Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Karma Revealed Rev 1

Leaving my car at the burger joint, I decided to walk over to the store. When the a customer approached the front door, I slipped in behind him and perched just inside on an old overstuffed armchair, faux leather.

Let the story begin.

The first sign that something wasn’t right was when Elizabeth saw him at the register waving the cashier away. She was still outside and knew he was focusing on the customers in the store, and who might see him, and hadn’t thought it through. That’s odd, she thought.

Instead of going inside, she went back to the car and eased into the driver’s seat. She knew that he would never notice her  unless she moved around.

She saw the cashier, looking scared, and very stressed, motion to the other employees and nod towards the the back rom. There were at least 6 of them on the floor and they all moved together being very careful to avoid looking at the cash wrap and the open register in front of the regional manager, Jerry.
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. How could you do this to me?

Her heart was pounding in her chest and she felt her left arm going numb. 37 years. Thirty seven bloody years, all undone by one man. She’d ignored all the signs, she’d heard all the rationalizations and poorly fabricated lies and because she was so close to retirement, she’d learned to turn off or override her bullshit meter until this minute. Now it was over. The end.

I was standing just inside the door, invisible to both of them. I’d spent the last year developing a meditative state that was easy to slip in and out of, but muted my features enough to let me hang out in the background without attracting notice, and actually rendering part of my body invisible. Jerry was calmly pulling out both drawers and replacing the larger bills with ones he was pulling from his briefcase. Probably counterfeit, awfully careless, amazingly bold. He wasn’t even breaking a sweat I thought, no sign of anything out of the ordinary.

I scooted around in the chair to saw that Elizabeth was opening the driver’s door, and starting to step out.As I watched, she collapsed, her neck caught on the seat belt, the weight of her body suspended in midair. The impact of her door hitting the SUV in the next spot set off the car alarm. Oh shit, what can I do I thought. I’m still in the trance and will remain invisible for another 10 minutes, can I even dial 911?.

Jerry looked up from the register when the alarm first went off, startled by the sound but ignoring it once it was identified. When it continued to make that irritating repetitive piercing tune and none of the customers on the floor looked up or seemed to care, he glanced outside again and recognized her car. Now he was nervous. Elizabeth was here, but where?

I was now standing up, just inside the door trying to figure out what to-do. I was the one who had sent the fake text message that brought her out here.. She never suspected it wasn’t from Jerry, she just didn’t think that way. I had guessed this was the time of day he raided the register, when the polling systems were scanning, and the loss prevention team was pulling images from all the stores, leaving a dark gap in the security system that Jerry himself, had been involved in designing.

Now, it looked like the shock of what she saw might have killed her, by forcing her to face a reality I wasn’t sure of, until a few moments ago. A new customer approached the front door from the lot and I slipped outside walking over to her car, nailing my thigh on a cement filled pipe meant to keep the cars from running into the building. Guess invisible doesn’t mean walking through things I thought. Not like in the movies.

I looked around the door and saw that she was slowly turning blue, her breathing shallow and labored. It was a quiet time of day in retail, and the lot was mostly empty.

I saw a black and white pull in the front driveway, parking across the lot against the building next door. A female cop got out, in full uniform and looked our way, then headed in the door.

Hey, how much time have I got? I thought. It’s getting close.. I got to the corner and looked in both directions. Typical that there would be a million cars whizzing by in either direction so I had to wait for a signal or I’d get hit, probably several times before my body was visible again. I think I have time to get back to the burger joint and go directly to the ladies room.

