“Steven Storrie has worked as a cable T.V repair man, dishwasher, choreographer, ice cream vendor and junk yard attendant. Tired of this shit he is currently locked in his basement working on his first novel, bickering with his neighbours and storing the baseballs he keeps when they are hit into his yard.
The madness continues at @renegadepriest1
Picture by https://instagram.com/kurtnimmo/”
THIS STORE IS STILL OPEN
I wore a white ‘49er’s Football’ t-shirt with red lettering as I went for supplies. My grandfather used to call them ‘supplies’ and I kind of liked it. Seemed like you were stocking up and preparing for war. Maybe we were. The police had beaten the shit out of some homeless guy here last week. They thought he had committed a double homicide but it turned out he was just a thief. Everything was low down around here. Even the sun never got above a certain level. The windows of the shop were boarded up and there were bullet holes in the white brick walls. I approached the place tentatively. On the cracked glass door I could see my reflection split into a million pieces, and there hung a cardboard sign that said in scrawled black handwriting ‘This Store Is Still Open’. I pushed it slowly ajar and went inside.
There was hardly anybody here. There was rubble on the floor and the bread had all been shot to bits. The place was dingy and dark, only shards of sunlight streaming through the covered windows letting in any light. I walked through the aisles in a daze, sick to my stomach and ready to kill. I wanted to maim. I wanted to let off rounds of Uzi fire into the celebrity magazines and faces of people weighing cantaloupes and bagging fruit. I wanted to bomb the mothers dragging around screaming kids and angry fathers, pissed off that they were missing the game, a passing woman’s thighs, their entire lives. On aisle 4 I would hack off the legs of the people who were feverishly devouring Vogue and Cosmopolitan so that they knew what they should wear tomorrow and how to act if they wanted to snag a man. They had headlines such as ‘Live Like A Celebrity For A Week’ and analysed intensely the hairstyles of people they’d never met. They promised ‘shocking revelations’ and titillating gossip and escape from the horror of your life. I felt torture behind my shades as I glowered at a young bookish girl squinting at the dates on two different loaves of bread, burnt and blackened from a bullet hole in its side. She would hold up a loaf in her right hand, feel it, look at it some more, then do the same with the one in her left hand. Then, unsure, go back to the right. On aisle 5 I had to step around some vomit and the young go getter couple that thought being cultured was using chopsticks with their Chinese. They had on well-advertised hair products and wore very toothy, accessible smiles as they moved slowly in the designer suits they had bought for work. Their perfume coasted along the canned foods aisle, where the shelves were largely empty and a rat was scurrying along, looking for shelter. I grabbed my milk and kept on moving.
Towards the checkout I passed the lonely middle aged women who were leafing through the self-help books, hoping to find the answer without stumping up the cash. They had titles like ‘How To Love Your Inner Self’, ‘How To Make Your Boss Like You’ and ‘How Not To Fuck It Up’. If you ever wind up in that aisle you’re already gone. You’re way beyond help. No book is gonna get you over the hump then. You’re one daytime TV show away from your heart giving out due to lack of living, and nobody is gonna find you for a week. One of them burst into tears right there on the spot, and I didn’t know if it was because of something she had just read, or something she hadn’t. I felt a fly on my arm and an itch of disgust. Some people lead lives of quiet desperation, struggling on stoically until they finally succeed or else just snap. Others want everyone to know.
I kept a wary eye out as I moved. Torn sale signs hung from dirty walls and the shelves were covered in dust. Most of the people in here came for the bargains. They all lived in expensive houses, some on the ground, some way up in the sky with huge glass panoramic views of the city and a guy in white gloves to pretend they were friends with when they rode the elevator. Gotta get Frank a Christmas card they’d say as though they were neighbours, when what Frank really wants is a huge tip or a better job. Almost all these people were connected to their friends via Facebook or Twitter or some other cheap fucking website that allowed them to conduct their lives at comfortable distance. It was safer that way, to keep your friends like goldfish in a silly little bowl. You can leave them for the longest time then tap them when you want them to move. The only music people like this rich couple owned came in a file. Cheap fucking scoundrels. People get indignant these days when you ask them to pay for art, yet they would want to chop your hands off if you stole some food. Society has become like a televised dance routine, put one step out of the bounds they give you, and everybody’s fucked. The cloth I had wrapped around my right shoe was coming loose, and the hole was visible as my sweaty, mucky feet began to stain the freshly mopped white marble floor.
I reached the queue for the checkout, old people just wanting to talk. I had no quarrel with them. Nametags flew as there was some more vomit to be cleaned on aisle 7 because that’s where the candy was, and some kid invariably shit his pants or chucked up his breakfast there. That was nothing compared to the pool of blood where they shot the guy near the deli counter, but you don’t wanna hear about that right now. The newspaper headlines piled up in the rack told of football results and murder. They told of hacked up body parts and beauty tips. Some woman bought 4 lottery tickets and made the sign of the cross right there at the exit where the baskets go. The woman behind me had track marks up her arm and constantly licked her flaking lips.These people looked at me funny as I clutched my milk and bottle of rum. I looked like I’d been run over by a runaway Mack truck, and felt twice as bad. I eyed up the girl at the register, short black hair, jagged fringe and tiny nose piercing. Wild brown eyes. If she wasn’t on drugs right now, she had been last night. Or would be on this one. As Tom Petty played ‘American Girl’ from a radio under the register I noticed the chipped black nail polish on her fingertips and the bruise on her arm. This girl was my type, alright. I moved dutifully forward with my five items or less.
“Just these”, I smiled, “and you’re phone number. Ya know, for future emergencies.”
I didn’t care anymore. I had nothing left to lose.
“Yeah?” she replied looking up at me. “What’s it worth?”
Right then I knew I had her. It was mine to piss away. It’s incredible the things you can get just by having the courage to give it a try.
“Hmm. I’m a writer so I don’t have much to bargain with. Got big dreams and little faith. Got some Tom Waits records and some dime store dreams. Got some warm rum for a cold night and nobody to share it with.” Man, I could really sling the shit some days.
“Well, what time are you gonna be opening it?”
“Right about when I get out there.” I pointed at the automatic door opening to let in some wheezing fat guy who had frozen yoghurt and a stack of porn written all over him.
“Let’s go then”, she said, standing up and pulling off the dowdy navy apron the shop manager had made her wear. I could see immediately she had a great figure, curves in all the right places. She had a tattoo that said ‘Homeward Bound’ and I figured that was us, two lost souls way out in the middle of nowhere, just trying to get back home.
We fucked in a nearby motel. She was tighter than I might have expected but that was ok, I was trained to handle all sizes. When it was over we both came and she banged on the walls yelling all the variations of the word ‘fuck’ you could think of while I was still inside her. She was my kind of woman.
After that she smoked on the bed while the sun went down and I watched the news. Sirens wailed on the streets outside, their lights turning all the puddles blue and red.
They never did catch the guy who did the shooting.