Because it’s Sunday evening, I went to the inconvenience store. Walking in, I realized I left my wallet at home. Having tried to do so before, I know they don’t accept good looks in lieu of payment. Even so, I’d still be short, according to popular opinion.
Arriving back home and giving kitty treats for the tenth time today, I hung my jacket up and decided to skip going back. I drank a protein drink and without thinking about it, found myself back in my car (with wallet) and driving. Going North on Gregg, I watched a white sedan weave and swerve for no discernible reason. Another intoxicated driver. Either that, or she was Tiktoking with an invisible phone.
I turned right to get away from her indirect line of direction and went to one of the fancier inconvenience stores. Outside, two men were arguing. To me, it seemed like one of the two had asked for money from the other. One was a younger man, dressed well; the other, not so much. I could have been wrong. Instead of hesitating, I walked up and said, “Hey Steve, I haven’t seen you in a long time!” The younger man looked at me and tried to figure out who I was. “Do I know you?” I laughed like a goof. “Yes, I’m X. Didn’t we go to school together at Fort Smith?” He shook his head. “No, I don’t know you and I didn’t go to school in Fort Smith.”
It didn’t matter. The spell had broken. He walked away, leaving the less well-dressed man standing there.
“What do you need?” I asked him. “Honestly. Beer, food, cigarettes, a ride, just ask.” I smiled.
“I’d like some smokes, honestly,” he said.
“I love Camels but will smoke anything.”
I grinned again to let him know I was okay and that he was okay. “Be back in a minute.”
As I entered, I recalled memories of my Dad smoking Camels. He died on November 30th, 1993.
I exited the convenience store and handed him a pack of Camels and a lighter.
“Have a good night. And be careful of people. Not everyone is as great as I am.” We both laughed. He could tell I was being funny for his benefit. “My name is X. What is your name?”
“Jim. Thanks, X.”
“Jim? Have a Merry Christmas.”
“You too, X.”
And so it begins.