Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Milo's Conscience


        Milo and Marjorie were browsing the dreary aisles of Jay Joe's Country Store, down by the river.
        "Do you think Jesse might be prevailed upon to drive us to the lake tomorrow?" said Milo, setting down the Jig-A-Whopper fishing lure he'd been turning over in his hand as if he actually knew enough to evaluate it.
        "Depends if we can tear him away from his jai alai semi-final," said Marjorie, unwrapping a Snickers. "You know he's been looking forward to it all week."
        "Aw hell. I forgot." Milo turned to the clerk and asked, "Is there a pharmacy around here?" Marjorie gave Milo a puzzled look. "I need to refill my Zovirax," he told her.
        "There's one in the Wal-Mart up the road here," said the clerk. "That's probably the closest one, I think."
        "Why can't he just TiVo it?" said Milo in regard to Jesse's jai alai match. Jesse was elsewhere at the moment, as he tended often to be. Probably sowing seeds of discord in some drafty tavern.
        Marjorie hadn't finished being puzzled about Milo's pills. "What's that Zo... stuff you—"
        Before she could finish, Milo's cellphone rang. The ringtone, Oingo Boingo's "Only a Lad", told him the call was from his wife, Griselda. "It's the boss," he said, which caused Marjorie to snort. He stepped outside to take the call.
        Polishing off her Snickers, Marjorie leaned over the counter and confided to the clerk: "What a piece of work, this guy..." She shook her head ruefully, but with a note of sympathy—or empathy, it was hard to tell.
        "What do you mean?" said the clerk.
        "Did you see the news about the disaster yesterday?"
        "Oh yes. It was all over the news. That was some disaster."
        "Welp, he caused it." Marjorie pointed to Milo, visible through the store's front window, pacing around the parking lot, phone to his ear, gesticulating.
        "No shit..." said the clerk, in a state of slack-jawed wonder so profound that he would not speak again for one week, save for the single word he uttered next: "Motherfucker."
        "Yeah. All those people. A real shame. And now here he is next day walkin' around like nothing happened."
        Marjorie and the clerk watched Milo in silence. An orange-and-white cat patrolled the store's outside perimeter.

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