The Grocer

Let me just preface this with a whole other thing that doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’m actually trying to say, but since you’re here, since you’re basically a captive audience, I’m not about to waste the opportunity.

Before we get to what happened or allegedly happened, you need to know this past Thursday, my boss, Mr. Dukes was having a real bad day. I’m basically in charge of the whole produce section, keeping it stocked, rotating the vegetables so you never see the brown spots, watering them at night, that kind of thing, and Mr. Dukes, he oversees the produce, meats, and dairy sections and he was breathing down my neck all god damned day.

“Where’s the bell peppers?” he say storming down the aisle after me. This after I showed him the shipment that came in that morning and he himself told me to throw them out. That this store can’t have peppers looking like that on the shelves, that we had a reputation to maintain. The usual. So I threw them out and filled out the loss form and had him sign it. Then, not three hours later he shows up yelling.

So I had to tell him what happened, and then when he wouldn’t believe, I had to get the form and show him his signature before he’d leave me the hell alone.

He came up to me again later, saying something about the Spanish onions being delayed and told me to use the yellows to fill their bin. I said that wasn’t right, and besides there was a special on the yellows this week so we were almost out of them too. You could tell he wanted to start hollering, he chewed his lip raw and his eyes stuck out about and inch, but he just told me to do it as he asked and left.

The girl in the meat department said she thought she heard him crying in his office as she was leaving at the end of the day, but I didn’t witness it first hand, and I don’t certainly don’t go about repeating things I can’t be sure are true one way or the other.

See, usually, he’s a pretty good boss. Maybe a little too caught up in what people might think of the store, but most people see that as pride, and you can’t fault a man for a quality most people respect. You just have to take a step back and look at it, and think maybe you’re just too close, and the whole thing soured you. He’ll make his inspections, and he’ll bring things up he wants changed, but he’ll usually ask about it in such a way to let you explain, and if he thinks you made an honest mistake, he’ll tell you.

Nudging, I guess you’d call it. He nudges you where he wants you to go, what he wants you to say. Never a push and never so you think you’re being led anywhere, but if you think about it after, you might realize you’ve just agreed to come in on Saturday after all, and he made it look like it was your idea the whole time.

So because of all that, there I was at work on a Saturday, the one day a week I have off, lugging boxes out of the back of the truck because one of the boys who usually works the loading dock was out sick. A case of the Whisky flu, I hear, but that could just be the other boys ragging on him.

Anyway, I was just about done when a heard the scream.

I dropped the box of cabbages I was carrying and rushed to the front of the store. You could hear someone running, probably wearing dress shoes, but I didn’t catch a look at her. Well, yes, I suppose it could have been a man, but it didn’t sound the way a man would run, too light, quick little steps. The automatic door was closing as I got there but the parking lot was empty. I was about to go out and get a better look when the loading boys started yelling. So I hurried over and saw them crowding the doorway to Dukes’ office. I had to pull them back to get through. One or two of them are some kind of pervert, I think, because they wouldn’t stop fighting with me to get back in the door frame. I’ve said it before, these people just don’t know how to act in a civilized society, but you can’t fault a man for where he was born. When I finally did get into the office, I saw Mr. Dukes laying across his desk, the papers under him slowly turning red.

I guess I must have checked him for a pulse, that would explain how I got the blood on my hands, see, and finding none, I called for the ambulance. I guess you two showed up a few minutes later and here we are.

So now, if there’s nothing else officers, I really should be getting my section ready to open.


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