The Santa Ana Winds reach the parking lot of Valu-Mart, gales that attract the most depraved of shoppers on a suicide pact for savings. Wildfire season has dawned upon Los Angeles. A sale on meat brings out every survivalist hoarder within a 25 mile radius to descend upon the supermarket with the veritable ferocity of a riot. We’re told that shoppers are the most aggressive during the summer months in a strategy meeting, but the bottleneck that stretches out towards the interstate suggests that this isn’t homegrown American capitalism at work.
There’s malice in the air.
There’s a police presence to monitor the inevitable scuffle for parking spaces, but they’re woefully under-prepared when vulcanized rubber meets the edges of pocket knives. There’re thirty complaints of vandalism that fill the backlogs of the police department by high noon. I’m brought in to fill the void of Register 15, which has been left vacant since Maria collapsed under the throes of heatstroke. Management has turned off the air conditioning in the front of the store in an austerity measure to carry on into the next quarter.
I hardly notice the gentleman donning the glaringly out-of-season ski mask that rushes to the front of the register, but his intentions are graciously lined out for me when he presents a pistol out of the waistband of his track pants, and lets out a round into the ceiling, as a chunk of drywall careens precariously close to my head. Another f@&king holdup. But I stay cheerfully resolute.
A holdup, I presume?
I know the savage routine all too well.
Right, everything that’s in the register.
Will that be paper, or plastic?
Ryan Fallon is a cultural refugee from Camden, New Jersey. Follow more of his ramblings at http://bathtub-gin.tumblr.com.
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