Jack’s still waiting around for his wife, Frances, to hurry on up and pay for their groceries already so he can have his supper. Ain’t that why we come here in the first place? She’s still talking to that goddamn cashier, the same goddamn cashier they just have to check out with each visit. It doesn’t matter if that cashier’s lane has a line a mile long and the next lane is empty, they gotta take a number. Jack can’t figure out what’s so rich about their chit-chat that she can’t let the poor boy alone.

Nothing, that’s what.

Jack takes hold of the French baguette in the cart because it’s his bread too. He already told her he was hungry. It’s still warm, for chrissakes — what the hell is he supposed to do? He reckons he’ll just tear off a piece for a few bites. She gives him a stiff look while still running her mouth with that dope in the black apron then yanks the baguette away. He swears to Christ that cashier just laughed at him.

What a rotten thing to do.

Jack rocks back and forth, his feet loose inside a pair of oversized white sneakers with thick rubber soles. He gets red in the face. He’s got no choice but to stick up for himself. So that’s what he’s going to do. Just like that, he yanks the whole goddamn baguette right out of its long paper sleeve and lifts it high above his head, victorious. Frances stops yakking with that sonovabitch now that she sees Jack means business.

You should see the look on her face.

“Jack,” she says.

He hates it when she says his name like she means to say something else. But he’s not gonna put the bread back. Nope, he’s gonna put as much of that bread in his mouth as he can, as fast as he can.

Watch this.

“Jack,” she says.

When she tries to pull the baguette away this time, he lifts it even higher, then brings it down to bop her on the head. The force of the blow loosens a stand of her hair that falls between her eyes.

“Jack,” she says.

When Jack sees a squirrel, he says, “Squirrel.” When Jack and Frances drive through a traffic light, he says, “Red light.” Whenever Jack’s hungry, he says, “What’s there to eat in this joint?” no matter if they’re in a grocery store or a furniture store.

“Jack,” she says, to herself now.

She wonders if it’s safe to leave him in the car next time.

Jack looks at his wife then at the cashier looking back at him, just like all the other cashiers, just like all the other customers.

How long have I been standing here?

He slowly lowers the baguette into his wife’s hand. She calmly puts it back into its paper sleeve, and pays the cashier without saying goodbye. She pushes the cart ahead, through the automatic doors, and into the parking lot. He follows behind. He is always following behind. As Frances goes towards their car, he is already wandering in another direction.

Tracy Pitts is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer in Portland, Oregon. His flash fiction and poetry have appeared in ZYZZYVA, SAND, and SIXFOLD, and others. He is currently working on his first collection of flash and poetry, No Fire Here.

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