“You could have stayed home,” I reminded him as we pulled into the parking lot.
“This place is like Russia,” he said, never having been to Russia.
Ted walked with his nose in the air. He sucked in his cheeks like a grocery store critic on a mission to shut the place down. His six-foot-four body shlumped ahead of me. We neared the end of the bread aisle where I found my free prize, and I put the loaves into my basket.
Then smack! On the floor. Packages of Little Debbie snack cakes flew back at me from the baked goods section. Smack! Honey Buns landed on the floor. Ted laughed. I stooped to pick them up. Smack! Packages of tortillas came crashing down. He laughed with double-chinned glee as I failed to catch them. Boxes of cupcakes slapped on the floor.
“Stop it, Ted!” I yelled while trying to whisper.
Bags of chips came down with a crunch. I tried to gather them up, like a mother desperate to regain control of her toddler. “Ted! What are you doing?”
Clunk! He upped the ante to canned goods as we rounded the corner.
“Stop it, Ted!” I hissed, drawing unwanted attention from shoppers in a neighboring aisle. The baby peas came down and my blood surged. Clunk! I narrowly missed being struck by a can of sliced pears.
The look on Ted’s face was chilling and odd. His mouth closed on a small grin, and when he glanced back to see the damage, his protruding eyes were a cold gray. He continued flinging food products off shelves, smiling all the while. I scrambled. I pleaded. I tripped, seizing cans and jars lest they clatter to the hard floor beneath us or break into explosions of applesauce and marinara.
And then I realized what was on his face. I knew that look. It was the look of a man who could lose himself in the experience of causing pain: lashing a girl while she screams, tickling a boy until he wets his pants, dragging a dog by its collar until it coughs and gags.
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