I made it. Entering the room, I saw that both stalls were empty, and I grabbed the handle on the nearest one pulled it open and slipped inside. I felt a slight tingling as my body reformed and once it seemed to fade, I stepped out, looked in the mirror, and saw that part of my skull was missing. Jesus, what now I thought. I went into the main part of the place, made a run for the car, trying not to look at anyone on my way through the crowd. As I paused for a moment searching for the door, a young boy around 3, in his mother’s arms, saw me and started screaming. Everyone, including the staff turned in his direction, allowing me to exit without anyone noticing me. I jumped into the car, turned on the ignition, and headed towards the drive through lane. I was 3rd in line, and had just placed an order for 10 burgers- all done “my way” as directed on the long computer generated list created by my co-workers. Ordering alone had taken 5 minutes at the speaker, causing cars behind me to honk and edge closer: the reflection of faces glaring from the cars in my rear view mirror. I felt really foolish and began to sweat. How humiliating, I can’t believe this is happening to me, now. I was already anticipating abuse from the manager, who had lost his patience with whiney customers at least a half hour ago. One down, one more to go and I’d have to confess.

In preparation for the pick up, I reached over and stuck my hand in the open top of my handbag, grabbing my wallet, and in that process snagging a fingernail on the coin zipper, that ripped it partway off. Shit, I said involuntarily biting my tongue and causing my eyes to water. I forgot to go to the bank. This is all I need.

Hold on. If I move slowly, really slowly towards the cashier window, with plenty of space in front of me, once that guy moves, I bet I can floor it, and shoot past the cashier. I should be able to make the right and be on the street long before the guard runs out the side door. Do I dare? I’ll never be able to go back again and I love their burgers. And what in the world am I going to do about the people at work- glancing up every time the door opens, is she back yet? I wonder if missing part of my head will reappear by then. Reaching up I laid my hand on the area that looked like it was missing, and felt my head intact. This is so bizarre.

Do they even have a guard? What do they do with all the burgers people leave behind. Do the employees take them home to their families, or do they make them throw the food in the trash so no one thinks they are stealing inventory.

Now what? The driver in the car ahead of me is getting out of the passenger seat, wedging himself diagonally, squeezing through the tiny space between the door and the window. Wait a second, he’s wearing a ski mask and, holy shit that looks like a gun. He’s coming this way. Jesus, he left the car running, I can see the exhaust coughing out white toxic clouds. Did that idiot put the parking brake on at least?, I can see it now, that creep’s ratty old car rolling back and crunching my bumper. A grand at least to make it look decent.

I’m trapped, now stuck in line along with four others- sitting ducks for this creative criminal, and out of all the people in the whole wide world, he has selected us to be his focus group, his test case.

Will she cooperate or will he blow her away? I could almost feel peoples thoughts, sensing the tension in the air rising as the others realized what was going on. I watched him moving closer.

“Give me your wallet” he said and I reached over, picking it up off the seat. “Take it, take it”, avoiding eye contact, “take it, easy, here” .In an instant he is going, already moving on to the next car. I see his lips move “G I V E me your W A L L E T!”

If I was going to rob people this way I would have scripted my ask. “ GIVE ME YOUR MONEY!” Ask for what you want, god damn it. I wouldn’t really care about the wallet, I’d just want the cash. The wallet is a fingerprint trap, and I’m not stupid enough to use people’s debit cards to buy, say, a lavish lunch at Souplantation.

Talk about humiliating. Imagine ending up on the news for pulling a runner over hamburgers- then deciding to rob the hungry people waiting in line. Jesus, what guts!

I’m still sitting in the same place. I realize, with a little sigh of relief, that my money problem has been solved by this sleazy robber, who I’m going to call Jerome. I’m so sorry, I”ll say to the cashier as I pull up, I just got robbed, and can’t pay you for the burgers right now but I’ll come back later, I promise. I picture the look of disgust on their faces. Hey lady, this happens at least once a day at this joint. If you don’t pay me they take it out of my paycheck. Yeah, I already know it’s against the law, but I gotta feed my family. At least give me something I can pawn to make up for the money they’ll deduct.

Just as I finish that thought, I see a person crawling out of the cashier window and jumping behind the wheel of the robbers’ car. He too is wearing a ski mask. He puts the car into gear and screams around the corner of the building out of my line of sight.

