#AtoZChallenge Day 6. The First Wednesday of the Month
On the first Wednesday of the month, coupon-clipping Frank Sabino never saw this big deal coming.
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
The First Wednesday of the Month
Frank Sabino prided himself on knowing the value of a dollar. For forty-two years he’d been a school janitor—custodians they called them now—and had had to scrimp and scrape to save a dime.
Alice had taught him how to use coupons. With five kids, all raised without a speck of trouble and moved out and married, she’d squeezed every dollar until it hollered. After the cancer took her, he’d continued to cut coupons and find bargains.
Like today. Breakfast at The King’s Table with a two-for-one coupon. Nothing in the rules said he had to bring a friend, though that new neighbor, Ed, had turned him down. Something strange about the guy.
His favorite waitress, Lacy, brought his blue plate special and a Styrofoam container filled with another.
“You’re a rascal,” she said as she placed the container across from him. “One of these days Dick is not going to let me do this for you.”
Frank opened up the bottle of hot sauce and lavished it over his eggs. “Let me know when, and I’ll stop comin’ in.” He winked at her, and she giggled. It was a game they played and though it meant nothing to her, it brightened his day.
“Whatcha’ got planned for the day, Frankie?”
“Hey, it’s the first Wednesday of the month.” At her blank look, he cried, “Ten percent off for seniors at The Mart.” He’d saved his coupons and made his list days ago. Driving to Winco might save him a buck or two, but ten percent off groceries was nothing to sneeze at.
Lacy shrugged. “Better eat up. I hear it can get crowded.”
Frank winked at her again. “I’ve got me a system.”
Start in the back with the dairy and meat then work his way along the edges to the produce, only zipping into the aisles that held stuff he needed. He’d be home by eight.
He glanced at the watch the school had bought him when he retired. Jumping Jehoshaphat! It was eight-thirty! The crowd would get a jump on him.
Damn that bird, singing out his window at the top of its birdy lungs this morning. He’d covered his head with a pillow and gone back to sleep.
Frank shoveled down his eggs and hash browns and threw the toast into the Styrofoam carton to eat later.
Two fat old farts and their wives clogged up the line at the checkout, and damned if he didn’t have exact change to leave on the table. He fidgeted while they chatted with Clara, the eighty-if-she-was-a-day cashier. She counted out his change as if a hidden camera watched her.
Frank scooped up the bills and coins and raced from the restaurant. He should have bought the car, but, heck, he lived a block from the store and three from the restaurant. Didn’t the doctor tell him to get more exercise?
Quick smoking, too, but he wasn’t about to give up his pack-a-day habit. He lit one to settle his nerves as he hustled to the store.
Two blocks later, he gasped for breath as he hit the sidewalk out front. He grabbed a stray grocery cart, more to hold himself up than knowing other shoppers would hog them. Retirees didn’t sleep much and would clog up the aisles at this time of morning. By ten, they’d be out of the heat and hibernating in their A/C condos.
Frank groaned as he pushed through the doors. The crowd was worse than he imagined. All he could see was gray hair, bald heads, and walkers. He pinched his nose at the smell of arthritis rub, old farts, and old skin.
He abandoned his system. It was every man for himself.
It took twenty minutes to get to the back corner by the dairy. Carried like a piece of flotsam, the tide of people continued to push him in the wrong direction. By the time he’d scored the last three pounds of ground chuck (on sale at $2.79 a pound), he’d started to sweat. His jaw hurt from clenching it. Pushing the cart had become a chore, each aisle longer than the last. Quicksand pulled at his shoes, dragging him down.
Dill pickles! He’d forgotten to add them to the cart. Get a couple of jars (75 cents off two) and he’d be done with his list.
As he reached for the first jar, a sharp pain doubled him over. Clutching his heart with one hand and a coupon with another, Frank fell to the floor.
The crowd surged over him like a stampeded of buffalo.
Frank Sabino prided himself on knowing the value of a dollar. He fell proving his point.
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Twilight, Arizona, all the stories now available on Amazon
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Don’t want to wait until April 30th to read all twenty-six Twilight stories. For a limited time, they are available on Amazon for 99¢. From Arizona Heat to One-Zero-Zero, read and enjoy twenty-six stories set in the strange retirement community of Twilight, Arizona.
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Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge, April 7, Garage Door and Garbage Cans
A crime spree ends in an unexpected way in tomorrow’s story.
Until then, blessings,