The handle is sticky, toggling back and forth as the ice melts and the wrappers crinkle. Street fighter. You could do this for days. Take Mountain Dew and Twix breaks. Watch the shoplifters move slow then fast, then out. Watch the seventeen year old at the counter not giving a shit. Watch the owner coming back furious, but what the hell can he do?
Don’t eat the hotdogs. Seriously, just don’t. Leave a quarter on the game to save your place. You’re poor, but if you keep winning you won’t have to pay. You suck. Take quarters off the counter and from the corner of the mud room. That’s not stealing, it’s appropriating. Something fancier. You know it, baby.
The high school kids smoke cigarettes out front and talk smack to everybody – little kids included. They don’t care about anyone or anything except cigarettes and 90210. That kid with the fishing rod? He’s going to commit suicide. No one will see it coming. Same with Jenny who becomes a mommy young. Rachel will be a lawyer. Dante will see both sides of a gun.
Wipe your hands on your pants and spit in the gutter and look up at the sun like, man, that sun is so bright. That’s everything right there.
That thin ketchup with the water in it. Always forget to shake it and you get mostly water, wet fart of ketchup. Tomato soup. Old people in scratchy sweaters. Peppermint fuzzy with lint. A dark bait box and the smell of industry. You don’t know what that smells like? In Pennsylvania it smells like upbeat poverty. That clothesline in the backyard, an octagon – all you gotta do is spin it, state of the art. Rust poking through the rubber paint.
An eerie silence, then dogs barking. You’ll never know. The house settles and makes sounds. Tiny sword, blackjack, bubble gum. Just take one. Cool water and cigar smoke. The smell of fresh cut grass. Hungry. Eating fast enough to skip being sick. Just tired. The back of a farm truck on a hot day. Sweat speckling hay.
Fish fries. FryDaddy. Cole slaw. Fisticuffs at the boat slips. Long, slow days. Warm beer. Neighbors fighting. Kids are kids. They are barefoot and full of wonder. Mullets and Mustangs.
Night. Silence. Collective breath.
Florida feels like humid desperation. Boy, where's your smile? Turnstile. Way too close to Alabama. Hushpuppies and Catfish, son. You'll be home soon.
Let the night settle the dust of the day. Ashes to ashes. Rust to rust.