The sign said “Granny G’s pit stop est. 1932,”.
He pulled his truck off the highway and parked the truck on the far side of the lot. He wanted to scout the place out at noon and show back up right before closing time.
He exited the vehicle and strolled towards the convenience store. The normally blinding sun stood no chance against his brand-new aviator glasses. He figured the woman didn’t fair much better in sight of his shiny black leather jacket.
As he approached the door, an ancient-looking lady yoda-walked in front of him. He quickly reacted reaching over her head and opened the door. She gave him a double take and scuttled on her way. James roamed over to the beverage section.
He caught a glance of himself in the glass door. He shuddered. His hair looked distracted. He had been combing it straight back towards his neck, but it reminded him of a displaced rock star after a bad divorce wasting away at a karaoke bar in a Chinese buffet. His beard needed a heavy trim, and his eyebrows had resumed intimate relations with one another. He also needed another pair of pants. This was his last pair. It had holes in the legs and a rip in the butt, that hadn’t noticed yet.
What would a person dressed like this drink? he mused.
He pulled an energy drink from the cooler and regretfully carried it to the counter. No line. Must be a slow day. He always assumed that Thursdays were historically slow days for gas stations.
As he closed in on the counter, the on-duty cashier approached the register. His left lung suddenly sprung a hyperbolic leak.
She had rich caramel hair (Diabetes flavored).
This cashier’s forehead was a prestigiously shined marble. If a tiny person attempted to hike across her face, they would slip and slide right off of her artisan nose. It would also be a rather long fall for the tiny humanoid seeing this earthbound goddess was a tall Amazonian drink of water.
The fair lady of Washington county smiled, revealing teeth that could have outsold the finest ivory in all the land. They shone upon James and beckoned him with siren call to imagine the pleasure felt by any food lucky enough to be sacrificed upon the altar of these 32 wonders of the world.
She donned two hazel eyes inside her sacred sockets. They searched James. Limb to limb. Like a police officer with an arrest quota. When they had found what they desired, she leaned her elbows to the counter positioning her face within James’ reach. He regretted not having consumed an entire box of mints before this exciting encounter. His breath reeked like a garlic-eating goat.
She studied her reflection in James’ sunglasses and flicked her sugary hair behind her expertly carved ears (They could have influenced an elf to break bad).
Without breaking eye contact with his shades, she said, “That’ll be $2.30.”
James heard something quite different. He assumed she was thinking through marriage plans or something and had reached an idea that broke her moral standards for a husband and wife scenario.
She said, “Excuse me, sir?” She snapped her fingers and waved her tanned and toned fingers in his face. He detected a hint of body odor, but it only added a touch of humanism to this creature with no resemblance to the monsters walking amongst her in this midwestern town.
He awoke from her beauty, reached into his wallet and pulled out his credit card.
She pointed at the sign behind her. “Sir. You got to spend at least $5.00 to use one of those things.”
“Oh. I… uh.” He tapped his fingers on the counter and scratched at his chin hair and finally turned and walked over to the packaged roses next to the family prevention section.
He then returned to the register and laid upon it one plastic wrapped flower. She picked it up and slid it across the scanner.
“That’ll be $4.75.” He reached up with both hands and pulled against his face. “Come on? For real?” He turned once again and rushed to the candy aisle and snapped up some chocolate on a pass-by. He rotated his hips, dropped low, and burst back up, and returned with speed back towards the counter and suddenly, he remembered to stay cool, slowed himself and in a nervous jitter attempted to lay the chocolate bar onto the plastic mat laying before this wonderful princess.
She passed the candy through the light gate. Again, without breaking eye contact with the jittery man in front of her. “Winner. Winner Chicken dinner. $6.95.” She said with the excitement of a funeral director at a faith healing service.
“I haven’t seen you around these parts before. I wouldn’t mind getting a drink sometime.”
“You already did.” She twisted her wrist and pointed downward. “It’s in your bag.” She said chewing away on her tongue. “Here’s your card back. Just swipe over there on your side.”
James couldn’t escape even a single syllable pouring from the wonderful locomotion of her voice box. James guessed she desired to see his below average muscles at work. He rolled the sleeve up the arm responsible for the card swiping maneuver. He imagined her excitement as he slung the card through again adding a neanderthalian grunt for theatrical ambiance.
