I go to the pharmacist and say, “lookie what I have here!” I feel strong as I slyly lay down the prescription on the counter and slide it closer to them. I am chattering and giggling and watching them walk over. They approach me and look at the prescription with a lot of attention and then look at me with a lot of attention and say, “how did you get this?” I am looking at the prescription with them and vibrating but when they ask I look at them quickly and have a big laugh!
“Gimmie gimmie!” I screech, putting my palms backwards on the counter and leaning forward so I can lift my legs up, “Pllleeeaaassseee!”
I wait for 15 minutes and get my prescription and walk home.
I stand on the street corner, waiting for the crossing signal and I see a man standing beside me with two golden retrievers. The man yawns and, without looking at the man, one of dogs yawn too. I say, “excuse me, after you just yawned, one of your dogs did too.” And he says, “did he?” And he bends down to his dog and says, “did you?”
I walk into a convenience store to buy my chocolate bars and check out the chip aisle first. I know I don’t want chips, especially because I have popcorn at home, but I want to look at them anyway. I like the crunch between my teeth and I can feel myself grinding my teeth together to the rhythm of Take Me Home, Country Roads. I see small bags of chips for $1.69 and appreciate the bargain. I only ever want a little bit anyway –– tiny things, I like to eat a lot of separate tiny little things. Just as I am done looking at the small bags, I hear, “excuse me, ma’am, would you like to see a card trick?”
I hesitate a moment because I did notice there were people in the store when I went in, but I didn’t think I’d have to interact. I’m also thrown off because I don’t like being called “ma’am,” and am reminded of when my roommate said the same thing and that they are actually fine when it’s the “ma’am” with a southern drawl and that it’s kind of hot that way and that I agree with them but I can’t be bothered to confront this new stranger. Instead, I walk over to where this slender guy with long hair and a black hoodie and those gloves where the fingers are cut off intentionally and I sure bet he listens to Tool but that isn’t really a problem so I walk over to him and I feel very strong and sure of myself as I say, “yes.”
“So here’s a nice trick for you, yes a good little trick for the lady. See the Jacks? I have four of them. Now, I’m going to put them in different places in the deck, one at the top, three all over, see?” And I do see, I’m watching his hands because I’ve been told that’s where the magic happens. His nails don’t really have dirt under them and I look at my own and I have a lot of dirt under my disgusting fingernails. The magician continues to tell the story of why the Jacks are scattered around town and by town he means deck and as soon as he calls to them, they will rally in the courtyard and by that he means they will all appear the top of the deck. In the middle of this, a big man comes into the convenience store and walks up to the clerk, between the magician and I, and just says, “5CCs!” I think that’s a vape thing, it has to be. The magician says, “whoops,” and “oh,” as he tries to maneuver around the 5CC-man to continue his trick with me. The 5CC-man leaves and the magician has me in his clear line of vision. Here I am, I am watching and waiting and I think I’m being nice.
“So now I call all of the Jacks to the courtyard,” which is really the top of the deck, and he taps the deck, “and here’s one,” he pulls one Jack off the top, “two,” a second, “three,” a third, “and then finally––” but this one is the eight of clubs. “Oh no,” he says, as he turns the deck over and starts shuffling through the cards, “I made a mistake!”
I do not look at him anymore and I certainly do not make eye contact. I feel very bad for him and I can’t bear to watch him frantically look for his fourth Jack. I turn my attention to the chocolate bars and have a difficult time making a selection. The magician and I are both here and the clerk has now sat down on his stool, and we are all silent and I am looking at all of the chocolate bars frantically. I am in real trouble now. I love all chocolate bars and I cannot decide which ones I want for tonight. There is a sale for five bars for $9.99 and I do not think that’s a deal. I only need two, two is fine. I pick up a Mars bar and then a Wunderbar and put down the Mars bar for a Kit Kat and then I see the classic Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds and I put down the Kit Kat for the Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds. I pay with my money and say thank you to the magician and he tells me to have a good weekend and I go outside. The convenience store is on a corner and the walk signal has three seconds left on it so I run across the street. I mean it, I really sprint. I hope that the clerk and magician don’t see me do this and think that I’m running away from them. It’s when I get to the other side of the street that I think I should’ve paid the magician for the trick, but then I think that he didn’t do it right and I comfort myself with that sick thought and I go home and eat my chocolate bars and popcorn and jerk off and fall asleep.
Vannessa Barnier is the host of the Legible Intelligibles reading series, an attendee of the 2019 Juniper Summer Writing Institute, an instigator, a facilitator, and your friend.