Another flash fiction challenge offered up by Chuck Wendig enticed me to play. The game this time is to write an unlikable protagonist who remains compelling and readable, 1000 words or less. Mine comes in at 747. Enjoy.
Being Nice makes you Happier
Condoms? Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.
Out loud, “Big date, tonight?”
The teenager flushed underneath his zits. “No, but you can’t be too prepared, right?” He reached for a nonchalant smile and failed. “That’s what they taught me in boy scouts.”
Boy scouts don’t get laid.
Brody examined the box before bagging it. “Ribbed for her pleasure,” he read. “Very considerate. You are a boy scout.”
The boy laughed nervously, shifting his weight and clutching his wallet with white knuckles. The soccer mom unloading groceries on the belt behind him radiated disapproval.
Brody grinned and totaled the order. “Okay, box of condoms, pack of gum. That’ll be $4.78 with tax.”
The kid threw his money at Brody, grabbed the bag like he stole it, and hurried out the exit.
“You embarrassed that boy on purpose.”
Brody fixed an impassive stare on the woman. She stared back.
He shrugged, “If you’re man enough to have sex, you ought to be man enough to buy a condom without turning five shades of red.”
“It was unkind.”
“So it was.”
And speaking of Trojans…
Brody typed a code into the register before he scanned the first item. The display screen dimmed slightly, indicating his program was running in the background. He swallowed another grin and scanned silently.
Vegetables, fruit, chicken. Damn, this chick needed some red meat in her diet or something. Whatever. Produce was easy to hide behind.
“Being nice would make you happier.”
Your money will make me happier.
He allowed the grin to show. “I couldn’t resist teasing him. He reminded me of my little brother. But you’re right. I should’ve been nicer.”
The muscles in her face relaxed, but not enough to produce a smile. He slid a box of tampons across the scanner. Bitch must be on the rag. The bag of Oreos confirmed it.
“Those cookies were marked on sale. That’s not the sale price.”
“I’m sorry. Do you remember the price? I can send someone to check.”
He voided the cookies at $3.78 and punched in $2.99. He considered killing the worm. She didn’t fit the profile. She was paying attention and confident, and he had nullified his native charm dicking around with condom boy.
Would she go home and examine the receipt?
“Shouldn’t you tell someone those cookies are ringing up wrong? A manager or something?”
“Technically, the sale starts at midnight. The guys on the floor got a jump on the signage.” He pointed to the plastic pinned to his chest. “I am a manager.”
She kept her voice neutral, but the raised eyebrow told Brody exactly what she thought of his managerial skills.
He scanned her organic milk. The shit was expensive, and the worm left it alone. People paid attention to the pricier items on their ticket. Her eyes were glued to the display screen.
The block of cheddar cheese rang up .30 higher than the correct price.
She didn’t blink. Neither did he.
Cheerios, .20 higher. No reaction.
A loaf of fresh-baked bread, a nickel higher. She flicked her eyes from the display screen to his face. He smiled pleasantly.
Antiperspirant, a full dollar higher. I’ve got a Secret too.
Her eyes returned to the display as he scanned a two-pack of toothbrushes, .20 higher. Toothpaste, razors, and a bottle of Midol.
“Your total comes to $76.42.”
Her brows knitted together, and she stood frozen, debit card in hand.
Come on Mama. Scan your card for Snakebyte.
Deliberately, she returned the debit card to her wallet and pulled out her checkbook. Brody ran the check and handed over her receipt.
“You have a wonderful day, ma’am.”
She slid the receipt into her checkbook, eyed him suspiciously one last time, and walked away silently.
“Being nice makes you happier,” he called after her.
She kept walking and Brody chuckled. The cash drawer popped open of its own volition, and he removed $5.20 and slid it into his pocket. A grain of sand in his rapidly growing sand castle, and undoubtedly, the best $5.20 he would earn today.
His gleeful meditation was interrupted by the sound of screaming children. A woman in sweats threw her credit card at him and struggled to unload an overflowing cart. The toddler on her hip crushed a fistful of goldfish and reached for the opened bag on the belt. A red-faced infant screamed from its seat in the cart.
Snakebyte smiled sympathetically and punched in the code.