As he assessed the store, Billy’s heart soared. “This is it!” He mused to himself. “This is the mighty engine of capitalism, harnessed at the yoke, existing only to serve me.”
He breathed it all in; flickering fluorescent lights, lottery tickets, cigarettes, antifreeze, maps, e-cigs, condoms, tabloids for the willfully ignorant, newspapers for the unwilfully ignorant, magazines about guns, motorcycles, and knitting. Gleaming aisles of every sugary concoction known to man, from Poptarts to powerbars, Necco Wafers to Nerds, Twix to Twizzlers, Skittles to Snickers, bubble gum to gummy bears. He gleefully noted the twin pillars of suburban sin: tobacco and porn. He basked in the amazing power of the free market. Bacon flavored potato chips. Tragic hot dogs spinning helplessly on their rollers. Matches, mayonnaise, microwave burritos. It was an abundance of everything. Fireworks, flags, and fidget spinners. Fifty varieties of beer filling a wall. The beer situated next to a case with eggs, butter, and milk. Next to that a freezer packed tight with bags of ice, mountains of ice cream, and frozen yoghurt derivatives for folks who want ice cream and can’t admit it. Next to that there was a colorful array of “sport drink” for people who don’t do sports. Then came energy drinks for people with no energy. This was accompanied by sodas in sizes ranging from large to massive. On and on it went.
Billy savored the glory of it all. Cheese in stick form, meat in jerky form, cheese sticks and beef jerky shrink-wrapped together in a greasy dance of sodium enhanced shelf life. Five varieties of bottled water; each one with graphics intended to convey its unique purity. All in disposable plastic bottles. Sugar in every possible arrangement; pressed into jelly beans, formed into candy, sprayed onto popcorn, suspended into soda, etc… There were pre-shelled hard-boiled eggs for those who think shelling an egg is too much work. There were salads trapped in plastic boxes for the few with the willpower to slip past the beef jerky. There was a plastic basket of waxy apples for the occasional loon willing to eat an apple that had been manhandled by a thousand earlier customers.
There was nothing on any shelf anywhere that some busybody wouldn’t protest. Everything was fattening, wasteful, too large, “bad for you”, or otherwise deplorable. To which the American people had sneered, “Fuck off and hand me my smokes.” The place was a garden of freedom!
“This is my nation!” Billy thought. “This place is meant for my people. It is our church, the church of plenty. The place where anything you can possibly imagine will materialize from the universe and it will present itself to you… for money.”
“Looking for anything in particular?” A man in a blue polyester uniform was manning the cash register; the pulpit of the church of plenty. His plastic nametag read “Hello, my name is Achmed”.
“I want an assault rifle, a tank of unleaded, a big gulp soda, a lottery ticket, a giant candy bar, a case of beer, a bag of weed, and a magazine with disgusting porn.” Billy requested. To him, it was almost a prayer. “I want it all, and I want it now.” He chuckled to himself.
“We don’t have any gun stuff.” The clerk took Billy’s request (made in jest) in stride. “But you can get a hunting license?” He waved at a pile of pamphlets. On the cover of the pamphlets was a photo of a man clad in camouflage flipping through a tiny book of regulations; with a dead elk at his feet. The man had a rifle slung over his shoulder in the manner of a model who’s never held a firearm in his life. The elk sported an enormous rack and probably grew up on a farm. None of them had mud on them. Billy snorted derisively.
Ignoring Billy, the clerk turned his attention back to a flatscreen on the wall. It was muted. He was reading a closed-captioned version of what passes for news. Apparently, people from a place he couldn’t identify were busily at war with their neighbors over something that either happened yesterday or in 1864. This was the fault of the American president, or congress, or global warming, or maybe all three. Possibly it was related to… the screen turned to an erectile dysfunction ad and the clerk’s mind dropped the thread. Now he was thinking about his dick.
Meanwhile, Billy prowled through the store bringing things to the cash register and adding them to a growing pile. His pile! Billy’s pile of shit that people disapprove of. Billy hummed to himself.
Billy took his time paying homage to the wonders of modern materialism. He glanced out at the car. As agreed upon, the animals were in hiding. Doogie was tapping the dash and grinning.
The pile grew. First came the 5-pound bag of sugar. He found it near the pancake mix. Who buys pancake mix at a gas station? Americans!
Then he added an assortment of beef jerky, a packet of sunflower seeds, a muffin, a case of cold beer, and ice for the cooler. Something was missing. After pondering a minute, he decided there wasn’t enough freedom.
He reached for the magazines and grabbed copies of “Concealed Carry Shopper’s Guide” and “Genetically Improbable Sluts”. The first claimed that this magazine would, for all eternity, solve the “autoloaders versus revolvers” conundrum. The second had a cover that would make a rutting weasel blush.
Yes… that’s good.
Then, because the recent proposition had passed, Billy tossed a bag of THC Gummy bears in the mix.
Remembering his initial purpose, he reached for his debit card. Now, should the invisible specter of the NSA be wondering why Billy had been acting out of character, it would see the sugar purchase and correlate it with his enemy’s dead Audi. Theoretically this mundane explanation (which was highly unlikely to be prosecuted) would throw them off the truth. It was Occam’s Razor; “pissed off jilted asshole nukes an Audi” is far more plausible than “sinister freedomista and his genius sidekick are harboring white collar fugitives in the form of lesbian activist squirrels and their pet racist bear”.
Before the clerk started ringing up his purchases, Billy decided he hadn’t purchased enough unhealthy addictive substances. Turning from the counter, he sought out coffee.
Like Billy, I love to buy freedom in heaps and piles. If you want to help, click below: