I go to this new store.
It’s a big store that sells things only middle aged white guys in plaid seemed to need. Beef jerky. Faucet handles. Drill… bits.
I walk through the doors and a girl in green wearing a headset says: “Hello. Can I help you find anything?”
I blink three times–wop wop wop– because I’m certain that’s a Mortal Kombat combo and it will uppercut her into oblivion. It doesn’t. She just stares at me.
I can say something witty. I can say something profound and thought provoking, like “All children are rapidly expiring grapes” and that will change her life, she will become a grape grower because she took me too literally and thought children were grapes.
I don’t respond. I walk away.
I wander around, looking at displays with my hands on my hips like I have a clue what’s going on. The products threaten my masculinity. I have never needed a power sander, but what exactly am I doing wrong in life that I don’t need a power sander?
There’s a rack of flannel shirts at the end of each aisle. Bright red, bright blue. Basic colors. Real men don’t wear multicolored bullshit. You don’t need multiple layers and designs when you have a power sander. If anyone talks shit, you can sand off their facial features and their loved ones won’t recognize them and they will live forever in terrible loneliness just like I do.
I’m about to ask where the eye drops are when I round a corner and gasp. This store is not a store. It’s a cavernous, echoing airplane hangar of products. Rows of racks for miles, Christmas decorations for acres, an entire parking lot of riding lawn mowers.
There are greater forces at work here.
I should leave. I should have been leaving bread crumbs leading the way back, but it’s too late now. I could die here. I could collapse from dehydration somewhere in plumbing, piping, and caulking.
I see one other customer, a short guy wearing a blue coat. He has a Christmas tree in one hand, and he’s trying to hold onto a box of lights with his other. I approach him, about to ask where the exit is, or where god is, or where the meaning of it all is, but he starts yelling before I get close.
“How am I supposed to buy more products if I don’t have a CART?!”
I glance around, looking for help, looking for a cart, but I don’t see any. The man spots me, and points.
My flight of fight is engaged. My ink sacs flare and threaten to launch, but revealing my abilities in this dark place might unleash the lurking madness that is surely buried underneath.
I run. I swerve down an aisle full of weed killer, then down another aisle, my shoulder clipping a display of 40lb dog food bags, but I’m like a winged starfighter, I’m a plot character, I’m untouchable. I’m Danny in the maze, redrum redrum. I’m speed racer, and I’ll run down anyone who dares get in my way.
Santa Claus dares to get in my way.
My shoes that I haven’t replaced in 4 years have no traction, and as I round another corner, my feet go out from under me and I baseball slide into an inflatable Santa.
It’s a behemoth, a giant. Santa bounces back and forth and all I can hear is the “whirrrrr” of the fan that keeps air in the monster. His giant, unfeeling eyes tunnel into me. His floppy nose keeps hitting me in the head. He’s semi-transparent, I can see into his guts, his soul.
There’s something inside of him. Clinging to the walls of the inflatable Santa as it rocks and shakes.
I scream, and that’s when a man who smells like beer grabs me under the arms and pulls me away from Santa.
He says: “What are ya fuckin’ retarded or something?”
I don’t know about cognitive impairment but I definitely have the “or something.”