by Papa Zulu
My brother handed me some wrapped candy and told me to put it in my pocket. I remembered being very conscientious about it even at 5 years old. But I did it. I stuffed the candy into my pants and continued to follow him around the store, not realizing yet what was really going on. I looked out the window of the store where there was a street and across the street an ocean with small waves coming in. The sun was going down and showed golden on the water and the sand was not white anymore but shadow-like against the brightness of the ocean.
“I want to go swimming”, I said. “I want to go swimming”
“Here stuff this down into your…”, he whispered and grabbed the front of my brown jeans and slid a can of skoal down into my private area. “We’ll go swimming in a minute”, he said.
I walked up with him to the counter feeling scared about the candy and the skoal in my pants. Eye-level with me on a rack was a row of street maps and music CD’s. One CD cover had a country road with trees over it and falling leaves and some words I couldn’t make out.
“Robby what does that say?”, I said. He was fingering through various brands of beef jerky on the counter. The cashier was a black girl who was sitting on a stool watching a small television behind the counter. She wasn’t really paying attention to us. “Robby what are these words?”, I lifted the CD from the rack and showed him.
“Autumn Leaves”, he said, “now put it back.”
I picked up another CD that had a crazy lady with fangs and blood running down her mouth and some other lady whose face was kind of hazy in the back ground. “What does this say? Robby what does this say?”, holding the CD up to him.
“It says The Fearless Vampire Slayer, now put it back and don’t touch anything.”
I could feel the can of skoal pressing against me and the candy in my pocket and I began to get scared again. My brother laid some beef jerky on the counter and a couple of cans of soda. The cashier rang them up and bagged them and we walked out of the store with the ocean bright in the setting sun and the wind blowing some streamers that stretched across the top front of the store. As we walked away from the store down the road toward the hotel he told me to get the skoal out. I handed it to him. He told me I could eat the candy now. I said I was going to save it for later.
When we got to the hotel lobby, mom was there sitting by some plants drinking something tall and white, sitting cross-legged with a large scar that showed especially white on her kneecap against the brownness of her tanning legs. Above her, hanging on the wall was a large mounted barracuda that I looked at for a long time as my mother and brother talked about something. I felt the candy in my pocket, then took it out. I walked over and stuffed it down into the pot out of which the plant was growing.

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