Her gaze didn’t sway. She continued grinding her teeth into her tongue. Going slightly cross-eyed as she worked on the soft organ.
“Nope. Try it again.” She said, rolling her eyes. James’ hoped the maneuver was from her sheer astonishment at his semi-manliness.
Judging from the state of her teeth to tongue workout, he assumed the cashier had, more than likely, mentally peaked into a state of drunken euphoria as he smashed his credit card through the reader for a third time.
She scrunched her eyebrows. “Wait one minute, homeboy. (Chew, chew, chew) You got a chip on that card? You’re supposed to stick it in that slot on the bottom. God.”
Now breathless, he grasped the card with both hands and bowed his upper torso as he gently inserted the card into its intended destination. (Love can make a man weird.) He continued his graceful pose as he held the card in place a little longer, to prove his undying devotion to his lost queen.
“You gotta tell it ok. Do it like twice or something.”
“For you my lady, I shall admit a thousand replies if need be.”
She gave him the “oh boy” look and said, “Whatever, you need a receipt?” She annunciated these words with the precision of an accordion.
“Oh, I shan’t put you through a most troubling task.”
“Whatever that means.” (Chew. Cross. Chew. Cross. Chew. Roll.)
“Yes. whatever indeed.”
“So, uh… You got plans for tonight?” he asked, stepping into the dangerous world of statistical rejection.
“Work. Sleep. And poop.”
My god of the heavens. You’re more than I could ever imagine.
“Too bad,” he said while snatching his black plastic bag from the counter. He then put on an award-winning performance filled with scenes of deep regret and a moment of tear-filled grieving as he walked out the door. Holding the door ajar, he carefully turned to face the candy-haired princess, “May we see one another at another blessed event in time and space?” He beckoned across the store.
“Yeah, sure. Whatever, dude.”
James had never felt a love this strong for another mammal.
He remembered his original plan. He punched one hand into the sky. When he had reached his truck, he checked himself in the rearview mirror. His hair seemed depressed. He needed a new doo if he was to have a chance at espionage (obviously).
The Beauty Shop
Appointments loved, Walk-ins Expected.
He maneuvered the truck into the tiny beauty parlor’s parking lot and made his way to the door. The ever customary bell rang out its evil tune. James noticed two styling chairs and two weak-minded grannies sitting in each, with a stylist working both chairs.
The stylist looked up at James and yelled, “Hey baby, deliveries go in the back.” She paused said, “You’re not Franz?”
“Oh. No, ma’am. I’m James.”
“Did they fire the German? I told the girls that Franz was going to get fired for wearing those short shorts on deliveries. Walking around here showing everything his father gave him.”
“I didn’t mind.” One of the old ladies in the chairs said.
“Ethel. Seriously. He could have been your grandson.”
“Hold up ladies, I’m looking to get my hair styled up a bit.”
“Well. I don’t normally work on guys, but we could use some practice. But why didn’t you go to a barber shop?”
“I need a good-looking cut. I’m trying to woo a…” James tried to say.
“Woman?” One stylist asked.
“Not just any woman. The quintessential example of a woman. Michelangelo himself couldn’t have put her face on a chapel ceiling for fear of men trying to cut the roof off to marry it.”
“Ok, Romeo put your big fanny in my seat. We’re gonna get you looking like a man that wants to run off with a girl in his big rig. But… not creepy like, though… You ain’t planning on kidnapping this broad are you?”
“He can kidnap me and take me wherever he wants to.” said the old lady in the stylist’s chair.
“Good Lord Ethel get out of the man’s way.” The stylist said.
“But you’re not finished with my cut.”
“We both know you’re going to be here all day. Far as I can tell, you’re my only regular customer.” The stylist shoved the old lady out of the chair, bumping her into a table of dust-ridden shampoo bottles.
James sat in the vacant chair. The woman draped a hair “cape” across his body, tied it to his throat, and set to work on her masterpiece. Within seconds, James had put himself to sleep, a self-preservation tactic he had developed as a child.
After a flurry of scissors, clippers, and hairspray, James awoke as she spun the chair around to face the mirror. Through the sleep slime still crawling over his eyeballs, he saw…
“It’s beautiful!” A little old lady in the shop exclaimed.
