August 09, 2008
Walking through walmart toward the exit, the oppressive feel of the crowd, the stench of the mediocrity, the sounds and sights of things to be purchased that you don't need. Not far now, just a couple more turns until the exit comes into view. Trying not to walk too fast, might get noticed, but nerves are stacking up, I must get out of here. The air itself is poison in this place, it smells funny. I keep expecting to hear "last day... Capricorn" come sounding out of the address system. I'm getting too hot, must walk faster. I see it, the exit is standing there, freedom of freshly lain asphalt lurks just through those glass barriers. Summer heat magnified by the black tar of progress waits to envelope me and push me toward the awaiting vehicle and then its just a few minutes until I find freedom from hell. Having trouble breathing, throat is tightening. Oh dear god no, the greeter has spotted me, here she comes, armed with a sticker for the four year old. I stare straight ahead, perhaps she will read a signal of haste, but no. Damn. I've been caught. Smiles, false laughs, pinching cheeks, sticker placement, well wishes, foot tapping, peripheral door sightings, sweat forming on my brow. Just a few more feet and I'm out, let me go. Sweet mother of all that's holy now I smell the fifty pound surplus bags of rotting popcorn, I'm too close to fall back in now. Plastic trinkets flashing from everywhere, a demon looking around the side of each one. I see them now, scaly, raw, red, painful to look at, just ignore them, it isn't real. She's done, ok, I'm on the move again. Through the first set of doors, five or six steps, that's all. Son of a... side tracked by the helicopter, I'm being pulled away from the air. My lungs are collapsing, slowly so it will be all the more painful. I must maintain composure. Do I give in or pull him away... Two dollars later we turn to go at last. Kiss my ass... face to face with a high school acquaintance just as I spin around toward the door, is there no end to this agony? Where have I been, what am I up to, checking the weight, scanning the receding hairline, commenting on the child, eyes settling into the look of small triumph, yes, he is better than me, he can move on now, comfortable in the knowledge that he has kept himself up to a higher degree than I have, he begins to move away. Not intended to be kept promises made, lunches, cold beverages, kids playing together... He will call me. Through the second wall of doors at last. Heat pours over me, air is almost normal, smells of past days at six flags waft up from the blacktop. Car in sight, the rest of the family is looking out for me. Traffic is erratic, some slow down, some speed up, when do I go? Breathing deeper and slower now. Navigate the lot to the car, place the child in the back, toss the goods in the floor, hop in and start backing out. The car is moving now, nicotine snaking through the veins. Headed toward the line of cars waiting for their turn at the suicidal dash across the oncoming traffic lane. A quick glance in the rear view shows me what I thought it would, hoards of demons with their faces plastered against the glass quietly awaiting my inevitable return...
"Was it very crowded?"
"No it wasn't too bad.."
"Want to go by home depot?"
Damn it all, the demons there fly.....