Joseph stepped out of the car.
His fingers were sore from gripping the steering wheel, for – what was it – six hours? Was that right?
That couldn’t be right. The sun was still the exact point in the sky it had been when he had first left.
He was tired of driving around in circles, just for Alice and her stupid medication that she couldn’t get by her stupid self. He was tired of just about everything. Fuck the iced tea – he wanted to go home, pour himself a glass of whiskey, and go to sleep.
But that wasn’t an option. He knew that. Alice was his responsibility, now; if he dropped her off at home, he’d never hear the end of it.
The neon OPEN sign permitted his entry. He stepped in.
The door was attached to a bell, which loudly chimed announcing his presence. He was already grimacing. It was bad enough that he had to be in public – did they really need to roll out the fucking red carpet for him?
Whatever. He was here for iced tea. He put his hands in his pockets and tried his best to flatten himself out, hugging the closest aisle wall and slipping his way to the back of the store where the coolers full of beverages were kept.
“Jesus Christ.” He reached into the nearest cooler and picked up a can. “They’re trying to sell Arizona for a buck twenty-nine? What is this world coming to?”
A customer next to him awkwardly stepped away. He glared at them, then continued looking at the can. “On the can, it says 99 cents. Ninety-nine cents, you assholes!” he shouted, holding it up to the light…
His eyes bulged out of his head. “A buck… twenty-nine?”
The customer that was trying to avoid him shifted a bit and finally spoke. “Yes… that’s what it says,” he said, in an obnoxious high-pitched voice that made Joseph’s blood boil.
“Right.” He lowered the can to his side. “I’ll just… Uh…”
He ran into a nearby aisle.
“The people down here are crazy,” Joseph said hurriedly. “I can’t survive in a place like this!”
There was a piercing silence, interrupted only by that weird freezy sound the fridges made. He made himself busy by pretending to cross-compare the price of two of the same exact kind of peanut butter cup, but while he was doing that, he stood up on his toes to track the fellow customer who had dared speak to him.
That person had already wandered away from the cooler, and was now standing next to another man. The two of them appeared to be shopping for something on the other side of the aisle from him. He tried to remember the layout of the store – chips?
The second one, with the black hair, was already talking over his thoughts: “This is dumb. We don’t need food.”
And now the first one, with the red hair and the stupid voice: “I know. But I’m bored. Now, do you want the spicy or the regular?”
“Of course I want the spicy. Idiot.”
He was mesmerized by the riveting conversation these two were having about what he could only assume was Cheetos. His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest, and his hands felt cold and clammy. What were they doing?
The one with the black hair grabbed a bag – he could see it now – it was a bag of spicy Funyuns! His brain twisted around itself. It was like staring into a funhouse mirror. Who were these people?
The red haired guy did a stupid thing with his wrist, and then leaned into the other one, and their shoulders touched like it was nothing. Then they both laughed, and then they went back to looking at the chips.
Oh my lord, he thought to himself… were they gay?