I was on the way home when my classmate hurriedly blocked my path. I was still sore at him about his zoo idea but he was a harmless soul I could not even think of crossing out of my life. Besides, we attended the same class and no way I could escape his presence.
“What now? I am in a hurry.”
“Come with me. I need help.”
I could not paint his depressed face. Something was bothering him.
“I need someone dependable. I am sure you fit the bill.”
“If you’re trying to make a scapegoat, I am not interested.”
“Nothing that easy,” he replied breathlessly. “You have to do it.”
“Spit it out!” I blurted out. Instinctively I covered my mouth. That was the wrong choice of word. George’s image flashed in my head like a nightmare that would not vanish.
“I’ll tell you when we are already there.”
“You’re too smart for me,” I suspected. “You’ll wait for the last minute before telling me so I could not back out.”
“Now, you’re a mind reader.”
“No. I just base it on experience.”
We arrived at the 24-hour store, the guard eyed us menacingly, trying to warn us non-verbally that shoplifters would be punished accordingly.
“Let’s go to the personal hygiene section.”
“Tell me about it,” I inquired. “Don’t tell me you are infected.”
“Infected? No!” he raised his voice to prove his innocence. “Ah, here it is.”
When I saw what was in his hands, I backtracked. No way I would go to the counter and pay for it
“Why do you want to embarrass me so often?”
“Man, I know you are very good at getting out of difficult situations.”
He was correct. He was not there at the zoo when I successfully turned that fiasco into a memorable day. But that’s another story.
“Give it to me! No laughing, please.”
I saw my classmate raised his right hand in a pledge while pounding his chest with his left.
At the counter, the guard approached near the cashier. He was still suspicious that we might be robbers.
I placed the item on the tray without saying a word, extending my hand with the payment,
“Are you sure this is what you need? This has short tails?”
“I am sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I wasn’t elaborating.
“Oh, you know what I am talking about,” said the female cashier smiling.
“Please let us go now. Give me the change.”
“My older sister has a ‘visitor’ so we’re asked to do the errand.”
I wanted to choke my classmate for expanding the conversation.
“She has a period,” she remarked, counting the change before handing them to me with the item.
“That’s a question mark,” I quipped as a reflex. “I do not know the whole story.”