I walked to Ralph's at three in the morning. Going downstairs, I realized I hadn't been out of the house in a couple of days, and I wondered if this was it, if I'd become fully unable to deal with human beings and would stay in my bedroom until my muscles atrophied and I cringed from the sound of outsiders.
It was silent enough to hear my footsteps echo off of the parked cars, all good Californians snug in their beds. Several lights had gone out in the parking lot above Ralph's. I peered in at the newspapers once I got there. The Daily Press was talking about how the Iraq war was being put on pause while stretched-out supply lines were consolidated.
A few weeks ago, someone went around town and painted 'Lies' in fluorescent red letters on all the Los Angeles Times vending machines, I suppose because it's the dirty liberal rag. Meanwhile, half the lampposts in Glendale are adorned with a swastika motif. This morning the paper noted that Iraqi soldiers were shooting civilians.
Some poor fucker was sleeping in the magazine section of Ralph's. He was crouched in a corner, curled up next to his paper bags, hiding from the Ralph's employees. Part of me thinks it's only a matter of time until I'm reduced to doing that myself.
I got a couple of pounds of bad hamburger, some cookies, a frozen dinner. I can't walk down the snack aisle without being startled that people really buy bag after bag of fried salted flour. But as I left the store I passed a couple of the stockers, sitting on the bench out front... they were surrounded by a nimbus of monosodium glutamate corn farts from eating Fritos.