A bottle of scotch and a plastic bag

The man in front of me has matted hair – not neat dreadlocks, but one lumpy lock at the back, surrounded by stray smaller locks. His clothes look like they came from an army disposal shop, or a mountain clothing store, a long time ago. A very long time ago.

I am here to pay my bills – electricity, gas, internet.

He is here to buy a scotch and a coke. The scotch is normal sized, a 750mL bottle, some cheap brand I don’t know. And next to it on the conveyor belt is the can of coke. A tiny, 175mL can of coke.

Mostly, he is here to buy a bottle of scotch.

I don’t know if the cashier knows him, but she is very kind. She waits patiently as he counts out his notes and then she asks him if he wants a bag. You have to pay for bags here, just a few cents, but it all adds up. She offers him a free bag, the bags that you can use without paying for them, to put your head of lettuce into, or a bunch of beans.

“It’ll be better if you have a bag,” she says.

He takes it, puts his large scotch and tiny coke into the bag, goes outside where his collection of plastic bottles await him, ready to be exchanged for more cash.

And I? I am just here to pay my bills.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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