Weekly Tales: The Grey Grocer (Part 1)
Every Thursday I have decided to get the writing juices flowing by writing an installment of a serialized story. It is kind of like flash fiction, but I do not know how long the story will be or how many installments I will write. I will generally write installments until the story reaches a point of denouement. Click over to my blog each week for another installment. Here is the first one:
Phil pushed his long handled dust mop with the lint covered maroon yarn-tendrils along the peppery linoleum floor of aisle six of Gray Horse Grocery and thought about the snow falling outside and how manager Mr. Greg had let several people go home tonight who were not him. He noticed the uneven cans of beans and chili and other green veggies he did not eat and thought that Greg would have him face them not because of some sadistic whim, but because they needed to face outward so that customers could see the pretty labels on the front and not the bar code on the back.
“Bar code to the back!” came Greg’s gravelly voice in his mind, and then suddenly he saw Greg standing there at the end of the aisle.
“Face the aisle, Phil,” said the little round man with the wisp of hair across his shiny scalp. “And bar codes to the back.”
Phil mouthed the words sarcastically as he pushed the dust mop, his face contorting into a twisted frown of anger and frustration. Everyone else pushed off to go home because of the weather. He walked the aisles alone near closing time because some snow-dogging customer might decide they needed to brave the slick roads to get a gallon of milk near ten in the evening and we might miss out on the profits. He did not see much profit in minimum wage, but he had not graduated from high school yet, and one day…but for now he leaned the dust mop against the end cap, faced the shelves, turning each can so that the lovely label shined like new gems from a mine.
He then caught the faint yet dark shape in the corner of his vision. He turned quickly to see that it had gone, but now he heard the distinct sound of Mr. Greg coughing once and then a sound like he was clearing his throat two aisles over. There then came a crash as if some product had fallen from the shelves in the direction of the cough.
“Clean-up on aisle eight,” he thought. He knew that something probably broke because he heard the sound of something splash after another noise that sounded somewhat like a basketball bouncing on the court. He decided not to wait for Mr. Greg to find him and tell him to do his job, so he walked to the end of the aisle toward the back of the store near the large bin with the cold meats and saw that many of the packages lay about the floor on the other side of the bin near the butcher aisle near the back wall. Several of them had been emptied and suddenly he wondered why he had not heard the terrifically loud noise this must have generated when this mess had been made.
Phil shrugged and walked to the back of the store to get the mop from the back room and out of the corner of his eye he noticed the dark shape again, but this time when he turned he saw a shabby, dirty pants leg and mud booted heel disappear just past his view down aisle eight.