JERSEY SHORE RITE AID
“What’s wrong with him?” the cashier asked me while looking at Hal.
“Why don’t you ask him?” I replied, unloading bottles of sunscreen on to the counter.
Hal said nothing.
“I just wondered.” She said, running the bottles through the scanner.
“He has Parkinson’s,” I said, finally.
“Do you die early from that?” she asked, bagging the bottles.
“Not that I am aware of.” By this time I had an annoyed frown on my face.
“I knew something was wrong with him, I just didn’t know what,” she continued, handing me my receipt.
I wanted to say: “What is wrong with you, asking these questions?” And, in retrospect, I wish I had.
I should have known something was off when the same woman asked to check our bags when we arrived in the store. Who gets their bags checked at drugstores? We do. Hal’s unusual movements makes people think he’s on drugs and will shoplift. To top this off, Hal is always afraid of being accused of shoplifting so his fear seems to attract the accusations.
I feel like my husband’s protectorate in these situations: An intense, motherly feeling of needing to protect him comes out. Hal doesn’t always like this about me since, after all, he is not a child. Over the years I have learned to be fearless and to speak my mind. When Hal told me that he had been accused of shoplifting at Five Below, I almost got on the train and went all the way downtown so I could scream at the security guard who frisked him. I wanted to walk in there, in full force, and say “How dare you? How dare you for searching a disabled, innocent man? A man who only came here to get notebooks to write poetry in?”
Minter Krotzer's prose has been published in Many Mountains Moving, Saint Ann's Review, Arkansas Review, Upstreet, Night Train, Before and After: Stories from New York (Norton), Louisiana in Words (Pelican Press), God Stories (Random House), and Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Twenty-Five Words or Fewer (Norton). She has received writing fellowships at the New School, where she received an MFA in creative nonfiction, Bennington College, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. She was recently a Visiting Fellow at the Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France.