Like most liberal college students, I was fundamentally against poisoning a small town with Walmart’s slave labor abroad and domestic, but this was the only time I saw Red. She was my favorite color. And their wares were cheap. Enough pasta for a week, just a fiver? I was in.
We had known each other since middle school. She was staying out of college until she could afford it. This job was just a day-thing and at night she taught little girls to plié and prance. She wanted to be a dancer or dance teacher, whichever, and those don’t make much so she wanted to graduate with a business degree without owing anyone any money. We had promised to be BFFFs (best fucking friends forever), but we weren’t exactly close since graduating. Still, I always went to her line.
She yawned then tugged at the bag. It wouldn’t budge so she pulled out a scanning gun but the barcode was on the bottom. “How about you flip it?” she commanded. My retort got lost in my panting but I did it anyway. “Since when do you got a dog?”
“I don’t. This is part of my diet to bulk up. All that ham didn’t do it and I get tired of peanut butter.”
“How do you expect to care for it? You don’t even feed yourself half the time.” She scanned my snacks and I handed her my bank card and she thrust it back and pointed to the machine, saying, “Do it yourself.”
I slid it through, selected debit and punched in my PIN, 1111, as I got to pick it myself, but it said denied. I tried again but selected credit. Again, denied. “It’s the machine.”
“Let me try,” she said. She did the same thing I did and pressed credit but again, denied.
“I’ll just pay cash,” I said. “How much was it again?”
She pointed to the digital readout. 37.43. “Why didn’t you just do that in the first place?”
I only had 23 ones and a ten. I could count the bills quickly and magically reach thirty-eight then hand them to her and tell her to keep the change as I bolted, but all this hesitation was suspicious. And I couldn’t bolt while carrying that bag of dog food. She’d probably turn me in. She could be cruel.
“I’ve got a date later. They don’t take plastic so I needed to save my cash. You wouldn’t want to spot me this once, would you?”
“No. Don’t you got class or studying or something? You shouldn’t plan a date when you got studying.”
Red glared at me and my rubber band money clip. The bills were wrapped around my student ID.
“I’ll just take the dog food.”
“I don’t need the other stuff. This is a better deal. More calories per dollar. So can you just get rid of everything but the dog food?”
“How many times I have to tell you to keep a ledger?”
Author: Harrison Fountain
Genre: Literary Fantasy
When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper gives him a second chance at life, but he says it’s more fun being a ghost. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead.
These author bios are generally in third person, right? That’s a little weird for me so--
Harrison Fountain said, “In Kindergarten, Mrs. Augustson sent me to Special Ed because of my speech impediment, the result of a 4-year-long ear infection that garbled the input and so a few letters needed the pronunciation corrected. I had to work on my Ss, Cs, Ks, Ws, Rs, Bs, Ps, Ts, Qs, Ds, Xs, Ls, and Ns.
Every year in elementary school, Scholastic gave students a hardback book with empty cream pages for us to scribble in as part of a school-wide contest. I never won. The kid in my grade who did plagiarized If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and those biased, paid-off judges didn’t even mention my amalgamation of the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch.
Still, I kept writing, finishing my first novel in my 7th grade Physical Science spiral notebook where the narrator’s best friend was an orange alien with green hair named Carrot. My next novel about a boxer, I started in high school before I’d ever even watched boxing, and fighters called out their moves (“The Double Rocket Upper—no, wait! It’s a TRIPLE ROCKET UPPERCUT!!!”) like they were Pokemon.
No one taught me to write until my second year at college when Mr. Johnson called me to his office as he did with all his creative writing students and then he bloodied my first draft of a character sketch claiming his marks were “just ink.” I almost cried. A few visits later, I’d written a character sketch about my sister’s divorce and the family dog. He crossed out a lot like usual. Told me why. Then he scrawled an A at the top. It’d be my first published short story (http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/loving-a-mutt/).
The pride felt earned for once.
While studying in Wales without satellite TV or an Xbox, I started a blog called Nothing Fazes a Ghost, where I posted weekly chapters. Those 10,000 views with ad revenue earned enough for a pizza. After a few years and a few drafts, it became Eidolons.
I also teach English to adorable Korean kids who, in turn, teach me cutie poses.”
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