The stylist stood in awe. She had revived his curls back from the stringy vine status they had become.
“It was the conditioner.” She choked out through the mascara fountain falling off her chin. “And the dish soap. And the two hours of deep root massage.”
“You washed my hair? I don’t remember you washing my hair.”
“You fell asleep, baby. You sure were a talkative sleeper though. I’ve never heard so many distinct and vivid words used to describe a female subject that capably stayed within such an appropriate range of the dictionary and with not one word stolen from the sailor’s lexicon,” Said a nerdy granny in the corner.
Another woman in the waiting chairs along the front wall lost her composure onto the woman sitting next to her. “It was amazing. I wish my husband, or even one of my boyfriends would say something like that about me.”
The new doo astonished James. “How could I ever repay you for this?”
“Credit, debit, cash, gold bars, jewelry, firearms, doesn’t matter to us. As long as it’s got a decent street value. But we can’t take human organs. We ain’t got no ice machine, no more…” The stylist said.
He handed her the most exotic option available to him, a credit card. When he got out of the chair, he came close to falling over while still gapping at the curls flowing from his oblong head.
He gave the stylist a long awkward hug. To pass the time, she took a deep draw of his hair. “Smells like twenty bucks.”, She said sniffing once more for good measure. “Good luck, kid. With hair as good as yours, you’re gonna give the poor girl a heart attack.”
He stepped off the truck and checked his reflection in the mirror. He was wearing a silky red button-up shirt, a pair of gray work pants but good looking work pants, the kind that would make your boss say “Hey, you look halfway decent today, Fred, you got a job interview or something?”
His face was clean shaven with a thin black chinstrap along the edge of his sharp jaw.
His breath smelled like an entire pack of chewing gum, which he eventually had to spit out because his jaw had gone stupid.
He had taken a shower at the local gym and felt so fresh and so clean (clean). He had applied two layers of ladies moisturizing cream to his arms and hairy legs. He winked at his reflection. The total package. No woman in their almost right mind could stand a chance against this weapon of mass seduction.
He checked the store window. He didn’t see her, yet. She was there though. He could feel her beauty radiating through the walls like a nuclear reaction in an uncontrolled environment.
He opened the door the loud bell overhead startled him. He stretched back his head and kidnapped the air with a deep breath. He didn’t catch the woman’s scent, but a pleasant and slightly familiar perfume danced across his nose hairs.
She must have seen me pull up and now she’s spraying her attractant to lure me in.
He walked over to the counter. Still, he couldn’t find his new love. A toilet flushed in the restroom. “There’s my queen, ascending from her throne now. Exactly as she had stated in her departing speech this afternoon.”
He moved to stand close to the bathroom door, but not too close for fear of encountering too many of her not so pleasant odors in one day. The bathroom door crawled opened. He was standing out of view. He cleared his throat to call attention to his presence. She had not exited the restroom yet, but he could nare hold in his excitement not one second longer.
He said in a voice that could make a Tasmanian devil convert to Christianity, “Hey girl, how about we grab a drink out the cooler and talk a little while?”
As the last syllable flew from his word hole, he discovered it wasn’t the pretty cashier coming out of the restroom, but was the little old lady he had held the door for earlier in the day.
She pushed through him as she scurried over to the front door of the store. She reached and turned over the “We’re Open” sign and transferred its message to “Sorry, We’re Closed”.
James said, “oh I’m sorry, I thought you had a few more minutes before closing time.”
“We do.” She said in a hushed voice, as she locked the door behind her.
“But when a man as pretty as you asks a lady for a drink. You lock up early.”
“Oh, my,” James said, collapsing his throat to contain his dinner. “So, the girl from this afternoon?”
“Don’t worry about her. She had to leave early. Got the stomach virus. I got it too, been in and out of the bathroom all day, but somebody’s got to run the register.” She looked James over once more. “And my oh my, did I pick the right night to be the hero?”
This lady was old. She looked like she’d be lying if she said she was under 95. He had an unpleasant feeling about what was (for sure) going down tonight. But this ancient person could help him with his mystery. Or at least, that’s what he was praying under his minty breath.
He walked to the cooler and pulled out something to help him forget any terrible decisions approaching his timeline.
