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Authors: Mary Carter

She'll Take It

BOOK: She'll Take It
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Advance praise for Mary Carter and her hilarious debut,
She'll Take It!
“Mary Carter's
She'll Take It
is funny and heart-breaking, outrageous and touching. I eagerly followed Melanie through triumphs and pitfalls alike, and cheered the enormous act of courage that finally allows her to find personal redemption—and true love. If you're looking for a story with a real-life happy ending,
She'll Take It
is for for you,”
—Holly Chamberlin, author of
Babyland
“Poignant and hilarious, this is one satisfying read.”
—Eugenie Seifer Olson, author of
Babe In Toyland
“Move over, Shopaholic! With perfect comic sleight of hand,
She'll Take It
chronicles the adventures of the most neurotic public enemy ever to hit the Big Apple. It should be a crime to have this much fun reading a book!”
—Liz Ireland, author of
How I Stole Her Husband
“A sparkling, sassy story! Mary Carter's wit is of the laugh-out-loud variety.”
—Sara Faith Alterman, author of
My 15 Minutes
She'll Take It
Mary Carter
KENSINGTON BOOKS
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
To my mother,
who loved the book even before she read it.
Acknowledgments
A big thank you to Jim McCarthy and John Scognamiglio for their patience, humor, and advice; Lisa Erbach Vance for taking the time to share some early, helpful thoughts with me; Jerry Cleaver, whose writing course started my novel ball rolling; and thank you to my team of early readers: Corey Lindberg, Tamara Moxham, Jennifer Blatto, Melissa Carter, and Pat Carter. And last but not least, I'd like to thank the friends, who sometimes willingly and sometimes after several glasses of wine, regaled me with their own “sticky fingered” tales.
Contract With Self
I, Melanie Zeitgar, being of sound mind and body (minus fifteen pounds) do solemnly swear:
1. I will never shoplift again. Ever!
1
Chapter 1
B
efore I steal, I pray.
Saint of Kleptomaniacs, forgive me.
That's all. I don't think it's necessary to waste the Saints' time with lame excuses about how society or New York or your parents are making you do it. They know we're weak, original sin and all that. For me stealing is like love: I'll know it when I see it.
Today it's a beautiful, little lavender bar of soap—a sudsy slice of heaven. It's wrapped in soft purple tissue paper and topped with a white satin bow. I could eat it. I survey the territory. The five-hundred-square-foot boutique is divided into sections, and I am standing in the southeast corner flush against the wall. New Yorkers are slow to come out of their holiday comas, but the late January thaw has ignited early spring fever, and the boutique is crowded and noisy. Decorative hand mirrors are propped like sentinels on the shelves above the soaps, but there are no security cameras.
I pick up one of the hand mirrors and use it to glance at the girl working the register. The crowd obscures my view. This is good news; if I can't see her, she can't see me. My heart begins to tap dance. My fingers tingle. While holding the mirror with my right hand, I covet the bar of soap in my left, holding it like an injured baby bird. Then I set the mirror down, open my purse, and scrounge around until I find my cell phone. I don't need to make a call, but it's an old magician's trick—distraction, distraction, distraction. While removing my phone with my right hand, I open my left and tilt it down toward my purse like a slide. Whee! The bar of soap glides past my fingers and disappears safely inside. I snap the purse shut and linger by the soaps for a few more minutes, smelling the fragrances, pretending to be a normal, ambivalent shopper. “Excuse me.” I move away from the woman elbowing her way in. I head toward the door reading the posted sign as I slip out.
SHOPLIFTERS WILL BE PROSECUTED
.
Only if they're caught,
I think to myself.
Only if they're caught.
Look at the lights! Look at the people! Can you smell the roasted chestnuts, the soft pretzels, and just a trace of diesel? Look around you, there are so many of us. Tall, short, fat, round, skinny, punk, white, black, Asian, Indian, and klepto. Look at those sweet, pudgy Midwesterners clutching their programs from
The Producers
while juggling their tourist maps and cans of mace. There is no greater place on earth than Manhattan. I could die now. I could die happy right this very minute, my size seven and one-half feet bouncing down the sidewalk, toe to toe with every other New Yorker, squeezing my dreams between theirs, offering them up to this maze of steel, concrete and blazing lights like a sacrificial lamb. I'm a lamb, I'm a lamb, I'm a happy little lamb.
