Johnny America


Boon­dock 7 – 11


“Do you have any beer?”

I had al­ready filled up the Chrysler and searched the rows of cool­ers with­out any luck. It was too late for liquor stores. The kid let out a chuckle.

“Naw, man. You know where the sev­en eleven is?”

I had on­ly been in town for three days, a mix­ture of cor­po­rate sub­ur­ban Amer­i­ca, mi­ni-malls, and some mi­nor in­dus­try, with homes tucked away be­hind neon and flu­o­res­cent lights. I had no idea where the 7 – 11 was.

“Get out here, make a right and at the sec­ond light, take a left. It’s just down there.”


It’s not my car, but I feel great dri­ving it. Beer runs are like re­con­nais­sance mis­sions when you’re in for­eign ter­ri­to­ry. You bat­tle the el­e­ments, meet the na­tives, and meet your ob­jec­tive, re­turn­ing home to a vic­to­ry that leaves you de­sir­ing wa­ter and aspirin.

Af­ter mak­ing the left, I passed through a dark two-lane street with broad tree-limbs, over the rail­road tracks, and pulled in­to the dirt-lined park­ing lot of the 7 – 11.

I al­ways end up cas­ing peo­ple out be­fore I even get out of the car. Fat guy. Some girl I al­ways think is not too at­trac­tive. The usu­al gang at a 7 – 11.

I walk to the back, check out the beer. I pick up two six-packs of Bud­weis­er and de­cide on the $10.99 twelve-pack of Heineken. On the way back I man­age to grip a bag of Ruf­fles in be­tween my fin­gers as I walk to­ward the counter. Rais­ing the beer, the bag hits the counter and drops.

“Shit!” I’m smiling.

“Well, I guess they’ll just have to be a bit mashed up, then.”

I look at the clerk, who is bald­ing with long gray hair. He’s wear­ing bi-fo­cals and that stu­pid red apron. “It must’ve been be­cause of that mess com­ing out of your mouth,” he stammered.

I might not be a ge­nius, but I un­der­stand his point. The prob­lem is, cau­sa­tion does­n’t work that way: the ef­fect does not pro­duce the cause. I mean I took Log­ic and all, and passed, but that shit’s re­al basic.

“What do you mean?” I check out his name-tag, which says “Charles” and “Have a blessed day.” I look at his eyes and no­tice: he’s agitated.

“That stuff com­ing out of your mouth. That’s prob­a­bly what did it.”

Now, I’m no man of the lord, but I’m not about to get preached to at a 7 – 11 on a Thurs­day night. “…Ex­cept, the bag fell be­fore I said it.” Ass.

He does­n’t look at me. He’s tak­ing his time as he rings the stuff up too, which is re­al­ly be­gin­ning to piss me off, now. But then I think, maybe he’s just too ag­i­tat­ed to deal. Any­how, he looks over and says: “Fifty-four thirty-eight!”

Now, at this point, I know he’s got to be fuck­ing kid­ding. I can bud­get on beer. I’ve got that shit down to a sci­ence in­volv­ing gum, smokes, a lighter, a bag of chips, and two six-packs for $19.97 on a reg­u­lar basis.

“That’s not right.”

At this point there are two peo­ple pa­tient­ly wait­ing in line so I go ahead and pay.

“Look, man. Back at the cool­er it says the Heineken is ten ninety-nine.”

He’s god-damned tri­umphant at this point, grandiose­ly swing­ing his arm to rip the re­ceipt off of the cash-ma­chine, and read­ing out each item to me like it’s the fuck­ing Gospel of Luke or some­thing: item, price, item price, item, price. “Heineken, eigh­teen nine­ty-nine! It’s all right there!”

“I’m not ques­tion­ing what’s on the re­ceipt, but the cool­er says it’s ten ninety-nine.”

“Heineken’s good stuff! It’s ex­pen­sive,” he ex­plains as if that solved every­thing. I can see the years of id­io­cy and re­li­gion cloud­ing up be­hind this guy’s bi-fo­cals. At this point, I fig­ure that there’s some sort of class-rage go­ing on here, too, be­cause I bought the good stuff and he’d be hap­py with Schlitz.

“It’s all right here,” he says and pass­es me the re­ceipt. It looks like he’s ready to help the next cus­tomer, ex­cept he re­al­ly feels like he’s won.

“Look. I’ve al­ready paid, so I can’t be ques­tion­ing what’s on the re­ceipt. What I’m try­ing to tell you is that the price in the cool­er says ten ninety-nine.”

He prints out an­oth­er re­ceipt and looks at it.

“No, it says here, eigh­teen ninety-nine.”

“The price… from where I got the Heineken… that’s where it says ten nine­ty-nine. You should change it.”

“Back there?”


“… Oh … They’re re­ar­ran­gin’ the shelves back there.”

On the dri­ve back I mulled over the en­tire Rod-Ser­lingesque vibe. I re­turned to home-base, where we drank those beers and ate the chips. We built a fire and laughed un­til our heads spun. The danc­ing brunette, eight years old­er than me, pressed her olive-skinned body against mine, and we fum­bled around un­til on­ly sheets remained.

“If he had on­ly known,” I thought. I’m cer­tain he guessed that it would lead to this, or worse, in his own mind. Bet­ter for me. In­to that god­less world go I, full of sin and love, while he re­mains in a flu­o­res­cent sanc­tu­ary mourn­ing the loss of yet an­oth­er soul. He knows not the glo­ry of her waist, nor the splen­dor of her thighs, like I do.

I for­give him everything.

Filed under Fiction on May 2nd, 2006

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.