She held out her hand, with ivy veins and said, “Don’t mind if I do.” And snatched the drink from his shaking hand.
He turned back around and grabbed two more for himself.
They cracked open their drinks, and she walked over to a table intended for tiresome lottery players. How symbolic.
“Ooh, such the gentleman,” she said with delight in her eyes. “Have we’ve met before?”
“I thought I’d seen your pretty face before.”
James blushed a little. He was weighing his options for getting the information he needed without instituting a serious relationship with her. He needed the right balance if he intended on getting out of here with no scars, mental or physical.
He said, “I’ve got a question for you, something I’ve been trying to figure out.”
She stared at the table and said nothing for a moment, and locked her eyes with James’ once more and whispered, “Sorry, I ONLY kiss and tell.”
She was smiling with her head cocked requiring her eyes to look up at him. Her eyebrows danced for him. He noticed a contrast at that moment. She had a thick old lady mustache. Looked like she shaved it. It had potential, but she must have been consistent in shutting it down.
She reached out and caressed his hand. Her gritty fingers sanded away at his skin. “It’s been so long. Since I had a lover’s touch.”
James coughed. “Oh, my. How long to be exact?”
“Three days.” She said. “These old geysers, they keep dying on me. But you, you’ve got youth about you.”
“I’m 38. I wouldn’t say I’m…”
“38?” She smiled. “Just a baby. A few years past diapers. But, you know, many of the guys I’ve loved were in diapers.”
This situation. This gross and nasty situation. It was too much for his fragile, kinda young, mind. He slowed his breathing.
James Bond would have done it. He thought.
He would have done whatever. Even passionately kissing the crusty lips of a geriatric. If I can’t respect the job of being a spy, I need to pack my bags and move back to the office.
Whatever be done. Even if it required making out with this nasty old woman.
She lathered on her deep red lipstick.
“How’s about you walk over here and give granny a big smooch?”
Kissing the old lady
In the past, He would crawl into his easy chair and veg out on a rabbit hole adventure through Wikipedia. He was more than happy to read about Vexillum Gouldi’s (a sea snail), racing yacht technology, or neuroscientists, like Eric Klann when he wasted time on the “random article” button of his favorite encyclopedia webpage. But now, he was crawling across a wobbly table in a closed gas station to plant his lips against personified freeze dried peaches. His rules of vanity and his moral compass had all but failed him in his pursuit of an adventurous life. He kept reminding himself that this would add to his experience level and would assist him in becoming an international spy. “Man’s gotta earn his reputation.” his dad used to say through the phone in the jail visitation booth.
He wasn’t sure that his dad would have approved of “pre-sexual acts” with someone with such expertise and years under her belt.
James had agreed to the lady’s request of climbing over. He tried balancing his way across the rickety black table. If he fell from the table he would land hard on the solid concrete below, if he made it to the other side he would have to kiss someone so close to the “other side” themselves. He kept his balance tight, and his determination strong.
When he reached the edge, the lady bent forward and puckered her lips towards James. He stretched out his neck, stuck out his lips and suck closer to his target. He stretched as far as he could reach but could not deliver his quivering lips to their dreaded destination. The woman stood and said, “You’re scaring Maw Maw with this rocking table. You’d better get down before you bust your head.”
Such the caring grandmotherly type James thought.
He slid off of the table and made his way over to his waiting companion. She stepped closer and wrapped her bacon-like fingers around his arm. He bent forward, attempting to breathe in one more ounce of air before his lips (and physiological boundaries) would become forever compromised. Six more inches before her lizard skin would contact his mouth. His heart beat a devastated tune. His lungs screamed from the rush of perfume she had applied to her withering epidermis. His mind considered mutiny, but it knew it wasn’t the answer.
He never foresaw falling for such a simplistic scheme. This woman had played her cards well and pinned James into this slimy situation.
His lips floated towards their final approach for landing and there would be no turning back. She slid her cold hand around the back of his neck, pulled her face towards his and changed his life forever.
As her lips came into full crusty contact with his own, her body stiffened like a wooden board fell backward. Her hand slipped from his neck. James watched in horror as the granny timbered towards the hard concrete floor.
