Tim McLaren walked across the parking lot. A young man of twenty, with a stringy goatee and greasy mustache blocked the entrance to the pharmacy.
“I don’t fucking care nothing about what that bitch has to say!” he shouted into his phone. “Get the fuck over here and pick me up!”
The young man glared at Tim and stopped talking, “You gotta problem?”
Tim looked at the door and at the young man, then walked past him into the store.
“Is this all you have?!?” A man was shouting from the card aisle where a handful cards remained for the holiday.
“Yes,” a heavyset woman in nylon pants and a manager’s vest answered.
“Fuck!” he muttered.
Tim looked at the line, it was six deep and every one of the six was angry. Tim took his place at the end of the line and looked at the magazines. Special editions of magazines had headlines about the royal family, about Robin William’s suicide and Bruce Jenner’s gender reassignment.
“Shit!” A woman announced to the world in general and asked the woman behind her to hold her place as she ran back to get the right tampons.
Tim ignored it and read that Bruce’s soon-to-be ex was angry about Bruce’s new reality television show. Tim looked for anything else to read.
“There’s a huge fucking pile up out there!” a man entering the front door of the pharmacy said loudly to an audience that could care less.
The sound of the yelling young man with the stringy goatee came into the front of the store behind him.
“Is someone fighting out there?” the manager asked the still indifferent audience and went out to stare at the young man.
“What the fuck are you looking at?” he demanded squaring off with her as the sliding door closed behind her.
“I hope she’ll be okay,” the woman at the counter said as the clerk rang her out.
“3.75,” the clerk said, ignoring the comment.
“Pardon me,” the woman who left the line said, coming back with the right box of tampons.
“What the fuck?” muttered a man who was two back in line from where she was re-entering.
“She just had to switch out product,” the woman who held the space said.
“I don’t give a shit. She can go back to the end of the line.”
“Look, I just had to switch-“
“I don’t give a fuck what you were doing!” he cut her off.
“Ass hat!” the woman spat back him.
“What did you say?” he demanded.
“You heard me! I called you an Ass Hat!”
“Really? That’s it? That’s your-“
“You are one of those dicks who doesn’t even-“
“Shut the fuck up!” he barked.
“Next,” the clerk said, and took the product from the woman who had cut back in line.
Tim read the ingredients of chocolate bars and lip balms.
“$15.69, do you have a rewards card?” the clerk asked.
“This isn’t over!” the woman said, glaring back at the man as she passed her rewards card through the scanner.
“Whatever,” the man muttered.
“It isn’t,” she said and ran her debit card through the scanner and then entered the pin number.
Tim ignored the woman as she flipped everyone the bird on her way out the door.
“He is fucking crazy!” the store manager announced pushing a line of carts back into the store leaving the stringy goatee man on the front sidewalk still swearing.
Tim counted the energy drinks in the cooler. There were twenty three original flavor, seven Mountain Wave and three Tiger Fire. He wondered what Tiger Fire flavor was.
“Sir?” the clerk asked.
Tim looked up and realized he finally had made it to the front of the line. “Two packs of Newports,” he said.
“$13.80,” she said.
Tim produced a ten and four ones. The clerk looked put out. She passed him his change and told him to have a good day.
Tim pocketed the two dimes and went out the door where the young man was still yelling into his phone. “I’m still here! Where the fuck are your?!?” he yelled.
The young man bumped into Tim. Tim stared at him and shook his head.
“What the fuck is with you?” the kid with the stringy goatee said.
Tim just looked at him, his face a mask of indifference.
“What the fuck?” the young man continued, still yelling into his phone. “No I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to this pussy who walked into me.”
Tim turned on his heel and walked to his car. The young man followed. “That’s right pussy! Walk off!”
“That right I called you an ass hat!” the woman from the line was yelling from her car.
“You fucking C-“ the man was cut off in midsentence as she backed out over him driving over his foot and forcing him to the ground.
If there was any doubt as to her intent, she drove back forward over his leg, leaving him pinned and supine. She leaned out of her car with a can of pepper spray. He threw his arms up across his face, but it did little good. She doused his head and chest and then she rolled the car back across his leg and sped away.
