The Haunting of the Rite Aid

by Lisa Waugh

Scene 1:

Lonny could not sleep. Ever since his wife took off for Biloxi on an all-girls gambling trip, he was restless. He mowed the lawn. Fixed some shit around the house. Cleaned out the bad part of the garage.

Lonny did all of the crap his wife had wanted him to do for years.

And yet. It didn’t make him feel any better.

He knew that she was probably going to cheat on him like she promised she would do six years ago when she found out he let Gloria at the guard shack give him a hand job in his Tacoma four wheel drive.

One thing Lonny knew about his wife. She was good at the long game. It’s what made her an excellent gambler, CPA and probably within the next couple of days, an adulterer.

As soon as his wife found out about Gloria and interrogated him in a manner that Navy Seals would appreciate, he’d relived his own shameful confession of ejaculation during the strains of a Kenny Logins song and her quiet vow to wait until the time was right and she’d have her own Gloria moment…only with a man and she’d go all the way. And she’d probably be listening to Seals & Crofts, her favorite band.

Lonny was not particularly goodlooking. But his wife was. She was stunning. And at 58, she was just as alluring as she was when she was 22.

She never had kids. She played golf. She did yoga way before anyone in their tiny town did.

And now she was going to sleep with another man. And there wasn’t a fucking thing Lonny could do about it.

Scene 2

The only thing that seemed to ease his mind was going to the Rite Aid, because it was open 24/7, and getting some Hennessy and a pack of cigarettes.

Lonny hadn’t smoked or drank in 28 years. He was never an alcoholic. He didn’t really smoke that much when he did. He just got bored with it and stopped. Now, it seemed like the only thing to do. Get drunk and smoke a fuck load of Pall Malls. Maybe listen to some Lena Horn and get the goddamn blues in style.

He knew he had made the right decision because the short drive over was the first time in days he didn’t have the horrible mental image of his wife copulating with Burt Reynolds. This was his stand in for the unknown man until he got more details. If he got more details.

He also realized that he was ruining the Smokey and the Bandit series for himself forever.

He shoved the thought aside and parked close to the front entrance of the Rite Aid, which seemed in his emotional state, brighter than all of Las Vegas. Or the riverboat casino in Biloxi.

Scene 3:

Lonny practically skipped down the liquor aisle, not realizing that the good stuff was locked away behind sliding glass. After his third pull on the heavy door, it dawned on him. He looked around at the empty store.

He walked up to the only other person in the Rite Aid, the tattooed Asian kid with the ear plugs behind the register who was hunched over a piece of car stereo with a flat head screwdriver.

“I guess you need a key to get to the good liquor.”

“Yeah, bunch of tweakers started making off with the good shit so management locked it up. It’s a pain the ass for regular people and us, though.

“Sorry.”

“Not your fault. I’ll get the key.”

Lonny liked the Asian kid. He seemed smart and cool. Something he didn’t think he was. That’s why he let Gloria give him a hand job. He couldn’t explain that to his wife, who was also cool. Cool people didn’t understand that uncool people needed things.

He wandered back to the liquor aisle and listened to the strains of Creed. Rite Aid was a one hit wonder time machine. Lonny kind of liked it. It was the only place in town where he could hear the Oakridge Boys followed by the BoDeans.

He saw a person move in his peripheral and swung round to acknowledge the Asian kid.

But it wasn’t the Asian kid.

Scene 4:

The person standing there was a bright shade of purple with silver eyes, covered in blood and dirt. Her black hair was above her head, floating in the air as though she were looking out from inside an aquarium.

She was naked and held a broken spear in her hand. Her feet were missing. Or rather they were buried into the shiny floor of the liquor aisle.

Lonny was so full of fright, he laughed.

He did that.

He’d laugh at the most inappropriate times. He even asked his doctor about it. And his doctor had said, “Some people do that.”

Now he was laughing. And he was terrified. He wanted to piss himself but the woman might not like that. Whatever the fuck she was.

She stared at him and not in an unfriendly way. Like she just met him at a party and instantly liked his face.

She was terrifying and yet Lonny found himself smiling at her. She cocked her head to the side and looked him up and down. And then she smiled in a very pleasant way, considering the fact that she had blood on her teeth.

Still, Lonny liked her very much. Because she liked him.