I’m afraid to move. Where’s the guy with the gun. I hear a door slam and glance behind me to see him jumping into the car, and speeding off. I still can’t move, but now people behind me, trapped in this line, start honking and yelling out their windows. “Move your ass lady, hey let’s get moving, what’s wrong with you.”

I hear sirens in the distance, growing closer. I see them now, five black & whites turning into the strip mall and screecthing to a halt, but not here, on the other side of the lot. The guy behind me looks really nervous. I can tell he is breathing unnaturally and sweating even from here. He’s fidgety, looking around him, searching for an escape route, and realizing there isn’t one, at least not one he can use and stay in the car at the same time.

Why aren’t they over here, I think, as I watch four more cop cars arrive. There are uniforms all over the place, swarming into all of the businesses on the north side of the mall, not even looking our way. They’ve got the entrance blocked off and there are two cops talking to everyone trying to leave. And why aren’t they across the street where Elizabeth’s dead body is probably still hanging from the seatbelt, people not even seeing her, as they focus on the doorway ahead in the heat of the afternoon.

I put my foot on the gas pedal, and ease up to the cashiers window. A young girl with a name tag “Hi, my name is Maria, smiles and says that’ll be $22.50 and holds out her hand. Her eye makeup is smeared all over her face, rivers of dry tears leaving jagged gaps in her perfectly applied foundation. The neatly pressed uniform she came to work in is ripped and patches of dirt discolor the arms and shoulders, continuing down her arm on the left side. Her eyes almost glow they are shining so brightly, and her smile appears to be fixed on the missing part of my head. Nothing surprises me today, I can hear her thinking. Nothing.

I open my mouth and even I can’t hear myself speak. She leans out of the window, bending down towards the window, straining to hear my response. I can’t talk. I’ve lost my voice along with a part of my visibility. I am now completely and utterly lost. I’m never at a loss like this, I think. I can always figure something out. Always.

She is saying something to me, but I can’t understand her, I can’t hear her. I can still move though, and I glance in the overhead mirror to see the cars behind me, one by one, backing out, one of those old guys, volunteer police who used to belong to Rotary, acting as a traffic cop to make sure no one gets hurt, or rather no cars get hurt, and directing them over to the center parking lanes where a police triage maneuver is set up. I wonder if they call it triage like an ER, or if there is a special name for it in the law enforcement trade.

The sound of a siren interrupts my chain of thought and I looked over towards the store. The ambulance took the right into the lot without slowing down, almost hitting a guy in a walker , hearing aid turned off, who was just entering the driveway.

©2010 sharonjcorrigan

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seduced by Chicken Rev 1

I was going to run in, grab the lamb and get in the checkout line. What a positive, sensitive girl I am.  In less than 5 minutes the cart was already filled with 4 bottles of wine, some rice crackers with nuts in the 5 gallon tub, and a box of granola bars and I was just approaching the section of the warehouse where the meat was displayed.

I swerved in and out of the deli section in search of the lobster ravioli they carried a few years back, and as I rounded the last corner, I caught the scent of the roasted chicken. I walked right past the giant platters of fake sushi and shrimp, the giant pies and cakes, the gallon containers of hummus, on a direct path to the hot box full of dozens of individually roasted chickens, marinated in an intoxicating blend of spices, that was nearly driving me insane. I lusted for a small piece of the crispy greasy skin.Hmmm,  I wonder if I could grab one, casually stroll down the deserted luggage aisle, pop off off the lid and grab a little bit from the side, without anyone spotting me.  I see people do that all the time with produce, and I'm going to pay for it, so it's not that crazy, is it?.  


