Most of the time, I try not to go to Wal-Mart. Not so much because of its cancerous consumption of the global market, or anything noble. No, it’s because every time I step inside, I feel like my soul is being leeched out through my pores. Maybe it’s a greenhouse effect caused by the combination of fluorescent lighting and decades of toxic floor wax. Or, maybe it’s the in-your-face train wreck of humanity that shoots Darwin’s evolutionary theory all to hell. But, try as I might to steer clear of the place, sometimes a guy just needs to buy shotgun shells, some diapers, and a new bath curtain all at the same time.
So there I was, in the checkout line at the Cicero Wal-Mart, inspecting the lustrous shine of my new seahorse-themed shower curtain. In front of me was a spandex diva whose rapt attention was tied up in the Weekly World News. As she intently studied breaking developments in the love affair between Bigfoot and Queen Elizabeth, her children hellspawn brood of Ritalyn junkies terrorized the candy rack and chewed through the cellophane of the newest Pokemon video game. Screaming and slapping ensued between the brothers, and I had to step back to give a little room so that a ten-year-old could properly execute a chokehold.
It made for good theater, like a miniature re-enactment of Cain and Abel with candybar bludgeons, so only when his face started turning blue did I clear my throat to warn big momma that her youngest was about to be smited. Even in Wal-Mart, fratricide is frowned upon. I think.
“Excuse me, miss,” I said.
Her lips stopped mouthing words, and without moving a muscle, her eyes drilled into me.
I nodded to the mess of writhing bodies on the floor. “I think you’re about to have an only child.”
With one swift kick from her leopard print boot, the two kids were upright, wheezing, and glaring at me as well. A shiny purple claw shot out from the woman’s fist to point at my face.
“Why don’t you just mind your own fucking business?” said the spandex queen, with a jiggling hip thrust.
“I was trying to. But it’s hard to hear myself think over the sound of bad parenting.”
And then, like a flying walrus, she was on top of me. The bath curtain, diapers, and shotgun shells were tossed aside by her immensity. This was it. The end. I was being crushed to death by a shiny, foul-mouthed monster wearing too much perfume, and there was nothing I could do. Every punch I threw was only swallowed by a roll of blubber. But, finally, against all odds, amidst a flurry of “motherfuckers” and “cocksuckers,” I managed to reach over and swing open the door to the mini check-out soda cooler and knock her big ass unconscious.
I crawled to my feet and prepared for retaliation from the cubs, but was caught off guard by the door greeter, who had limped up behind me with his cane and a chloroform soaked rag. The next thing I knew, I’d been bested by a geriatric employee, and the world went fuzzy. The last thing I saw were two very angry looking security guards in blue vests. Their smiley face buttons weren’t smiling.
“You shouldn’t have made trouble,” they said.
Upon regaining consciousness, I found that I’ve been chained to a sewing machine, and have since been forced to learn the ways of the soccer ball stitcher. I don’t know where I am, but the climate feels tropical and none of my new sweatshop friends speaks a lick of English. Jesus, I wish I’d paid more attention in Spanish class in high school, because I was never that good at charades. And it’s nearly impossible to do sign language when you run your hand through the sewing machine every five minutes.
Music: My new friend Mario’s pan-flute rendition of The Rolling Stones
Cerveza: Warm, yellow, and non-carbonated. I don’t think this is beer.