I'm also a good twenty blocks from home, but I decide to walk anyway. In addition to the springlike weather, I'm emanating warmth from deep within, riding the high that always bubbles up in me after a good, clean lift. I walk with a bounce in my step and blow mental kisses to my Saints.
And before you think I'm totally off my rocker, I know I'm interacting with invisible, made-up idols of perfection, but can I help it if I feel the need for daily, Saintly intervention ? Some people throw salt over their shoulders, walk around ladders, and knock on wood for luck—I simply call upon the Universe for a little ethereal backup. And although I prefer to find God in the stars instead of a church, I consider myself a vicarious Catholic, and I figure if I'm going to be saddled with random guilt and a healthy fear of my own mortality, I might as well reap a few fringe benefits along the way.
But don't get me wrong—they may be Saints, but they aren't perfect. Case in point, here I am bobbing along, singing their praises while they're clearing the stage for the next act. Ladies and gentlemen, it's only been three blocks, two shoves, four “Spare any change” and one “Hey baby” since I've left the store, but the guilt portion of this morning's program is about to begin. Suddenly, the glorious bar of soap in my purse turns to stone. Its dead weight is like an anchor weighing me down. Ugly thoughts touch down and take off again like flies pestering a horse.
You didn't need a bar of soap. You should wash your mouth out with it when you get home. You could have walked up to the counter and paid for it like a decent human being. Turn around right now and take it back.
But I don't. I keep walking downtown. If I make it to the twenties there's no turning back. Just five more blocks and I'm in the safe zone. The safe zone is where I can no longer rationalize going back to the store and the guilt stops. I can take it. I'm an actress, a New Yorker and a vicarious Catholic. I eat guilt for breakfast. It's like a multivitamin; you just have to take it. Guilt is like the gunk that washes to shore at the beach. You don't stop going to the ocean because of the gunk. You just pick out the pretty seashells. It's the yin yang of shoplifting. It comes with the territory. And believe me—by now I've got the territory down.
I don't look like a thief. I'm an attractive young woman. True, I'm clinging onto the last rung of the ladder of my twenties like a bulldog with a stolen bone, but I come from good aging genes, and I figure by the time I'm forty they will have come up with an anti-aging treatment that still allows you to use your facial muscles to do the odd thing like smile now and again without looking like a deranged robot, so I'm trying not to freak out. In all other aspects, I'm a decent citizen. I use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, I vote, and I buy Girl Scout cookies for my anorexic friends. I get Pap smears once a year, AIDS tests every six months, and I give to the homeless.
In one way my decency makes up for the stealing, but on the other hand, it leaves me very little room to rationalize my habit. I'm neither a pimply faced teenager crumbling under peer pressure to stick heart-shaped lip gloss in my pockets nor a poor mother forced by tragic necessity to swipe a few boxes of generic macaroni for her three starving children. That would be understandable. Forgivable even. The truth is in this tale there are no starving children—not even starving cats or dogs. Likewise, no animals or children have been hurt by my kleptomania, so let's call it a wash.
I do not steal to feed a drug habit. I do not smoke crack cocaine, nor do I pop speed with my morning latte (nonfat, double shot, one Sweet'N Low). I like an occasional glass of wine (Australian Shiraz is always a good choice) or a pint of Guinness now and again, but that's about it. Okay, I have been known to drink to excess on special occasions (birthdays, New Year's, and getting to the subway only to find your ticket is gone and you've only fifty cents in your purse) and I've spent at least three mornings in the past six months swearing and puking and bargaining with the
Saint of Hangovers
that I'll never, ever drink again if he would just (please!) make that ridiculous pounding in my head go away and let me take a sip of water without immediately returning it to the great white throne, but it has absolutely nothing to do with my secret shame.
I'm afraid there are no explanations good enough to explain why I'm a 29-year-old klepto. Except this. I'm in love with
(okay, so he had no ambitions whatsoever, but you should have seen the body on that man)
,
(in my defense he didn't enroll in clown school until after we had slept together),
(don't ask)
,
(British, Australian, Irish, Russian)
Ray Arbor. Beautiful, wonderful, incredible, there's-just-one-catch Ray.
BOOK: She'll Take It
3.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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