I’m always fascinated by people that stalk the free stuff, most of it tasty in a bite, but disgusting in a meal. Too much salt, too much sugar, too much oil, too big, too dangerous. How gross to have pizza, hot dogs, giant drinks at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning.  At the warehouse store. That's not me, I always think.  I've got such self-control, I know if you bring some of that stuff home, you'll end up the next day laying in wait near the roller door, open sesame, open sez me! I do need the 30 rolls of toilet paper, the giant bottles of mustard, and the 500 count Calcium with vitamin D, and that roasted chicken.

Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.

©2010 sharonjcorrigan

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Bitch Rev 2

I love attending gardening workshops. Learning all the quirky little things about growing a perfect rose, or remounting stag horns from people with passion, or to be more precise, an obsession.

It was mid way through the day when I spotted a friend over at the plant sale, another reason these day long workshops are so fun. Great deals from people’s back yard cuttings or specialty nurseries.

I called called out “hey, Sarah” and she looked up and smiled. I headed in her direction through the narrow aisles. I was maybe six feet away when I saw another woman, who I will call Jessie, that I don’t particularly like. As I continued walking Jessie met my eves then turned her back and blocked the pathway with her cart- diverting dozens of people including me into a different section of the maze. The look she gave was so unexpected and so mean it took my breath away. Fuck it, I thought to myself, and headed back towards the entrance and out to my car. 

There was still over 45 minutes till the start of the new workshop and this simple encounter had totally ruined my day, and killed my good mood. I turned over the engine and backed out- so upset I almost nailed a bridal party, in full gear, that had just arrived for a ceremony on the bay. The box lunch I had tossed onto the back was sitting open on the seat. The sandwich had quickly become soggy and the brownie looked like a blobby mud bath, slowly melting in the thermal hot box my car had become after sitting in the lot. I hit the switch for the air conditioner and waited for the wave of cool air.

©2010 sharonjcorrigan

Upper Body Strength Rev 1

I have no upper body strength. I mean no significant upper body strength. I can lift a 11 year old 55 pound dog into an SUV, I can lift a 48 lb bag of dog food long enough to pour it in its airtight container in the garage. I can haul potting soil or mulch from the car into the yard, and it turns out, I can stay on top of a camel while it is standing up or sitting down without landing on my head or ending up on my ass in the sand. I know, I’ve done it. I’ve watched a bunch of other people do that too, many heavier, and much less fit than I am. Maybe the camels have been trained so if peopl’es butts leave the saddle/blanket thing, it stands up or sits down faster.


I love to sail. I decided it would be really cool to crew on the Star of India, a tall ship moored on the bay in San Diego. I signed up for an orientation session, which was held one evening on that ferryboat that houses the maritime museum. On the designated night I arrived, and found the room filled with about 300 people, many of them retired military. I sat through the presentation, realizing that the crew has to climb way up there to work with the sails. I’m not afraid of heights per se, but I’m not “sure footed” so I think that I probably am not the right profile for this volunteer gig.

The thing that cinched the decision was the requirement that you must be able to hang by one arm for some period of time, like 2 minutes. it didn’t sound like much, but I knew it was impossible for me. I would dislocate my shoulder, at the very least, if not my back. On top of the physical requirements, you also had to volunteer every week to maintain the ship, and then the real crew would vote to decide who gets to crew when the boat leaves its berth once or twice a year. I doubt if I can be a happy worker for that long with someone else telling me what to do in my spare time.

©2010 sharonjcorrigan

Confidence Rev 1

Johnny turned fifty last week, and has added a few pounds to his girth since his marriage to Vidanya three years ago. Always clean and neatly dressed, but he is beginning to pop a few buttons, so he always carries a chain of safety pins in his pocket. At a glance you wouldn’t know that he is bi-polar, legally blind and has never been able to hear or speak. He lived in a world of visual memories frozen in time, serious gaps in common sense, and vibrations without sound. He does know how to write but I’m not sure if his knowledge is from school, before he lost his sight at age 12 from an illness.


