Episode 4_- The Painter's Child
Wilted spinach, curled carrots. Ben grinds his teeth and glares at the security camera’s watching him.
Are you kidding me?
Ben lifts a tomato and tests its firmness, the tomato bleeds a white ooze from its side. Ben returns the tomato to its home box and pretends he was never interested in produce.
Yes I want fresh vegetables, but it won’t happen here.
Amused we look at the three video monitors, large LED screens which should display football scores, hanging proud in front of the store’s entrance.
Claude and Ben are the only video recorded occupants of the store. The clerk, a pudgy local girl with half-yellow hair, stained fingers and teeth, scrolls through her cell phone and is out of the camera’s range.
Claude prowls the DVD rack. The movies are military action. The plots a single log line of death and destruction. Claude gives up on DVDs and returns to the check out counter with a jug of milk, a sack of hot dogs, white bread, and some macaroni and cheese.
Ben joins him empty handed.
Claude swipes his worn debit card and Ben watches the purchase display.
“$5.65 for a box of Mac and cheese?” Ben asks.
The store clerk shrugs her sun burnt shoulders. Yup, is all she implies.
“Y’all that’ll be $18.56”
Claude, amused by his son’s indignance directs him out the store and ushers him next to George the Heron.
The bird observes the white plastic bag in Claude’s hand. Trained by numerous encounters with plastic bags, the bird knows food often comes out of its soft crinkled shell.
Claude pulls out the hot dogs and rips the car keys along the plastic. He breaks off a chunk of hot dog and hands it to Ben.
Ben holds the cold tab of processed meat.
“Go on, feed the bird,” Claude says.
Ben, miserable for the first time since his mother’s death, does not see the logic or reason to be here, in the south on an island that greets him with a sewage plant, funny looking houses and price-gauged stores.
“Oh come on boy. It’s not that bad. This is just the beginning.”
“Papa, they talk funny.”
“Of course they do. We sound funny to them too.”
“Yes but they overcharge.”
“It’s even worse in New York.”
“Their vegetables are rotted.”
“Okay, yes, but they probably have other stores with fresh veggies.”
Ben understands he is being moody and for his papa, he stretches a grin across his face.
“Okay, you’re right.”