Chapter 12Mature

While waiting at the registers to check out, with two more 20s at the ready, Alex nearly had to wince each time the registers rang something up. The sounds that were subtle before had picked up in pitch and went deeper into his ears, unless he was imagining things.

“Son, you OK?” David asked as Alex picked into his ears.

“Yeah. That beeping’s getting in my ears, though.”

His father gave him a confused look before going back to waiting for the checkout. Crossing his arms, Alex tried to focus on other things than the constant beeps from the registers. As he did, he heard someone talking loudly to one of the employees nearby. Looking over, a customer was giving the employee, a kid about his age with straight black hair, grief about something. Listening in, he could start to make out part of the trouble.

“I have four coupons here. Why are they not getting the extra discount?”

“Because, it works on the first one only.”

“Can you split this order up, then?”

Exhaling under his breath, Alex’s old feelings of anger started to come back, but not as strongly as they had been with Marcus. He did feel sorry for the guy being brow beaten but tried to keep himself calm, despite telling the customer to ‘F*** off’ in his head. His folks had taken notice of the event by now as well but didn’t say anything about it.

However, as they began to check out, he heard the customer come back and start verbally getting edgey with one of the managers nearby.

“I can’t believe this. I shop here every week.”

“I’ve already told you, we can’t double and triple every coupon like that. I’m sorry.”

“You should be.”

Exhaling a snort, Alex gritted his teeth. He’d had enough and spoke up. “Hey, pal. Leave him alone.”

Seeing the customer looking at him, Alex started sniffing the air for any trace of his scent. There were wisps of alcohol floating off him. Weak ones, but they smelled like fresh ones. “What did you say?”

“Leave this guy alone. And you should quit drinking before you come shopping while you’re at it.” Hearing his mother say his name behind him, Alex didn’t turn around or respond.

“None of this involves you.”

“No, but you know what? I really don’t care.” Alex said, exasperated but trying to be smart. The customer didn’t respond directly to him, but he saw his eyes widen in shock as if he had just been slapped. Alex leapt at the pause and kept going. “So, if you’re done, quit annoying everyone else.”

Seeing the customer leave in a huff, despite his risen heartbeat, Alex grinned and relaxed. Turning to his folks, they looked less than pleased, despite the employee thanking him for the help. His father’s tone on the drive back was both in question and frustrated making it twice in one day he’d been lectured on something.

When his folks brought up him saying the guy was drinking, he stopped to consider his response. His sense of smell was far stronger than his folks, and even if his Dad was adept at recognizing drunks, he wasn’t. “Sorry, but he was acting like that to me.”

“He may have been, but that doesn’t give you a right to say that.”

“I know, Dad. I just couldn’t help it.”

“Yes, you can help it.” His mother said.

Sighing heavily, Alex managed to relax as he helped get the groceries inside. He was half expecting after his first shift to be able to carry more stuff, but as before, nothing had changed. He was still the same mid-weight lifter he had always been.

Going back to his XBOX after putting his stuff away, he started to wonder about his last two outbursts. Both times, it had been on angry customers, when he felt inclined to step up for those being pushed around. He’d stood up for his friends, and others at times, before he was bitten, making him doubt this was related to his lycanthropy. Either in whole or in part.

The last customer’s reaction however was something he still couldn’t grasp. He’d looked like he was frightened, instead of just insulted. “Meh. Whatever. Maybe I got through to him.” Alex thought. Going back to blasting away enemies in Borderlands, he finished the day with some milk before going to bed.

The End

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