Grocery run turns ugly
| Sasha stood close to the open trunk of her dark gray Saab, pensively gazing into the nearly empty carpeted interior, as she waited for the slow, gum-popping bag boy to approach. Glancing toward the Safeway on her left, she saw no sign of him among the rows of vehicles, so she leaned her temple against her right arm resting on the trunk lid’s open edge. What am I going to do about the changes in Bill? she wondered, remembering his aloof yet sarcastic attitude that morning. Still handsome in his finely-featured way, blond hair perfectly aligned, blue pinstriped shirt sporting white collar and discreet rose tie, Bill had delicately handled the fine china cup, keeping it well away from his clothes, and grasped the morning’s Wall Street Journal in his left hand as he gazed down his nose at his wife.
Something was up, trouble was in the air; Sasha knew it, but she couldn’t quite bring the problem into focus just yet. All she knew for certain was that Bill had pulled away from her emotionally. This morning he almost seemed to look down on her as if she had been an insect scuttling across the kitchen table, instead of a devoted loving wife who had cooked his favorite and usual breakfast.
Scratching across the gentle susurrus of her sigh came the squeaky wheels of a crooked-axled grocery cart. Ah! That slow bag-boy at last! What is his trouble? He gets paid enough to show a little courtesy—What???
As the cart ambled its way around a high four-wheel drive pickup blocking two spaces in the next row over, Sasha straightened up, the color suddenly bleaching from her complexion as she realized the young man heading toward her steered the cart with only one hand as in his right fist he clasped a short-barreled ugly stubby gun! Now he veered around the pickup’s bumper, angling toward her Saab, which effectively screened him from both the Safeway’s entrance portico and from the busy side street beyond the wide parking area. Gasping, Sasha looked up into his pale blue eyes and saw—nothing: no personality, no character, no flicker of steady life breathing behind the consciousness. Except for the intermittent popping of his gum, and his continued amble, the bag-boy might as well have been a zombie, or a graveyard guest. But the stubby object clutched in his right fist made the scene too unlike a grade-B zombie voodoo horror film, and all too real. News clips of schoolyard shootouts and hostage captures flew through her mind.
Sasha leaped back from the trunk, her right hand clasped across her staid gray business suit that she had so carefully selected earlier that morning. It wouldn’t do to be seen in town slouchy—not for Bill’s wife. Now here she was in the Safeway lot and however would she get the stains out of the suit jacket—but quickly that became a worry she wouldn’t remember as the gun jolted in the bag-boy’s hand and Sasha’s blood splashed wetly across the gray suit and white silk shirt she wore underneath. A last glance from eyes already glazed and she collapsed to the pavement behind the trunk.
The bag-boy pocketed the gun, walked around the cart at a faster pace than he’d yet demonstrated, stooped and lifted Sasha’s body into the trunk. Tossing the grocery sacks from the wobbly cart into the trunk, he covered her and then slammed the lid. The remote was still in Sasha’s hand but the trunk locked automatically as it closed, and the young man pushed the cart toward the collection point at the rear of the store. From there he walked off into the field behind the Safeway, soon swallowed by the high weeds and out of sight, while behind him reposed a dead woman whose only crime had been life.