A man walks into a grocery store. He forgot his shopping list at home. He picks up a green basket and walks into the produce section. The lighting hurts his eyes. Fruits and vegetables rot, he thinks. He will not buy them. He gazes at potatoes and wonders if other shoppers notice his apathy toward them.
The man wanders into the bread aisle. Bread must have been on his grocery list. He usually enjoys sandwiches, but he will not buy bread. He has not enjoyed sandwiches for some time. Protein will boost his morale. He walks away from the bread.
He shuffles up and down the aisles of meat and shakes his head. He doesn’t know where to begin. Should he purchase organic free range meat and evade the guilt he feels when he supports factory farms? He is not a rich man. He cannot afford humane meat.
He wonders if any meat is humane.
Anyway, he has trouble digesting meat. He feels bad enough. He feels nothing, although he drank too much coffee today.
The man wishes he never entered the store. He could have turned back in the parking lot. Now it is too late. He must purchase something. He considers purchasing a chocolate bar, but he doesn’t like chocolate. He walks away from the meat and the next thing he knows, he is staring at children’s cereal. The man used to like cereal. He wonders what happened. He tries to remember the last time he ate cereal. I wonder if it is normal for grownups to eat cereal with cartoon rabbits on the box, he wonders. The man cannot think about this. The light hurts his eyes.
The man will buy beer. He came to the grocery store for food, but he probably has food at home. He must have felt bored. Everything he used to love now bores him. Grocery shopping seemed like a good idea, but it was a bad idea. His ideas get worse every day.
He finds the beer section. The choices overwhelm him. Buying beer no longer seems like a good idea. He sets his grocery basket on the tile and turns to leave. It’s a wonder he ever left the house.
As the automatic doors slide open, he remembers that people love him. He considers phoning some of these people, but he doesn’t. Calling people takes energy and he has been tired for so long he doesn’t care anymore.
The man sits at the bus stop. He will go home and lie in bed. He might be ill. If he isn’t ill, he might become so. One should never take a potential illness lightly.
The bus never arrives. The man sits there for longer than he knows. It gets dark and he debates walking home. The walk really is a short one.
The sun comes up.
The man must have fallen asleep. He should call work and tell them he is sick. No, he won’t call. They’ve probably fired him anyway. He doubts whether he ever did a satisfactory thing in his life. It seems strange to him that no bus should ever arrive and that no one else waits at this stop. Everyone must know the awful truth of it. The man curses himself for being out of the loop.
It gets dark again and he curses himself. Get with it, he says. You goddamn failure.
The grocery store closes. He wonders why he bothered or what he came for in the first place. It must be nothing good. Why else should he forget? As the temperature drops, the man crosses his arms and shivers. He tries to remember how it feels to be cold. He worries about the sickness that has threatened to consume him for so long, and the people who love him. They must be worried by now. The man laughs. His own humor creeps up on him at times. The people who love him must be worried.
Cameron Pierce is the author of The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz (Eraserhead Press, 2009), Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden (Eraserhead Press, 2008), and The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island (forthcoming). He lives in Portland, Oregon and can be found online at www.meatmagick.wordpress.com.