He met his wife on the internet, the fifth girl he’d been engaged to since he decided he wanted to start his own family. He’d lived with this mother since birth. His marriage didn’t have a significant impact on his living arrangements other than the sweet soft smell and touch of the woman who now shared his bed, and the squirming and wiggling of his young son as he tossed and turned in his sleep.

He worked in a factory. People there always answered his questions and helped him find things if he asked. Since he couldn’t speak he wrote on a thick pad of paper with a big black marker, one of dozen he purchased each month. I assume he buys them by the case, but maybe he isn’t aware that is possible, and no one has thought to tell him.

His eyesight was getting worse, if that was even possible. For years he had made his way on foot, crossing busy intersections without fear, and without a white cane. He had been told that no one could tell he had any limitations because he had always moved so confidently

He knew the names of all the people he had worked with for the last 20 years, but very little about their lives at home. He was lonely sometimes , like when he was in the middle of a meeting , but wasn’t quite sure why it was taking place. He always enjoyed the food that was brought in, particularly by the ladies in accounting. He was sad though, that he hadn’t had a real conversation with a human being (in the same room at the same time) since he was a teenager. Until he found his wife, that is.

She was from a small village in Russia where winters are bitterly cold and there is no work, no food, and no money. Four years ago her best friend’s new boyfriend took pictures of both of them and said that he loved having photos to show his friends when he travelled. He told Vidania that he had some wealthy friends in the United States who were looking for wives, and he would see if any of them wanted her. She had polio as a child, and as result she had a noticeable limp. If the war hadn’t happened that would have been her only flaw, but now she had a horrible scar on her left cheek from a stray bullet, disfiguring her once perfect profile. Her parents died just before the war, trying to escape, but she had hidden from the guards and made her way back home. She survived by cleaning houses and the occasional respite as a nanny for the one hotel within a hundred miles of her tiny village. She travelled for hours on the bus every day just for a few dollars.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

The Encounter Rev 1

She stepped into the train and headed right, up the stairs to the mezzanine. Every seat section (two facing a wall and 4 sets of 4 seats facing each other) had a least one person in them, but she wanted to sit here, the quiet part of the car at this time of day. In the back of her mind she considered whether she should try upstairs, then decided there was plenty of room here, and it was pretty calm- no one on a cell phone, no loud raucous laughers, just readers and sleepers.


Where should I sit?

Back left: An engineer type, dark pants, and ill fitting rumpled, white shirt partly un-tucked, over a bulging middle aged belly, black belt, dark tie and dark zippered jacket. Cheap shoes, faux leather, lace up, probably from a discount store, home styled haircut, cheap glasses, small brown bag lunch, peering at me expectantly. PASS

Back right- Young girl, long blonde hair, manicured nails painted pink, short skirt, 4” platforms, tattoos peeking over the top of her blouse and around her ankle. Cell phone in hand, busily texting- fingers sliding right to left. Large leather bag with gold hardware. Sound of phone vibrating “Oh My God!” high pitched childlike voice, loud, too loud. PASS

Center left, middle aged woman in an off the rack suit, blouse buttoned up to her wattle and finished off with a big floppy bow. Sensible shoes and panty hose too pale for her coloring. Reading glasses, kindle, tote bag and apple. Earrings made by a friend, not a designer. She looks up, smiles expectantly, YAWN

Center right: strikingly handsome man, impeccably tailored, shirt starched to sculptural excess, expensive tie, Italian shoes, and nice watch. Hmm- why is he on the train. This train. Commuter train. On his way to somewhere he isn't supposed to be, or a politician. Why today? If I was in a different mood I might try to “engage” him in some banter to spice up my afternoon, my ego, and this story.

Front left- man about 40, lean- almost haggard, muscles straining at his shirt, filthy feet in flip flops, levis torn and crusted with dirt, blonde hair, shaggy around the edges, mustache, reeking of cigarettes and beer, eyes closed, stretched out, bacteria from his feet contaminating that corner of the car . His sweatshirt was flung across the seat next to him, and his backpack and 5 beers were sitting precariously on the fourth seat.

