I woke up at six PM, and no dinner/dessert had miraculously appeared, so I reluctantly agreed to go to the grocery store. Usually, The Mister does our grocery shopping. He's a bargain hunter, and likes to comparison shop. As for me, I'm more of a speed shopper. I just like to get the crap I need and get the hell out of Dodge (or Shop 'n Save, as it were). But since it was his birthday, and I had promised to bake him the cake, and I had neglected to make dinner, I announced that I'd go.
As I drove to the store, the traffic lights weren't working and the darkened sky looked threatening. Bolts of lightning arched across the clouded sky. I went into the store and bought a rotisserie chicken and mustard potato salad for dinner. A couple of rows over, I picked up the canned pineapple. As I went into the baking aisle for the maraschino cherries, lightning struck again, and the store went dark.
So dark I couldn't see the shelves within arm's length, and I sure couldn't see if anyone was in front of me. Since all of the electricity was out, the store was also eerily silent; no coolers ran, and the constant hum of the overhead fluorescent lights was silent. All of the employees and customers were silent, too. Eerie, that silence. The three or four seconds of darkness seemed to last forever. Immediately, my mind switched into horror movie mode. I was sure that a crazed butcher, his apron already smeared with blood, was headed down my aisle, cleaver in hand. Behind me, silence; the only sound was the beating of my heart. I was sure that his rubber-soled work shoes would make no sound as he came for me.
The lights came back on and I looked behind me - no butcher was in sight, though I could see the double metal doors swinging slightly. I shrugged off my unease and pushed the cart down the aisle. I located the cherries and tossed the jar into my cart, eager to finish my shopping.
I made it to the middle of the next aisle when the store was cloaked in darkness again. Now I was even closer to the meat department and the bloodthirsty butcher who had homicide on his mind. I looked toward the doors but saw no movement.
If this had been a movie, the ominous background music would have begun. I wished I had paid closer attention to my surroundings - were there other shoppers in my aisle? If so, they were silent. I stood completely still, anticipating the sharp pain in my throat that would allow my life's blood to pool onto the tiled floor.
Again, it was only a few seconds before the power was restored. I hurried to the nearest checkout line. Again, the store was plunged in total darkness. When the power was restored within two seconds or so, I put my purchases on the conveyor belt. While waiting for the customer in front of me to pay for his food, I realized that I had forgotten to buy milk - the one remaining ingredient that I needed for the cake. The cashier put my groceries back into my cart. Grabbing my purse, I headed to the very back of the store to get a half gallon of 2% milk. The lights provided both illumination and comfort, and this time through, I took careful notice of the other shoppers I encountered.
Was the guy with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company tshirt a murderous sociopath? Why did he smile at me? Then there was the guy in the dress slacks and polo shirt - had he lost his job today and was looking to take out innocent shoppers? A well-dressed female behind him steered her cart into my direction - was she an accomplice wanting to corner me near the sour cream?
Her vacant eyes and hideous grin belied the innocence of her apology. "I'm sorry. I really must be careful when turning a corner."
Deranged bitch. I scooted around her cart and hastily chose a jug of milk from the refrigerated case and scurried back to the front of the store. Why hadn't I grabbed my umbrella from the cart's child seat? I could use it to deflect the first blow.
My cart sat abandoned, my items still waiting. I went to the self-service aisle (most of the other registers were rebooting), and a clerk assisted me in checking out.
Oh my God, she's one of them! Look at her leer at me!
I paid for my groceries and finally felt secure - I could see the exit.
If lightning strikes again, will the automatic doors prevent me from making my exit? Will maniacal meat department employees surge toward me, their knives carving me into pieces for a weekend meat sale? Hell, Elvis died on this date, why not me?
Cue Psycho theme music.
Against all hope I
As I drove past the non-functioning traffic lights, I saw a police officer getting out of his car to direct traffic. I noticed that porch lights were lit in my neighborhood, and I could see the glow of big-screen TV sets through half-opened living room curtains. I breathed a sigh of relief; I knew that I'd be safe...until the next stormy evening - and the "5 for $25 Meat" special.