Sauerkraut? (mini-story)

You don’t know somebody until you can dress their hot-dog from memory. Not just choose the right condiments, but get the proportions right too. Sound easy? Take out your address book and test yourself. You’ll be surprised at how few people you really know.   

Casey doesn’t hesitate. She digs into the jalapenos with confidence. Her boyfriend likes six slices of them on his jumbo Seven-Eleven hot-dog. She adds one scoop of onion from the next bin, bypasses the relish, then tops the dog with a narrow line of mustard and two lines of ketchup to glue all the ingredients together. He likes his buns toasted, but you can only go so far for love when it’s 11pm and the cashier is in a foul mood.   

It’s raining outside, pouring actually, and Casey’s been getting looks and laughs for her outfit since she walked in: bright yellow raincoat, baseball cap, green cords rolled up to her knees, and bare feet swimming in a pair of her boyfriend’s size 12 slip-on Nike sandals that had found their way into her closet and never left. She doesn’t care what these people think of her. The kind of people who hang around a convenience store at 11pm, when it’s pouring outside, have their own issues. But then, she’s right here in the middle of them dousing a hot-dog into oblivion.

She’d eaten supper hours ago, but then her boyfriend had called to say “he’ll be around later” and “can he drop by?” She knows how much he’ll love the midnight snack surprise. Just thinking about how he’ll thank her for it makes her toes curl into the wet rubber of the sandals.

“Will that be all?” asks the clerk. He doesn’t bother to look up.

“H’uh? Oh, ya, thanks,” says Casey and hands him the money. She’s still dreaming about her boyfriend. She can almost feel his presence behind her. When she breaths in, she can almost smell the warm earthiness of his favourite black sweatshirt. She spins round. There’s no almost.

“Mike!” she exclaims, and gives her boyfriend a bear-hug. She steps back and laughs. “We both look like idiots.”

He has his hood on and the collar of his T-shirt pulled up over his nose.

“I got you a hot-dog,” says Casey, passing it to him from the counter.

“Uh, thanks,” he says. He takes it from her, while, behind his back, his other hand quietly tucks the gun back into his pants.

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