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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

FICTION: One Friday evening in a supermarket parking lot


The following is a true story. It has had some fictional elements added. Discerning truth from fiction is left as an exercise for the reader.


I almost forgot to go to the supermarket that night. It was about 9:30 and as I drove past I noticed the parking lot was mostly empty, and wondered briefly about what sort of people would be shopping there on a Friday night. About half a mile later I remembered that I wanted to pick up some ice cream there while it was still on sale, and maybe see if they had that Belgian Waffle mix I couldn't find anywhere else. So I turned around and headed back to the store.

As I drove through the parking lot a bedraggled orange cat dashed through my headlight beams. It looked wet - it had been pouring just an hour before, as my fellow bloggers and I huddled in a bar watching suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon Bombings get extracted from a boat. I parked my car and headed for the entrance. Ice cream, I thought. Belgian Waffle mix.

Hey, could you get me something while you're in there? a voice said.

I stopped, looked around. There was no one else in the lot. Nothing but some cars and the wet cat now sheltering in a cart corral.

I'm hungry, came the voice again. Couldja get me a can of something?

The cat was staring at me.

I hadn't had much to drink that night. One Yuengling that tasted sour. A Guinness that tasted like it was watered down. Another Guinness that I hadn't really wanted, but someone else had bought for me, so I drank it.

I turned to continue into the store.

Something nice, the voice said, fainter now. Not that store brand crap.

I was a little unnerved as I grabbed a cart. I didn't need a full-sized cart, but I didn't feel like carrying around containers of ice cream in my hands. I got two cartons of Rocky Road, still on sale, the one and a half quart size. They didn't have the store brand butterscotch swirl my mom likes, but that might get restocked in a few days, so I could get that for her then. Ice cream in cart, I began to search for the aisle with pancake syrup. Find the syrup, and the waffle mix might be nearby.

I stopped at the pet food aisle.

That cat did look hungry. Maybe it would still be outside.

I found a can of the stuff my cats like. Just one can. If the cat was still out there, I'd give it to him. If not, my cats would eat it.

A few minutes later I headed to the checkout. Two containers of Rocky Road ice cream. One box of Belgian Waffle mix. One can of cat food. Nearly ten o'clock on a Friday night. I wondered what the high school girl behind the register thought.

As I walked to my car I looked over at the cart corral. The orange cat was still there, staring at me.

Didja get it? a voice asked.

I reached into my bag and pulled out the can of cat food. I began to open it as I walked past my car towards the cat.

Just leave it and go, the voice said. The cat backed away as I approached.

I pulled the lid off the can, set can and lid on the pavement, and took a few steps back.

The cat scrambled over to the can and took a few tentative nibbles, then began to gobble away.

Oh, damn, this is good, I heard, muffled.

The cat stopped and looked up at me.

Well, whaddya want? Go away. I'm eating.

I kept watching. The cat arched its back slightly.

Seriously. Go away. I'll hurt you if you stay.

I took another step back. The cat continued to stare at me, then began eating again, more warily.

We were done here. I headed back to my car. I wanted to go home, maybe have some ice cream.

Hey, came a voice as I got back into my car. Thanks. Thank you for the food.

I tossed my bag on the passenger seat, started the car and pulled out of the lot. As I drove away I looked at the cart corral one last time. I could see the cat still there, eating.

I went home and had some ice cream.

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