He stifled himself quiet, though his face burned red and his fists clenched savagely. One by one, he forced his fingers to relax. Then he stuck his right hand into his hip pocket, and retrieved a careworn notepad.
Removing the tiny nub of a pencil he kept in the spiral binding, he flipped through its leaves. The heading of the first page, scrawled in thick, dark block letters, read, "PEOPLE I CAN'T STAND'. It and the next several pages were filled front and back with scribbled names. A few of the leaves in this section were blank, reserved for future growth. The next heading read, "PLACES TO AVOID", and again the next few pages were filled with the names of buildings and cities and states and nations, while the last few of that section were also reserved.
Next came, "GOLDEN RULES". He paused to read a few of these, as they were his de facto and very personal mantra. First and most holy; "Don't sweat the little shit." Second; "It's ALL little shit." Third; "NOTHING is ever simple or easy." Fourth; "Especially that which SHOULD be simple or easy." Fifth, and his current favorite, "Everyone is full of shit."
Yeah, that's the one. Pausing to reread it, he smiled secretly. Then he flipped faster to the section he most needed at the moment.
"ABSOLUTE SHITHEADS" it was. Licking the lurid tip of his pencil, he bunched his face and held the notebook close to write, "133. Jonathan M-". Frowning deeply, he glanced up from his work, and asked, "How do you spell it?"
The grocery clerk stuffed a tray of chops into a sack and rolled his eyes. "What, sir?"
"Your last name?"
He grunted and wrote "M-E-I-R-S" into his notebook. "Figures. You can't even spell your own name properly."
"That's the way we spell it."
"No 'Y'? You can't spell that name without a 'Y'. And an 'I'? There's no 'I' in 'Meyers'."
The clerk grumbled and added a pack of wieners to the chops, tossing in a block of cheese to fill the sack, which he hefted into cart. "What's this all about, sir?"
"Mr. Abrams, to you. And 'this'," he intoned haughtily, stowing his pencil then the notebook away, "Is you making the list, kid. So just keep it up."
The boy exchanged puzzled glances with the cashier, who shrugged and continued checking Mr. Abrams' goods. "What list, sir?"
"THE list, that's all."
"But why? What did I do?"
"That! Right there! Did you see? You put my bread into a sack with a jar of pickles. And you did it, despite the fact that I asked you not to." Mr. Abrams shook his head, and sucked a deep, potentially calming breath, which did little to actually calm him. "Just a moment ago, you did the same thing with my bananas and a jar of peanut butter. The bananas will be bruised by the time I get them home. But don't worry, you started off all wrong when I said 'good afternoon' and you only tipped your head. So you made the list, kid."
Somewhat amused by now, though not a little irritated, the boy continued sacking the groceries piling before him. "Well, I guess I made the list, then, Mr. Abrams," sneering the man's name so it sounded to be an obscenity. "And since I made the list, I guess there's no need to worry about it, anymore." And he deliberately sacked a half dozen cans of green beans with a fragile tray of cookies.
"That does it!" belched Mr. Abrams, reaching for his notebook again. "Some people never learn."
As he rapidly flipped to the section headed "PHONE CALLS TO MAKE", he asked, "What's your manager's name, please?" of the somewhat reasonable cashier.
"Mr. Davidson. You want me to spell it?"
"No, I can make it out." He wrote "Mgr. Davidson @ Jiffy Mart RE: SHITEAD #133". "Okay," he said peevishly, turning a sour gaze on the sack boy, "You want to go for three?" And he held his pencil over the opened notebook for a moment, as if it were a loaded gun drawn and ready, before he put it all away again.
The kid rolled his eyes, finished his job, and walked away. While Mr. Abrams wrote a check, the clerk, standing at another pile of groceries a few aisles down, suddenly flashed his middle finger and stuck out his tongue.
Mr. Abrams glanced up and pointed sharply with his check-writing pen. "I saw that! And it's going into my complaint, buster!"
The cashier accepted his check and asked for too many forms of identification, then handed him a receipt and immediately began working with the next customer. Mr. Abrams stood next to his cart for several seconds, arms crossed, tapping his foot impatiently, before he decided they were intentionally ignoring him.
He pushed the basket out to the lot and loaded the trunk of his car, sweating beneath an August sun. When he was sitting comfortably inside his sedan and the air conditioning was blowing his skin dry, Mr. Abrams heaved over onto his left haunch and fetched up the notebook once more. Breathing fiercely, his balding pate shining hot and red, he flipped to "PLACES TO AVOID" and scribbled "72. Jiffy Marts All Over the World."
As he stowed the inevitable notepad and its pencil away once more, he whispered, "You can't count on anybody. You can't trust anybody. The only thing you'll ever get from people is shit. That's it, shit."
He started his car.
"'Cause they're all great, lazy shit factories. Sure, it goes in cherry pie, but it comes out shit in the end. In fact, they're MADE of shit, all of 'em. And just when you think you find a place that maybe has fewer shitheads than the rest of the world, guess what? They go and hire a shithead and fuck everything up."
He backed out of his space, and crept through the parking lot, bound for the street.