Sunday, October 30, 2011


Others complained about Wal-Mart. Not Bobby: everything about that place was magic. At Wal-Mart, in a secret hidden alley that only Bobby and Department of Transportation workers know about, there are these crusty things known as Dickies. Every year, before the first day of school, Bobby’s mother would take him the 8 blocks down the street to pick out a new pair; navy, khaki, or black. This year his choice was black. His mother had tried to talk him out of it but the Nike shoes his mother had bought two days before, at half-price, matched the starched, flat, black perfectly. For eight-teen dollars, he could have a pair of pants that looked ‘right’.

The bus stop was never cool in the mornings, it was still August after all. Perhaps a little to warm to be wearing pants in a school without air conditioners but they were new. So were his shoes as he had decided to wear his old sneakers the last few weeks instead of scuffing his new ones. Everything about him smelled of acrylic, new shoe, and freshness. The kind that mixed with your new-found body odor and smelled like the cleaning supply aisle of the grocery store.

Dickies had that special something about them before you washed them. They were bullet-proof, heavily starched, and as stiff as cardboard. The kind of cardboard you made rocket ships, not forts, out of. The cardboard rubbed against your legs, which was oddly comforting. For some reason, when Bobby’s jeans rubbed against his legs, the softness felt fake and uncomfortable to be wearing.

Usually, Bobby was the only one at the bus stop but not this morning. A new kid had moved a few doors down from Bobby. He was three years younger than Bobby and his father stood with him at the bus stop. The father stood, ready for manual labor, in his t-shirt and Dickies. They were no longer crusty, but soft and fitted to his thighs as they had been his work pants for a few months; a fort against the scrapings of work. The child at his side was non-descript. Then the father farted. The non-descript child, the father, and Bobby chuckled. A few seconds later Bobby tooted and the group almost fell over laughing. The event ended quickly and Bobby would never recall the moment as a major turning point of his life. Maybe Bobby was right in thinking that the event was meaningless. Maybe he wasn't.

In less than a minute the bus pulled up and Bobby and the non-descript child boarded. Bobby would never get straight As again. He knew that even if he got straight Cs he would still be a happy human being. If he ever needed cheered up, all he need was eight-teen bucks and a local Wal-Mart.

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