CW: Violence and Guns
The store chimes a high pitched, eerie sound as Cris walks in. His chin is laying low, and he has his hood pulled over his head. Over the past few years, the few hairs on his chin have grown greyer and whiter. Jeremy J. Crews, the one man he loved, bloodied his crooked nose. He peers over the counter, a deep and troubled look on his face. He stares ever so loathingly into the cashier’s eyes, almost hunting down her soul. The cashier, Ms Wang stares back into his eyes, concerned. She asked,
“Could I help you with anything, Mr. Turner?” her eyes shift to the left as she breathes heavily.
“Just a pack of Marlboro, thanks.” Cris looks up, almost believing he is a god.
As Ms Wang turns around, Cris inhales deeply and looks down at his hands. In his left hand, he holds $6 and in his right hand he holds a gun. His hands are covered with a sheer coat of blood and his gun is wiped clean. He looks back up at Ms. Wang as she turns around and places the pack of cigarettes on the counter. She is a lovely woman with pretty eyes and a youthful look. She wears this canary sweater every day Cris comes in and for some reason, he just assumes that she doesn’t have enough money to buy a new one – well at least she doesn’t have as much money as him.
“Thank you once again, Ms. Wang.” Cris places the $6 on the counter, making sure to pick up the pack with only one hand, as he successfully manages to slip it into his left pocket. Cris stares at Ms. Wang for a couple more seconds, his eyes darkening every second. He turns to his right and starts walking out. He shuffles a bit to his right as he exits the shop, looking down at his gun, turning it around a bit and then shoving it into his pocket. He takes out his lighter, opens up the pack of cigarettes and pulls one out. He places it in his mouth, positioning correctly and then covering it as he brings the lighter closer. From his shadowed and darkened face, a small amber flame lights up his face, revealing his fully bruised eye and slit eyebrow. He turns to face the wall and pulls a baby blue milk crate closer, eventually crouching down and sitting on it. He exhales. His head falls back and he puffs out the grey and charred smoke, the same that went deep into his lungs, protruding every single one of his alveoli. He closes his eyes, blinking a couple of times, slowly doing so with his bruised eye not fully closing.
He looks up to see a figure. This figure is a concern to him and his cigarette and also to his injuries. A tall, young and round boy wearing an orange jumper looks at him. The boy stares at Cris with wide and curious eyes, before looking over to his pocket where his gun is in. He looks at his face once more and then turns his attention back to his gun. He scratches his head before asking,
“Can you go to the store and buy me some cigarettes if I give you $10?” The boy looks at him, a slight smile and a hint of hope lighting up his face.
“No, you’re too young to be sad and cigarette thirsty.” Cris stares at him, his face cold and no longer lit by the flame. Cris takes another puff, inhaling deeply into his lungs and as he does so, the end of the cigarette lights up a bit. The boy walks over to Cris, pulling another milk crate and sitting down next to him, almost touching his shoulder. Cris turns to look over at him with annoyance. The boy grins and asks,
“Why do you have a gun?”
“Listen here. If you don’t shut up and leave in the next 15 seconds, you’ll end up in the same situation as your uncle Jeremy, alright? A bullet straight through your chest. Got it?” Cris looks over to him, dropping his cigarette and stomping on it. Cris leans closer while staring at him with deadly eyes. The boy gets up and shuffles away from Cris, with his hands on his chest, stepping further and further away. He looks confused and hurt, and with a small eyebrow raise he asks,
“My uncle was never shot, sir. He was the one that shot a guy named Cris Turner. He is in jail now.”
“Cris Turner. My name is Cris Turner.”
“Well, sir, I think you got it wrong because that’s not possible. Cris Turner is dead.”
“My name is Cris Turner. Does it look like I’m dead?”
Written by Maria Secara and edited by Muskan Singla. Published on 30/7/2023. Header image by Sarah Shin.