Story #4 by Matthew Sharpe

photo: Matt Gunther

photo: Matt Gunther

Sid was walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket putting things in his cart. He put in a sea bass, though the store was in the middle of a desert, the nearest sea was a thousand miles away, and Sid had not seen it in years. There was no sign of the sky in here either, or trees or grass. Nothing was alive—the chickens, the carrots, the rice, the soap. “Hey Joey. Joey. Joseph Thomas.” A fellow shopper was addressing himself to Sid. “Slow down there, pal,” the man said. “It’s me, Roy Harbison, from high school.” “I’m sorry, sir, I’m not Joey Thomas. My name is Sid Whittle.” “Come on, Joey, you don’t remember me? You used to beat the crap out of me, I came home all black and blue.” “I didn’t go to high school anywhere near here. I’m from the mountains.” “You really slammed me, right in the face.” Sid was getting pretty uncomfortable with this conversation. “Well it was nice meeting you,” he said. “I’ve got to go check out.” “Check out is right,” Roy Harbison said. “You’ve been checked out for a long time now. I pass you in here and you don’t even acknowledge me, or any of the old crew.” “I’m sorry you got beaten up so much in high school, that sounds rough.” “‘I’m sorry you got beaten up,’ you’re a funny guy. Hey, at least it’s an apology, I hope that takes a little bit of the weight off—off of you, I mean. As for me, I forgave you a long time ago. Everyone did. Who wouldn’t? You look so damn lonely walking up and down the aisles here, or out there driving around in your car like you don’t know what to do with yourself.” Sid felt dizzy and leaned against the mile-long shelf of breakfast cereals. “Look,” Roy said, “here comes Margery. Hey Marge.” “Hey Roy. I can’t believe it, Joey’s talking to you?” “This isn’t Joey, it’s Sid.” “Joey, Sid, it doesn’t matter, as long as he picks a name and stays with it. How’ve you been, Sid?” “Do I know you?” Sid asked. Margery laughed. “I was so in love with you in high school,” she said. “You really dumped me hard. Don’t look alarmed, I got over it a long time ago, and it’s not a secret between Roy and me, he was there too, remember? I’m with him now, I’m crazy about him.” Margery gave Roy a big smooch and he squeezed her shoulders. Sid said, “I appreciate that you’re both being so friendly toward me.” “Listen, Sid,” said Roy. “We live in a desert. It’s tough out there. Then you come in here full of hope and it’s not much better. Being friendly, as you call it, is about all we have.” Roy and Margery stood there a while and let that sink in. “Well,” Roy said, “we’ll let you get on with your shopping. See you at check out.” Margery laughed. “Check out,” she said, “that’s a good one.”

Very short stories r us: http://sharpestories.blogspot.it

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