Saturday, April 09, 2005

Still Life at the Reno Wal Mart - by profmarcus

As one of the world's largest, most profitable, and, perhaps, most reviled retailers, Wal Mart is still patronized daily by millions of people in dozens of countries, all of whom have stories to tell.



I’ll be Back to Getcha When Ya Get Off

The late model, white pick-up pulled alongside the building a little too fast and stopped abruptly just before the pedestrian crosswalk. It was one of the big models with a growling diesel engine and oversize tires. There were two decals in the back window. On the driver’s side was an American flag. On the passenger side was the Harley-Davidson logo. A dream-catcher hung from the mirror.

The engine clanked, stuttered and finally shuddered into silence. The driver jumped out and made his way quickly through the sliding electric doors, brushing past the gray-haired woman attempting to offer him a shopping cart. He was clearly in a hurry and, the way he looked over his shoulder, maybe a little worried about leaving his vehicle unattended in the tow zone.

He had glistening black hair cut short all over and distinct Asian features. A black nylon windbreaker was open to reveal a white t-shirt. He sported Oakley sunglasses and wore tight, faded jeans and black, ankle-high boots. A length of chromed chain hung below his jacket and down the hip. At the end of the chain swung a large ring of keys.

He had barely passed through the inside set of doors when he was met by a petite young Asian woman wearing the trademark Wal-Mart employee red and blue vest jacket. She had long, straight black hair that reached halfway down her back and lovely smiling eyes. She wore a floral print blouse under the vest, jeans that looked almost new and tiny, perfectly white sneakers. She held a wireless inventory device in one hand and with the other was fastening a cell phone snugly into its holder. A tiny purse with a thin strap hung over her shoulder. Her store ID hung around her neck on a lanyard.

With the cell phone secure, she reached out and took his hand in hers. She smiled and looked into his eyes.

“I never get see you in daytime,” she said. “You call say you coming right now and wait here in front but you no say what for. You Ok?”

“Yeah, sure, everything’s fine,” he said, speaking rapidly. “Listen, I need that fifty left over from your check.”

“I give you fifty last night. What happen?”

“I’ve been out shooting some pool and I didn’t do so good.”

Her eyes dropped to the floor. “You say you stop that.”

“I know,” he said, shifting from one foot to the other and looking over his shoulder to make sure the truck was still there. “I know. I thought this was a sure thing.”

She reached for the purse, flipped it open and pulled out an even tinier wallet, brushing aside her store ID as she did so.

“You say we come here it be different.”

She pulled a bill out of the wallet and handed it to him.

“Look, I’m sorry. Really. I’m tryin’. Really. Don’t be mad. I love you.”

She looked up at him again. In place of the smile was a furrowed brow and a look of concern and compassion.

“I love you too,” she said.

He pecked her quickly on the cheek and then turned to hurry back out the door to his waiting truck. On his way, he called over his shoulder, “I’ll be back to getcha when ya get off.”

Lets Get a Wreath for the Door

“Oh, look, honey! They’ve opened their new food section. This looks even bigger than the one they had in Fargo. C’mon, let’s go see.”

She wasn’t a beauty but she wasn’t unattractive either. She had solidity, an assurance, and the can-do air of a country girl, someone raised in the wide-open spaces who would never let the runt of the litter die but who wouldn’t hesitate to give a stiff boot to an ornery horse. She pushed the shopping basket with that same authority, all the while telling the little four year-old in the seat, “No, you can’t get out! Now sit down like I told you!” The little one, however, knew it was all just hot air. He knew he was adored. Even if he did get his Mama’s goat now and then, she’d forget it soon enough.

“Let’s go, Daddy! You can look at those video games later.”

Daddy, deeply absorbed in reading the package of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto, was leaning over a second cart with its own young cargo, this one only fifteen months. Tall and bearded, showing the beginnings of a bald spot and just a tad bit of early middle age spread, he was handsome in a rugged, outdoorsy kind of way. You could tell they belonged together.

