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.”



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