Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Tom Spader - 9/2015
Kate shook her ugly, yellow, store-logoed smock. After the spider incident, she shook it every time she put it on. She had lost three nights sleep over the spider and now a mind numbing fear gripped her as she was certain that every time she put her arms through the oversized, sleeveless top with the odd deep side pockets and buttons down the back like a straight jacket, there would be another spider waiting for her. She shook it hard watching the cement floor of the store room for one to fall, her dark orthopedic shoes ready to stomp. She shook it again.
The spider induced anxiety had become the morning ritual at the Acme supermarket where Kate worked. Punch in, shake the smock, and work register number three. Punch, shake, three.
A few weeks earlier, Kate was working her register and while reaching to scan a bag of potatoes she froze, her eyes wide as she saw a silver dollar sized, furry spider slowly crawling down her arm. She could see its many eyes, glancing back over its many shoulders, staring her down. She could see the fangs glistening, ready to strike.
A scream began from somewhere deep inside her as a blur of magazines, Mylie, Kim, UFO's, devil babies, then customer's faces, then windows, then florescent lights blurred by ... then black.
She saw a canopy of tall tropical trees throwing themselves skyward, a hot sweating sun glinting through the still leaves. Birds and swinging monkeys screamed over head. It was as peaceful as one of the upper cable channels. A soft rain began to fall adding a cadence of large drops tapping onto wide jungle leaves. She turned her face into the gentle rain.
She woke up on the floor with her manager standing over her spraying water in her face from a bottle he used to spray the window plants.
After the spider she figured that hanging her smock in the storeroom along with the bananas, mangoes and other tropical produce was not a good idea without the morning shake. She figured that the spider must have come from some exotic island climate along with these colorful fruits. Kate guessed that the spider must have mistaken her smock for a large bunch of ripe bananas. She shook it everyday ... twice.
Reed was in Kate's checkout line the day of the spider. He saw her hit the floor. He didn’t see the spider. He waited for her to get back to her register after the other customers in front of him moved to one of the other checkout isles.
“Are you alright, uh...Kate?” he asked glancing at her name plate, placing his items onto the moving black conveyer belt; instant coffee, the Daily News and a tall red can of Raid.
Kate, still shaken, just smiled a crooked one-sided smile and began to run his items over the blue lines of light. It was a familiar smile. Reed watched the nervous lines of her face, the corner of her mouth, become more pronounced as her smile deepened. Her eyes glanced up knowingly into his as she scanned the tall red aerosol can with the black top.
Reed got into Kate’s line every time he was in the store. With that uneven smile he thought she looked exactly like Katherine Hepburn...well, not exactly, but close enough.
Observations at the supermarket
A kid's modern history lesson
As seen by me at 8 years old
Labor Day 1973
(Part III of the adventures of Haiku Lou)
Observations/true story while bar tending in Baltimore 1984
The night Nixon quit through my eyes at 15
Chance meeting in a snow covered city park
Observation at the all night mini mart
Adventures of a street poet
Lou and Omba in Washington Square
God's ant-like face shines
Changing roles in a city library
Coming soon ...