Monday, February 11, 2013


Eric always shopped at night. And he always used the scanners. That way no one knew about the purple card. And sometimes he ran into someone anyway and had to wait until they left the store before he checked out. The scanners worked well. He could go to the far side away from the checkout people. That way no one knew he was on food stamps.

One night he met Christie from across the street in the cereal aisle. She was good looking and always seemed to have a Starbucks in her hand. Bracelets jingled when she drank.
You wouldn't believe some of the people who are on food stamps she crowed.
Eric was eyeing Captain Crunch.
You know the Dobbs...well I heard all their kids were on food stamps!
Christie shook her wedge cut and slugged her Starbucks.
I mean people you would never expect!
Eric felt his face warm. Did she know? Had she figured it out. They all lived in McMansions and news traveled.
Well...anyway... have a nice night.
 Eric waited until he saw her out in the parking lot. Then he scanned like a demon and left.

A week later he saw Christie's husband Bob in the same  cereal aisle. What were the odds? They made some small talk but Bob seemed like he wanted to get out of there too. So they went their separate ways. Eric wanted to get home so he took a risk and hit the scanner in the far corner. If he scanned fast he would beat it out of there before Bob checked out.
You always use these scanners?
Eric froze. He had his card in his hand. He turned slowly. Bob was on top of him.
Bob waited. his eyes going to his hand. They stood. Two middle class men in a grocery store.
You haven't checked out.
Eric turned feeling Bobs eyes all over him. He couldn't use his debit card. He couldn't walk. The scanner was waiting. He pulled up his hand and the purple card tumbled to the tiled floor. The purple sat there as a square of dissolution. Both men looked down at the square.
You dropped your card.
Eric stared at him, sweating.
I know.
Bob reached down and picked it up. His eyes were dull like a man who understands death.
It's amazing. You give a card and you get food.
He handed the card back to Eric
Don't tell, Christie. She doesn't even know I lost my job.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Upside Down Generation


No comments:

Post a Comment