Loose Change

by Andrew David King

He lifts the beers onto the counter as I watch carefully, and then it's whiskey and gin and rum, bottles of it. White trailer-trash scum I think, no money to pay taxes, help the poor, no money to help anybody, but when it comes to alcohol, there's always some secret Fort Knox somewhere. I watch him as he pays the grand total, face dirty, hair uncombed, dressed in his grimy shirt, and I put my stuff on the counter and listen to the cash register's drawer go ca-chiinng. "You're short seventy-five cents," she says, gazing at me as if I'm a criminal trying to rob her of her life savings. I don't have the change, but I so desperately need the groceries, and now the line of customers is cast in the awkward silence between me and the cashier. Before I can say anything to defend my case, I feel the smooth metal of three quarters against the skin of my palm, and turning as fast as I can, see two pairs of legs dressed in worn and tattered jeans walking out of the door, and a paint-stained hand waving, as if to ward off my petty assumptions.

6S

Andrew David King, author of Action is Permanent, is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.