“What’s that, Mama?” he said, looking up as if from a trance.

“C’mon, let’s get over and get our groceries. You can look at those later. Now, where do you suppose Mom went?” she said, looking up and down the aisles as she passed.

“She said she had to get just a few things and would catch up with us,” he said, pushing his cart alongside hers.

“Oh, there she is!” she exclaimed.

An older woman rolled down the aisle toward her, piloting the electric handicapped cart with ease, a number of personal items – shampoo, tissue – and a few household items – cleanser, mop covers – sharing space in the basket. She was overweight although not horrendously so. She had snow white hair, longish and untamed, a very round face and glasses. A metallic blue cane hung from the cart’s basket. Her purse lay on the deck of the cart, clutched between her ankles.

“What, did you think you lost me?” she said, her entire face crinkling into a smile.

Eyeing the items in her mother’s basket, the daughter frowned.

“Where’s that diagnostic kit you needed?’

“Oh, goshdarnit, I knew I forgot SOMETHING,” she said.

“Well, you just wait right here,” the daughter said, patting her mother’s hand. “I’ll be right back. You like that one kind of blood test kit, don’t you, the one you can hardly feel, right? That’s the one I’ll get. Now, don’t you go anywhere! Daddy, you watch this one for me, ok?”

As the daughter bustled off, the mother adjusted herself in the cart and then looked appraisingly first at the younger boy and then his brother.

“They sure seem to be behaving themselves today,” she said confidentially to her son-in-law. “Usually they’d both be raising a fuss by now.”

“Oh, you just wait,” he chuckled. “We still got a ways to go!”

“That’s right,” she laughed knowingly as she reached down to make sure her purse was still there. “Say, didn’t Judy want to get one of those wreaths for the door, one of those stick and branch things? She thought maybe she could get one here but, you know, I bet we have to go to one of them craft stores. I don’t think Wal-Mart has much worth lookin’ at.”

He nodded in agreement as he reached for the cell phone strapped to his belt. “Yeah, you’re probably right. There’s a Michael’s up the road. We could try there after we go to Sam’s. They’d have one I bet. I’m gonna call about the van. If it’s done, we can pick it up on the way.” He started punching buttons on the phone as he muttered to himself, “A thousand bucks for a head gasket. Ouch!”

He’s Going to be Proud of Me

He was in that indeterminate age range, somewhere between eighteen and twenty-five. He was slim and neatly dressed in a sharp pullover, designer jeans, and box-toed black leather shoes. He wore his auburn, subtly colored hair in a crew cut. He was clean-shaven but with his fair skin and youthful face, he probably wouldn’t have been too successful growing a beard anyway. For the observant, his subtle mannerisms and the ring on the ring finger of his right hand gave him away. He was gay.

He clutched a shopping list in his left hand and was carefully studying the contents on the shelves. He didn’t have a shopping cart or basket so the list probably wasn’t very long. He picked out two or three cans and scrutinized the labels of each before putting them back. He sidestepped down the aisle, looking intensely at each shelf from top to bottom. He was just reaching for another can when his cell phone started playing an electronic version of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue.

“Hi! Yeah, I’m here at the store right now. Yes, I have the list. No, I haven’t gotten anything yet. I can’t find the soup. No, I don’t know what section I’m in. I’m standing in front of a bunch of cans of different kinds of tomatoes. Tomatoes! Well, how would I know that? Why wouldn’t they put tomato soup in with the rest of the tomatoes? So, where IS the soup section anyway? Hang on; I’m going to the next aisle. Cereal. No, that’s not it. Juice. No. Spices. No. Oops! Excuse me! I’m sorry! Hey, Sean, almost didn’t recognize you! Listen, Kevin, lemme call ya back, Ok? I just ran into Sean. Remember Sean? Yeah. Just a couple of minutes, ok? Call ya right back.”

