Laced with Kleptomania

Tori spent the majority of her summer in 2015 working at a lingerie store. She turned 20 and was hired on the spot when she handed the hiring manager her application. Her tireless energetic demeanor along with her coiled curly auburn hair made her immune to rejection. Her golden-brown eyes shined like the afternoon sun shining through a glass of whiskey. Unmatched, though, was her beaming smile. It was a brush of gold that filled the saddest person in a room with an infinite staining light, one that never dimmed. If her body’s voluptuous curves made it difficult for her to be denied, her confidence made it impossible.

It was a Thursday afternoon. This meant that the majority of the store’s regular customers consisted of bored and wealthy middle-aged housewives. These women appeared to have nothing better to do on early weekdays but roam around the mall waiting for stores to open to make unnecessary purchases with their husbands’ credit cards. Tori was working as a cashier. “Would you like to use your reward card member points on your purchase today?” she asked every customer, regardless of whether they had the card or not. A “no” was always an opportunity to sell, push, pry, and sell some more.

Tori despised the repetitive nature of such a job. Ring up items, removing their sensors, pretend to care about the selections of random strangers while holding and folding their future underwear. “This is so cute. I saw it in the store and now I need to get one for myself,” she said to the clueless consumers who would eat that commentary up faster than breakfast. The typical customers response to Tori’s purposeful sales logic was “I know right? Oh my god, I don’t know how you work here. I would go broke.” At this, her response was always the same. “Trust me, I basically only work here to spend all my money here anyway.”

Tori’s lie wasn’t always too farfetched. Becoming immersed into a culture of idealized beauty and standardized trends is the retail worker’s forte. Living with her boyfriend’s family in Santa Monica California, meant that she was not responsible for any real bills. She had no driver’s license despite passing the written exam. She would walk and take the city bus to and from her job every day. With only her savings and cellphone bill to consider, her job at the store gave her plenty of opportunities to splurge. The trendy up-scale music made it easy to get lost in the glamour of the latest products which were surrounded by walls where black and white portraits of softcore porn models hung.

Growing up, Tori’s family lived paycheck to paycheck living in a small trailer with four siblings and three dogs. Her father was a cable guy back when cable was a thing. When he would come home after long days in the hot sun, he would insist on reminding Tori and her family about how much a gallon of milk costs when you have to buy one every other day, how to be sparing on finishing a loaf of bread, and the strength it took to work all day in the hot desert sun only to feed you and your ungrateful family. This speech her father engrained in her gave more of a reason for Tori to feel special when she came across a pair of soft black laced panties that she felt she just had to have.

“Tori,” her manager Laura called looking down at her rose gold watch. “Why don’t you go ahead and take your lunch break now and once you’re done make your way to the sales floor. There’s some potential for you with sales today.” Laura said.

“No problem,” Tori said. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Enjoy.” Laura said with a forced smile.

Tori walked to the back room where lockers and stocked inventory could be found. She noticed the lifeless silence about the vast warehouse room filled with boxes of new merchandise. The comparison of the messy and dull back room to the bright and polished store was like the contrast between night and day. Colorful panties of all styles without sensors were folded in cardboard boxes along with teddys, bras, bralettes, and sexy stockings. Tori had started acquiring a habit of going into the back room when checking on an item for a customer. There she would stuff multiple pairs of un-sensored panties into her bra. It started with one, a glorious hot-pink laced thong. Then it became two. Then three. Then four at a time.

What Tori was certain of was that the relationship she was in with her rebellious boyfriend had only made her habit worse. Although she didn’t know the exact date it started, she knew that in the beginning, she stole little things. A stick of Chapstick at the grocery store, a new nail polish, or an un-scanned item at self-checkout were all; what she considered to be petty acts of thievery that gave her an undeniable sensation and a psychological rush like no other. These acts, as time passed, developed into an exotic and progressive entanglement with the untamed sin of robbery. Her boyfriend would steal too. At times, they would steal together.

After stuffing the folded panties secure in her bra, each panty would remain flat against her breast until she got home and added them to her growing pile of brand-named lingerie. The dopamine experience was unmatched. The shackles of greed demanded constant reoccurring stimulation. This demand, Tori knew, would expand in her chest, and increased her heart rate like nothing could.

“Hey guys,” Tori says as she greets her two coworkers at the break room table.

“Hey girl, you’re looking amazing today as always.” Her friend Farrah said in response.

“Look who’s talking.” Tori said flipping her long hair.

“I’d do anything to have your gorgeous curls,” her colleague Alexis, confessed.

“Did you guys hear what happened to Anna?” Farrah asked.

“What! No, Is she ok?” Tori asked.

“I don’t think so,” Farrah said. “She just got fired for yesterday. She got caught stealing. I asked Laura about it, and I heard she was caught taking an expensive two-piece set from the back.” Farrah said.

“No way. So, they just let her go?” Alexis asked.

“That’s what I heard.” Farrah said. “Laura told me that most of the shrinkage that takes place here is not actually done by customers but more often than not, it’s the employees. Farrah paused to see the girls faces. “I know right, I couldn’t believe it either.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty wild I mean she always looked so innocent.” Tori said.

“Who knows with people these days.” Farrah said shrugging.

“Well, my break is over. See you guys back in hell.” Alexis said.

“Same,” Farrah said. “See you later.”

Tori finished her lunch in the breakroom alone. Going back to the sales floor she noticed two warehouse men carrying a large display. The Carrara marble shimmered across the floor beneath it, making the plain white tile look lifeless in comparison. “What’s this for?” she wondered. Her manager Laura followed behind the men looking like she had been rejuvenated.

