Friday, August 24, 2012

The Pharmacist

She was the kind of girl that shy guys don’t realize love them until years later when someone else tells them and they realize they blew it.  Casually pretty. She looked like a librarian with a secret life. Cool glasses, thoughtful clothes. Delicate in finger.  He was worried about what his death would signify.  Would people still be forgiving of the stupid, simple, routine of mistakes and let downs? The old woman was incensed that there was no alternative to buying something poor people could afford.
            “So, what, this is made of powder?  $3.65!?!”
            “It’s the generic version of the medication.”
            “But I want the name brand. I’ll pay for it.”
            “They don’t make the name brand anymore.”
            “What are you telling me? It is checked right here for generic.”
            “Right, that’s what they usually do so we can fill the generic.”
            “I don’t want the generic. Can I get it someplace else?”
            “I don’t think so…I don’t think it’s produced anymore…the wholesaler can't get it.”
            He stared at the rack of .99 cent items and fought the urge to buy a scarf. There was no sense to it. A lady’s scarf…but some part of him wanted to be a consumer…on a level he could handle. He stared at the back of the old woman’s head. What medicine could be worth this much trouble?
            “So, I can’t get the brand…this is what you are telling me?”
            “Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. I’m sorry.”
            Her eyes were tired but lit at the corners with wry amusement. The old woman looked for her boy. He was dark-skinned with long hair and a private school uniform. They hugged and then he spun off into the aisles of multi-colored packaging.
            He looked at the boy and wondered if he knew how surreal it all was. The acid-trip aisles and the blatant wealth and the inhaler he was about to put on his swollen credit card. He thought how happy he would be to pay four dollars for a prescription. He knew he would always wonder. It had to be something good for someone to care that much.


  1. Thank you for the new story, Dan. Having spent too much time waiting at the pharmacy, I feel I know these people. There's something about the vulnerability of people in this setting that intrigues me and always leads me to wondering what is happening in their lives.

    And, by the way: "but some part of him wanted to be a consumer"? that sentence hit home and left a bruise.

  2. I’ve rarely read a piece of prose that reads so much like a poem.

    No, I don’t mean a moon-spoon-June poem, the kind people think of when you say “poem,” the kind of sing-song piece that’s easy to remember because by god it rhymes.

    This poem is a cry from the heart. I think the French have a phrase for it, like they have for a lot of other uncomfortable terms--un cri de coeur. It’s a poem because in only a few words, an entire piece is wedged from the soul and served out on a scalpel.

    Whose cry is the more heart shuddering--the old woman’s, or the one who sees only the back of her head?

    I hate reading your shi*t JD, because it makes me face my mortality.

    1. Wow. I'm glad you read my shit, cause that was awesome. Thank you.

  3. Retsrospect is the sharp agony of realisation. Great write.

    1. Thank you, brother. You know I appreciate it.


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