Rap 14

There must have been a full moon that night, I can’t remember. To enhance the cigarettes I chose a bottle of rotgut at the late-night store. As I was lifting a three dollar gallon from the bottom shelf an old woman in a nappy sweatsuit noticed my ketchup-stained trousers.

“Jesus and the devil,” she cried, “somebody call an ambulance!”

I reached out to calm her, but she dropped her bread and backed up.

“Don’t you touch me,” she said.

I walked toward her and the register. The cigarettes were there. A little girl came around the corner. She saw me and began howling. Her mother came to see what the ruckus was and began screaming too. It was an evil dance of circumstance.

“It’s ketchup,” I said, but the mother and the daughter continued to scream and ran out the door.

“Jesus and the devil,” she cried, “somebody call an ambulance!”

“Don’t you hurt them,” the old woman warned, making some ethereal motions with her knotty hands. She was still backing out the door when she bared her teeth at me in an intimidating display. I set the wine on the counter.

“Menthols, please,” I said.

The cashier recognized me. She found nothing unusual in the fact that I would walk around covered in ketchup or blood. She sold me the smokes and I found my way home.

Jack was home early with Tipsy.

“Are you okay?” Jack asked.

“It’s ketchup,” I said.

Maybe I was bleeding. I couldn’t tell. I sat down with a glass of wine. The playing field was now level.


Suspicion of Indifference is now available as a paperback.

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