108. Checkout

…and it started in the supermarket where it was thirty degrees outside and much, much cooler inside, where I saw a woman as tall as myself, perhaps taller, maybe as tall as six feet five, and she must have been eighty years old, a picture of ravaged elegance in dress made from something washed out and wispy and synthetic, standing at the end of the aisle selling the foreign foods, and I wondered if most of the food in the fucking shop were foreign to her, or maybe she had an insatiable craving for Polish tinned meat and biltong, but the look of lost bewilderment told me she might have been in a shop or in a dance hall in nineteen fifty one.
And a woman walked by with the most enormous tits, a three year old kid looking bored perched partly on her hip and partly on the soft roundness of her belly, a hand resting on one of those vast breasts that I couldn’t stop staring at, and she’s talking to the kid and as we pass she looks me right in the eye and the only thing I hear her say is ‘…cheeky monkey…’ and I don’t know if she means the kid or if she means me.
Then I’m putting things in the trolley, butter for a quid, milk for a quid, three fake milk chocolate Magnum lollies for a quid, box of tea for a quid, a loaf for a quid or two for one pound fifty but I only get one for a quid and I wonder when everything became a quid, rounded up or rounded down to a quid, and I don’t know if I’m getting bargain or if I’m getting fucked over.
And there’s a older woman with another kid and the kid is clumsily fumbling a tin from a shelf into her basket and the woman encourages her as though she’s splitting an atom or playing Mozart on a cello and the woman beams at me with delirious pride while the kid gawps blankly at me through glasses so thick that she seems to be staring at the world through a bathysphere.
And a fat woman waddles through the freezer aisle, enormously fat, her upper arms thick, shivering slabs of raw meat, deep crevices at the elbow, sausage fingers sliced by many gold rings caressing the handle of the trolley that helps support her stupendous bulk, wheezing, her bulging eyes greedily scanning the shelves packed with the magical things that are quickly killing her, her flip-flopped feet thumping along to the rhythm of a nasal Tannoy blaring junk food bargains on aisle three, doughnut for a quid or fifty for two quid or something, and the fat woman throws a wide u-turn and shuffles towards her sugar coated, custard filled demise.
I place a large bottle of washing up liquid in the trolley.
And an old couple shuffle with surprising determination to the rainbow shelves of washing up liquid, pink and yellow and blue scented with lemon and apple and lavender and berries, mouthwatering glop for seventy eight pence. She points, he fetches like a knackered beagle.
“That one. The red one. I want two. Two. I want two. get two. The red. Two. Two. I want two.”
And the old beagle barely flinches under this onslaught but I feel an overwhelming urge to take two bottles from the shelf, pop the caps and squirt her until she is glazed in red glop, all the while screaming, “TWO! TWO! YOU GOT TWO! TWO!” into her bloated, red, summer berries-scented face.
I do not do this. I put a four pack of bog roll in the trolley instead.
And everyone is dressed in their summer clothes. Most of the women are showing flesh, quite a lot of it, arse cheeks bulging from denim shorts, brown quivering cleavage straining against tank tops and vests, soft creases, warm folds, bare feet with coral pink nail varnish, tanned backs with blurred tattooed scrawls of crappy butterflies and improbable flowers.
The men are dressed like immense children. They do not look like surfers or beach bums or whatever they think they might look like, they look like hairy bodied, bald headed children, playing with giant toy stacking bricks bearing the slogans ‘Budweiser’ or ‘Fosters’ or ‘Carling’. I look at my clothes. I look like a child.
I want something to happen.
I want the cool looking office guy to smash that carton of pasta carbonara into the face of the girl in the summer dress. I want them to strip off and fuck each other in the chiller cabinet of raw beef using carbonara sauce as lube.
I want the woman with the crying child to start hurling the milk, carton after carton, high into the air, letting it land like a white bomb, really straining at her task, grunting and sweating, heaving one pint milk grenades, two pint rockets, a four pint semi skimmed tactical nuclear explosion.
I want to writhe in the cream cakes.
I want two hairy backed builders to fight to the death using the bright green gardening implements in the ‘Seasonal’ aisle, hacking and raking each other into bloody shreds.
Dustbin lid-sized pizzas skim in graceful arcs through the air, hitting pensioners and toddlers alike without discrimination. I want kick an Extra Tasty ready roast chicken and see it burst into hot meaty deliciousness. We have all heard of people going crazy in the heat and I want to see that, want to be part of it, a hot tsunami of frantic fucking, fighting and mayhem in a Northern supermarket.
It doesn’t happen.
Instead I pile today’s alcohol into the trolley, the smell of yesterday’s alcohol still leeching from my pores.
A woman in a tabard wagging a huge green hand shepherds me to a checkout operated by a plump, slouched girl wearing a vacant expression. Her name badge tells me her name is Chantelle. I feel this gives me an unfair advantage, so I tell her my name. She looks at me like I might be trying to chat her up.
Chantelle asks me if I’m alright with my packing.
I inform Chantelle that I am alright with my packing.
I pack dexterously, proving that I am indeed alright with my packing and that I wasn’t bullshitting her.
When I pay I realise that today I am more wealthy than the city of Detroit.
This makes me feel absurdly empowered, but also makes me want to visit Detroit.
I thank Chantelle, she thanks me. I say goodbye to Chantelle but she is already serving another victim of the green hand tabard lady.
Outside the heat is brutal. The tarmac makes everything shimmer. People stumble from cashpoint to trolley, clutching bottled water and wearing immense and ridiculous sunglasses.
I make it to the car without dying.
I load my purchases into the boot of my car, a dirty, dusty little Fiat Punto. It’s colour is described as, ‘Lichen Green’ but is actually the same colour as the triangular chocolate in Quality Street.
I drive away listening to Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac.
As I drive out, an identical Punto drives in, only this one is blue. Same age, same sun-faded black plastic bumpers, same kerb scuffed wheel trims.
A red haired woman is driving. She’s beautiful. As we pass we slow down, we start laughing and waving, and we both shout “HIYA!!” as we pass. I press my horn and she does the same. I have never seen her before in my life.
I drive away singing along to Seven Wonders, the windows down, the unbalanced wheels making my car shudder while I eat hot Haribo Golden Bears from a bag on the passenger seat, thinking about the red haired girl in the blue car, my green car doing seventy in a sixty zone.

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One Response to 108. Checkout

  1. Pingback: Reprographics - The repro man blog - Page 38 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

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