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.There were long brown stains beneath the arms of his undershirt, like he’d drunk so much beer he’d begun to sweat it.Maybe if he’d been old and drunk off his rocker the sight of him would’ve just been sad, but he was too young and too sober not to be totally creepy.He swung his basket as he walked—if walked was the word—and muttered to himself.“I don’t gotta take this shit.I’m sick an’ tired a’ you blamin’ me for everything, woman.I’m gonna show you, oh boy, am I gonna show you, woman.”A recorded message came on the loudspeaker as the drunk man ranted to himself.“Walmart Value of the Day! Family-size bottles of Tide detergent are buy one, get one free, for a limited time only!”He should take advantage of that one.Behind me a woman with a shopping cart turned into the aisle, and as she passed me I saw her catch sight of the drunken cowboy and freeze.No, I could almost hear her thinking.It’s too late to turn around.He’d already seen her.So she moved down the aisle, cautiously, glancing up only to make sure she wasn’t going to run into him with her cart.But that was enough.“What’choo lookin’ at?” he called to her.Well, she certainly wasn’t going to say A drunken moron, so she didn’t say anything.He swung his head around and stared at her with glassy eyes.“I saaaaaaaid, what’choo lookin’ at, bitch?”She froze, clenching the handlebar of her shopping cart with pale knuckles.She looked back at me, and I tried to smile sympathetically.We both glanced up and down the aisle, but no one in a blue polo shirt was coming to escort him out.It was too quiet beneath the elevator music on the loudspeaker, as if all the Walmart employees had gone on their dinner break at the same time.“What, you deaf, bitch?” the drunk guy was shouting.“Hear this, you dumb ho?”“Hey!” Now someone else was striding down the aisle behind me.He passed me and stood in front of the woman’s shopping cart.He had tousled dirty blond hair and was wearing a green baseball jersey, jeans, and work boots.“You can’t talk to a lady like that.You’re out of control, pal.”“Pal!” the cowboy scoffed.“I ain’t your pal.” There was spittle in the corners of his mouth.Yup.Rabid.From the back I could tell the guy in the green jersey was older than I was—eighteen, maybe twenty.He gave the woman a look over his shoulder.Mouthing “Thanks,” she turned and wheeled her cart out of the aisle.I should have left too, but you know how it is when somebody’s behaving badly in public.You’re riveted to the spot just waiting to see what will happen next.The drunken cowboy reached for the boy in green, but he neatly ducked out of the way.“Now you listen here, you dumb-ass pretty-boy son of a bitch,” the cowboy yelled, making another grab for the boy’s shirt, “you ain’t got no right to tell me what to do.”The boy turned his head and looked at me then, and a funny feeling ran clear through me.If he felt it too, he didn’t let on.He turned back to the drunk guy and said, so calmly it gave me goose bumps, “You’re right.But either way, I think we should take it outside.” Without another glance at me he walked toward the back of the store, which struck me as odd, but the cowboy probably couldn’t think that clearly even when he was sober.He stumbled after the boy in green, dropping his basket on the floor, but then he doubled back and picked up a six-pack of beer before staggering out of the aisle.I peeked in the overturned basket: beef jerky and a jumbo bag of Milky Way bars.A can of baked beans rolled out onto the white linoleum.For a while I wandered through the aisles—garden tools, pet food, cosmetics—trying to calm down after what I’d seen, not just the crazy drunken cowboy but the boy in the green jersey too.I still felt weird, like when I found Mrs.Harmon and the floor fell away from my feet.A mother and daughter were poring over the Maybelline display.“Here, how about this one,” the woman said, handing her daughter a compact of pale blue eye shadow.“That’ll go good with your eyes.” The girl didn’t look old enough to be wearing makeup.At least, Mama wouldn’t have thought so.I went back to the canned goods aisle, picked up a can of chickpeas, and put it down again.What was wrong with me? I needed to eat, and making a decision shouldn’t require a spreadsheet.It wasn’t like having ten bucks left would actually do me any good if I held on to it, like it could keep me fed beyond a couple of highway diner meals.I didn’t have to spend it.I’d never shoplifted before, and as I weighed the prospect I temporarily lost my appetite.I didn’t want to be that kind of person, and anyway I wasn’t hungry enough to shoplift.That’s true, I thought.But I will be eventually [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]