another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory
SLURPEE MAN by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | OCTOBER 2016
I, Agent 33, was walking up Elizabeth Avenue towards Charlottetowne Avenue (in Charlotte, NC, USA) on a splendid October late morning, when a black-haired, full-bearded, late-20-something, grinning, Latino-appearing dude began shouting at me. Oh, no.
“Hey, hey, hey!” he kept chanting until I locked my gaze in on him. He had this beaming, though somewhat crazed, smile that stretched across his face. He seems a bit off. Make that way off. This city sure has the loonies now.
“You need some help?” I politely asked as I rubbed my sleep-encrusted left eye. I sure seem to attract the crazies and the inebriated. And to think, just a couple of hours ago, I had no ideas for my next short story. Sometimes they just walk into you.
“Hey man, do you know where a 7-Eleven is?” A coherent question. Maybe he’s not ‘that’ wasted.
“There’s a Circle K two blocks that way,” I answered as I pointed to the southwest with my right hand.
“Yeah, I know that Circle K, man. I’ve been there before. But, I want a real Slurpee, man.” This guy is high on something. Maybe primo weed. [strong marijuana]
“I hear ya, pal.”
“I gotta-gotta-gotta [sic] have that Slurpee, man. No substitute. Only a real Slurpee will do. I’m going to mix all the flavors together. I saw a 7-Eleven next to a park the other day. There were tall buildings around. Do you know where it is? Do you know, man? I want that Slurpee. I must have that Slurpee.” He’s baked and going into a hypoglycemic crash.
“A 7-Eleven somewhere in uptown, next to a park?” I asked as I studied him. What style is his dementia?
“Yes, where is it? I’m dying for that Slurpee, man.” ‘That’ Slurpee again. He kind of reminds me of the guy who was going to ‘the’ Florida two years ago. [in the short story ‘One October Day’] Wonder if he made it. These two would surely have a most amusing conversation while having ‘that’ Slurpee in ‘the’ Florida.
“Let me think for a second. Is there one in Epicentre?”
“No, man; there’s no 7-Eleven there.” He’s right. But, I’ve been in a 7-Eleven somewhere in uptown. Darn! Where was it? My memory chip is shorting out. Oh, yes! Near BB&T Ballpark.
“I just remembered where it is. It’s across from Romare Bearden Park in 3rd Ward.”
“Yes, that’s it, man! Does the trolley [Gold Line streetcar] go there?”
“No, the trolley only goes to Epicentre. But from there, it is only a six-block walk.”
“Ok, what street is it on?”
“It’s on West MLK, [Jr. Boulevard] just down from Church Street. Just walk south on College [Street] from Epicentre.”
“Thanks, man. Are you going to get a Slurpee today, too? You know, there’s nothing like a real Slurpee.” He’s like a living advertisement for that ubiquitous convenient store. Was he dropped off here by a Southland Corporation nontraditional advertising manager? Does Southland Corporation still own 7-Eleven? [not since 1999] Is 7-Eleven paying him to ply the sidewalks? No, he’s too kooky acting. But, he’ll make for a good short story, though. Just need to keep recording what he says. Batteries don’t fail me now.
“No, I have to get back to my office.”
“But, a nice, extra-large Slurpee is going to be killer.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. But, I’ve got to run along. Work calls. Enjoy your Slurpee.”
“You mean that you’re really not going to have that Slurpee today?” His cult-like grin showed no signs of letting up. He really didn’t want to end the conversation. Suddenly, it felt weird – kind of like a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in convert-or-die-trying mode. How to nicely end this?
“I think that I will have a Slurpee after I get off work,” I said, hoping that this statement would terminate our sidewalk discussion as a few college students passed by.
“What time do you get off work?” he asked, looking very concerned.
“Four o’clock,” I replied.
“Can you really wait that long?” he asked as his mouth went agape.
“Sure. Listen, I really must be going. Have a great day.”
“I may drain the Slurpee machines. There may be none left at four o’clock, man.” This is utter madness. Why am I still talking to this guy? For short story reasons, I guess.
“Well, I’ll get mine at a 7-Eleven in east Charlotte.”
“Which 7-Eleven in east Charlotte?”
“The one on Central [Avenue] at Eastway.” [Drive]
“That one has the best blue raspberry. I went to that one last Thursday. That was a mighty Slurpee, man. A perfect multicolored swirl.” Oh, my … This is never going to end. Did Agent A~O plant this guy here? This is beginning to feel like a spoof. Am I being punked? [pranked] Is anyone filming us?
I looked around. I saw the green vintage-replica trolley coming down the tracks – headed to uptown – in the white concrete, two-lane street. This is my chance to end this.
“Hey, here comes the trolley! If you run, you can make it to the stop in time.”
“Thanks,” he said, almost normally. He then turned and dashed off to the streetcar stop that was about 120 yards (110 meters) away. Whew! I’m glad that’s over. Though, he sure broke up a ho-hum day. I never got his name. Another one to go uncredited. Wonder if he’ll ever read the short story after I write it up and post it online. Nah, he probably never goes to Shakespir.com or free-ebooks.net. But, one can never be totally sure. Maybe I will get an e-mail from him someday, asking if I really stopped and got ‘that’ Slurpee. Such would be outrageous – too much.
Back in the office, the day sputtered along. An overly demanding architect’s assistant tried to make his crisis mine, but other than that it was fairly halcyon.
At 3:33 I glanced at my cellphone … and it rang! Wow! Incipient precognition?
It was my wife, Monique, Agent 32. “Hi, how are you, mahal?” [love in Tagalog]
“I’m fine, lovely Agent 32.” Agent 32? He must be recording yet again. I guess I will play along.
“Might you be recording for another short story, Parkaar?” [my ailing alias]
“You got it, Monique. It will start off with a guy looking for a 7-Eleven Slurpee, which is directly based on recent reality. I recorded this whacked-out dude a few hours ago on Elizabeth Avenue.”
“You just started talking to some unknown guy on the sidewalk, Agent 33?”
“No, he just started talking to me, Agent 32.”
“Oh, I see. Well, what is the crux of the story?”
“At this point, it’s quite nebulous, Agent 32.”
“So, you’re just going to transcribe a random conversation that you had with some unknown guy on a Charlotte sidewalk. Is that it, Agent 33?”
“Yes, Agent 32, that’s about it. But, I will add our phone conversation – the one that we’re having now – onto the end of it. I’ll inside-out it.” Inside-out it? What did he just say?
“That’s buang! [crazy in Cebuano] There’s no real story there. You’re just wasting people’s valuable time, Agent 33.”
“It’s a folly they expect.”