Across a wood-grain bar in southern Minnesota on the way to Buddy Holly roller coaster in slower Iowa, I lay a few dollars on the bar for the sixpack of Blatz (cheapest they got and straight from... [+]
I am the superhero of the supermarket. Shoppers look at me oddly as I dodge through the produce section or cut down the pasta aisle. But I help those in need—the blind guy who shops by himself, the mothers with babes in arms and toddlers in tow, or the old people who can’t read the labels or manage their carts. Chaos would come to the supermarket without me to reach down boxes and cans, to unstick stubborn carts, or to help carry groceries.
The manager with the thick lips and black glasses is my nemesis. He watches me, glaring as I scoot through dairy then past the meat department. He doesn’t know the chaos that would follow if I am kept from my mission.
He’s had me escorted from the store more than once. But I always come back—helping in the parking lot, collecting carts and pushing groceries, until I’m able to slip back inside.
But this time, the police come. I have to sit in the back of the car while the two officers go into the store to talk to the manager. It’s strange, sitting in this car, watching the shoppers come and go, the doors sliding back and forth, back and forth. But I won’t be defeated; I won’t be deterred.
One of the officers returns. She has a kind face, and she sits in the front seat and talks to me.
“Mr. Raymond asked you not to come back to the store, Jordan. Do you understand?”
“I know you want to help, but Mr. Raymond says you are making a nuisance of yourself.”
I nod again.
“When Constable Gibbard gets back, we’re going to take you home. Alright?”
I look back at the store as we drive away. I know what’s coming. I don’t like to think about it. Without my mission, the voices will return. They will whisper to me, day and night, nibbling at the edges of my awareness like little fishes, breaking me down, until, sooner or later, I will be, once again, just myself and cut-off from the world.