By Dan Leicht
Without any money he went to the store to get bread. The aisles were crowded with full carts containing candy munching kids sticking their legs out by the their parent’s guts. In his disheveled elegance he meandered from one aisle to the next, occasionally patting his empty pockets, thinking a roll of one dollar bills may appear with some luck. In aisle nine, right under the large sign listing the array of bread products (rolls, loaves, buns) he stared into the options before him — none of which he could (obviously) afford.
“Can I help you, Sir?” asked a young stock boy. The employee was placing new loaves of bread behind the old ones on the shelf.
“Which loaf do you recommend?” asked the poor patron. He seemed nervous, his unkept appearance giving alarm to the employee from the start.
“The apple cinnamon is my personal favorite,” replied the employee, his hand on his walky-talky like a pistol in the wild west. “Will that be all?” he added.
The poor patron took the loaf from the shelf and nodded. As he walked away the employee pulled the walky-talky from his belt and began to speak. He looked over his shoulder and received a scowl from the young boy. “Over a loaf of bread,” he muttered. With the registers all filled with shopping carts and overflowing conveyor belts he walked briskly towards the exit. Each passing moment his pace gained speed until he was running towards the electronic doors.
“Stop that man!” shouted the young stock boy. Other patrons pushed their carts along the slick tiles in an attempt to stop him from escaping.
Carts with children still dangling their legs soared past the registers, squeals of joy announcing their approaching danger. One patron threw a can of corned beef hash in an attempt to knock him down, but missed, the contents erupting onto the floor upon impact, causing one of the shopping carts to spin out of control. The out-of-control-cart was met with one containing Madison, a three-year-old aspiring graffiti artist, causing both carts to halt. Madison laughed at the impact and proclaimed the game be played again. Their blockade made it impossible for other carts to interfere, and he was almost free.
His final obstacle would be the doors themselves. He wondered if they’d open fast enough for him to escape, before being tackled by the approaching deli manager. He picked up his pace. Lining the walkway to the doors were shelves of party peanuts. He thought about quickly grabbing one of his way out, perhaps mashing them up at home to create some contents for his sandwich, but knew he didn’t have time. As he passed the peanut walls they began to shake and lean in towards him. On either side of the walls children were pushing with all their might to collapse the snacks onto the toast-loving thief. As the walls began to topple he held the loaf in one hand like a football while using his other to shield his head.
The deli manager was approaching, the walls closing in on him, the cries of children filled the air, the cashiers were shouting for police, he was sweating profusely. He reached the doors, his momentum too far gone to slow down, and with his forearm shielding his face he cascaded through the glass like a dog running full speed at a screen door upon hearing the word “Walk”. On the other side, after staggering for only a moment, his treasure safely secure in his cradling grasp, he kept running.