Another day, another dollar. Oh shit, overtime. Dollar and a half.
The rough bricks bite into my ass, but that hurts a lot less than my fucking feet. Smoke slips pointedly down my throat, relief.
I put the one-hitter away, and light an actual cigarette. Stupid fucking ruse has me smoking again. Oh well. It’s not forever. Fuck, I hope it’s not forever.
Try to remember, I try to remember… did I get to the peas or the green beans. Peas and it’s just two more shelves before I slide into the lazy half of the shift. Fucking green beans, 8 more shelves to stock and rotate.
Fuck I want this shift to be over.
Wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to walk. God I miss that car. Worth it, hard to remember, but it was worth it.
Oh no. Champaign fucking pink, goddamned auto-car. Mrs. Gardens! oh fuuuck. There goes my whole fucking day. There’s no fucking way she could get here alone without the fucking thing. I hate that fucking car. Haaaate.
God I miss mine. Riding dirty in the sunshine, careless and in between, safe and…
“Afternoon, Ralph,” she said shakily.
I bite back my tongue, and say, “No ma’am, Ralph’s not here anymore. I’m Rochelle. Remember?”
“Oh. Yes, of course. You look just like him, dear. That’s good. He was too pretty to be a boy.”
I die a little. My half cigarette falls amongst many others, plus that crushed purple bottle cap, and the dime some dick glued to the sidewalk.
Slowly, so slowly, we walk towards the sun washed automatic door. An air conditioned zephyr seems to revive her. She tells me, “It’s canned goods today.”
It usually is.
She has time to tell a cute story about her grandbabies. We walk. She has time to tell me a mildly racist story about her accountant at a cocktail party, again.
This time, punctuated with a casual, “Oh, he died.”
Eventually, we make it to the canned goods aisle. And there it fucking sits:
my cart, stacked high with family sized cans of green beans
and my will to live pooling out onto the floor
“Oh no. Ralph, we forgot to get a basket!”