Brightonandonandon #7 – Lemon
“I’ve just checked out the back. I’m really sorry but we haven’t got any left.”
Terry stood between the bags of rocket salad and the empty green trays where lemons aught to be.
“Are you absolutely sure?” Terry tried to give the customer service assistant a cheeky grin, but abandoned it half way through for fear of looking predatory.
“We’ll have another delivery tomorrow morning.”
Terry didn’t believe she’d even bothered to look. He imagined that she probably used the time to laugh about how much an idiot she thought he was. Terry looked down into his basket at the two lonely lemons that sat in there, bruised and deformed. He was only one short of a 3 for 2 offer. He gripped the coupon in his sweaty hand. Terry now understood that this was how they got you. Tempt you in with the Club Card points and then hide the lemons.
“I’ll wait here.” Terry said with a smug smile that he was all too comfortable doing.
“Here? No, if you come back tomorrow morning we’ll have them.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll wait here… Until you get some lemons.”
Stacey shrugged, pinned up her light pink hair and disappeared off somewhere towards the crisps.
The first night was hard. Terry had never tried sleeping standing up before. He’d seen giraffes do it, and they were thick so how hard could it be? The security guard asked him to leave at 2 am, but this was a 24 Hour Superstore and Terry was just “browsing” so he knew his consumer rights. Terry didn’t get any sleep that first night, but his resolve was unshakable (except for that one moment at 4:50 am when he had to move out the way so a double sided cage of lettuces could get past.)
At 5:55 am the delivery truck pulled up outside. Terry waited anxiously for everything to be brought in. He needed to urinate badly, but dared not move for fear of missing more offers. It was 10:15 when Terry finally accepted that there were no lemons being delivered that morning. Outraged at the bold faced lie Stacey had spun him, he let go of his bladder controls. A protest as old as time. Also, he couldn’t hold it any longer. He hoped that Stacey was on a shift today. He wanted her to see him, standing there in aisle 3. Defiant. Proud.
The second night was slightly easier. Terry allowed himself the luxury of leaning his body against the chiller to sleep (but only for 15 minutes at a time).
The Security guard was keeping a close eye on Terry now. He would walk up and down aisle 3 every hour or so. Terry ignored him. Terry had a goal in his sights. Terry had a free lemon to claim.
Terry was awoken by the sound of school children laughing. Three very tiny boys in ill fitting blazers stood over him, gawping as they chewed their Mars Bars. Terry fumbled with his sleeve to find his watch.
8:45 am! How could this have happened? He’d missed the delivery completely! Terry jumped up off of the floor and nearly tripped over the circle of “CAUTION! WET FLOOR” signs that had been placed around him while he was sleeping. Paying no mind to the signs, Terry slipped on a puddle of his own making which sent him hurtling into the fruit section.
Terry opened his eyes. He looked down to see his arms submerged up to the elbows in glorious, yellow lemons. Lemons everywhere, as bright as gold. Terry thought he might cry. He grabbed 3 fresh lemons and tossed the now browning other 2 from his basket. Terry marched proudly to the checkouts and surveyed them in hopes of Stacey. She was in today. Terry placed his basket down in front of her, and smirked from ear to ear. He said nothing to her, he just waited for Stacey to scan the lemons (which took a while because the stickers were curved)
“That’s £1.80” she said, arm ascended and palm showing.
“I don’t think it is, actually.”
Terry presented his 3 for 2 coupon. He placed it down in front of Stacey and tapped at it with his finger, just in case she didn’t see. Stacey held it up to her face.
“Expired 04/05. Can’t accept this one.”
Terry blinked. It was all he could do. As he left the Superstore, the glare from the hot morning sun pulsated on his face. Terry tried to speak but nothing came out.
He looked around, swallowed hard and shuffled away towards George Street.