Illicit Request

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] teenage boy stood behind me in the Walmart checkout line. He seemed nervous, rocking back and forth on his heels. He wore a baseball uniform, and held a bottle of Coca-Cola.

When he mustered enough courage, he asked me to purchase beer for him, offering to compensate me for my trouble. At first I laughed, then I refused, telling him that I did not look very good in a county-orange jumpsuit. But the boy insisted that the beer was for his father.

That made me laugh again.

I informed the tyke that my mother had not given birth to me yesterday, and that regardless of how supple I appeared, I wasn’t an idiot.

He smiled, I could see how young he was.

I went on to tell the boy that I remembered my own dusty baseball uniform, about how I’d saved up all my nickles to buy it. I told him about old man Peavler, who owned a service station in our town, and how he sold us chew before ballgames sometimes. Back then we didn’t need ID cards unless we were at the library.

A nostalgic affection overcame me. All of a sudden, I didn’t mind being a boring adult who turns the light off at eight o’clock. This sweet lad was old enough to be my own son, he was only doing what boys do.

“So, you’ll buy me beer?” the boy asked.

“Lord no, sorry buddy.”

The boy slammed his Coca-Cola down and walked away.

“!@#* you, old man.”

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