Ricky hesitated a moment and then said, “Can’t say I have.”
His eyes behind rimless glasses looked wary.
Funny, Alicia wanted to say. I could’ve sworn I’ve seen you before. But she kept her mouth closed. Emil said it for her, “It’s just that you look familiar. Like someone I knew a long time ago.”
“I probably look like lots of folks,” Ricky said. But his hands, putting the receipt in the shopping bag, were trembling.
“Well, it’s been nice to meet you,” Emil said, taking the bag.
“That where you’re from?” Ricky asked. “New York?”
“No, we live in Texas,” Emil said quickly.
Ricky smiled at them, almost in relief. “You folks have a good day,” he said.
Emil took Alicia’s arm and guided her away from the checkout and out of the store. “We didn’t get his picture,” she wailed the moment they were outside.
“We’ll go back in and get it in a few minutes,” Emil said. He was perspiring and his face was pale. “You sure that was the guy?”
“Absolutely,” Alicia said. “It’s his voice.” She shuddered. “I’ll never forget that creepy voice. The moment I heard it, I thought I was gonna puke.”
“Oh, honey,” Emil said. He put his arms around her, holding her tight for a minute. There they stood in front of the Walmart in Harrison, Arkansas, USA, with shoppers going in and out of the store, not even pausing to glance at them, the sound of squeaky carts, twangy voices, and a child wailing as his mother yelled, “No, I ain’t gonna get you no candy!” filled the air.
“C’mon,” said Emil. “Let’s go sit in the car. Catch our breath and rebalance.”
Once in the car they sat in silence. Alicia pulled off her Yankees cap and shook out her hair. Her heart was still beating wildly. “If I smoked, I’d want a cigarette now,” she said.
“Right,” said Emil, gesturing at the car next to them whose windows were half rolled down. In the front seat a couple passed a joint back and forth. “That’s what we need,” he said. “A nice bowl of ganja. Harrison’s a more happening place than I thought.”
They continued to sit in the car a few minutes. Then Emil said, “Okay, here’s what’s gonna happen. I’m going back in there and take a picture of the son of a bitch without him even knowing it. You stay in the car, honey. You don’t ever have to see his face again.”
Only that’s not quite the way things turned out.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ https://www.pinterest.com/explore/bowl-of-weed/