Hooray, No Spam Here!

Great writers emigrate to Paris or Marrakech, they climb mountains, great writers fire themselves out of a cannon; terrible writers visit the supermarket. They – these terrible writers – do not simply go to the supermarket, for that would be too insignificant or fleeting, no, they – they! ha! we, me – visit the supermarket as though it were a place of interest, a star upon the map, a jewel in the tourist board’s crown. A great writer enters the soirée, the fanfare exhales, a polished flute one-inch-to-the-rim is offered as though it were Holland’s finest tulip, the crowd coos, super models & savants, famous athletes, directors, a sculptor from Buenos Aires, tomorrow’s paper will be ripe with celebration and gossip, they will bed or be bedded, laughter, early morning cab ride home, a great occasion; the sort of thing Toulouse-Lautrec took a brush to. Many supermarkets are open twentyfour-seven during the week; however, on a Saturday evening they close to the public around eleven.
    ‘O fuck, I forgot to bring her food,’ I said from the backseat of my mother’s automobile. The cat was meowing in her carrier on my lap, the three of us like Russian dolls. She moaned not because she was anxious but because it was how she started the journey and she was not one to impress upon anybody that her mood had improved. So she moaned and she mewed; we all put up with it because she was a kitten and if you met her once then you fell in love with her. I clung to the carrier, putting a thin index to the plastic gauze behind which she eyed and toothed in the passing strokes of streetlights. ‘Can we stop at the T—o, please?’
    It was a Saturday night. Saturday night is about the size and weight of a loaf of bread. Hold it in your hands and turn it for inspection. Not some hours earlier my parents had visited for dinner. It was a good evening. My father drank until he fell asleep. I made a fish curry that they both enjoyed, with wine and Cuban records, entertained by the kitten, a torrential mist settling down for the night. With the curtains drawn, there was not much else but my portion of existence and their grace upon it, the flakes of haddock too, mustard’s tang, spinach so much like inkdrops in the gravy. Afterwards we sat there, me between them, a zygote stacking dirty crockery.
    There is a photograph of me and a girl outside of that particular supermarket. The photograph is seventeen years-old. Digital cameras back then blew in different shades. The colour and the kids put an age on everything. She and I still fall out.
    My mother pulled into a similar spot to the Canon. I put the cat down, wished her love and unlocked the door. It was cold from the fiftyminute car heat.  Next to me there was an Indian family stepping out their automobile also; we looked at one another; startled, our eyes wide, they cradled a babe in their arms, milky, everything steaming. We went along. Sometimes dew falls so thoroughly that you can feel its fingers dipping into your shirt, unbuckling your belt, using its teeth. My clothing and hair were heavier by the time I made it to the swollen white entrance.
    There was a certain background kind of music, although it was only as much as plasma or coconut husk in a doormat. A leaning securityguard regarded me and lost interest. I had my hands in my pocket! Did it amuse him to mind the door of a supermarket on the edge of town at this time of night? Did he have an associate wandering the rest of the place? The two of them preventing the postcode’s greatest crime! It was quiet, even with the music, and every utterance or cleared throat echoed down the cavernous building towards the clothes dept where it went to die. One of the walls was all glass looking out to the dark carpark, angled just so that it mirrored the entire run of vacant tills.
    Past the fresh produce, special offers and end-of-aisle promotions, I went a little merry, rosycheeked. There were young employees stacking shelves and uniformed, but mostly they talked amongst themselves, telling jokes and flirting. There was nothing else for them at that hour. In the aisle over from the bleach and toiletries was pet food. In my work-coat, converse and nervous gait I went with some keys jangling in my pocket. On one side of the aisle was dog food and the other cat. They did not have her brand, which I knew she would not care about – gannet that she was! – but it had importance to me. Who knows how long I went up & down, scanning the ingredients list, comparing proportions? For kittens, there was very little and what there was did not look edible. Finally, I made my decision, seized the box and went to leave, conscious that time had got away with me.
    Everyone collected at the selfservice checkouts. They spaced out in the supermarket but came together at the end, like the conclusion of a whodunit. As well as the oddities who had committed to doing their weekly-shop on a Saturday night with the whole family in tow, there were drunks, roisterers and the homeward bound. It was all good-humoured. Young men clung to crates and golden bottles. A middle-aged couple, well-dressed and tanned in March, had only some groceries and peered at the youngsters with amusement. Two couples, driven and herded by one sober, giggled, making small-talk with the adjacent checkout. The cat food came in eight little cans, two of each: chicken, tuna, beef and duck. I had all that I needed, a little grin too.
    When I got back to the car, my parents bellowed at me—‘Fuckin hell! you were ages!’ I explained that they did not have her brand, and they laughed at me—‘You tart!’ ‘Yeah, I am. Nothing at the best for my little angel!’ and I put her back on my lap. She resumed her meowing as the car set into motion.