Wednesday, August 3, 2011

With a Neon Light for a Visa

This post was written in black & white... for artistic reasons

Delia worked at the small convenience store on the corner. They sold milk and stale sandwiches and overpriced deodorant sticks and razor blades. And troll dolls at the register.

Steve worked for an industry that would all but disappear in a few years, but he didn't know that. He knew that Delia worked at the store and that was enough for him.

Steve took to coming in several nights a week, making excuses to buy stuff he didn't really need and work up the courage to talk to Delia.

She'd sit behind the counter, reading the tabloids, glancing at her watch, counting the minutes until she'd get off work, get high, and go out dancing.

Steve didn't think she should go out dancing. He wanted to take her for long walks by the ocean. Even though the ocean was hundreds of miles away.

Delia noticed Steve, but didn't think much about him. She thought he dressed funny, not realizing that he would try on 6 or 7 shirts before deciding what he'd wear to go to the convenience store.

Delia would throw on whatever she touched first when she reached into her closet with her eyes closed.

One night, Steve had a few drinks before he went to the convenience store. He walked around the small space, gathering cans of whipped cream and packages of Polaroid film. He plunked them down on the counter and smiled.

"Big plans for the night?" Delia asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Yeah. With you," Steve blurted out before the thought was even fully formed.

"Thanks," Delia said. "But I'm busy."

Steve paid quickly and left. Embarrassed, he stayed away for weeks.

Finally, he found his way back to the convenience store. Delia was smiling and flirting with a customer. Steve watched her for a moment, then turned and walked away.

He stopped halfway down the block and turned back. He could do this. He could walk in and say something and make her love him. He could do it.

He took a few more steps, saw Delia look both ways, lean across the counter and give the customer a quick kiss.

And he stood on the sidewalk for a very long time.

Balancing his knowledge that surely Delia would be his if he said the right thing with the intense desire to slink down between cracks in the sidewalk and melt into the earth and down to the magma deep at its core.

Eventually a woman walking a small dog approached. The dog yapped and jumped up on Steve, bringing him back to reality. "Sorry," said the woman, pulling her dog away from Steve. Humiliated, Steve walked away and avoided going near the convenience store until he moved away.

Because of this, he never talked with the woman who was walking the dog... even though she was so taken with him that she returned, night after night for months, tying the dog up so she could go into the convenience store to buy whipped cream and Polaroid film from Delia, hoping she'd catch a glimpse of Steve and sure that he'd fall madly in love with her if she could just think of the right thing to say.

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