“You know what a human body smashing into the ground at 100 mph sounds like?”
“Um? Can’t say that I do.”
“Like wet meat slapping off concrete.”
“Thanks for the visual.” The gas station clerk scanned a short pack of Winston Reds and tossed them on the counter. “Anything else?”
“Don’t you wanna know how I know they make that sound?’
“What?” The clerk didn’t even pretend to be interested.
“The bodies! Duh.” The customer, a man in his mid-40s but dressed like a high school kid, reeked of cheap booze. “I used to be a skydiver. Once saw another dude bank too far to one side and lose control. Slammed right into the ground like a real jackass.” He let out the kind of exaggerated laugh a man used to laughing at his own jokes would let out. “Sounded like—”
“Sounded just like wet meat. Got it, thanks,” the clerk interjected.
“Yup. Sure was gross. Hey,” the customer leaned in close, his breath smelled like spoiled hot dog water, “you ever pick up—” he looked around with a slow but obvious head turn, “ever pick up any, action, in here,” he whispered.
“Action? You mean like a hoo—”
“Shh! What’s a matter with you?” He glanced at a woman thumbing through the magazine rack, flashing her an off-putting yellowed smile. “Any working girls ever hang around this area?” he whispered again, this time almost inaudible.
“Look man, I don’t know. I just work here, alright?” The clerk showed the kind of agitation only working at a gas station next to a bar could produce.
“Okay, okay. It’s cool, man. Forget I said anything.” He laughed again. This time the smell of sour meat and horse shit escaped the gaping maw attached to his overly tanned head. “Seriously, though, you gotta know where a man can find the company of a… well, find some company, this late at night?”
The clerk, with dead eyes and a blank stare, exclaimed in a voice lacking any emotion, “Your total is $8.52.” He continued to stare at the miscreant before him making it as obvious as possible he wasn’t going to play along.
“Real serious fella, huh. It’s okay, I’ll be on my way.”
The customer pulled out a wad of money and started flipping through the bills. He took out a ten dollar bill and even though the clerk had his hand extended to receive the money, the customer chucked the bill into the air next to the open hand. The clerk’s eyes darted in the direction of the money, watching helplessly as the bill floated to the counter and slid off the side.
“Keep the change, Jack!”
Hand still extended, money on the floor, the clerk seethed with rage as he watched the pot-bellied customer storm through the exit door and into the night like a drunken hurricane comprised of shit and bad life decisions.
“That motherfucker,” the clerk muttered to himself.
He bent down and scraped the bill up the sticky tile floor. When he stood back up he was startled to see the woman standing at the counter holding a magazine. She had fried blond hair and was wearing a dirty grey sweatshirt. She placed the magazine on the counter with a gentle touch, a stark contrast to the brazen asshole who just checked out a moment ago.
“Is this all?” the clerk asked.
“Yup. I’m gonna go skydiving tomorrow. Figure I might as well read up on it first,” the woman said.
The clerk couldn’t help but notice what a coincidence this was. The magazine the woman was checking out was about skydiving.
“Oh, this too.” She threw down a bag of lunch meat on the counter. It slapped, sounding wet and hard. Just like a human—
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