Standing next to Sean who he had inadvertently backed into while trying to find tomato soup, you would think that they shared the same wardrobe. Sean was wearing a different color pullover but in the identical style, a different brand of jeans, still designer, and nearly identical black, box-toed shoes. His hair, although not colored, was cut short and he too had a ring on the same finger.

“So, Daniel, I thought you NEVER shopped at Wal-Mart! I can see SOMEBODY’S always got to keep an eye on you.”

Daniel at first looked sheepish but then rolled his eyes and shrugged.

“It’s close to Kevin’s apartment, ok, and he needs a few things for something he’s cooking.”

“Kevin’s that guy I saw you with the other night, right?”

“Yeah, that’s him.”

“Are you staying with him?”

“Yeah, we’re trying it out. He’s ok. A little picky about things sometimes but ok.”

“He’s a lot older than you. Do your folks know?”

Daniel laughed. “What do YOU think? You know, though, I think being older makes him more stable.”

“Yeah, that last BF of yours was totally over the top. For a while there, I wasn’t getting any sleep with you always calling me, boo-hoo’ing in the middle of the night.”

“Don’t remind me. Look, it’s great to see you but I promised Kevin I’d call him back and I know he’s waiting for the stuff I’m getting. Are you gonna be at Ken’s on Thursday night?”

“I don’t know. I think so. If I am, I’ll see you there. You like him, don’t you.”

“Maybe. See ya later, Ok.”

With the cell phone still in his hand, Daniel pressed two buttons and put it to his ear.

“Ok, I’m back. Yeah, I’m standing right in front of the soup section. Yeah, I see it. Do you want two cans just in case? Ok. And angel hair pasta? Ok, hang on.”

I Wanna Make Sure We Got Everything

They were clearly not there to shop. They both wore tool belts with cell phones clipped on, long sleeve denim work shirts with company logos sewn on the front, shirt cuffs rolled up to the middle of the forearm, heavy work jeans and roughed-out work boots. One of them had his hip parked up on the side rail of the open-top freezer that was displaying frozen pizzas. The other one stood alongside the first. Both had their arms folded across their chests.

“I been workin’ refrigeration for eighteen years,” the first one said. “Moved here from Pocatello in ’92. Reno’s not a bad place. Long’s it keeps growin’, I ‘spect.”

The second one shifted his weight from one foot to the other and moved his head slowly from side to side as if trying to work out a kink in his neck. “Well, it don’t seem to show no signs of stoppin’, leastways if ya count the number of California plates on the road. The casinos are takin’ a hit from them new Indian places the other side of Donner, tho’. With the Sundowner closin’, I wonder what’s gonna be next?”

“I ain’t never been much for gamblin’ but I sure do hate to see folks losin’ their jobs. Me and the wife are pretty well dug in. She works for the state so I guess we got some security there. But we just bought a new place last year so there’s no way I can be outta work, least not for very long.” He slid off the freezer rail, hitched up his jeans and refolded his arms on his chest.

“I know whatcha mean. This guy I know from church? He and his wife bought this real nice place a couple years ago. Heckuva deal. Big yard, landscaping all around, four bedrooms, nice part of town, schools close by, you know, the whole bit. One fifty-five! Great shape too! Didn’t have to do a thing. Both of ‘em worked. Pretty near have to, ya know? Anyway, two months later, he gets laid off. He was some kinda manager, hi-tech, somethin’ like that. You know he’s still lookin’?! They can’t leave here cuz she’s got a good job with lots of years in toward retirement but they’ve really been scrapin’. I hate to see that. The house is valued at over two hundred now but they don’t wanna hafta sell if they don’t have to. Hang on just a minute, will ya? I gotta take this call. Pro’ly someone from the front office wondering where the hell we are.” He grabbed his cell phone, looked at the screen, said, “Yep, just like I thought,” punched a button, and held it up to his ear. “Hi, Jeanine, what’s up?” he said as he turned away from the other man and hunched over the phone.

