Prelude 77

Aaron clutched his crumpled shopping list in his hand as he waded through the sea of shoppers. Why? he asked himself. Idiot! How could he have forgotten it was Saturday! Any day of the week was his for the taking - one of the few benefits of being unemployed - but he chose today. Complete muppet!

The aisles were jam packed with hapless trolley pushers entangled in commercial confusion. Aaron lifted his basket above waist height and wove his way through purposefully. Right, he thought, gritting his teeth, let’s get this over with. Just a few things to get: spaghetti, canned tomatoes, mince, bread, milk and perhaps a bit of cream for Harry, his new feline room mate. And of course, the wine.

Ah, yes the wine. Ever the wine. Sparkling white in the glass like a harlot’s promise: the ruin of all who yielded irrevocably to its charms. Aaron paused, for a moment fighting the memories and the tears, his wrecked marriage, his ruined career, his estranged girls, until suddenly, he was painfully nudged by a trolley.

“Excuse me!” spoke a harsh voice.

He turned to face his antagonist, a lean woman of uncertain age dressed in an unlikely white track suit, large golden earrings and hair tied back tightly to produce the effect of a DIY face lift.

She glared at him and snarled, “Are you going to stand there all day?”

Aaron considered for a moment beating her to a pulp with his empty basket, but instead smiled apologetically and let her pass, watching her bony hips sway from side to side, exuding a terrifyingly militant sexuality that made his stomach churn. He sighed, and turned to walk in the other direction, soon filling his basket with customary male efficiency. He did not understand the concept of browsing, he thought. “Veni, vidi, vici.” I came, I saw, I bought. No dilly-dallying.

It was only when he had started queuing in the baskets only till, with six people behing him that he remembered the wine. Cursing he left his treasured place, the space closing hungrily behind him, and strode towards the drinks aisle. He headed for the Specials shelf, the only wine he could really afford on his State handout, and was not surprised to find the shelf was mostly empty, apart from one lonely but pleasingly reduced bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. He reached forward thankfully…

“Excuse me!” pierced a familiar voice, followed by an equally familiar trolley that barged him out of the way. “I was going to get that!”

He stopped and looked incredulously at the dusty heap of tracksuit clad angles before him, his anger slowly rising. “I don’t think so,” he growled.

But she stood, unyielding; her hands perched on her hips like a vitriolic teapot.

Aaron sighed. He had done enough fighting with women for one lifetime, and what had come of that?

“You have the wine,” he said, turning and walking back up the aisle. “I didn’t really want it anyway.”