There's a reason you should look good when leaving the house, especially if you've got a few things to pick-up.
He steps through the aisles, basket hooked on his forearm, foot falls echoing off the off-white linoleum. His head is like a lighthouse, a field of vision scanning back and forth and never in the same place. Shoulders and arms and wrists and hands move in an articulated symphony, their music the rasp of his shirt, the dull thuds of the baubles about his wrist.
His hand reaches out, lifting and shifting as the rigged crane does in the toy bin, though he succeeds in dropping the treasure into his basket.
Head and shoulders are set firm as he reaches the end of the aisle, and a quick turn on his heel brings him one, two, three steps forward before a ninety degree turn sends him back the other way, PacMan after his prize.
The basket continues to be filled, its contents shifting as it swings at his side. Cans clink merrily in unison with the sound of rainfall caught in a box, grains of rice spilling over and over inside. A whisp’ry whistle tickles his ears, a man with a basket of his own pacing up the aisle as he glides down.
A sideways glance. Eyes meet. Smiles twitch at eager lips.
The clinking cans and singing grains of rice fall to the floor along with brittle plastic bags of fruits and vegetables, no artificial colours or flavours. The two baskets lay turned on their side and touching, lovers on a bedspread of linoleum, off-white.
They embrace, gasp, kiss. Their lips meet, part, and divulge their silky treasures.
And he keeps walking, bags and cans and boxes safe in his basket, and safe in his. Daydreams, fantasies, loose and wild when he is not.
His march down the aisle is soon ended, he finds himself in line for the checkout. Express: no more than ten items, please. He counts and sees he has nine, but finds himself repeating the task as he walks up, stands behind him, his whistle a siren’s song.
Nine. Nine. Nine. The count is the same every time, and each time comes quicker than the first. His eyes dart about nervously, cool blue spheres juxtaposed to his emotions inside.
Why are the candy bars after the fashion magazines?
“I beg your pardon?”
He must have said it aloud.