Columbia Market Delivers

Ruby USA 2022

I started up the back stairs with the box of groceries I was to leave in the kitchen, but the third step squeaked, and I froze and could smell my fear mixed with sweat. I saw a light through the balustrades and peeked in the open door and saw a fat, naked man lying on a metal table. His death smell rose like heat, and it hit me, and I ran up the stairs to the apartment over the funeral parlor and without knocking, I opened the door to the kitchen and put the groceries on the counter and headed back for the other box.

A stream of smoke cut off my exit and a man asked if I happened to see a fat, naked, dead man, on the way up. I starred at Mr. Dichello, and he smiled and asked again, said he misplaced him, and the smile showed his two gold teeth, one above the other, shining bright from the overhead light.

“I’m going down for your other groceries,” I said.

“Where’s Burt?” he asked.

“He’s in the truck waiting for me so I’d better hurry.”

“Well, if you see that naked, fat, dead man hold onto him and give me a yell, willya?”

The Devil Dog come up in my throat. I’d swiped it from the store and ate it quickly before Burt came down with the order. “Get two empty boxes and I’ll call out the items. You bring them over and I’ll pack em up and you can come with me to Dichello’s to deliver them.”

I ran down the stairs and didn’t look back at the naked, fat, dead guy on the table and was sweating and shaking when I got to the truck.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Burt laughed. “Bring this other box up quick so we can deliver the rest of the groceries.”

As soon as the back door closed behind me, I stuck my head in the box and breathed in the fresh seeded rye bread. I sucked in the smell afraid I’d suck the seeds out. Finally, I lifted my head and took the stairs two at a time barely glimpsing the naked, dead, fat man’s feet.

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