It wasn't the first time I had an obsession that derailed my time at work. When sparklers were on sale after the Fourth-of-July, I had the compulsion to go to every store that had any left and purchase them. It was a thing my grandmother and I used to do when she was alive. My favorite sparklers to get were the wedding one, they seemed to last the longest and burn the brightest. My boss would have one more thing to gripe about over me, but I didn't care.
I pulled into the corner market, Sally's Gift. There was a homeless man standing beside a cardboard box, the one that fits a refrigerator, outside of the glass door.
I parked the car five slots away from him because I wouldn't want a spit-shine from this person, his teeth yellowing with some green lettuce in between his teeth, clothes that hadn't been washed for weeks, and a hairdo like Donald Trump. This was the worst thing I could imagine and I wasn't imagining it.
As I was about to walk past him and into the store, he jumped into the box. A moment later, he extended his arms out, which are covered with some sort of plastic tubing, waving them to-and-fro.
"Change for the alien?" he asked in a Robin Williams voice. He was going to have to work on his persuasion I thought to myself.
I walked past him, there was no time for tipping street bums.
The security alarm beeped as if I'm a common criminal coming back to the store with all of the merchandise I had just robbed. A girl behind the counter, a teen with braces, glanced up from her phone, took a look at me, and promptly went back to texting.
I paid no attention to the candy aisle I walked though, nor the gazillion different boxes of heavily coated sugar cereals, nor the soft drinks. I was here for one thing and then I had to get back to work.
I reached the back of the store where the leftover fireworks were and started fumbling through the items. I search the whole box only to find nothing of what I wanted. I headed to the front to ask the girl if she would know if any sparklers were hidden somewhere around the store.
"They are," she said while keeping her eyes locked on her phone, "in the back but the manager has taken off with the key for the night. He'll be back in three days." She frowned when she read a text she had received.
She looked up from her phone. "Ya. And, you already knew that."
"How would I have already known that?"
A questioning look came over her face. "You don't see?"
"The future? Can't we all see it?" She lowered her phone to her lap while keeping her eyes locked on mine.
I shrugged my shoulders and thought this might be some weird hormonal teen stuff. "I'll be back then, in three days." I held up three fingers.
"You'll be back before that."
Okay, I thought, I think it is time to leave. Enough voodoo for me.*
Of course, the door alarm went off again as I left.
Once I got out the door, I rushed over to the car because the bum was cleaning the windows with some water, I suspect was taken from the Bubbly Creek next to the store and a squeegee that left lines of dirt trailing behind its cracks, leaving the windows in worse shape.
I didn't have any water left in the windshield spray. How was I going to see?
I ran my fingers through my hair and gritted my teeth.
"Those sure are some clean windows," said the homeless man, dumping his squeegee back into the water. "I sure could use something to eat. You have the means."
My questioning eyes raised against his declarative sentence. Not wanting to start a confrontation or engage with him much longer, I dug into my pocket, pulled out whatever I had available, and dropped it in his outstretched hand without touching him, because who knows what germs were lurking on the bum just waiting to take over another man's mind after escaping from the man they've finished sucking dry.
The homeless man smiled and walked away.
Opening the car door, two hookers appeared at the hood of my car, one staggering left and right on her streaking blue, thick veined leg and the other one holding a phone in her hand. They were pretty and skinny and with marks on their faces and with rings on their fingers and bras that covered their small water balloon-shaped tits and black shirts left unbuttoned and tight miniskirt. I had always been attracted to the weird ones.
"You got a charger, hun," said the more sober one with her phone in hand.
"Ya," I blurted out before I could stop myself.
"Can I get ten minutes?"
She unhooked herself from her friend, leaving her on the hood of the car, and came around to the passager side door as I opened it from the inside. She got in and plopped down on the seat, cracking a cd case. She takes it out from under her miniskirt and handed it to me.
"It's fine. I've got extras." I threw it into the back seat. Then a moment of déjà vu hit me. This was all playing into a fantasy I had three days ago. - The hooker touched my arm, I felt my member rise. I closed the door and we started having a good time. That is until the homeless man came back with the cops.
"I think you're going to have to go," I said, "I completely forgot about my dying mother." I began scolding myself for not coming up with a better lie on the spot.
"Don't you feel a spark between us?" blurted out the hooker rocking back and forth on the trunk, the car swaying with her out-of-sync pulse. She turned around and looked at me like she knew what was going to happen next.
"Can you go now," I asked the one in the car as I dropped her phone in her lap.
"Oh, hun, don't you know what this is?"
My door was flung open. The homeless man grabbed me and threw me to the ground, a few kicks to the ribs and face did a real number on me. The hooker on the hood quickly jumped in the car.
Through my half-open eyes, only the two red lights could be seen as the car faded into the night.
I should have paid attention to the signs. My boss is going to kill me when he finds out his car is gone.
The girl from the store was standing over me, looking down, that questioning look stuck on her face again.
"You really don't see?"
"You know what it is?" I coughed as I set myself upright, "I want to be surprised. How else would I get a spark every now and then? Life loses its edge if you always know what is coming." The girl helped me up and we began walking into the store where the rest of the night was just beginning.
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