DMH Fiction: Injustice

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It’s been awhile since we had a visit from the Deadly Metal Hatchet guys, and even then, this barely qualifies. It’s a tale that came to me and asked to be told. So here it is.

“Foz-zee!” Mark said, standing up and leaning over the counter so it’d be easier for Fozzy to try to slap his hand. The guy didn’t need the beer he’d come in here to buy; he already walked with a lurch, thanks to that stupid-assed way his dad had laid down that bike. Mark thought it had been a waste of a good bike. And a damn stupid way to try to off yourself.

“Doooood,” Fozzy crowed back, stopping in front of the counter and making sure he was anchored before going off-balance for the hand slap. “How’s it hangin?”

Mark adjusted the waistband of his jeans. “Loose, man. Got some good air flow happening today.”
He nodded, trying to look like he had it all going on. Fozzy couldn’t deal if a guy started telling him how his girl had walked out the other night, how blue his balls were, or how sucky his pay at this pissant job.

He looked past Fozzy, who was nodding and looking for all the world like he was trying to figure out what to say next. She was there again. The little girl with the dirty brown hair and the too-small t-shirt and those long, skinny legs. She must’ve been about seven. And she was always alone.

“Hey, little girl,” he said, gesturing to her. He eyed the security screens he’d made Hans put in when the beer had been cleaned out the third time, right under their noses. He wasn’t supposed to leave the counter, no matter why. But it was just him, Fozzy, and the girl in the store.

He knew what the girl was up to. He didn’t know how she pulled it off, not with that tight t-shirt and those shorts that had once been knee-length. But she managed to walk out of the convenience store every few days with something pretty significant. A loaf of bread. Peanut butter. Paper towels.

She looked over her shoulder at Mark and Fozzy, her eyes wide, her mouth open a bit. Mark figured she’d grow up to be a looker. If she got a chance to grow up.

“Man, isn’t she a little young?” Fozzy asked, leaning close so he could speak softly.

Mark pressed his lips together and shook his head slightly. The little girl turned back to the shelf.
She was eyeing the Cheetos.

He had Cheetos in the lunch box he’d filled before his shift started. The only way to get through some of these shifts at this shitty job was to eat. Otherwise, you’d fall asleep, or do something dumb like take some funny money, or give someone change for a twenty when they handed you a five. Of course, they’d never fess up. They always got that same smile, like they had a secret, and they’d fold up the cash and slide it into a pocket, even when they still had their wallet in their hand.

“You hungry?” he asked the little girl.

She looked at him again, her big eyes bigger. She bit her lower lip and nodded slowly.

Fozzy shifted his weight and scuffed his feet. Then he started rubbing at his arms.

Mark understood. Hungry little kids weren’t supposed to happen. Not where they lived, even though where they lived wasn’t exactly Hollywood or some other place where the rich people flocked.
But here she was. A couple of times a week.

Fozzy took off for the cooler the beer was in. Mark hadn’t expected him to stay as long as he had.

“You can’t keep coming in here and taking food, you know. My boss makes me pay for it.”

She didn’t answer. She just kept staring, half-turned like a spring that was all wound up and waiting for the release, so she could shoot across the room.

Fozzy paused, the door to the cooler propped against his bad shoulder.

No one moved for the longest minute, then Fozzy closed the cooler. “For real?”

Mark nodded. “Anything comes up short on my watch, I have to pay for.”

“How do they know?”

He shrugged. “They do. Somehow.”

Fozzy looked at the little girl and then at Mark. He frowned.

Mark wanted to groan. This was probably part of her act. Make ’em pity you and they’ll cough up the cash. She’d probably deliver it to her old man and he’d spend it on booze while she went hungry…

Fozzy left the store without his beer. The little girl followed. Mark let his eyes linger on the shelves.
Everything seemed to be there.

Except his self-respect.

.
Be sure to stop by the Weekend Writer’s Retreat for other great fiction being posted online!

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8 Comments

  1. Dee

    April 11, 2010 8:54 am

    I was wanting to feed her myself 🙂
    .-= Dee´s last blog ..Tartan Festival =-.

  2. Julie

    April 11, 2010 8:59 am

    Wow! You sure have control over that vernacular.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..101. Saturday in the park with Pa =-.

  3. Ann (bunnygirl)

    April 11, 2010 10:35 am

    I can see that little girl and I wish I could buy her those Cheetos. Or maybe something more healthy, if she’ll have it.
    .-= Ann (bunnygirl)´s last blog ..New Prompt Site: Thursday Tales =-.

  4. Calico Crazy

    April 11, 2010 6:15 pm

    I so want to grab her up and take her home with me, even if Mark is right about the circumstances. Thanks for linking to WWR.
    .-= Calico Crazy´s last blog ..Allergy Season =-.

  5. Grandma

    April 11, 2010 7:17 pm

    Difficult situation. It’s always hard when children are involved. I was probably suckered more than once, but always had to give something. You’ve captured the feelings perfectly.
    .-= Grandma´s last blog ..Convictions – Installment #12 =-.

  6. Thomma Lyn

    April 12, 2010 11:54 pm

    My heart goes out to the little girl. You characterized her so poignantly.
    .-= Thomma Lyn´s last blog ..Deadline =-.

  7. Alice Audrey

    April 13, 2010 12:05 pm

    Yeah, that’s a no-fun job for you.

    It’s so good to be back online! I’m glad I didn’t miss this after all, even if I don’t quite have my computer put back together yet.
    .-= Alice Audrey´s last blog ..268/365 Fruits of War =-.

  8. carol

    April 14, 2010 2:23 pm

    Poor kid, but I feel bad for Mark too. Tough situation.

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