First Draft

Page 24

The head pharmacist approached the counter, squinting at the computer screen. “I can have that ready in twenty minutes, if you wouldn’t mind shopping or waiting,” she said, barely attempting to make eye contact with Benjamin before scurrying back to the workspace on the opposite side of the shelves.

Benjamin pursed his lips. The Thumper stormed up behind him, stomped up and down in a tantrum, kicked a nearby metal shelf and then screamed, before returning to its usual position behind Ben – stomping and screaming in rhythm.

Benjamin blinked a few times, and then look up at the girl, who met his gaze from behind the computer. “I have some shopping I can do.”

Ben looked down between his feet, into the open shopping bag which sat on the floor. He was seated at one of the waiting area chairs which were awkwardly set up along the exterior wall of the store, next to the pharmacy kiosk.

Turquoise was a bold choice – he knew that it was. If the color worked, then it would pay off nicely, and serve as a nice bit of pizzazz in the bathroom. A focal point. He had painted the cream-colored walls himself, and unless he were mistaken, this color would go well with them. His leg subtly twitched up and down next to his bag. The Thumper stormed past, rounded a corner and then continued on its angry rounds around the store. Ben turned his phone over and glanced at the screen. It had almost been a half an hour since he had been told twenty minutes.

“Mr. D’Amico?” said the girl behind the counter, leaning over it to look at him.

Ben could hear a sudden squeak a few aisles away, as the Thumper made an abrupt about-face. “Yeah,” he said, gathering his shopping bag and standing to approach the counter.

“Sorry about the wait,” she said as she clicked his info into the computer.

“No problem,” said Benjamin, giving her a momentary half-smile before returning his face to its resting, agitated state. He pulled his wallet out from his back pocket, just as the Thumper came charging down the aisle behind him. It failed to come to a halt before it should have, and knocked into Benjamin, jiggling violently. Ben dropped his wallet to the floor.

“Oop,” said the girl at the computer, giving him a grin. Benjamin responded with another momentary half smile as he bent to pick up the wallet. He pulled out a twenty, all the while trying his best to tune out the rhythmic thumping coming from the vinyl floor tiles just behind him…

…which only continued, hot on his heels, marching him through the store, out to his car, and then out onto the freeway, towards work.

Ben pushed on the glass office door, though it only thunked in place. He peered in – the lights were on, though he saw no movement. He rooted in his pocket and pulled out his keys. Thump-thump-thump-thump-THUMP. The Thumper came to an abrupt halt as he turned the key in its slot and unlocked the door. He briefly caught a glimpse of the blob, standing at attention behind him, in the reflection of the glass, as he pushed the door open and entered.

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