Ten Items or Less

Ten Items or Less


Dalton pulled a cart from the metal chrysalis of them in front of the supermarket. The wheels obeyed, all four of them turning smoothly. The electronic eye on the street door worked; so did the one on the inner door. He thought it smart of the store to display the fruits and vegetables right inside the entrance. Their aromas made for instant sensations --- of hungers, of cool refreshment, reminding him he wasn’t there as a passerby.


He parked in front of the tangelos. They were so impeccably colored he wondered if they had undergone some special orange dye processing. Their nubbed heads were also too perfect, suggesting baby bottle nipples and subliminal messages gone unsubtle. He chanced it, choosing three as a compromise between getting home to discover that the one he had bought was exquisite or that he had been duped into taking a sack of tasteless rocks.


He moved on to the peppers. Their military alignment argued for one of each --- green, yellow, and red. But he was wise to the sets game. What the produce arrangers didn’t know was that he had never been unsettled by less than complete sets, when necessary even playing solitaire at home with a deck of 50 cards. He took two green peppers without feeling in the least incomplete for leaving the reds and yellows where they were.


Not in the mood for cooking, he inspected the rotisserie shelves closely. He had no idea what was so Italian about the chicken breasts with the red speckles. He had a rule against eating anything but cookies with red speckles, and it had been years since he had eaten cookies. He chose the Cornish hens. They looked substantial enough, and there were two of them for two suppers.


The deli counter scolded him for having been hasty about the hens. The salads seemed to come in every color and substance, the pates didn’t have their usual mound of sludge look. He could imagine sitting down to the meatballs, sausages, and sardines, too. There was an air of people to it all. People unwrapping the paper. People pulling down plates from a kitchen cabinet. People asking other people if they wanted soda, water, or tea.

The hens felt appropriate for him, after all.


He pushed on to the aisle with the cat food. He always seemed to forget which it was --- Aisle Three or Aisle Four. He remembered his mnemonic of Fancy Feast Four when he was already in front of the endless array of the chipped and the minced and the roasted. He swept a few of each into his cart. As Dalton headed for the Express checkout, he liked the idea of surprising Sandy for supper.


Donald Dewey


Donald Dewey has published some 40 books of fiction and nonfiction, as well as contributed scores of stories to magazines and other periodicals. Information about his books may be obtained by Googling Amazon Authors.


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