The first man turned around to face the freezer and idly sorted through the pizzas. He picked up one, turned over the box, and disinterestedly read the ingredients and cooking instructions. He put it back, turned back around, checked his watch, and then hooked his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans. That must have felt awkward because he quickly refolded his arms back across his chest. He glanced up as a paunchy man in his 30s in a white dress shirt with a store ID partially concealed under his tie, polyester beige slacks, and black, sneaker-style work shoes made his way down the aisle toward him.

“You fellas about done or haven’t you got started yet?” he said addressing the first man.

“Actually, we were waitin’ for a part but it got here about ten minutes ago and we popped it right in. Purrs like a kitten now!”

“Good, glad to hear it. Don’t wanna be payin’ you guys to be standin’ around. Not at THAT hourly rate! You better tell me this unit’s gonna be around for a while longer,” he said. “We got enough money invested in parts alone to cover the cost of a new one!”

“It’ll be goin’ long after you get promoted out of this department,” the first man snorted, “and then it won’t be your worry no more!”

Torn between taking the comment as humor or as a not-so-subtle dig, the shirt-and-tie opted for humor. “Yeah,” he chuckled. “Then somebody else can call you guys every week.”

“Ok, yeah, I’ll take care of it,” the second man said, punching a button on the cell phone and sliding it back into its holster. To no one in particular, he growled. “I swear, she’s worse than my wife with her damn ‘honey-do’ list! She always got somethin’. I think it’s a plot to keep us from gettin’ a break.” Noticing the shirt-and-tie, he turned to the first man. “You tell him we’re all done here?”

“Yep, I did. You ‘bout ready?”

“Sure am. Let’s check that work closet by the front door. I wanna make sure we got everything. I ain’t in the mood to be makin’ no second trip gettin’ what we should a got the first time.”

Cigarette Break

She gingerly eased herself down on to the concrete ledge, putting one hand firmly on the gritty surface before lowering her weight on to it. She sighed deeply, reached into the pocket of her red and blue vest and extracted a crumpled pack of cigarettes. Sticking her finger through the hole in the top, she straightened the pack out and shook one of the remaining cigarettes into her waiting fingers. After placing it between her lips, her hand went back to the pocket and emerged with a lighter.

Five boys from the cart crew emerged from the entrance to the store, circled around an illegally parked white pickup, and headed to the north parking lot, tossing various smart-ass comments at each other as they went. They had been avoiding the dreaded but necessary chore of retrieving the dozens of shopping carts now abandoned at nearly every parking space and clogging all the return areas.

“I called for you boys over ten minutes ago,” the woman called after them. “About time you showed up.”

“Don’t worry, grandma,” one called back over his shoulder. “Before you finish that cigarette, you’ll have more carts than you know what to do with.”

Crossing her legs, she drew smoke deeply into her lungs, exhaled with a long sigh and brushed her dirty gray hair away from her eyes. She hated it when they called her “grandma.” She had told them over and over again that she would like it very much if they would just call her Dodie. But, no. They knew how to get under her skin and they weren’t going to let it go. “Oh, well,” she thought. “At least they care enough to tease.”

She used to feel so conspicuous taking her break here in front of the store where everybody walking in and out could see her. It took her a while to realize that most people just looked right through her as though she wasn’t even there. “At least when I’m inside and offer someone a cart and say ‘good morning,’ most people say something back. Out here, I might as well be invisible.” She’d had these thoughts before but they always came back. Today, however, thanks to the illegally parked pickup, the people entering the store couldn’t see her sitting there at her usual spot on the ledge, smoking. It crossed her mind that she actually enjoyed watching the people come and go and the thought surprised her. She arched her back and stretched her shoulders in the rays of the sun. “Thank goodness this isn’t Minnesota,” she chuckled to herself. “I’d be freezing my ass off right now!”

