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“Mercury” by Team Tennant

An animal trainer
“Don’t eat that!”
Spending $4




By Team Tennant

“Aw, we should’ve gone to Safeway – this place really screws you over.”

“Keep it down,” Jonathan looked at his tall, smudgy image on a hanging TV as he walked onto the linoleum. “You can’t talk like that here – these people are politically correct as shit.”

Jonathan looked at a pyramid display of gluten-free cookies where a mom was working out a deal with her hungry-looking little boy.

“Poor kid,” said David. “I bet he could use some doughnuts about now.”

The brothers passed a large, rustic mural as they walked through the produce section – paced between the eggplants and cabbages with heads bent as if saving one last remembrance at an open-casket funeral. A vast, rustic mural scratched at the walls behind the “Fresh Earth,” section – long stretches of cornfields make mazes for little Midwestern children who, like most Midwestern children, have trouble finding their way out anyhow.

“How much corn are we going to need?”

“I don’t know. I figured just one each, right?” Jonathan said, “You’re the one who wanted corn in the first place.”

“Mom and Dad didn’t exactly leave us that much steak.”

“Whatever David. Just buy two and let’s get out of here.”

“Hold on, now,” said David with new life. “They have two for four dollars on corn – we’re making off like bandits!”

“I feel like that’s really not that great of a deal.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I mean the corn here is probably really organic and tastes better, but I know other places sell it for like fifty cents. I can’t picture spending $4.00 on corn.”

“What other places?”

“I don’t know off the top of my head,” replied Jonathan.

A new mother and son pair surveyed the vegetable section. She explained how beets are good for your blood in a loud whisper.

“Yeah, let’s just get two for four,” said Jonathan. “At least these ones aren’t supporting the whole food corruption thing.”

“What food corruption thing?”

“You know, like the monopolies and stuff. I don’t know, haven’t you seen those documentaries?”

“Why would I want to ruin all food?”

“It’s not ruining food if you’re just a little more informed.”

“Whatever Jon, I don’t want to see cows getting their throats slit and shit,” David grimaced.

The second mother and son vacated the vegetable section with brisk, liberal strides until they couldn’t hear obscenities. The Sojourn from the produce section to the registers seemed like a grueling proposition. David shuffled past a to-go lunch section. He got big eyes over the sushi.

“We should get lunch here sometime.”

“Are you eying the sushi?”

“Of course, man,” David felt a little cultured. “Sushi’s so good.”

“Don’t eat that, man.”

“Why?” asked David, a little angry.

“It’s probably irradiated, dude.”

“It’s what?”

“Irradiated,” said Jonathan, “from the nuclear waste in Japan.”

“Oh, please. That shit hasn’t harmed anything since that dock washed up.”

Jonathan spared David his potential mercury-tuna rant.

David picked up a variety pack of sushi in defiance.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

“Tuna has a ton of mercury in it.”

“Oh, please. Piss off.”

“I’m serious – it can poison you if you eat too much. It’s like eating an old thermometer.”

“Tuna is delicious.”

“Excuse me, are you two talking about mercury in tuna?”

A balding man approached the pair with gentle steps and leaned on a nearby cheese display. The man’s worn, turquoise fleece gave the man an air of credibility regarding marine life. The brothers couldn’t tell his age exactly, but if he had offspring, they likely would have been birthed after The Dukes of Hazard went into syndication, and before Michael Jordan tried baseball.

“Who are you?” inquired David.

“My name’s Sam. I used to be an animal trainer.”

“So you know about animals.”

“Well, tuna in particular,” he raised his salt and peppered eyebrows, “I used to train dolphins.”

The brothers smirked and passed off their collective, devilish countenance as sincere interest.

“So is it okay to eat tuna?”

“Well, I can’t imagine it would be that bad for you, but you could be harming dolphins.”


“Did you know that oftentimes dolphins get stuck in tuna nets?”

“Seriously?” said David with as much sincerity as he could muster. “So do they put dolphins in tuna cans?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” said a downtrodden Sam.

David put back the sushi lunch pack – said goodbye to the packet of wasabi and made his sad way toward the counter. The logo on Mr. Hoot’s Fruit Twisters only reminded him of the diminishing population of cloud-forest screech owls.

Jonathan approached the counter and grinned at the lady behind it. Her name tag said, “Susan.” Susan looked as though she was bred to work the register at a place like this. Somewhere in the leathery musk that was the 1970s lived a timid buck and a flowery mare by which the cosmos forged Susan.

“Go get the car and pull it up to the front, David.”

Jonathan tossed the keys underhand to David, and David slunk outside.

“That’ll be four dollars today. Did you find everything alright?”

Jonathan looked at the door and then at Susan.

“Oh, dang! I forgot one thing.”

Jonathan returned with rosy cheeks.

“Alright, so with the sushi, that will be twelve dollars.”

© 2013 Andrew Tennant, Colette Tennant


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