Tim arrived at his car with the young man still trailing him. Tim opened his car door and tossed the cigarettes onto the passenger’s seat. He then reached up to the visor and retrieved a red envelope that he tossed onto the seat next to the two packs of Newports.
“Wathca going to do mother fucker?” the kid asked walking up to Tim.
Tim reached down along the inside of the door of his car. The kid pushed up against Tim and the car door, “Come on mother fucker! You too much of a P-“
The young man was staring into the barrel of a 9mm. Before he could move away Tim’s free hand grabbed a handful of his hair and twisted his head sharply to one side. The barrel pressed into the young man’s cheek.
Tim kicked the car door shut and walked the young man down the far side of the building, away from traffic.
“I was out of line,” the young man said.
Tim said nothing.
“Look people can see-“the young man was interrupted by the handle of the gun striking him across the temple.
The young man moaned and went down, two more blows followed as he sank to the ground. Tim took a breath, slid his gun into his waist band, then he pulled his shirt over it. He looked at the kid, his breathing was shallow. He kicked him in the ribs. There was a dull sound as the blow connected and Tim felt two of the ribs break.
Walking back around the corner Tim saw the man from the line had pulled himself up to a curb dragging his mangled leg behind him Tim got into his car and put his gun back inside the door of the car. He put his keys in the ignition and the car started up. Pulling out of the lot he saw the man on the curb trying to get his cellphone from his pocket. The phone, like the man’s leg, was shattered. But the man was in too much pain to realize that he was tapping on broken glass.
Five minutes later Tim McLaren pulled into his driveway. He retrieved the cigarettes and the card from the passenger seat. “Hiya!” his neighbor Shelly waved from her garage where she was smoking and drinking
“Hi, Shelly,” he smiled.
“You got valentine’s day covered?”
“Yup,” Tim held up the two packs of Newports and the card.
“Well then Mama should be happy,” she tapped out her cigarette.
Tim shrugged and went in the house.
“Where’ve you been?” Mary called from the back deck of the house.
“Ran out to get smokes,” he said, setting the card and the cigarettes on the counter.
“It took you a while.”
Tim went to the fridge and got a beer.
“I said, it took you a while.”
Tim walked over to the couch and sat down, “There was a line.”
Mary stepped into the house from the back deck. She was wearing just her bikini bottoms and had her hair pulled up in a knot at the top of her head.
“That must have been one hell of a line,” she said looking at him.
Tim opened his beer and took a sip. “There was an accident over at Santa Barbara and Veterans. Then at the store a woman got into fight with some guy. She ran him over.”
“You don’t say?”
“Then some punk got in my face while I was getting in the car,” he took another sip of his beer.
“He got in my face,” Tim cut her off.
“You fucking, cock sucking, moron!” she yelled.
Tim closed his eyes and shook his head. Here it was.
“How many times have I told you,” she demanded.
“I told you-“he began.
“NO! I told you!” she rushed over to him.
“Don’t lecture me,” he opened his eyes.
“I’ve told you a hundred fucking time!” she said, waving the card in his face, “No FUCKING Valentine’s day card! It is a fucking made up holiday to make people spend their money on crappy cards, flowers and candy.”
“What the fuck are you smiling at?”
Tim had been watching her breasts sway as she was yelling at him. He couldn’t help but smile.
“So tell me what happened.”
“You didn’t shoot him.”
“Nah, just hit him a few times,” Tim said.
“Really? That’s all?”
“Well, I used the gun to hit him,” Tim admitted.
“Ok. That seems about right.”
“I think I broke a couple of his ribs.”
“With the gun?”
“Nah, kicked him.”
Mary thought about that. “He was breathing when you left?”
“Ok. But no more fucking valentine’s crap,” Mary said, and took a pack of cigarettes from the counter and went back outside to sunbathe.
Tim ran the beer across his forehead and thought about it. He shrugged. He couldn’t help it he knew, he would get her a card again next year no matter what she said.
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