The Great One.
A can of coffee, a quart of milk, a bag of potatoes, some apples and a can of tuna fish. That was Sam's shopping list as he entered "The Great One" a supermarket on New Vista Road. It wasn't his usual market. In fact he had never been in it before, but since he had to take a different way home this evening he chose to fill his list there.
When he entered the market through the only door from the street he noticed first of all that it was full of shoppers, very crowded. He finally found a basket under one of the counters and proceeded to shop. He was unfamiliar with this market so he had to try various aisles to find what he wanted. Everywhere he went there were people standing around chatting.
Some were eating food out of cans or plastic containers. There was a group of people somewhere laughing uproariously at some joke. He managed to find the tuna and put it in the basket. A man asked him "Open that for you?" The man had a can opener in his hand. "No thanks" said Sam. "Well, later then" said the man with the opener. While he was putting the tuna in his basket other people entered the store with strange looks on the faces as they observed the antics going on within.
He found the coffee section and took a can from the shelf for his basket. A woman standing near him said, "There's fresh at the back. Help yourself." "No thanks" said Sam and pushed on to try to find the milk.
Someone shouted "Here comes the beer !" Cans of beer were being passed overhead from the shelf at the back as people grabbed and opened them. Soon the party was getting louder as people began to get high from the beer. More people centered The Great One and seemed to join in quickly to the fun that was going on.
It was very crowded and Sam had to push his way through to the milk section, but no one seemed to mind. He saw a man munching on a raw potato and asked him where he got it from. The man pointed over his shoulder down the other end of the aisle and bit another piece off the potato.
"Why are you eating that raw?" asked Sam. "Can't cook it in here" the man said, chewing. "Why not take it home and cook it?" asked Sam. "You're kidding. Don't you know yet? We can't leave. The door won't open."
Sam pushed past the man down to the place where he found a small bag of potatoes and put it in his basket. Near the potatoes were some apples. He tossed a couple of those in his basket and pushed his way to the front of the store.
When he got to the check out area people were sitting on the counters talking and laughing, some eating, some drinking. A girl who looked like a cashier was having a pint of ice cream. Sam asked her if she could check out and total up his basket. "What for?" she asked. "So I can pay for them and get out of here" he said. "You aint goin' nowhere mister, you can't leave. Door's locked."
Sam grabbed a plastic bag from the counter, put his things in it and pushed his way toward the door. When he got there he found that, in fact, the door was closed firmly, there was no way of opening it from the inside. He vainly tried to wedge his fingers into the side to pry it open, but it was too tight.
He turned and looked back at the party that was going on. Somewhere an argument had broken out. In another place people were singing. He wondered if all these people had come through the door expecting to buy a few things and leave and once they found they couldn't decided to stay, eat, drink and party.
Some one brushed past him as they entered the store. Sam quickly turned to catch the door before it closed, but he was too late and the door slowly hissed to a close before he could reach it.
Sam stood for a long time watching the people pass by on New Vista Road outside. Finally someone approached the door to open it. When she saw Sam standing there she hesitated. But he smiled and motioned her to come is as he stepped aside. He quickly grabbed the door from her and explained that the door was locked on the inside and no one could leave. She shook her head in disbelief and with a scornful look went on into the store.
Sam put his bag of groceries down to prop the door open and then shouted into the market "Hey. Everybody, the door is open. The door is open. Come on. It's open !" A few people looked up at him smiling, but they turned back into the crowd.
Sam waited for a few minutes, then picked up his bag of groceries, stepped out onto New Vista Road and let the door slowly hiss shut behind him.
Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys
Never Give Up