8.10.1996

Driving around town bored as usual, I happened to look up from my instrument cluster at just the right moment. I was passing another derelict strip mall and glanced at the shop listing signs. Most of the once readable shop names had been broken to pieces by rocks or bricks being thrown into them and the sockets inside that once held the flourescent tubes were covered in rust. What caught my eye however, was an old wooden board that had been somehow secured to the metal frame of the mall signs. The board was old. It looked like it had been hanging there through some rough winter seasons. It was almost black from age. On it in big white crudely drawn letters was the word LIQUOR. And there was an arrow pointing into the parking lot. Man, I hoped this one was for real. The others I had found were either always closed or had moved. In the case of liquor stores that had relocated to somplace else no one bothered to leave a note in the shop window as to where they had moved to. Brilliant.

I made a hard right into the parking lot. Instantly I thought this was going to turn out to be another wild goose chase because this mall really looked abandoned. Weeds a foot or two tall had grown through large cracks in the pavement of the parking lot. I had to swerve to avoid getting them caught in my radiator grill. None of the shops had any signs of life in them and there wasn’t a single car parked in the lot. I kept driving deeper into the mall.

Following the parking lot around to the back end of the place, I spotted a single shop window with a light in it. There were three cars parked out front. Maybe this was the real deal at long last. I pulled up close and killed the motor. I walked up to the door and much to my surprise it wasn’t locked. So I barged into the joint. The lobby, if you could call it that looked spartan and reminded me of a doctor’s office. The walls were covered in simulated wood grain panels of vintage 1970s caliber and the carpet was faded bright orange. Disgusting. There was a fake plant hidden under thick layers of dust. In the distant past it must have looked green. To my left, and before you could walk into the next room, there were dozens of brochures and pamphlets available for the taking all over the wall. I looked them over. All of the literature was anti-alcohol in nature, fact was applied to the reader or the more heavy handed fear tactic was taken. Some showed black and white photos from brutal car accidents that displayed graphic images of mangled steel mixed with human body. A simple caption like “Drunk Driver” was underneath the image. These were gold. I knew Gabe would be able to use alot of this stuff in collages and multimedia projects so I grabbed a bunch of them and jammed it all into my shoulder bag. I would mail them down to him back home that week.

Passing the propaganda section filled with teen pregnancy statistics and drunk driving death rates I stepped into my Mecca. Everywhere I gazed I saw simulated wood grain bookshelves loaded to the brim with glistening bottles of evil spirits. Each bookshelf had a golden number glued to the top of it. The gold numbers were the same ones apartment complexes use on the front doors of each dwelling. This was a real low-brow operation here. I noticed that each bookshelf only had the same color of booze or bottle in it. Were they trying to be clever and only group by color of bottle contents? Didn’t matter. I was going to pay the State of Washington some of my hard earned cash for rum and vodka, then get the hell out. I was long overdue for some serious binge drinking. Maybe I would be able to forget where I was for a few hours or a day. Hopefully I’d forget all about my job, this lousy town, and Jennifer.

Behind the cash register stood a grumpy old man. I could tell why he was giving me the hairy eyeball. He thought I was some punk teenager trying to hand him a fake ID. From his facial expression it was obvious he didn’t like me and wanted me out of his store. Most people in this city don’t like me. I’m getting used to it. Grumpy old guy made me take my driver’s license out of my wallet and he stared at it back to front for a minute. Oh the drama. I wanted to tell the dimwit to knock it off and let me pay for this shit. You old bastard. Instead I kept my yap shut and watched his ID scrutiny act. Grudginly he handed my license back to me and rang up my boozes. I paid, took my bag out to the car with a self satisfied smirk on my face and marked the address of this liquor cache on my Spokane city map.

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~ by factorypeasant on January 16, 2005.

2 Responses to “8.10.1996”

  1. For the first three paragraphs, I was wondering if you had switched to writing fiction. This sounded like some sort of post-apocalyptic nightmare. Of course, now that I think about it, I guess that’s the point. Carry on.

  2. Wad, Spokane was so whacked I couldn’t even make this shit up if I tried. Sometimes I am curious if it’s still a black hole of weirdness and I think about going back up to visit for a weekend.

    Then I think again.

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