Oh no, no no no. He could not handle this.

Not that there was anything wrong with gay people. He was perfectly fine with that. It just gave him the jitters. The couple – the gay couple and their antics – it was too familiar. And they seemed functional. What did it mean? What did it all mean?

Joseph was peering over a barrier at Randy and Dan.

The redhead had noticed him staring at them from over the top of the other aisle. His own eyes widened. “Uh,” he mouthed. The gay man looked off to the side, at his boyfriend, and started whispering something he couldn’t hear, and then they were walking hurriedly away.

Great. What did they say? What were they saying about him? He had to get out of here, now.

He took his overpriced tea to the counter. His hands were shaking, he felt like he would drop it. “Just this,” he said, slamming it on the counter, and he pulled out his debit card which he knew in that moment had exactly only $71.48 on it because he had done the very special math in his head after he had paid for extra syringes yesterday and then the gas today, “just this. But it costs too much.”

The cashier stared at him. And who was this person? Why were they looking at him?

Oh my Jesus, he thought, they were all looking at him. “Hurry up,” he said through gritted teeth. “Please. I have got to get out of here.”

The cashier said nothing. He imagined they were thinking “this is exactly as fast as I can go, asshole, you can’t will me to move faster”. He thought some ancient curse words and watched intently as the card slid through the reader.

Paid. Done. “Your receipt,” the cashier was saying, but he was already gone.