Jason sat in his truck and made out his plan as he watched customers rush in and out of the store.
“Cart. Drinks. Corn. Burgers. Buns. Check stand.” He repeated to himself.
When customer flow into the store slowed down, he took a deep breath and exited the truck. Slowly and cautiously he approached the double doors. With one last look behind him, he ventured into the forbidden zone.
Turning left to retrieve a cart and complete his first trial, he was dismayed to discover there were none left. Looking around revealed only the handicap cart and one lone hand basket. Hand basket? That’s like a cart, isn’t it?
Quickly he pounced on the hand basket, grabbing it by one handle only to unfortunately land on the wad of chewing gum stuck to the left handle. Eww! However, his mission had just begun and he must press on or face the wrath of Julia.
Entering the second set of double doors leading into the forbidden zone, a blast of cold, refrigerated air smacked him in his face, warning him to turn back now before it was too late. Ignoring its warnings, he pressed on in search of canned drinks.
He had been here enough times with Julia to know the drinks were to the left, but standing between him and his target were a hoard of women clamoring for more flag decorated napkins and plastic ice cubes for their drinks.
He entered prey mode. Carefully skirting the enemy, searching for an exit. Suddenly one moved and a hole opened. Hooray! He survived the ravenous vultures only to find himself standing in an oasis of liquid choices. Did she want Coke? Pepsi? Did she even tell him? He searched the shelves for an answer, but none came. Other hunters approached. Quickly he grabbed the nearest drink to his hand and retreated.
Fresh produce was no man’s land. Barren of all hunters or prey. One quick search of the land. Corn. There. Bag. Fill bag. In basket. Task complete! This he was sure of. There could be no mistaking Julia’s demand for corn. Or did she want frozen corn? Canned corn? Creamed corn? Oh, lord! No, he decided. This corn will do and returned to his silent victory.
Burgers. His domain. Meat. There. Chest out, he nodded to the other hunters waiting their turn as the meat master rewarded their manhood. Finally, his turn.
She said burgers. Quick! Search the filing cabinet. What kind did she like? Turkey? Sirloin? Round? Beef? Chuck? Yes…yes, it was chuck. He remembered she like Chuck Woolery.
He didn’t know. She didn’t say. Did she?
“There ya go. Anything else?”
He turned to venture down the breads. Eerily quiet. Too quiet. The hair on the back of his neck raised. Suddenly an employee appeared offering samples. He shook his head and grabbed the nearest bag of buns and reversed course.
Self-check outs were gifts from the Gods. Him, food, machine. He was in his element. After paying the machine, he proudly returned to his truck. He was victorious. The drive home was filled with visions of Julia proudly exclaiming how good of a provider he was, and how well he did on his trials.
He walked in the door and set his back of trophies on the counter in front of her.
Her smiling face turned to wonder, then confusion as she laid the contents of his plastic bag on the counter.
“Um, honey? I said we were having turkey burgers for our 4th of July cookout.”
“Yeah. You said: Drinks, corn, burgers, buns.”
She stared him for a few and sighed. He knew that sigh and retreated from the kitchen to his study.
She looked at the food on the counter again. “Canned bloody mary mix. Squirrel corn. Five pounds ground chuck. Hot dog buns.”
She sighed and shook her head.
“Never send a writer to buy groceries.”