She glanced at her watch. Three more hours. “I don’t know what’s worse,” she thought, taking another long drag, “this job or that empty trailer.” She had gotten satellite just last month, deciding that the entertainment value offset the impact on her meager budget especially when those Dish folks were giving such a deal. She wondered if any of the cart crew boys had ever heard of The Daily Show. “Probably not,” she concluded, as the door on the truck slammed, the engine growled to life and tiny pebbles shot from under the wheels as it sped away.

“Ah, there are you, Miss Hatton!”

She snapped back from her reverie to see Soo-Lin standing right there, right in front of her. “I must not have heard her with that truck making all that noise,” she thought.

“Don’t sneak up on a body like that!” she scolded. “You scared me half to death!”

“Miss Hatton, I tell you many, many time you tell me go on break, ok?”

Standing up, Dodie towered over the diminutive supervisor.

“Miss Yee, I plumb forgot. Every single cart was gone and I’d been hollering my head off for someone to page those worthless boys to get out there and round ‘em up. When they didn’t show, I thought it’d be ok to just go ahead and take my break and, sure enough, here they came. See ‘em, right over there?” she asked, pointing off toward the parking lot.

“Even no cart you stay greet customer. Alway you tell me break, ok?”

Dodie nodded as she dropped her cigarette to the sidewalk and crushed it out with the toe of her sneaker.

“Well, time’s about up anyway. Guess I’ll get back at it.”

“Listen, Miss Hatton – Dodie. Ok I call you Dodie?”

Dodie nodded again as they walked together back inside the store.

“You good worker, Dodie. You no make problem me. Just tell me you break, ok?”

Dodie, now back at her post just inside the door, smiled.

“I’ll do my best,” she said. Then, the silent thought: “Yes, I will.”

I Can Tell Ya What I’d Like to Do

“Why do you keep callin’ her grandma when you know she doesn’t like it?” the boy called Nick shouted at his co-worker Jared as they skip-hopped across the parking lot like caged animals that had suddenly been set free.

Jared jumped, twirled around in mid-air and landed in a wrestler’s pose, crouched with arms bent and hands extended as though he was trying to establish a hold. He had two round, silver rings piercing his right eyebrow and two more in each earlobe. His flannel shirt was unbuttoned and flapped against the red and white vest that read “Cart Crew” in big, white block letters on the back. With each flap, you could see a black t-shirt with the logo of a heavy metal band designed in the same graffiti style that decorates freeway underpasses and sound barrier fences.

“I can remember ‘grandma’ a lot easier than whatever she keeps tellin’ me her real name is,” Jared laughed. “What is it? I bet you can’t remember either!”

Nick wasn’t about to make himself appear even softer than he already had by acknowledging to Jared that he did indeed remember Dodie’s name so he laughed back, “Isn’t it something like Dopey? Hell, I dunno!”

“Look at those jerks over there,” Jared gestured to his fellow crew members pushing carts from one of the cart pens together to form a long line. “They’re actually workin’!”

“Yeah, well we better not let one of the supervisors see us screwing off like almost happened yesterday. If I’m gonna get my car, I gotta keep this damn worthless job,” Nick frowned.

Jared spit on the pavement. “Fuck the supervisors,” he said. “What a bunch of losers,” he added as he and Nick started to shuffle over to join the other boys.

Calling the Cart Crew “boys” wasn’t quite accurate but somehow “young men” didn’t exactly do the job either. They were all in their mid to late teens. Some were still in high school, some had dropped out and some had already graduated. A couple were attending the community college. Most still lived at home. A few had cars and the ones who didn’t were hoping to get one soon. None had been working for Wal-Mart longer than a couple of months. They knew they were regarded as a kind of sub-species by the other store employees and took perverse pride in it. They considered themselves as irreverent outsiders in the culture of the retail giant in much the same way they saw themselves in society in general. They were all likeable enough as individuals but collectively they could appear quite intimidating, especially to the older customers. Most of them had already been called on the supervisory carpet at least once for being late or having been caught fooling around instead of working. None of them claimed to understand why so little patience was granted by the supervisors to the daily trials and tribulations of their lives. “What’s the big deal with being a little late?” was the common refrain.

