March 27, 2010
I suppose they stocked nostalgia at Kroger’s this afternoon. As I strolled past the hyper-chronistic-holiday-candy-aisle, I was reminded of a rare moment of Justice—my harsh encounter with Mr. Chunkyfuck and his burgeoning rack of Peeps.
It was around this time of year, nearly half a decade ago. I was living in Miami at the time, visiting an old friend up in Orlando—we’ll call her Krispy, as she is quite fond of the doobiejuana. The previous weeks had been spent rigging lights and sound for various Miami venues in preparation for the Winter Music Conference.
A mutual friend of Krispy and I—we’ll call her Libertine Belle, as she is an unpredictable southern firecracker—had just escorted me on a brain-bending VIP crawl through South Beach techno clubs, courtesy of her UK dj admirers. They were all in love with our Belle. Thus I was invited to join their hedonistic cavalcade by virtue of association.
Needless to say, I was totally spent by the end (I’m pretty sure I accidentally drank some glass shards one evening) and Libertine Belle was ready to head back to Tennessee. We found ourselves at Krispy’s apartment in Orlando for a quiet evening of reunion and reminiscence.
Of course, it was essential that we do this over beers. So we piled into Libertine Belle’s little blue car and drove to the usual convenience store down the road.
I had been confronted by this jackass clerk before. He was one of those overly-aggressive types who get off on their authority, making me show ID every time I bought smokes. It wasn’t that he asked so much as how he asked, or rather, demanded that I show him ID. You know the tone.
“Let’s see some ID.”
“But I was just in here yesterday.”
“No I – D, no cig – a – rettes. Un – der – stand?”
That guy. A stocky, ROTC obsessive, masturbated-through-one-too-many-action-movies type of guy. The sort who can sour a perfectly good day with a glance from behind the counter.
Tonight, he’s wearing sunglasses. He has a hand-held tape recorder in hand. Post-1990 Megadeth is blaring on the stereo. I have my ID ready, but the pudgy bastard still demands to see it. I wonder how he can read the date through those sunglasses.
I gaze at the rows of Easter candy as he rings me up. Pastel M&Ms, Cadbury eggs, and bunny-shaped Reese’s fill a special rack behind me. There are probably fifty Marshmallow Peeps packed into a rack on the counter. I think to myself: Who needs all this sugary crap?
I pay up, sneer derisively, and take my six-pack out to the car to wait for Libertine Belle. She’s taking forever. Me and Krispy can’t see inside. Finally she comes out and gets into the driver’s seat, shaking.
“What happened?” asks Krispy. Libertine Belle swallows and shakes her head.
“That guy in there is seriously fucked up…”
“What happened?” I ask again.
Libertine Belle tells us that Mr. Chunkyfuck started getting weird on her as soon as I was out the door. He eyed her up and down from behind his gas station shades, saying nothing, not ringing her up, just staring. Then he hit play on the handheld recorder. It was a snippet from Silence of the Lambs:
It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.
Libertine Belle just stood there, and again he played it back.
It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.
Then he said to her, without provocation:
“You know, my girlfriend was pregnant recently.”
“Yeah. I threw the bitch down some stairs though. I guess that’s eighteen years of freedom. Right?”
In retrospect, it’s possible that a light-hearted goth kid might have made our Belle laugh with those antics. But this is Mr. Chunkyfuck behind the counter, and she’s not laughing tonight, and neither am I, so I say:
“Fuck that shit!”
I jump out of the car with the girls screaming after me and storm back into the store. Mr. Chunkyfuck is looking at me all nonchalant through his nighttime shades, and I say:
“You like intimidating girls? Why don’t you talk shit to me?”
Now he’s stammering, ordering me to get out. He backs up to the Wall-o-Carcinogens behind him, but it isn’t far enough. With no other choice, I start trashing the place, hollering:
“You feel like a badass now?!”
I kick over the special rack of Easter candy. He starts to come toward the counter again, so I snatch up Peeps by the handful and start hurling them into his face. I pelt him with dozens of these marshmallow confections, punching hole after hole into his over-inflated ego. Satisfied that I had cleansed this consumer temple, I kick over another display and hit the door.
