3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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“Listen,” I told the cashier, “I need a tent but I’ve never been camping so I don’t know where to start.”
The cashier, who looked like he had just popped in to work at the Big 5 from a life of camping, stroked his beard while staring me up and down.
“Will you be camping alone or with friends and family?”
I cleared my throat and scratched my cheek. Just as I was about to say “alone”, Madonna’s Like a Virgin came on through the store speakers and I changed my answer.
“I’m a camping with friends.”
The man pulled a Mason jar full of water from below the counter and took a swig. His eyes bulged, his cheeks flushed red and he let out a puff of smoke before replying, “well, if you are camping alone, I recommend a pup tent.”
“Why’s it called a pup tent?”
He ignored my question and pulled a small brown sack out from the same place his jar had come from.
“This here’s a pup tent and I’ll give it to you for $25. That’s a steal kid.”
I looked at the sack, which looked like it had bounced around the back of a pick up truck full of ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. That’s also what it smelled like.
“Do you have any other–” I began to say.
“No, thats it, the tents you see around are only for display.”
I glanced at the aisle marked CAMPING and saw boxes and boxes of tents.
CLANG! POP! BANG! POP!
The man stroked his beard and took another bug-eyed swig of his interesting water. Droplets rolled down his beard as he reached down and pulled up a camping stove.
“Popcorn?” he gestured with black fingernails. I could see dirt spidering through the cracks in his hands.
“No, thank you. Listen, could I speak to a manager?” I said looking around.
“Manager? Who do you think you’re talkin’ to little feller?”
“Oh, excuse me.” My face curled up unconsciously into disgust as he gently pressed big, damp wads of chewing tobacco into his left cheek, in between large handfuls of popcorn, which he maneuvered to his right side with his tongue.