”Clara!” I shook the shopping cart to get her attention. “You said you would help me unload the groceries.”
She drifted back to me out of her daze. She had obviously become distracted by something again and had left me alone to empty the cart and scan everything while she stared off into nothingness. “Huh?” She said after more than fifty percent of her brain had returned to Earth.
“Nevermind,” I leaned awkwardly into the cart and grabbed a bag of granola. “What were you thinking about just now?”
She glanced around, embarrassed, and then said, “Oh… Just… It’s nothing.”
I bagged the granola and waited for her to hand me a small stack of ground beef.
“These magazines though,” she pointed at a rack of them behind the checkout counter. “I don’t get it.”
“What don’t you get?”
“Well, I just saw a guy over there replacing them and I don’t understand why you would ever have to do that.”
I watched patiently as she continued to articulate her argument in her head.
“I mean, if I ran this store, when the people came to sell us more magazines for the checkout aisles I would say ‘No thanks. We still have all of these old ones. We are fine.’ Why buy more? Do they just throw the old ones away or something.”
“No. I mean, maybe yes. But, I guess they replace them for the same reason they replace everything else in the store. To keep them fresh and to replenish the ones that were sold.”
She blinked at me in shock for a few seconds. “Wait, what? Hold on. People buy them?”
“Because they are interested in the stories I guess.”
“But once they buy one, why would they need a new one after that? The people on the covers are always the same people right? How many stories could their possibly be about these people? Like, that guy, the one there with the mustache… How is he any different from anyone else?”
I leaned across the counter to look at where she was pointing. “Oh, that is Burt Renolds. He died recently. This magazine is about him because… well, it says he maybe murdered someone before he died.”
“Whoa. Seriously?! He did that?”
I shook my head. “No. Probably not.”
“I don’t get it. Why are they saying that then?” She glanced around as if there might be a hidden camera somewhere nearby. “So, they just make up stories about famous people and sell them in the checkout line at the grocery store? Who is buying these things?”
“I don’t know. Someone. Probably just normal people. There’s a lot of other stuff in there too. I think. I don’t know. I have honestly never read one before.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Well, I’m not going to do it. In my store, I’m going to maybe, MAYBE, buy one set of magazines. Once! And if people want to buy them they can. But I’m not going to replace them until they are all gone.”
“Cool. You can do that. I think people will be okay with that, especially by the time you open your store. You could call it, Clara’s Groceries and Old Tabloids.”
“Sure,” she said, handing me a packet of beef jerky. “I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like a good name.”