Mr. Chunkyfuck springs into action. He hits the alarm and then scrambles over the counter like he’s gonna attack me. “You’re going to jail, man!” he yelps.
I turn back and meet him at the door. I calmly tell him to go back inside if he doesn’t want his ass kicked, stabbing my finger into his chest. He stands his ground though, so I add: “And take off those fucking sunglasses!”
I go to swat them off his face, but end up catching the side of his head as well. There is a fleshy SHMACK! The shades go flying, revealing his naked, panicked eyes, and he darts back inside. The girls are screaming behind me:
“What the hell are you doing? Get in the car! Get in the car!”
I hop in the little blue car, yelling: “Go go go!” and we go, but not before Mr. Chunkyfuck bursts back out. We watch him dialing the cops as we pull off.
“He got my plate number!” yells the Belle. Now the girls are pissed at me. I suppose a chivalrous soul treads a fine line between knight and Neanderthal.
“It’s fine,” I assure her. And I believe that—until I see the police cruising into Krispy’s apartment complex later that night. Alone on the balcony, I watch them spotlight each blue car along the way. The girls are inside, completely unaware. With a heavy sigh, I go downstairs, telling them I’ll be right back.
The cops are standing around Libertine Belle’s car with a lot of questions. I fully expect them to cuff me and drag me away. But after hearing what Mr. Chunkyfuck said to my friend, these guys are more amused than abrasive. Still, there is one nasty little technicality.
“So you never struck the clerk?”
“No,” I insist.
“The clerk says you struck him in the face.”
“Well, I pulled off his sunglasses. I may have poked him in the chest.”
And so I was condemned by my own admission. As it turns out, touching anyone without their consent is considered assault in the state of Florida. The cops inform me that they have to take me to jail by law. But they offer me an escape.
“If you’re willing to apologize—and the clerk accepts—we’ll just drop the charges,” the cop tells me.
Of course, this is a serious compromise of principle—but what’s a little white lie when faced with jail-time in Orlando? I get into the car and we head back to the store. I wonder how long it will take for the girls to notice that I’m gone.
The officers become unusually candid as we drive.
“You know, we get complaints about this guy all the time. He’s harassed so many people, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to go off.”
“Yeah,” the other grunts, “what an asshole. He’s lucky he hasn’t had his face smashed in.”
I couldn’t agree more. When we arrive at the store, the officers immediately brace Mr. Chunkyfuck for being a creep. I can’t believe it as I watch them wear him down. Finally, he agrees to an apology and they get me out of the car.
“Forgive me, as I forgive those who trespass against me,” I say with a wry grin.
“I didn’t threaten that girl–”
“Just shake his hand,” the cop snaps at him. I squeeze his hand and smirk.
I talk with my new flatfoot pals about Tennessee whiskey and Miami bikinis on the ride back to Krispy’s apartment, half expecting high-fives when I get out.
“Where have you been?” the girls asked me. It took me ten minutes to convince them my story was true. Maybe they still don’t believe me.
Looking back on it now, I have to wonder what ever happened to Mr. Chunkyfuck. Was I the unwitting vessel of Justice? Or did I simply bolster my own self-righteous ego at the expense of a socially retarded hobgoblin? Did I teach him a lesson or just push him over the edge?
Maybe he cried in his parents’ basement, turned himself around, and went on to volunteer at a shelter for battered women. Maybe he’s weaving Easter baskets for orphans as I type this out.
Or maybe he just went home and kicked the shit out of his dog, thinking of me. Maybe he added another name to his long list of people to torture to death. Being unemployed probably frees up a lot of time for that kind of pursuit.
Either way, he no longer bothers the beer-buying ladies of Red Bug Road. Krispy told me the Peeps were back in place the next day, but Mr. Chunkyfuck was gone forever. So it is with some sense of accomplishment that I look back on my marshmallow assault—and look forward to the next time I have an excuse to chuck Easter confections into somebody’s face.
© 2010 Joseph Allen