“AW, MOM. I just wanna go Home," Keith groaned. The teen's fingers writhed in withdrawal. Great. Just like school, another obstacle looming like a phantom against his mastery of “Halo.”
"I just need toothpaste. I'll be in and out." His mother's curly hair bounced as she snatched keys from the ignition. "Wanna come?" Her steel blue eyes made a kid's skull feel like an apple being bored by a worm. Keith sighed louder than necessary to log his distress and heaved out the door. His mother was already pounding asphalt, purse hooked on arm.
Keith's Dad had gotten his sentence commuted years ago. The guy had shrewdly referred to this form of torture as "Polly Pocket in Wallet-World" within his wife's hearing and as a result, was blackballed from future trips.
Keith watched Ms. Pocket slide gracefully across the threshold into the next world. When he approached, the doors parted with a grudge and shot a harsh blast of artic air through his spiked hair. He could almost hear his Father's voice urge, "Bring her home safely, son". Keith trudged on, scuffing across shiny wooden floors with his size elevens.
"Pick Up your feet," his mother clipped, multi-tasking and yanking a cart from the stall. Bad sign. Last time Keith checked, it only took three fingers to transport toothpaste to checkout. Paces ahead, Pocket-With-a-Wallet raised her voice over the hum of freezers.
"Over here." Keith's mother wrestled her luggage and slung it in the basket. Uh, oh. Like when Dad rolled up his sleeves and wrangled a wrench.
"Hmmm." Polly's eyes darted over the freezer in all directions and then some. The FBI could take a few lessons in surveillance from Ms. In-And-Out. "Nope, Galley's has it cheaper," she sniffed, stomping off.
"Over here, Mom." Keith leaned in hopeful desperation toward the direction of the hygiene aisle. Ms. I-A-O hooked his eyes with hers and performed a sweep that would rival security at the courthouse. Drat. The dreaded code silent for "grab the cart and follow me - no shananigans." Keith clutched the handle and slumped, edging the cart forward.
Polly lurched and sailed over the fresh meat like a trout snagged on a lure. She snaked a hunk from underneath the red "Manager's Sale" sign and flung it toward her son, frisbee style. Keith jostled the cart. Score! Great, now the toothpaste was five aisles away.
Ms. Out- a- Wallet glanced toward the ceiling as if consulting a heavenly GPS. "Oh, I almost forgot," she announced. Keith's hope sagged. His mother swayed for a moment like a palm, then blew on. "We can't have BLTs tonight without tomatoes," she dictated, stalking crates of vegetables. The Pocket stopped short, ripped a bag from a roll of plastic, and tossed a few juicy specimens inside.
"Mom, you said IN AND OUT," Keith groaned, raking the icicles on top of his head.
"In and Out is a hamburger chain. I've already got hamburger at home." Keith reeled from the verbal sucker-punch. You’d think after fifteen years a kid learn not to swallow the hook.
Two hours later, all bags of groceries were accounted for and correctly dispersed in assigned cabinets. Keith mopped the grime of child slave labor from his face and bounded downstairs, two at a time. Reaching bottom, he executed a long jump across the front door entryway and hollered. "MOM!"
"Hmmm?" Mom peeled her eyeballs away from the latest check stand copy of Home and Living.
"Jeff wants me to come over and play Rock Band." Keith announced, catapulting across the carpet and snagging a pullover in one smooth motion.
"O.K., dear, how long will you be?" his mother queried, multitasking again, as she plastered her eyes back on colorful pages of patio furniture.
"Oh, I'll just be in and out!" Keith hollered, letting the spring door snap back and applaud his exit.
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