Fingering the box, Ribena dents in a corner with her nail. The Chemist doesn’t run 24 hours so, hair piled, she shoves the compressed cardboard inside her coat and moves her slippers like cross country skis past the skeleton in blue performing the midnight wash. He exhales a low irritated grunt, punctuating the trajectory inside his polish. He straightens, stares her down with two dead eyes. She scowls back at his skeletal-frame as she moves ungracefully past him. Why does Adam have to be such a pussy over buying condoms? Who doesn’t have condoms in their house? Fuck sake, she snorts.
Ribena stops in aisle eight, snacks, and starts searching for chilli cheese crisps with hot spice. She opens a red packet with three fireballs and munches down. The florescent lights flicker across her bed mane. This really is the best time to visit Tesco, she observes. No bullshit people. No babies. No need for real clothes. She stuffs the open crisp bag back on the shelf, rejecting it, it isn’t hot enough, doesn’t blister her tongue, she rolls the red about her mouth, it’s a tepid taste.
Paul knows this Tesco like he knows his wife’s vagina. He’d made that joke last week at the club house when someone had asked him how the midnight cravings were, rolling his eyes, sighing, lapping up the laughs. The immediacy and irrationality of his wife’s demands had long crossed over from silly to absurd. Get me a raspberry and kiwi gelato like the one we had in Florence in 1981 or I’ll peel the fingernails off both your hands. Paul doesn’t mind, the excuse for escape is welcome.
He de-tours down aisle three, sprays a long strong bout of XXSEX copiously across his body to mask the five smokes he chained on the quick drive over here. The violence his knocked-up wife portrays, though frightening, is kind of erotic. Certainly spices up the dullness a bit. XXSEX. He stares at the shiny can, wondering if this shit really works on adolescent girls, whether they dropped their knickers to fifteen-year-old spot sweats who spray this stuff across their grease. Paul thinks about this, teenagers dropping their pants. He wonders on it for a while before noting it down as yet another example of why he isn’t ready to be a Dad. Fathers aren’t meant to think about stuff like that.
Aisle eleven, mini stollen, crack cake as her son would call it, and Moreen is freaking a bit. Just a bit, nothing serious but she is walking wild, a little loose and her breath is slack, wobbly and uneven. The shine from above, the fake sun, is hitting her head like a hammer. An obnoxious song about a party loops, loops between Moreen’s ears it loops again and she wishes they’d turn that racket off. Midnight shopping is meant to be peaceful, the rows deserted, the half-stocked shelves unobtrusive, different to the day. But this sound makes her eyes vibrate. Moreen closes them, they pulsate inside the lids. She keeps them sealed, walks straight, traces the grid on the floor as she rounds the corners, feeling with her hands, head banging.
Moreen would never come to Tesco in the day, she did come once and it was hellish, never again. Her son had needed something, she couldn’t recall what it was but she knew it had been important at the time. That she had to go out and get it for him, straight away. The lights had been so loud and the people so bright, everything was twisted. Moreen finally manages to open her eyes again, aisle nine, breathes deeply, pushes away the insects that she can feel, scratching at her skull.
Lucid dream or tripping out, it feels like James is inside a video game or something, like something him and Zac used to play when they first got into weed, smoke, punching keys, smoke, punching keys, smoke, punching keys, smoke, punching keys, smoke, punching keys, smoke, punching keys, smoke… James blinks, there are a lot of corridors, a lot of passages and each is numbered and each holds a different destiny, an alternative option, which path was he meant to take? How is he meant to know? When there are so many alternative routes in front of him now, in front of him all the time… man this acid’s definitely kicking something…
James knows he’s after pickled onion monster munch, that was it! He’s floating, directed by a celestial motivation, everything is fluid… he slumps against the juice cartons, pulls a bottle out, he drinks the lovely liquid. James is thirsty but what else does he know? He enjoys the way his chest rises, falls, the quiet, the faint hum of music and fridges and freezers, like everything is working together, everything in sync and rhythm. He needs to find it, whatever he came here for, what was it again? He keeps forgetting. To his left, he notices the thin blue coat, wiping the floor, pushing pools from a mop head to make it look like glass. James winks, “very good man, very good, I see what you’re doing there,” he nods. Did I just say that out loud? He securitises the direction of the liquid, an aqua marine, a whale, a whirlpool moving in hurricane circles. He acknowledges the ocean and sails on past.