As the rain hit the pavement outside in an uneven splurt, dousing the asphalt and concrete in schizophrenic waves, Benny stood at the register and scanned items into the computer. Simple enough job, no need to do much except ask for the occasional identification to verify age. Some people got popped for selling to minors, but not him – he didn’t care who it was; if you had no wrinkles, you might be young enough to sting him, and that was his policy. Shayna, his boss, would roll her eyes sometimes at his insistence, but she couldn’t deny him his right to be extra careful. She didn’t want to be responsible either – she got him, unlike his other shift manager. He was a stoner and a rebel, and thought Benny was a narc and would occasionally torment him while they worked together, making him feel like crap for obeying the law to the letter. Let him nag. Whatever. He wouldn’t be the one to have to pay a hefty fine after having some lame court hearing.
He checked his watch, then the clock on the wall. Half-past six. Perfect. The early morning-ers were getting their coffees and papers, freshly unwrapped and on display. Shayna was in the back office near the bathroom, finishing overnight back stock and getting the deposits ready. She may look like a piece of dried-out driftwood, but insisted on doing the heavy work – she was much stronger than she appeared. And as you got to know her, it was obvious in the way she would talk to you or handle difficult customers. She was alright. Just… maybe sad. Or tired. He wasn’t sure which. But he knew he had maybe about fifteen minutes left out here before it got too busy for him to handle alone. Becky should be coming in to get her register soon, if she was on time today.
Here was a man in a tie. Most of his friends just called him Bob. Nice suit, nary a wrinkle but for the pleats in the waist line; his wife had to take in these slacks twice this year, so his diet was working. The doctor was insistent that if he didn’t want to end up in an urn quicker than he anticipated, he needed to get ship-shape. Oatmeal for breakfast… again. Well, it could be worse. And it seemed now that he had more time to do things, but perhaps that was just the legendary energy increase he always heard about that comes with daily exercise and healthy eating. But he turned off the t.v. now while he was on his stair-climber, and opened the windows, and felt like he got outside more.
Who would want to be out on a day like this? He debated work… to call in, or watch the storm blow from his office window? He held his newspaper over his head, tilting his face downwards so his glasses wouldn’t get wet, and hopped over a small box that was blowing around in the small gale headed down the street on the way into the corner market. Seedy-looking little place, but it was actually quite bright inside. And warm. God, I shouldn’t even be outside right now – look at the wind whip that umbrella right out of that woman’s hand! Bob stepped into the store, took the paper off his head and peered at the aisles available for his scrutiny. Something sweet, but nothing that would kill his diet. Bathroom first, though. One thing about so many liquids, is they went right through him, now. He made his way to the dimly lit back hallway.