She Really Needed Lettuce

by Boudreau Freret

I was in Wal-Mart in Omaha once, right after a stabbing in the produce department.

They'd boxed off a section between the banana island and the refrigerated vegetables with yellow POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS ribbon.  A uniformed officer and a plain clothes investigator were inside the ribboned-off area.  The officer just stood there staring into space, while the investigator, down on all fours, investigated.

A tall, thin, blond haired woman on heels click clacked over to the ribbon, and leaned on it, into it, half way over it, as a fighter might lean on the ropes of a boxing ring late in a round.  She carried a handful of small items, and was too dressed, too eager.  At least for Wal-Mart.  In Omaha.  Late at night.

"Can I-" she started, and gestured toward the lettuce, until the officer gave her one palm calmly and cut her off.  "I just... I need..." the pitch of her voice rose as she spoke more quickly and leaned further onto the ribbon, straining it.  "Please? Could I just..."

The officer took one step toward her, put his hands on his hips, and scoontched up his face.

"Lady?"  He let the word resonate before he continued, to great effect.  "Go. Somewhere.  Else."