I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 35: An Hour to Kill
I had an hour to kill, so I watched him.
From the very back of the Walmart parking lot.
I had a date in the next county over that evening, and an appointment earlier that afternoon I had just come from. I really didn’t want to drive back and forth, so I parked my reasonably expensive brand new car at the back of the lot, and cranked the Mumford and Sons Pandora station via Bluetooth from my $900 phone to my 15 different surround-sound Lexus RX350 speakers.
I leaned the seat slightly back to get more comfortable. I cranked up the air. I diddled on my phone. I checked my Facebook. I played some games.
Aside from an old abandoned boat several stalls over, the lot was empty.
Until he showed up.
An impossibly old car slowly wheeled in and came to a loud and squeaky halt, six or so empty rows in front of mine. It had nothing but a cracked windshield for windows. The back window and every side window had long ago been replaced by thick, and now rotting, cardboard. Dents and dings lined all sides of it. The paint was chipped beyond recognition. One taillight was non-existent. I couldn’t tell the make or model because the emblems had at some point fallen off.
The tires of this unmarked vehicle were worn so thin that they would blow at any moment. A loud explosion from the tailpipe was the textbook final proof that this car belonged in an abandoned field, not in an abandoned parking lot.
The car was directly in front of me. Facing me. For the longest time I couldn’t make out any movement. The windshield was so dirty I could only make out the silhouette of a man, sitting so still, seemingly watching me in return.
And then his figure moved slightly.
And I watched him.
His car, which is a title I give loosely to his rolling junk pile, was parked close to the lot exit.
His door opened. Or I should say, after some considerable effort it was opened. It see-sawed back and forth several times as if it was stuck before it finally sprang forward.
Again, there was no movement for some time.
Eventually one foot stepped out to the pavement, with what could have once resembled a sneaker attached to it.
Eventually the other foot appeared.
Why was this man moving so slowly? Something about it didn’t seem right.
It took him at least two minutes to pull himself up out of his car. And another fifteen to walk around to the passenger side door.
With each eternal shuffle he took, it seemed like hours passed.
He was an old man. Mid-sixties, maybe. Perhaps older. And he was hurting.
Every move he made was hurting him.
Every step he took.
Every turn. Every twist. Every fucking breath of air.
He was moving so slowly because it hurt him so much to move.
I know this because I sat. And watched him.
Eventually, he pulled on the handle of the passenger side door. He struggled with it, just as he had with his own. It finally sprang open.
It took him ten more minutes to pull something out of his car. I couldn’t tell what it was. It was about the size of a large manila envelope, but thicker. And dirty. And white or brown or… I don’t know. I never got a good look at it. I do know that the pain in his eyes could be felt as he retrieved it, even though I was too far away to see them.
With great effort, he closed the door once more…