Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stored Up

Mark pushed his cart down the aisles and gathered groceries from each lane. He deciphered his scribbled list; his eyes were weary. He pushed his bifocals above his eyes and wiped each lid with the pads of his fingertips. He saw Tom near the cereal boxes. Tom studied the packages; Mark inhaled, exhaled, remembered his spiritual obligations, and took a step toward Tom. "Oh my God! Stop following me!"

Tom looked up from the box. "Oh. Hi."

"Why does anyone buy Cheerios?"

"I'm not buying Cheerios."

"Yeah, I can see. I bought them last week because they were on sale. And I don't know why. I mean, they aren't tasty and they have such a low gnawability factor. Which good. I hate that fiber stuff."

Tom turned back to stare at the box.

"Okay. We moving past it or not?"

Tom turned back and looked above Mark's eyes. "What?"

"Are we?"

Tom put the package back on the shelf. "I don't think I'm excited to see you."

Mark grinned. "That's not possible."

"Well, I don't know what you want me to say."

Mark dropped his arms to his sides. "What? You want to be friends again or not? You know you're one of my favorite people walking earth. Hell, everyone knows that."

Tom picked up a new box and turned it aside to read the label. "Well, I have to think about it."

"Hey. You want to look at me for a moment?"

He looked up.

"Now listen to me. Look. I don't always like you, but I love you. You're like a brother to me. I want you in my life."

Tom turned back and walked to his cart. He started to push it down the aisle.

Mark walked to him. "Let me just tell you something here. You know, you want out? Fine. Go with it. Do whatever you need to do. But I want you to remember my two parting sentences. One. I love you. I'll miss you. We're not just neighbors; we're friends." He emphasized the word with exposed emotions. "And two, I'm not apologizing. I was right and you were wrong. You know that."

"That's more than two sentences."

"Yeah, but I didn't realize until right now that it was more than you were worth."

"Fuck you!"

"Yep. I'm fucked. You get to walk away and pretend to yourself that I've mistreated you. And I have to walk away with the reality that I've lost another friend over something that wasn't my fault. Whatever." He pointed to the hot cereal at the end of the aisle. "Go get some Malt-O-Meal or something. You know ... something that you don't have to chew. Something you can just suck." He turned and started to push his cart down the aisle.

"No one actually likes you, Mark!"

Mark left the words unrebutted in their air and turned and walked past the endcap.

“Hey!”

Mark pivoted. “What?”

 “I've got Timberwolves tickets for tonight. You in?”

 “Main floor?”

 “You think I'm parking my ass where I have to squint?”

 “Am I buying the beer?” Mark asked.

 “Yeah.”

 “I'm in. You want me to drive?”

 “Fuck no. You can't parallel park worth shit. Be on your curb at 6:00. We'll hit a bar before the game.”

Mark turned and pushed his hands into his pockets. He withdrew them as soon as he approached his cart. He pushed by the hot cereals and turned down a new aisle.