by Elan Barnehama
When Sal and I stopped laughing, we decided we were starving. Not in that empty cupboard, empty belly, haven’t eaten anything in days starving. More that insatiable, singularly focused, pot induced starving.
We turned left out of the schoolyard and wove our way across Queens Boulevard. Traffic was light but steady for a Saturday afternoon. “Wooden Ships” blasted from a car radio as we neared Lansky’s Market.
Once inside, we stopped by the Yoohoo display. That was when we realized that neither of us had any money.
Sal was undeterred as he grabbed a Yoohoo off the shelf, twisted the lid and drank. He passed me the bottle and I finished it, resealed the cap and replaced it on the shelf.
“You guys are stoned.” We turned and stared at Ray. We never hung out with him, maybe because he was a senior and had been working at Lansky’s for years.
“Possibly,” Sal laughed.
“You have no idea how wasted you look, do you?”
“Is this a multiple-choice question?” I asked.
“Okay,” Ray said, “Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to meet me out back by the trash. I’ll bring snacks. You bring the pot.”
“What if we don’t have any more pot?” Sal said.
“Then just leave the store and keep on walking.”
We made our way to the alley and waited. Finally, Ray appeared with two garbage bags. He tossed one in the dumpster and the other in front of me. Inside looked like the snack aisle. I tore open some twinkies while Sal passed Ray a joint.
By the second joint, Ray became talkative. We learned that his dad died when he was seven and it had just been him and his mom since. She was an ER nurse and Ray liked bringing home steaks and stuff and cooking dinners for her. Food he had taken out with the trash.
“Do you tell your mom how you get your discount?” Sal said.
“She doesn’t ask.” Ray shifted his focus. “There’s a dead mouse,” he said, pointing under the dumpster. “Wait here,” he said, jumping up and heading back into the store.
“Where would we go?” I asked.
“Ray just got interesting,” Sal said.
Ray returned with a jar of mayonnaise. He opened the lid, removed a spoonful, slid the dead mouse onto a piece of cardboard, and slipped it into the mayo, being careful that its face looked up. Then he resealed the lid. Tightly.
“I’m going to return this to the shelf,” Ray said. “Someone is going to buy it,” I said.
“That’s the point,” Ray said.
“Kind of creepy,” I said.
“And funny,” Ray added.
“I wish I could see the look on whoever opens it and sees the mouse staring up at them,” Ray said. “I wish I could give this jar to every asshole customer who treats me like I’m nobody.” Ray laughed.
My mom shopped here.