Marcus Winter CC
May Something, 2021
I pull up to the 7-Eleven and the guy in the car nearest me is facing forward passed out against his steering wheel; you can barely see him at first.
I go in the store and I’m looking for something carbonated, so I guess a soda, preferably Sprite, cuz it doesn’t have caffeine. I pace up and down the aisle hoping it will magically appear. They have Sprite but it’s in plastic bottles. I’m not against them for environmental reasons, really I just think Sprite out of the can tastes infinitely better. Plus it reminds me of Spain, if you order soda at any restaurant there, they give it to you in a can, alongside a glass filled with some ice. And lastly I like the crisp sound it makes when I open it. So finally I settle on plastic bottle Sprite, but then out of protest to unseen forces, I grab one of Sprite’s competitor titles instead— you know: Sierra Mist, Squirt, Ginger Ale, etc. one of those.
The cashier is scanning my Not Sprite and his gut is so large that he looks pregnant. He’s not obese either, just a very large gut under his white Gucci shirt that admittedly contrasts nicely with his dark South Asian skin. I ask for a pack of Camel Crush and he says “we’re closed,” and I say “what?” and it occurs to me that he thinks I was asking for spare change or for help or something and he’s been trained to say that they’re closed when that happens. I wonder how I must look for him to think that.
“Just Camel Crush please.”
“Oh,” he says.
I think the total was 13 dollars. That’s probably exactly how much he makes in an hour. It’s more than I was making in Arizona. It’s more than I’m making now. The American Dream.
I’m outside again and this guy is still like, ODing in his car. I knock on the window lightly and suddenly notice a large black dog in the backseat, and the window’s half rolled down. I feel embarrassed and get in my car. That’s his guard dog, he’s asleep, he lives in his car, we’ve all been there. But I don’t leave because it’s still bugging me, the situation. I text my friend Banjo, not because he’s a recovered addict, but because I just need a second opinion.
“No one would fall asleep in a really brightly lit 711 parking lot, like that’s weird right?”
Banjo says it is absolutely weird, and that this guy might not be alright. I watch for a bit. The guy’s breathing is really slow and oddly twitchy at times; the twitches are the only thing that makes it clear he's breathing.
Guilt and a weird sense of obligation motivates me back to the window and I knock again, loudly this time, and as he lifts himself up I ask “are you alright?” and for some reason I’m surprised by how sincere I sound.
He looks confused and says something resembling a yes.
I say okay, I wait one long second, and then get in my car and drive away. I could’ve stayed longer but there’s no easy way to ask someone if they’re on drugs. He was awake, that was good enough for me. Although his pupils seemed large, and pupils are supposed to get very small when you’re on opiates. Then again he could’ve just had really dark brown irises. In any case he was definitely on something.
The moon is moving west in the sky. I’m in the Target parking lot now, the one where my ex-girlfriend swears she saw the Devil. Still no sign of him.
Mateo Omar is a writer and artist currently based in San Diego county, California. So far his writing has been published or is forthcoming in Mixed Mag, Gypsophila Zine, and Rise Up Review. He can be found on Instagram @arachnidoll.
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