Monday, September 3, 2007


By Thomas

(This is the third installment in the series entitled 'The Spontaneous Gospel', short pieces I have challenged myself to write in an hour or less.)

The clerk is hammering away at the register in what looks like a drumming contest, flipping little frozen chickens with his left hand and rendering financial accounts with his right. “Why is he trying to do this so fast?” I wonder to myself. The clerk has been plugging away at the mountain of groceries for twenty minutes now – we’ve got a check out lane all to ourselves. I’m in front, but the guys behind are still coming and going, dumping off stuff and building the pile from their side. We’ve got six shopping carts filled so far.

“Hey,” I say, “No need to hurry on our account, man.” He gives me a little undefined sweaty glance. Desperation? Fear? I can’t read the look and I don’t want to because it’s too hot.

A frozen chicken rolls off the check out counter and onto the floor, which is pretty dirty. The guy reels – he must be having a stroke or something.

“Can you pick that up, please?” he gasps.

“Hey, no problem, man, I’ll pay for it. Just be cool.” I am naturally lethargic in this heat, but in this case I find myself moving with bionic slowness. “I’m baiting this poor dope – gosh, what a bastard I am.” But still, I hate when these little cogs try to get me all caught up in their own little anxiety wheels. I put the little chicken – one of thirty, I guess – right in front of him. Ice has formed on the sides and it’s like it has been dipped in mud. It slides around and he fuddles with it to get the bar code right.

I look outside. There is a crowd gathering. The pile is getting bigger. Man, my guys are just shoveling it on! They’re cleaning out the store.

I’ve got time to kill. These little grocery marts have everything nowadays.

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