Nick was pushing carts on to the back of the line as Jared helped one of the other boys hook up the battery-powered tractor to the front of the cart train. “I’m gonna drive this baby,” Jared shouted.

“Hell you are!” another boy, nicknamed Terminator, announced. “It’s my turn, so move it or I’ll have to kick your ass.”

Terminator’s size had undoubtedly earned him his nickname. Jared paused momentarily as if to consider his retort, thought better of it, shrugged, and moved away from the tractor.

“Hey, you guys see that new babe workin’ in pharmacy? Is she hot or what?” Jared volunteered with an exaggerated leer.

“Yeah, no shit!” one of the other boys responded. “I wouldn’t mind gettin’ a look at them tits!”

“I can tell ya what I’D like to do,” Nick whispered softly under his breath, “and it ain’t that.”

The Balloon

“Ok, here we are! You just hang on for a second and I’ll get you out!”

The late middle-aged man removed the keys from the ignition, opened the door, and eased carefully off the driver’s seat to the pavement. Remembering, he flipped up the “unlock” switch on the inside of the door and, leaving it open, reached around to open and slide back the rear door of the minivan.

“Ok, you. Lemme get you all unhooked. There ya go. That’s good. Such a good boy! Hang on just a minute. Lemme get it closed up here.”

Clutching the baby firmly against his chest with his left arm, the man slid the panel door closed, checked once again to make sure he had the keys before he toggled the lock switch down, and then firmly closed the driver’s side door.

“Ok, little man! You get to go to Wal-Mart with grandpa all by yourself! This doesn’t happen every day, you know!” The man smiled and cooed as he talked to the baby in a sing-song voice. The baby, bright-eyed and very alert, looked around from side to side, taking in the expanse of the parking lot and the rush of the fresh breeze.

The man was balding on top with salt and pepper hair thick on the sides and back. He wore bifocals, jeans, hiking boots, and a brown and red plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned down the front. Underneath was a mustard yellow t-shirt that bore the legend, “Cirque du Soleil – ALEGRIA,” the tail of which was bunched up just over the top of a black cell phone case clipped to a belt loop of the belt-less jeans.

He smiled and nodded as the gray-haired woman offered him a shopping cart just inside the front door. He paused and carefully placed the baby in the cart seat.

“You got a cutie there!’ the woman exclaimed.

“He knows it too,” the man chuckled.

“As much as I hate Wal-Mart, I sure seem to come here a lot,” the man thought to himself as visions of other Wal-Marts in other places flashed through his head. “Let’s see,” he thought. “Denver, Billings, Helena, Acapulco, Trinidad, Sterling, Eden Prairie, St. Peters, Portland, Buenos Aires, Duluth, Chanute, Santa Fe - good grief!” He shook his head as if in disbelief.

“Ok, then, young man. Let’s find what we came in here for and get the hell out. Sound good to you?”

The baby smiled back at him and then turned around as far as he could in the seat to see where they were headed.

They turned down an aisle in the toiletries section and paused. The man pulled a large bottle of mouthwash off the shelf and examined it for a moment.

“Hmmm, just regular, not the antiseptic,” he muttered. “Ah, there it is,” he said, glancing down the aisle and putting the bottle back. He moved a little ways further on and picked up another bottle from a lower shelf. “Still cheap,” he thought as he noted the price and placed it in the body of the cart where the baby couldn’t reach it.

He was making his way to an express checkout lane when he noticed the baby in rapt fascination.

“Oh, you see those balloons, don’t you?” he said, smiling broadly.

