Thursday, March 03, 2005

Comics Return To 7-11: A True Story Of The Future

The Whitebread family is driving the long stretch to Grandma's, and Mom and Dad are about ready to leave Timmy and Susie to the wolves. They pull into a 7-11 so Dad can get gas and Mom can smoke a cigarette in the ladies' room. She manages three drags before little Timmy's squealing interrupts her nicotine-soaked bliss. Tossing the unfinished cig in the pot, she wearies her way to the interior of the store, where Susie has Timmy in a headlock. The Indian behind the counter couldn't take care of it even if he wanted to, thanks to the bulletproof window and the woman buying twenty scratch-off tickets with this week's milk money. (Yes, I know this is dark, but I'm going somewhere, so trust me.)

Mom yanks the two children apart, and, as she regrets secretly going off the pill, something from the magazine rack catches her eye. Could it be... do they still *make* those anymore?

A closer inspection confirms it. Comic books. Brightly-colored, 22-page crack that's legal. She even recognizes some of the heroes: Spider-Man. The Hulk. The Fantastic Four (she remembers the cartoon with the robot, and boy did it suck, but she loved it when she was 6). No Teen Titans, too bad, because 7:00 Saturdays is about the only time she can get little Timmy to sit still for any period of time, but hey, still...

The kids, wondering if Mom's on Valium again, have followed her gaze. They see the comics too.

She looks at them. A silent exchange takes place:

If I buy some, will you for the love of God *shut up*?
The car pulls away from the station. As Dad merges back onto the highway, the only sound to be heard is that of pages turning. Mom breathes a contented sigh. The radio switches to an old Eagles song. All is right with the world.

Back at the 7-11, the Indian guy smiles, thinking about the nice woman who bought some comic books for her kids. It's an iconic image, and he likes it for reasons he can't quite pin down, but is sure relate to his upcoming citizenship test. A customer walks up with a bottle of Pepsi and some Fritos. This time, and for the rest of his shift, when he says "Have A Nice Day," he means it.

Another day saved.

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