Derek has watched her for almost half an hour now, and he was already at twenty-seven. He was impressed with how many she could fit into those tight little things. From where he was watching her behind the shelves with the junk and instant food for a couple of minutes now he had a good vantage point to watch what was going on with this customer.
He had never thought someone could hide so many potatoes in so little places without being noticed.
He had fist noticed the woman when she came in. He was just sorting the red, green and yellow peppers back into order (how could people not put them back where they got them from? Seriously!) when he has seen her walk past. He has smiled politely at her and she has smiled back. He has averted his eyes back to the peppers when he has noticed her discreetly reaching for a potatoes, grabbing one with a surprisingly quick grasp and stuffing it under the hem of her knit purple sweater before she has took another look around the vegetable section and wandered on.
At first Derek wanted to call her out on her shit, but then a toddler has grabbed a small shelf full of instant salad dressing and had flung it to the ground with as much strength his small arms possessed. He has lost sight of the woman for a moment then, and that small second was enough for her to disappear into an aligning row.
The next time he noticed her was when he was picking up the packaging and putting them back into the shelf and she came strolling back, walking by the potatoes again. If he hadn't watched out for it he wouldn't have noticed the quick movement of her hand and how it disappeared into her sweater again. And like before she just disappeared again after taking another round through the section, but not without giving him another smile.
Derek could only stare at her flabbergasted. Who stole a potato (a potato of all things!) and then came back to steal another one? Maybe she was a kleptomaniac or has fled from a nut-house?
He had to leave soon after to mop up some milk someone has spilled a row further down, and from the corner of his eyes she saw her purple sweater again. Derek turned his head just in the moment where she reached for another potato. This time it disappeared in her relatively wide sleeves. How the damn thing didn't fall out was a mystery to him. He didn't even see the other two she has already swiped on her person. Maybe she had an accomplice somewhere in the shop and has given them to him or her?
When she left the vegetables behind again he decided to follow her this time. He tried to be as subtle as possible, and it didn't seem that she noticed him. At least he thought she didn't because she didn't look in his direction and didn't act strangely. She was strolling through the shelves, looking at the products, picking one up once in a while to inspect the packaging, but putting them back again every time. She didn't talk with anyone either.
And then she was walking back towards the vegetables again.
Hidden behind the dairy products Derek watched how the woman grabbed not one, but two potatoes and let them disappear on her person. A mother with her daughter was walking by, and the woman gave them a pleasant smile when she walked past them, as if she didn't have a problem in the world.
And where the hell did those potatoes disappear to?!
Derek continued to follow her, once in a while helping out customers when they asked him something, but thankfully it was a quiet day in the supermarket, so he could get away with following a woman around the shop.
For nearly half an hour. Without her noticing him. Something smelled fishy about this whole situation…
And now they have reached twenty-seven.
Somehow, somewhere, this woman hid twenty-seven stolen potatoes on her person, without stuffing them into her bag (yes, he has kept an eye on that thing in case one of the stolen goodies disappeared in there. They didn't.), and the question how she was doing that was so omnipresent in his mind that it started to get annoying. He literally couldn't think about anything else.
And then the woman reached out and grabbed not one, not two, no, three potatoes at once!
Noting fell out of some secret hiding place. Nothing was showing underneath her clothing. Nothing, niente, nada, zero. No bulges, no potato peeking out of a sleeve, nothing.
It started to get ridiculous twenty potatoes ago.
"You've got to be kidding me!" he proclaimed behind a shelf full of instant noodles, unable to keep it in any longer.
The woman whipped around towards him, her long brown hair doing this ridiculous thing where it swung a millisecond after her head did, flying around her face like it always did in those cheep horror movie, when the character got called out by the eerie voice. To give her credit she didn't look the least bit surprised, nor even guilty. She just rolled her eyes.
"Finally! I thought it would take you forever to notice!" she chastised him with a stern look, both her hands grasping the handles of her bag.
"Excuse me?!" Derek shot back angrily. "I noticed from the first potato, and that was thirty potatoes ago! Whereandhow do you even hide those?!"
The woman blinked in surprise before she started laughing. Not the light or breathless chuckling someone did when someone told a silly joke or if they wanted to amuse someone else, no. What she did was an uproarious laughter. She threw her head back and almost went to her knees so hard was she laughing, holding her side from the sting.
Derek waited until she was done, his anger – that originated more from the fact that he didn't know her crazy ninja hiding skills than from her actually trying to seal products from the shop – started to ease a little at her outbreak. A little, but not much.
When she was finally done she looked at him again, a smile still playing at her lips. "Wouldn't you like to know."
Yes, he would really like to know. But he would rather let hell swallow him than tell her that.
She chuckled at the sour expression on his face before she started to rummage in her back and pulled out a pen and a notepad. She wrote a few lines on the paper before ripping it off and holding it out for him. Derek took it begrudgingly.
'The Penrose Stairs' Café
Next Saturday, 3pm
He looked up from the piece of paper to see her wave of hair disappear between two shelves, heading for the cash point. "Hey!" he shouted after her," don't forget to pay!" His only answer was another burst of laughter.
When he asked Scott at the cash point later that day he found out that the woman, Jennifer, did, in fact, pay for all thirty potatoes.
In the end Derek couldn't shake off the feeling that he has been on the receiving end of a really original and elaborate hookup line.
Well, he would find out next Saturday for sure.