“It’s here. It’s finally here girls.” Laura said unable to control her elation. “It’s the new limited addition of our Body by Victorian line, Lovely Laces. Only select stores in the entire nation got to roll them out their sales floors, and our store got first pick.” Laura’s fan girl behavior reflected that of a prepubescent teenage girl drooling over her perfect fantasy dreamboat.

Tori marveled at the eye-catching display. She felt hypnotized by the final product as it came together on the mannequin. A new black lace strap teddy drew Tori’s attention in an effortless way. With bold cutouts and a plunging V neckline, the luxe dazzling lace had rhinestones across the thong, making it look perfect and stunning.

That night, Tori thought about how sexy she would look in the Lovely Laced teddy. She fantasized about how it would fit her body and how she would greet her boyfriend once it was on her and he came home. Her thoughts could not be contained. It was as if she was beginning to lose control over who she was but remained oblivious in a state of sensual euphoria.

The next day Tori was scheduled to open the store. She and Laura cleaned the sales floor and polished the merchandise to begin the day. As they organized the panty drawers, Tori’s mind kept wandering to come up with scenarios that would lead her to the back room. “Maybe this would be the last time,” she thought. Her manager’s high-pitched voice pierced her ears interrupting her thoughts.

“Hey Tori,” Laura said “Can you please go into the back and bring in all the new Lovely Laced merch? We are expected to reach the highest possible sales today with this launch. I’m so excited.”

“Of course. No problem.” Tori said.

Finally. Her reason falling in a seamless fashion onto her desperate lap. She walked towards the backroom feeling the intense hypervigilance disguised by her calm and collected physical state. No suspicion. No remorse. No problem. What remained was only the fixation of putting on that black teddy later that night and the adrenaline of getting away with it. The backroom door always stayed open during store hours. This made her task simple.

She walked into the backroom and turned to her treasured destination. The first hanging black laced teddies on the racks looked more extravagant than she remembered yesterday. The first one that hung on the rack was her size. Fate. Her heart rate felt out of control. Feeling the increased tension through her pulse she took the teddy off the rack, bunched it up into a ball, and stuffed it into her shirt. The rhinestones made it itchy on her skin but felt amazing, nonetheless. She quickly walked in a hurry to her locker where her purse waited for its treasure. She tucked her prize away into her designer bag and closed her locker shut.

Tori walked away from the backroom still coming down from the intense high. With an armful of the exclusive merchandise, she began to place them on the table and hang them up on the racks one by one as instructed. She allowed each set to leave her sticky fingers. Holding up the final teddy against her body she looked in the mirror and pictured herself in the near future. The magnificent, sexy, laced lingerie waited for her in her locker. Her fantasy was interrupted by Laura’s familiar voice.

“That would look perfect on you,” her manager said, “be sure to get yourself one of those before we close tonight. It’s payday after all. Treat yourself.”

“I think I will.” Tori said with a smile as she stood still gazing into the mirror.

After her shift, Tori couldn’t wait to get home, strip her clothes, and look at herself in the black lace. She walked along Santa Monica Pier with urgency, feeling the wind blow through her curls. Getting away with her crime, she felt invincible.

The next day, Tori came into work for her early morning shift. Her heart dropped as she walked in to see all her managers in a huddle talking with a few members of the Santa Monica Police Department. They all shifted their focus and turned their heads to look at Tori when she walked into the store. “What’s going on?” Tori said, feeling each of their eyes on her. They all stared at her in silence for what felt like a lifetime. Laura broke the heavy judging quiet. “Tori, can you go ahead and come with us to the back room? We have some questions we need to ask you.”

“Yeah, of course, is everything ok?” Tori asked.

“Come with me.” Laura said as they walked towards the backroom. Tori knew what was going to happen. She knew the moment she saw the police talking to her managers. Every step she took as she walked into the manager’s office felt heavier. “Take a seat,” Laura said. Tori did as she was instructed but felt her body wanting to escape itself.

“After doing inventory last night, the girls who closed the shop found some items missing from the Lovely Laces line.” Laura said looking at Tori then to the tall bald male cop.

“Really? That’s horrible. Who would do that?” Tori asked seeming surprised.

“We looked at the camera footage from yesterday in the backroom so I’m going to ask you, even though we already identified who was stealing the items.” Laura said, then paused.

“Tori, did you take anything from the back room yesterday?” Laura asked meeting Tori’s eyes.

Tori looked at the manager who hired her. She met Laura’s deep blue eyes which appeared to be holding a combination of anger and pain. “If you are honest with us, we won’t press charges. We’ll just let you go.” Tori felt it was no use to hold onto the innocence in her that no longer existed. She felt nothing alive and trapped in a body that was no longer hers. Her mind felt disturbed and lost. It belonged to a sadistic fiend. A thief. An emptiness that was sinister and disguised in black lace.


Two years after being fired from her lingerie job, Tori left her boyfriend’s home in California. She moved back home to Tucson and began pursuing a degree in criminal investigations. Stopping at a supermarket to buy some notebooks and pens for her class, she carried her items to the self-check-out. Scanning each item that followed a beep, she looked at the camera that stood recording her. An impulse arose as she noticed her pack of pens didn’t scan. Her heartbeat accelerated and her palms began to release sweat. She looked at her reflection on the recording camera.

Tori called to the checkout woman, “Excuse me mam, one of my items didn’t scan.”


Rixy McIntire is an undergraduate student working on  her bachelor’s degree in Psychological Science and English at Northern Arizona University. She currently resides among ponderosa pines and snowy mountains in Flagstaff Arizona.