The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 133
Cat litter, unscented. Iam’s… let’s see, yes, Original, (pH balanced, gluten free). The guy stocking the shelves—wait, why is the music, this pop crap from the ’60’s, NOT by the original artist and louder, way more annoying in the pet food aisle?—the guy stands on a step stool in front of the canned section so I lean towards him as if he’s in the way. He looks at me.
“Stater Brothers,” I proclaim, “—where the music you never wanted to hear again is always playing.”
“Yeah no shit man I hate this shit,” he says.
“You do realize,” I tell him as he steps down, “I could be a corporate spy, testing your company loyalty, your enthusiasm for the job.”
He looks stunned.
Me: (Laughing) Don’t worry, man, I’m not. It’s just… weird, insulting somehow, the music. All happy, bubbly. Same era as Hendrix, the Doors, only, you know, way more… comfortable.
The Guy: Yeah. I know. That’s why I hate it.
Me: Good, man. For a second I thought you might flip the whole thing, call security, tell ‘em about the ‘suspicious gentleman’ in the pet food section.
Chicken. Free range. No hormones or antibiotics, they say.
Spinach. Organic. Exp date: 7/17/17.
Sabrina’s waiting in her Ready Ride bus outside. She always honks at the precise moment my body language tells her I’m not expecting it. “Swear to God,” she says, laughing as I board, “that’s the funnest part of my whole week seeing you jump.”
Me: You always get me, too.
Sabrina: Got it down to an art, baby.
Me: You know what I should do is fake like you’ve given me a heart attack.
Sabrina: Yeah, except…
Sabrina: You shouldn’t have told me cuz now, instead of calling the paramedics, I’ll just naturally assume you’re faking it.
Me: Ha. Yeah. ‘Course, I’ll be dead, but I’d love to hear you explaining that one to the cops.
We make eye contact in her rear view mirror, then burst out laughing as she steers the bus towards home.
Sabrina: So, have you heard from Sybil? Did she get back to Germany OK?
Me: Oh, Christ. Yeah. She got sick. Really sick, apparently, the second she got home. Back problems, for one thing…
Sabrina: Yeah? Well it figures. That girl is a walker!
Me: Right. But, foolishly so. And I finally told her so, in an email. I said: Look, instead of walking up and down the stairs of your house, carrying buckets of water, just get the freaking plumbing fixed. And invest in a car, for chrissakes, or use a taxi service. And instead of standing while you do things on the computer, because there’s nowhere to sit, clean up the damn clutter, throw shit away, then invest in an ergonomically designed chair, take a Hatha Yoga class. You’re forcing your body into all these weird, unnatural…
Sabrina: Wait, I know she’s kind of a hoarder, right?
Me: Hey, I went inside her trailer after she’d gone. Had a cup of coffee with me and I could literally not find three inches of flat space to put it down on.
Sabrina: (Looking at me again in the rear view mirror, then back at the road) Heard back yet?
Me: Hell no.
Sabrina: (Cocks head, eyeballs me like a prosecutor staring down a witness under cross examination) Hope you didn’t wreck that down payment deal.