Were it 1:30pm a customer might have given a funny look or made estranged comment about the short young woman standing in front of the Slushie machine, her mouth agape.
‘”Standing” is the polite word for it,’ Blunt Boy said, adjusting his baseball cap by jostling the lid. I imagined it scratched the crevices on the backside of his ears when he fiddled with the cap and I wondered if he was conscious of it.
As the woman who worked at the Post Office exited the Quickstop Blunt Boy’s town rival, Stevie, entered, the mild beep of the Customer Alarm going off with the opening of the door. The Postal woman, after purchasing 2% milk, cigarettes, and caffeine pills, had stood with Blunt Boy and I at the check-out counter watching the transfixed young woman none of us knew hovering before the Slushie machine. ‘Like a goddamn gargoyle if you ask me, boys,’ Postal woman said before picking up her groceries and departing.
I thought she looked like the Karate Kid, I told Blunt Boy, ‘When he stands on one leg and holds his arms out,’ miming the posture from behind the counter. The police usually showed by 3:00am for coffee and diet sodas and Blunt Boy kept a red eye on the white clock by the door, which hadn’t ticked past 1:30am yet. It was the strange nature of the overnight shift at the Quickstop that I could see only head and brake lights when I looked out to the parking lot and street but, to those looking in, everything was fluorescently lit, displayed. To combat this harrowing exposure to the town I tried to tape as many sales and promotional posters on the windows as was allowed by Quickstop regulations.
‘It’s like her left eye is set solely on the red Slushie,’ Blunt Boy said after running a reconnaissance mission to the cooler nearest her (under the pretense of harnessing a soda) to settle our debate concerning whether she had one eye for each flavor or two eyes for one. ‘And her right eye is solely on the blue Slushie. And they’re both, the eyes, spinning round and round with the mixers inside the Slushie machine that go-‘
‘Round and round,’ I finished for him. ‘Right. Round and round.’
Stevie approached the counter, tossing a box of sandwich bags in front of me, which I scanned, the price illuminating the register display.
‘Making sandwiches?’ I asked.
‘Yep,’ he said, grinning. Low baseball cap almost completely hiding his starched eyes. Eyes that looked as though they been taken to with steel wool.
‘We’ve also got several varieties of bread in the last aisle there and ham, turkey, roast beef in the cooler,’ gesturing to the far corner. ‘Tuna in the middle aisle, too. And what’s a sandwich without pickles and must-‘
‘No no,’ he cut me off, laughing. ‘I’ve got all the makings in my car.’
‘Good good,’ I said. ‘Save a bite for me.’
‘And me!’ the Slushie transfixed woman said, unmoving.
‘Shit,’ said Blunt Boy after Stevie left, ‘I can make you sandwiches all day, dog. And you, too, Slushie girl.’
‘Well we’ve got all the makings right here at the Quickstop, Blunt Boy. There’s bread in the far aisle-‘