Cale’s Liquor


     I am in a liquor store with cream linoleum tiles, white plaster walls,
flickering yellow and white lights, and aisles made of racks of disheveled booze.
On the counter is "rentable wine" which are bottles of wine with the foils removed
and the corks sticking part of the way out.

     I have been looking at the aisles of booze and inspecting the opened bottles
of wine. There is an older asian man with thick-rimmed glasses and his hair combed
over looking at me from behind the counter.

     He asks, do you want one of those?

     I do not say anything but now I notice there are more bottles of liquor behind
the counter all strewn about and I focus my eyes to those. I have this feeling
that I know I am not twenty one and this man understands that. I am at the counter
and two white men older than me walk into the store, one is wearing a puffy olive colored
vest with a large baseball cap on his head and a handlebar mustache, the other is
wearing a dark buttondown shirt with the top two buttons undone and wavvy greasey
black hair.

     Eric Clapton's cover of Cocain starts playing.

     The two men who just entered form a line from me along the counter. The man with
the black greasey hair says, this station rocks. As he says this he is nodding his head
and leaves his mouth open after the 's' in 'rocks'. The man with the puffy vest says to
him, I know man this's ninety seven point nine the loop.

     I come to the sense or feeling that the asian man will not sell me anything however
he looks me over with his arms outstretched on the counter, he says to me, look I can do
for you a six of old style ... I will grab one of those when I go home. I say to
the asian man because I am somewhat flustered by the sensation that I am trying to do
something morally abject, you mean the case.

     I now realize I was right, there is an advertisement behind the counter displaying
a case of 'Old Style' for '13.36' and that is the price he rings up on the register. He
puts six old styles and one of the opened wine bottles in a plastic bag as though a
result of my bringing up the case.

     Now there is a case on the counter as well and the asian man behind the counter asks
me for thirty three dollars and thirty six cents and the register still shows '13.36.'
I say to the asian man, no, and I put a twenty dollar bill on the counter which was two
twenty dollar bills when I pulled them from my wallet but I stripped one of them away
and I saw that this asian man saw that.

     I did not know what was going to happen next but I looked over at the two guys forming
the line from me against the counter and then I looked back at the case and the bag of
booze and then finally I looked at this asian man behind the counter.

     Nobody said anything.
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