The baby watched intently as the man pulled a SpongeBob, helium-filled, glistening plastic balloon tied to a rigid stick from the bunch that was protruding from a gaily-colored canister at the entrance to the express lane. Even before he had it fully extracted, the baby’s arms were out, hands and fingers extended, eagerly waiting to grasp the prize.

“I don’t know whether you like SpongeBob or not,” the man said, “but I do and you have your Aunt Kelly to thank for that. Not that you care, but Squidward is my hero,” he said, laughing out loud at his own humor.

The baby grabbed the stick and started waving the balloon rapidly back and forth.

Walking out to the parking lot, the man again held the baby tightly to him with one hand and the balloon stick and the bag with the mouthwash with the other. He noticed a long train of shopping carts lined up to be pushed back in to the store just down the row from the van. A brief moment later, it sunk in that the cart crew was waiting for him to get the baby loaded and leave so they wouldn’t block him in on their way by. He hurriedly unlocked the doors, secured the baby snugly in his car seat, and gingerly backed out of the space. As he passed the carts, he raised a hand and nodded to one of the boys in acknowledgement. Almost imperceptibly, the boy nodded in return.

He Doesn’t Expect Anything from Me

They both sat down together at a small table in the fast-food restaurant just off the main entrance. After taking food from the paper bag, unwrapping his sandwich, and taking a few bites, he looked at her inquisitively.

“What’d ya do last night?” he asked.

“Oh, I went over to Jerry’s house and hung there for a while,” she said, taking care to swallow before answering.

“What’d ya wanna go all the way over there for?” he asked, looking at his sandwich.

“They’re only down the street. I wanted to talk to Jerry about that job.”

“You HAVE a good job,” he said, shaking his head.

“Yeah, I know, but this one would be a lot more money.”

“Those are some strange people. I don’t like ‘em.” A scowl crossed his face. “A job like that, you’d be doing nothing but traveling all the damn time, back and forth, all over the U.S. You don’t need that. I’d never see you.”

“There’s some things I like about it. I’d be nice to earn good money for a change.” She slid her drink to a spot in front of her and put the straw between her lips.

“Traveling all the time. Shit. That’s no way to live. You’d be gone for three months straight.” He hunched over the table and attacked his sandwich. “You didn’t get in until 1:30. That’s a lotta hangin’ out.”

“I did not,” she retorted quickly. “I was back at 11:30. I looked at the clock when I came in.”

“Well, I looked at the clock too and it was 1:30,” he said as though that settled it.

She shifted in her seat and her body language made it clear the subject was closed.

“Mark just makes me so mad,” she said. “Sometimes he doesn’t shower.”

“Whaddaya mean, ‘doesn’t shower’?” he asked. “You mean when he’s dirty he doesn’t clean up?”

“What I mean is that sometimes he just won’t shower for 2 or 3 days. He’ll wear the same clothes. He won’t shave. He starts to stink.” Her nose wrinkled as she spoke. “Can you imagine?”

“You guys’ relationship is goin’ down really fast,” he observed. “I told you that fucking relationship was retarded.” He wiped bread crumbs from his goatee.

“Shit. I’ve been thinking about maybe I could do better.” She looked away.

“So, why do you stick around?” he asked.

“It isn’t like you think. I don’t expect anything from him and he doesn’t expect anything from me.” Her shoulders tightened and she folded her arms across her chest. “Oh, he says, ‘I love you,’ and all that but I know it doesn’t mean anything.”

“Everything was hunky-dory last night. You woke me up.” He grabbed the wrappers, the drink and the sack and rose to go.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” she said.

As he walked away, he looked at her over his shoulder. “I gotta go get a cigarette.”

She stood, adjusted her hip-huggers and pulled her top down over a bare midriff. Slowly, she gathered her things and followed him.


At 9:12 PM, Blogger callieischatty said...

I really LOVE your blog...this is great! keep up your good work!

At 4:18 PM, Blogger profmarcus said...



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