He lept towards her catching her torso in his arms as he thudded to the ground with her body in his grasp.
He laid still for a moment, the crash had stolen his consciousness or from coping with the horrible decision that had brought them to this escalated situation After recovering from the jolt, he sat up and checked his “date” for a pulse.
The Kiss of Death
“911 what’s your emergency?” A female voice said.
James wasn’t sure of how to answer the question. He noticed a small security camera looking over the lottery area. I’m busted.
He screamed, “There’s a woman on the ground and I think she’s dead.” though trying hard to remain calm.
“Sir, I need you to turn down a bit, OK?. Does this person have a pulse?”
James felt of the woman’s jangling throat. “No. I can’t find one” he said.
“Sir. What happened?”
“Sir, I need to know what happened?”
Nothing once more.
“I kissed her,” James said in soft defeat.
“Ok… I see. Was this before or after she was unresponsive?”
“Oh, Lord! What kind of question is that?” Realizing the exact reasoning for the inquiry, He tucked his chin into his chest. “Before. Like a second before. I leaned in, kissed her, and she fell over dead.”
“Okay. Sir. Are we talking like a peck on the cheek or was this some kind of romantic situation?,”
“Just a short, super short, like a few milliseconds of kissing action, and but she asked me to do it.”
“Ok sir. Calm down. I need the how and why. Just trying to piece this together. Could I get your name and the address?” she asked.
“It’s James. And I’m at… I believe it’s called Granny G’s gas station.”
There was a pause as the operator hammered away at her keyboard and ate what sounded like peanut brittle.
“Ok. Mr. James. I’ve got an ambulance on its way. Do you know the woman’s name?”
“No ma’am,” he said. Although he had a disgusted feeling of what it might be.
“I see. Ok. So I guess that means you also don’t know if she’s had any heart problems?”
“Listen…911 person… I just met this person.”
“Ok. Could you at least take a stab at guessing her age?”
“Sure.” James examined the happy corpse spread across the lottery section before him. “I’d say upper 90s, maybe a hundred, hundred and… five.” he gagged
“No sir, I’m not asking about her weight, just her age.”
For this, James lost all willingness to reply.
911 lady finally broke the pause. “… Oh, I see… Nevermind then. Gotcha. Ok, sweetie. We’ll just say she’s like super old.” The operator launched out a quick nostril snort and attempted to regain her frail composure.
“Just curious, what is your age, sir?”
He breathed in the stale air and said, “38… and a half.”
“Ok. Thank you, sir. I’d like to walk you through performing CPR until standing arrives. Is that ok?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“Ok. Great. You’re gonna need to put your hands together and start pumping under the center of the chest bone.”
He positioned his hands and treated the granny like an air pump to a blow-up mattress for a moment.
“Sir, I will need you to place your lips against her mouth and blow air into her lungs.”
He reluctantly leaned closer to and was about to perform kiss number two when he noticed The Necklace.
A dog tag that said,
Don’t resuscitate me
Though he may have discovered his own salvation, he knew now that she would not. The moment of the first kiss would be her last.
Or so he thought.
Granny G gasped for air and lurched up to a sitting position. The sudden revival knocked the cellphone from his shoulder.
Granny seemed to have found full recovery. “Whoa! What a rush! Dang it kid, you might not be the best-looking thing in town, but you sure know how to smooch!”
After Granny’s grand revival, the 911 operator disconnected. I guess she had just eaten her dinner and wasn’t interested in hurling a chewed up ham sandwich across the operator switchboard. Unfortunately, the ambulance never came.
As he leaned over Genev, who still lay on the floor, he asked, “My friends found a note the other day, it had, MMM written on it. You ever heard of MMM?”
Granny’s face drew tight.. She said, “Who told you about that? Them letters, I don’t know what they mean, but they mean something. I heard my grandson talking about MMM before. But he didn’t say…”
“What’d he say about them? Why would he be talking about MMM?”
“I don’t know. He worked at his daddy’s farm, maybe it had something to do with milk or something..”
Tears we navigating a path through the maze of wrinkles down her face. She pulled him close and soaked James’ mouth with one more drooling kiss across his innocent lips.
Breathing her last, she laughed and died, one happy lady.
He rose and her death grasp released dropping her to the floor. He called 911 once more.