He sensed her coming as she headed up the stairs and then stopped, hovering. The sheer force of her brutal mood, like the resistance encountered on electric doors, was so palpable she was almost invading his space from several feet away

Excuse me she said, moving in the direction of the seat that was occupied by his beer. He was still a little groggy from the first six pack and not in the best of moods. Peering at her legs through squinting eyes, he locked his knees to prevent her passage. In the silence a thudding sound rang out as her thigh collided with his knee as she attempted to step over his legs. She fell unevenly onto the open beer he was still holding as he dozed, causing it to tip over and soak the floor at their feet. She smelled like flowers, he thought, as he roughly shoved her off his hip.

What the fuck he screamed. There are plenty of seats in this car, sit somewhere else. He wasn’t really looking at her, he was really speaking to the other passengers in this area. I was just getting some rest, sit somewhere else lady. Leave me in peace.

She landed hard in the aisle, one arm now in a funny position, probably broken, at least sprained. She didn’t try to get up, just sat there as the minutes ticked by , at his feet whimpering, the wet floor soaking the side of her skirt, her eyes staring up at him beseechingly childlike.

Oh shit, he thought, and struggled to his feet, wiping his hand on his dirty jeans before extending a hand in her direction. She clutched at it with a powerful grip and managed to pull herself off the floor, dropping onto the seat where his feet had been happily resting moments before.

She still held onto his hand. Her blouse had caught on the headrest during her fall and there was a jagged tear near her left breast, exposing a red lacy bra and that soft sweet spot on the side of her body that always caused his heart to race, on those few occasions he had been provided with the opportunity to taste a woman. He forgot about the other passengers and pulled her across the aisle, laying her gently down on the seat next to him. Her eyes never left his face for a moment.

He had no idea what he looked like after all those hours of digging ditches and then the after work booze up that ended a workday in mid-summer. He was exhausted, and really not up to taking this on, but it looked like the fates had something else in mind for him tonight. His left arm was falling asleep- the tingling moving up from his fingertips to his elbow to his shoulder. He glanced over and saw she was now fast asleep, the neckline of her top gapping open even further in this position, giving him a clear view of her nipples, and he felt himself getting flushed. I need to find a head he thought, and tried to untangle himself from her grip, to no avail.

His second plan was to try to scoot her over gently moving her head onto the window and the back of the seat, and tilting her body in the same direction. He swung himself over into the opposite seat, his breath now audible to the other passengers, his body lusting after the unconscious woman. Her skirt had been pushed up almost to the top of her thighs and he could tell she was not wearing underwear. Jesus, he said softly and reached across to caress the edge of her hem. The minute he touched her he remembered where he was and immediately leaned back again in the seat, his hands resting in his lap.

He was beginning to feel aroused, and uncomfortable just sitting here, embarrassingly uncomfortable, so he crossed his legs and stretched his arms above his head, twisting his torso back and forth like he was stretching after his interrupted nap. All of the other passengers were occupied, doing their own thing, except the older woman who was peering at him disapprovingly, and averted her eyes as his stretch and scan maneuver passed over her area of the car. Maybe she’ll get off at the next stop, he thought, not really clear in his own mind whether he was thinking of the old lady, or the unconscious woman he was trying not to jump on.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her eyes open, a look of confusion and panic which leapt across the aisle toward him like a runaway train. She pushed her bad arm on he seat cushion to lift herself into a more comfortable position and winced as she realized it was badly hurt, and was useless for the moment. She reached back with her left arm and maneuvered herself into acceptable passenger mode, glancing down as she did so and seeing the torn blouse, and her skirt, stained and still damp from the fall. She looked at him with shock and disbelief, tears welling up in her eyes, and then the childlike fear crept back into her gaze. Her mouth opened, and then closed. No sounds, no words, no questions.

©sharonjcorrigan2010