Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Man Who Refused To Take His Gorilla Mask Off (Part 2)

The drive to the grocery store is fraught with peril. The gorilla mask seriously impairs Steve's vision, save for a limited area directly in front of him. Steve operates solely on instinct. He clips a couple of parked cars, knocking the driver's side mirrors off. They'll understand that it's hard to drive in a gorilla mask, Steve thinks to himself. He narrowly misses colliding with a bus when he turns into the grocery store's parking lot. He stops the car in the first place he sees and turns off the engine. He's parked sideways in two handicapped spots. He runs into the door on his way inside and grabs a cart. Two small children run away from him and wrap themselves around their mother's legs. He makes monkey noises at them and they start crying. The woman gives him the stink-eye. He throws a few items in his shopping cart and notices the store manager walking toward him. The manager's name tag says "Marty."
"Excuse me, sir," Marty says.
"Yes," Steve says through the ape hole.
"Excuse me, sir," Marty says again. "But I'm going to have to ask you to remove your mask while you're inside the store."
"No can do, babe," Steve says. "I'm an apeman. This is who I am. It's what I'm all about. It's like asking me to take off my skin. You wouldn't ask someone to do that, would you?"
"Well, no," Marty says. "But you're scaring the smaller children, and, anyway, it's not really done. We don't have customers wearing ape masks who shop here. It's not really our thing."
"Is this your thing?" Steve says, and pulls out his wallet, cash, and credit cards. "I'm going to spend a lot of money on various food items, and I'm going to spend that money as an apeman."
Marty glances nervously at his shoes.
"Okay," he says finally. "You have a half hour. And try to stay away from any kids. I'm not going to cut you any slack. I'll be keeping an eye on you."
"And I'll be keeping an eye on you," Steve says. "To see if you've got what it takes."
"Yes, well, knock yourself out," Marty says.
"He's alright," Steve says to the woman buying grapes next to him. She smirks and looks in the other direction.

Steve waits in line at the checkout counter. The woman behind him is older, gray-haired, and heavily perfumed. She leans in close to Steve and whispers into his eye holes.
"Are you from the radio?" she asks.
"What?" Steve says.
"Are you the guy from the radio? I figured you were with the radio because of the get-up. Did somebody win something?"
"Sorry, ma'am," Steve says. "I work for the state. I do enjoy listening to the radio, though, especially Timmo and the Wolf on KLBZ in the morning. That's some fine programming."
"Huh," the woman says. "I don't know them. I like Paul Harvey."

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