Molasses Collapse

Contributor: Jack Hill

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Heat rash burned in my ass crack. Thirsty for a diet soda and cigarette. I offered to buy a cigarette from three smokers at three street corners. Pity from being shot down sloshed in until I knotted my fists and stomped the eight blocks home. Black holes for eyes watched me step, knee bones popping.
The coffee can in the kitchen lashed back at me, cutting open my thumb knuckle, when I jerked out a ten dollar bill. Aluminum molasses collapsed under my shoe after five or six attempts. The kicked remains clanked against the stove bottom.
Sold out, the cashier said when I asked for Camel Wides.
Camel lights, I asked her.
Sold out, the cashier said.
All the cigarettes are sold out for you, the cashier said.
What, I asked her.
I know you stole a six pack last week, she said.
I shook my head.
Leave my store, she said.
You have me confused with someone else, I said.
Leave my store, she said.
It wasn't me, I said.
I remember your face, she said.
I wouldn't steal from this store, ever, I said.
You will never buy cigarettes here again, she said.
I would never steal here – this store is in my neighborhood, I said.

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Jack Hill works in litter abatement, edits Crossed Out Magazine, and lives in Northern California.
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