All of a sudden, he didn’t want the Asian kid to turn up with the key. He motioned to her to go to the next aisle. She looked at him, straightening her head and then nodded.

He pointed to his right. She nodded. He started to move. He looked down at her feet.

“Can you move?”

She looked down at her feet and pulled them, one by one, out of the shiny concrete floor. Her feet dripped bloody dirt on the intact, shiny floor.

She drifted up and in the direction he had pointed.

Lonny said a soft, “Oh.”

He walked over the foot aisle, where they had baths and Dr. Schoals gel heals and if that didn’t work out, walking canes. She was at one end of the aisle and he on another.

“Hello.”

She looked at him, smiled another big beautiful bloody smile.

“My name is Lonny.”

She was drinking him in with her eyes.

He was so frightened and so excited, he felt like using a British accent when he spoke next. But he did not.

“I came here to buy liquor and cigarettes. It’s nice to meet you.”

She drifted toward him. He jumped a little. She stopped.

“I’m sorry.”

He then stepped toward her. She moved closer. They met in the middle of the aisle.
He was very close to her now. She smelled like beets, honeysuckle and a river. She smelled like death and Sunday dinner.

He kind of loved her.

“You are very pretty. I hope that isn’t too forward. I’m married. Are you married?”

She looked at him, smiled. Inhaled and then said, “Se mwen menm ki Kowsperi. Mwen k ap viv sou orizon an pou tout tan. Mwen byen kontan ou ka wè m ‘. Ou se yon bon bagay, Lonny. Mwen ka wè ke ou se bon.”

On top of the language, her voice sounded like a rusted accordion. It was chilling and gorgeous at the same time. Blood ran from her mouth as she talked.

“That’s a beautiful language. I did not understand you. But that sounded so nice.”

Then she nodded and did a little wave in the air and said, ”I said, I am Kowsperi. I am living on the forever horizon. I’m glad you can see me. You are good, Lonny. I can see that you are good.”

Then Lonny fainted.

Scene 5:

In his dream, the woman lifted him up, nodded to the Asian kid who looked up briefly from his car stereo who lifted his chin and smiled and then she took him to his car and drove him home and sat with him and drank Hennessy and smoked Pall Malls.

And she said things in her strange language that made him laugh so hard, he cried. And then she said things that made so much sense, he cried. She drank a lot. He drank a lot. She smoked a lot. He smoked a lot. Then she got up and helped him to bed.

She helped him out of his clothing but there was nothing sexual about it. He fell into a sleep like he’s never had.

When he woke up and saw the three empty Hennessy bottles in the recycling bin and the freshly washed ashtray he kept hidden in the garage, he knew that he had had some sort of time. And the feeling was that it was somehow monumental. And was very tidy afterwards even though he had a hell of a hangover.

He was shocked at his imagination. He could never have guessed that his brain would conjure up such a woman, such a language. He was impressed with himself.

He thought about telling his wife about this drunken vision but then his mind turned dark and his immediately knew that he would not share this woman with his wife. It was none of her business.

Scene 6:

When she returned from Biloxi, Lonny’s wife said nothing about her affair. She chatted about the trip in her way, breezily, nonchalant. This was designed to torture him. And it might have worked before he went to the Rite Aid. He had planned on feeling torture. It was their agreement.

But he did not feel any of the intended things. He listened, not exactly intently. This freaked out his wife. Not that she overtly showed it but she knew. She knew something was different now. Something had shifted.

She even brought herself to ask him if he had had an affair. He looked at her and laughed, a bit of pity in it too. Her face closed up like a Japanese car wash.

Lonny saw the world in a different way now. He wasn’t sure why. He just knew that on a random Saturday, he went from being a desperate man to a man who could now see beyond the tiny borders of his life.

Scene 7:

About two months later when his wife went off to book club, Lonny thought it’d be a great idea to get some Hennessy and smokes, climb up on the upper deck of the house and watch the planes take off from the small municipal airport across the golf course.

He drove to the Rite Aid. As he parked, Lonny felt a tingle.

As he stepped inside the automated doors, he heard.

“Oh cool. Hey Lonny.”

He looked over to see the lone clerk behind the counter. The Asian kid. His new project… a broken mini iPad.

The kid looked toward the back of the store.

“She’s waiting for you.”

Copyright 2014 Sandmountain, LLC

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