This story was written to and inspired by the following piece of music. Please feel free to listen before, after, or while you read. It may take a moment to load.
“Spike in a Rail” – Darren Korb (from Bastion)
I was too damn tired that day. I had a long night. Carol knew that. Carol sent me out anyway. Carol’s a whore.
I was supposed to pick up milk and oatmeal. I decided against it. Oatmeal was for infants and toothless dimwits holed up in rest homes. I wanted raisins and Fritos and that was all, so that was what I was going to get and I would have run over anyone who argued otherwise. I thought about the glare Carol would shoot me when I got home and decided I’d get the family size bag. She could suck my sagging tits for all I care. Carol’s a whore.
I reached for the bag and felt a deep pop in my hip. I groaned, plopping back into my scooter. All it took was one quick kick off the footrest and the other hip popped in tune. I went to reach again when I noticed the velcro on my shoe had come undone. I glared at the Tostitos. I hated these shoes.
I tucked my belly in to reach down and redo the velcro when I noticed the boy. He was small and blonde and dumb-looking. I furrowed my eyebrows.
“You’re in my way.”
The boy was blank. I pursed my lips.
“Child. You’re in my way. If you’re going to stare, you may as well redo my shoe.” I presented my foot to the thing. “Respect your elders.”
The boy looked at my foot. Flecks of drool glinted off his awkwardly tiny chin. “My shoe! God, children. My shoe!”
The boy placed his little fingers on the shoe. He felt around for a while. “Don’t molest it, just put it back up, you idiot!” I looked at the ceiling. “Lord have mercy. Okay. Let go.”
My foot grew cold. I looked down to see the boy, staring, mouth open, holding the shoe. My eyes grew foggy with rage. I realized my glasses had fallen, and replaced them on my face. My eyes grew clearer, still with rage.
“GIVE THAT BACK.”
The boy’s stupid face sank. His eyes welled up with tears as he took one step back. I fumed.
“MY SHOE! Give it — SECURITY!”
The boy started to run down the aisle. “Oh no you didn’t. WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER?!” My motor hummed hard as I pressed my joystick full-force. I barely scraped by a stand of canned food as I rounded the corner, pressing forward. “THIEF!! THIEF!! SOMEONE CATCH THE BOY!”
He bobbed in and out of the produce aisle. I cursed under my breath, scouring the banana stands and the potatoes, looking for that stupid mess of blonde. “He’s getting away!! Are you all deaf?!”
I caught a glimpse of his gangly limbs as he headed for the double “Employee Only” doors. I grinned to myself. I’d have him cornered.
I pressed through the doors and looked around. “You can run, but you can’t hide, you tiny demon!” I slowly inched forward, the hum of my scooter low and menacing. I saw a shaking figure in the corner under a meat cart and cackled to myself. I was about to curl around the stand when the doors burst open from behind me.
“Ma’am! Excuse me, you can’t be in here.”
I clenched my shivering fists. “The thief. He’s over there. You can take him away.”
“Ma’am, I’m afraid you’re scaring the customers. We’re gonna have to ask you to leave.”
I turned and spat. “Excuse me?! The nerve! That boy stole my shoe! I refuse to leave until I have my shoe!” I paused. “And my Fritos and raisins! I haven’t even done my shopping!”
The man took my scooter by the handles. “We’ll get you whatever you need while you wait for your ride home. Is there someone you can call?”
“This is NONSENSE! No, I have no one.”
“It says on this tag here, a “Carol Bennett”? How about we call this Carol for you?”
“That woman can go to hell! I want my shoe!”
I glanced back at a pair of tiny eyes glinting through the metal cart. They were squinted into a small smile. “He knows what he did! Look at his stupid little face!”
“Hi, Carol? This is Mike, I’m a security guard at the Shaw’s on Broadway. We have a woman here —… Yes, that’s the one. She’s rather irate.”
“Excuse me?! You take that back, you bastard! I need to go!”
My scooter motor sputtered as I attempted to press forward. Mike the Bastard’s hand held the dumb machine firmly in place. I hated this scooter.
“Yes, that would be fine. I’ll stay with her until you get here. Thank you, Ms. Bennett.”
Mike’s dumb face appeared in front of me. I glowered on. “Mrs. Higgins, your caretaker is on her way—“
“Iiiiii know I know, ya piece of shit.”
Mike raised his eyebrows and disappeared back into the room. After a few hushed mumbles, I turned my hearing aid up just in time to hear the approach of tiny footsteps. Too tiny.
The shy straw-haired boy popped into view. His little face instantly multiplied my rage. I opened my mouth to give the little goblin a piece of my mind when his baby hands slowly offered the tan shoe forward. His lip quivered hard as his big, stupid eyes bored straight into me.
“You little…” The boy winced. I stopped. Against all my best efforts, the fire inside started to wain a little. I didn’t hate him any less. But I felt… something else. I gritted my dentures and huffed a sigh.
“Mike. Get over here.”
“Ma’am?” A pot belly oozing over the confines of a brown belt appeared be for me. I grimaced and looked up.
“Take off my shoe.”
Mike squinted. “I… beg your pardon?”
“I said take off my shoe, you dimwit? Jesus, was anyone raised right around here? Listen to your superior, stupid! Take off the damn shoe!”
Mike knelt like the finally-obedient servant he was and removed the shoe with a swift pull.
“Now give it to him.”
“…I don’t follow.”
“The small child! He likes the shoes, give him the shoes. I hate them anyway. I hate the shoes, and I hate the boy. They belong together. Give him the shoe. Are you listening at all? You want to borrow my hearing aid? Give him the — finally, yes.”
The boy’s eyes shone as the pair was completed. He took a satisfied plunk on the store tiles and began peeling the Velcro on and off the shoes. He giggled to himself as he repeated it over and over. I guess he was a cute little idiot.
I caught Mike looking over at me, smirking. I quickly shoved the small, growing smile off of my own face. I’d been betrayed, damnit.
“Mike, get your lazy ass over here. I want to go home.”
I heard the shrieks of a young woman from behind as Mike the Bastard began pushing me away. “Baby, you’re okay! You’re not supposed run off and… what the hell are these?”
I turned down my hearing aid again, cackling hard. I felt the vibrations all the way in my new hip. “Take us down aisle 7, boy. I’ve got business to take care of.”
My scooter wheeled around the corner, my view a familiar blur of beautiful chip bags. Without a pause, I swept a hand out and snagged the family size bag of Fritos. I could’ve made the shot blind. I was about to order my wheeling servant to the other side of the aisle when a hand placed a glorious, bright red, 20-ounce cardboard container on my lap.
“How’d you know the brand?”
Mike scoffed. “It’s Sun-Maid. Who the hell would buy anything else?”
I squinted into the distance. After a long moment, I grunted in approval. “There’s hope for you yet, slave.”