch my vacation fund, which sat in a Seville orange marmalade jar on my bedside table. It was up to one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. I could have dipped into it for beer money, but I made a vow to save for the camp. This was one vow I meant to keep. Leep keeps. Leep’s deep.
It wasn’t just the paintball, though I longed to play. At the vacation camp they also had wilderness mud rides, down steep slopes, in a Jeep. Leep in a Jeep going Steep. I heard too they had girls at the camp who liked people like me, shy ones who were also pretty interesting. Peeps for Leep.
So I had to get beer money, without spoiling my plans for camp. My future family depended on it. As in, if I didn’t go I wouldn’t meet the girl, the mother of my future children. See, that was really two vows I meant to keep. The one to my future bride too. I’m shy, and pretty interesting, and loyal. Just what the girls at the vacation camp are looking for. Or so I heard.
My gun was on the bedside table beside the marmalade jar with the one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. It was a deterrent, should anyone have the idea of breaking in and stealing it. I would use the gun to prevent them from stealing. Or maybe I wouldn’t use it, but they wouldn’t know that. Peeps needed to think that you couldn’t walk all over Leep, because he has a gun which might be loaded.
So what makes me pretty interesting? A good question. Well, I mug people, just for small amounts of money, or whatever they have on them. Even ten bucks is ok. My most successful mugging earned me almost two hundred dollars. I kind of wasted it. I bought a digital watch and forty bags of pork rinds. They were kind of a guilty pleasure, at the time. Don’t like them much, now. They were on sale so I stocked up. Cheapo Leepo strikes again.
I also write children’s books. One might be published. Anyway they are for children ages three to five. My publisher said I needed to establish a niche. Not really my publisher, but a publisher who gave me some advice, and if they publish the next one, he will be my publisher. The newest one is called The Joy of Toy. Or The Joys of Toys. I put some illustrations with it, but noted that they didn’t have to use my pictures. I’m not a professional artist. This last book was a departure, since it was so generic. Usually my books are more personal, like about people. One was about a boy who wanted a bicycle, that kind of thing.
But that is interesting, right? An author of books?
My job isn’t that interesting, so I wouldn’t mention that right away. Doesn’t pay that well either, which is why I was always looking for ways to earn a bit more cash. But work had a good employees’ club, nothing fancy, but where I hung out with the gang. Some of the guys are married. Their wives come pick them up at six o’clock. One of the guys, Vincent, met his wife at the vacation camp.
It was a black ski jacket that I put on as Leep the Creep, and I put the hood up to perform a mugging. My face would be in shadow. No one has ever identified me, at least I’ve never been caught. I have one of those everyday faces. Nondescript.
People were always taking short cuts, even late at night, so it was easy to find someone walking alone, off the main streets. It was surprising how careless people were, really.
So I walked around for awhile, just getting some fresh air, when I saw this guy walking alone, down a side street full of shops that were closed. He was no bigger than me, and kind of skinny.
I said, “Give me your money. I have a gun.” My usual script.
This guy looked up into my face. I backed away into the shadow, but he saw me, and I saw him. It was Vincent.
He reached into his leather jacket and pulled something out. I was afraid it might be a weapon so put my hand on the gun in my pocket, just in case. It wasn’t a gun or a knife. It was a jar, my jar.
“This all you got?” Vincent asked me.
I shot him in the face. I didn’t want to, but he could have identified me in a court of law.
- Photograph by Erik Hinote