Chuck’s at Vons. He’s looking for a parking space. He wants to buy a roll and coffee before work. He’s not late. Not at all. But focused in a way that feels like he is. The job’s just around the corner. He can see his breath inside the truck. This adds to an urgency, once again, that shouldn’t be there, but is. From circumstances that don’t exist. Other than its Monday and works in front of him. A good mix of work.
His F250 is idling. He’s in half sleep mode, too. He feels measured. Okay in the world. His stomach grumbles knowing it will be satisfied soon enough. There’s dew dripping down the windshield. Maybe he’ll get a cheese Danish instead? The sensation of biting into something sugary suddenly emerges.
It’s morning. He’s looking for parking. The job is just around the corner. There’s a space at the end of the row. This wakes him. Then another truck pulls down the aisle from the wrong direction. Loud dually beat to shit. Not supposed to come down this way, although everyone does it, including Chuck, just not today.
What is this tool doing?
An 8 point fuck’n turn?
What a snake.
Fuck’n concrete guy too.
What a prick.
A car pulls behind Chuck. Some mom. Blocked in now. Have to wait. And wait. The concrete guy pulls in after a fuck’n eternity. He has a handlebar mustache. A lined jean jacket with fur. What a douche.
Chuck rolls down the window.
“You parked your truck so nobody can get out.” Chuck’s just making a point. It’s the start of the day. A good day. A good mix of work.
The concrete guy looks surprised. A genuine inquisitive look spread across his grill.
“No I didn’t.” He continues to walk. Hands in his pocket.
“You parked outside your lines, partner.” Chuck‘s tone says, meet me half way pal. Say something. Anything.
The Concrete guy just smiles. A kind’a of fuck-you-fuck’n-loser, kind’a smile.
“That’s just your opinion,” he says in the end.
Chuck’s feeling toyed with at this stage. He finds a spot and parks. He walks into the store telling himself that he could be right, or he could be happy, or he could rip Jack’s teeth out. He follows the concrete guy in. Damn, he’s bigger on second look, with his ape arms.
Chuck heads toward the coffee and the rolls. He sees the Danish, but picks up the tightly wrapped ham and cheese croissant for some reason. This gives him a second to remind himself that maybe this isn’t important. Let it go. Get your food. Get your coffee. Then his eye catches the fucker greeting everyone cheerfully in the produce section as if this whole morning incident had been completely missed on him. Had absolutely no impact. That the concrete guy wouldn’t be able to identify Chuck in a police lineup if it came to that.
Chuck heads to the check-out line. The neon lights above. The buffed floor below. Just pay and go. Then he catches the son-of-a-bitch squeezing avocados. The concrete guy places them in his basket (fuck’n basket!) along with cilantro and lemons. He must be barbequing something at work. On a Monday? Chuck wonders what job he’s working on? Chuck has never seen him. Chuck follows him to the quick check out. 12 items or less. Jack the concrete guy, maybe sensing something, looks behind him.
But it’s clear, to Chuck, that he doesn’t remember him. Not intentionally. Not with any malice or ill will. Just no recall. Nothing. Nada. The concrete guy just looks at him as a stranger would, well, maybe for that extra long, odd second, as if they weren’t perfect strangers, more like they’d crossed paths somewhere. At sometime.
Chuck counts the items in Jack’s basket. Not on purpose. He just does. He doesn’t mean to, or want to. It’s a Monday and the work day is ahead of him. A good day’s work. Jack the concrete guy has everything for a killer Mexican Barbeque, pico-de-gallo, avocados, tortillas, beans, and carne asada. Chuck’s convinced it adds up to 13 items. The lines states 12 or less.
The concrete guy sees Chuck counting.
“I think I made it,” the concrete guy says to no one in particular. He still doesn’t recognize Chuck from the parking lot. There was no shift in form, no little smile, raised eyebrow, wink, or any other indication as in shit it’s you again!
Yeah. Bullshit. Chuck knew he knew. Jack the concrete guy snaked his spot. He dissed him in the parking lot. Now he’s acting as if they have no history. Chuck feels compelled to rake the items off the counter and clock him. This all goes screaming though his head. Pound him. Hard. Fist to face. This idea runs concurrently with the notion that this whole thing is one shit way to start the day. Maybe he should just leave it alone? Pay for breakfast. Get to work.
It was just around the corner. A good mix of work.
Then without a care Jack the concrete guy grabs a pack of spearmint chewing gum and tosses it on to the pile. 13! Mother fucking 13! He knows it. The checker knows it. Opinion, my ass these are now facts and the facts were with Chuck. This concrete knuckle dragging son of a bitch was trying to ruin Chuck’s day. Chucks heart raced. He thought of the scenarios that lay ahead. Call out the mother fucker for his insolence, or just do nothing. Just pay for the croissant and coffee. Pull the cash from his jeans and mind his own business. He just wasn’t sure what was going to happen. It was a Monday. Work was just around the corner. A good mix of work.