CultureCult Magazine (Summer 2016)

Page 60


CultureCult Magazine - Summer 2016


Majorska S. F. WRIGHT Art: Jagannath Chakravarti

Daniels saw him as he pulled into Discount Liquors: he stood next to the entrance in a dirty New York Giants jacket, filthy jeans, and untied work boots. He had a scruffy beard and bright blue eyes; Daniels had seen him here before. Daniels parked his truck, and as he walked toward the entrance, he affected to look at his phone. As expected, the man said, “Spare some change?” Daniels didn’t look up. As he opened the door, the man growled, “Piece of shit.” Daniels turned. The man stared at him with crazed, lucid eyes. Daniels had come for what he always gota 1.75 of Majorska- but when he got to the shelves, he lingered. He glanced at the brands he couldn’t afford- Grey Goose, Absolut, Smirnoffbut didn’t register them; he was thinking of the bum. The man’s words, eyes, and scowl had shaken him. Though he wouldn’t admit it, Daniels was afraid of returning outside. Two people waited in line. Daniels debated about saying something and decided he wouldn’t. But as the cashier handed back his credit card, Daniels said, “You know, there’s a homeless guy outside, soliciting customers.” He spoke casually but with a hint of concern. The man nodded, as though not surprised. “I’ll get someone as soon as the line goes down.” Daniels looked over his shoulder; three people waited. The man handed Daniels his bottle in a black plastic bag. “Have a good one.” He looked to the next customer. A fat woman put a six-pack of Michelob on

the counter. Daniels hesitated. He wanted to tell the cashier the homeless man had said something combative so he’d get someone immediately, but he didn’t want the man- and the people in line- to know he was afraid. As the cashier scanned the six-pack, he looked at Daniels. “Forget something?” His voice was kind but concerned. Daniels felt foolish; it felt as if the time had passed for him to say something. He shook his head. “No,” he muttered and left. Outside, the bum was asking an older woman for money. The problem was that Daniels had parked close to the entrance. (Why hadn’t he parked where he wouldn’t have to walk past the bum again?) The woman, to Daniels’ surprise, handed the bum a couple of singles. The bum said “God bless”; the woman said something pleasant and proceeded into the liquor store. Daniels hurried to his truck. But when he went for his keys, they were wedged below his wallet. Daniels cursed and dug into the tight pocket of his jeans. “See that woman?” Daniels’ fingertips touched his keys. “She helped me out. Why couldn’t you?” Daniels had his keys halfway out. His heart raced; a trickle of sweat ran down his arm. He glanced at the bum. The man was not approaching, but he gave Daniels a cutting stare:

I may be a bum, but you’re a scared, paranoid, selfish worm. I can pull myself out of the gutter, but you’ll never be able to not be you. And you’re not much different from me, spending Saturday afternoon buying a bottle of Majorska. How do