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Thomas looked up from his salad as the door to the Margaret Howell store opened with a chime. A skinny strung out looking hipster in clear framed glasses and a translucent poncho walked in and gave the corners of the the store furtive glances.

Is this guy trying to steal some high end clothes? Thomas thought to himself.

The skinny guy wandered around the store with a listless stride. His blue New Balance trainers gave a faint squeak on the floors as we meandered through the racks. Thomas looked down at his sad chef’s salad with the semi empty packet of dressing leaning against the plastic bin holding his ten quid handful of vegetables, shredded cheese, and ham.

Maybe the guy was actually looking to buy? Thomas thought. But knowing his luck this guy was just trying to snatch and grab so he could pawn and score some more dope.

Thomas got up and approached squeaky shoes, “Excuse me sir, do you need any help looking for something?”

Squeaky shoes looked up like a frightened animal. His eyes were sunken far back into his head. He had a mop of greasy curly hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a few days. His hairline was receding and he had a 80s style mustache sitting below his nose. He reeked of incense and weed smoke.

“Uh, yeah.” Squeaky shoes told him in a shaky voice. “I’m looking for Anna.”

“Oh you’re a friend of Anna’s?” Thomas asked with surprise.

“Yeah, I need to talk to her. I thought she was working today,” Squeaky shoes said while still giving the corners of the store furtive glances.

“She’s in the back doing inventory. Let me go get her,” Thomas told squeaky shoes.

“Tell her it’s Ricardo,” Squeaky shoes called out.

Thomas didn’t feel good about leaving Squeaky Ricardo in the store front, but if that fuck stole anything it was on Anna’s head not his. He pushed his way through the door marked “Employees Only” and saw Anna surrounded by cream coloured trench coats. Each one of the jackets was easily a month’s rent for Thomas. He couldn’t afford to have anyone steal from work. He needed his job of selling expensive clothing to rich people.

“Hey Anna,” Thomas called out.

Anna looked up from her clipboard with an innocent smile that was stolen out of a Disney movie. Her brown hair framed a delicate face that reminded Thomas more of a genie or a pixie than a regular human. When husbands came in with their wives they typically insisted on buying more than they had initially intended just to see Anna smile with their wives. She had told Thomas she knew the effect she had on her unwitting prey. The commissions were insane. She had also told Thomas that a few of these men came back offering to take her out for dinner. She acquiesced only when she thought it was the guy’s first time actually committing the acts to have an affair. She had a thing for purity.

“Some guy named Ricardo is out here asking about you,” Thomas told her.

Anna’s typically pale face drained of what little colour it had to match the bone white cashmere sweater. She moved to put the clipboard down on a table, but missed and it clattered to the floor. The pen broke apart and the pieces skittered under clothing racks and into the forgotten corners of the back room. Anna walked towards the door with a determined stride. Her overly on trend baggy jeans flopped as her skinny legs powered her towards the door. Thomas followed with genuine interest.

“Let’s go outside,” Anna said gesturing towards the door.

Ricardo’s face lit up like a Christmas tree that Jesus himself had decorated. His smile went from ear to ear and he stood up straighter. Anna gestured for him to exit the store and gestured for Thomas to follow them outside.

Way better than salad

“Anna, I’m so happy to see you again.” Ricardo said with a trembling voice.

“I told you before Ricardo. We can’t be doing this anymore. You’re married.”

“Not anymore,” Ricardo said in a quiet voice.

Anna put a hand on Ricardo’s shoulder and held it there while Ricardo pouted at the grey sidewalk.

“She found out. I never knew she went through credit card states line by line when she was at home by herself. She questioned me about the dinners when I told her I was working. The charges at the jewelry stores. The boat tours on the Thames.”

“I broke down, I told her everything. How we never went on adventures anymore. How she never smiles how she used to. We were so in-love in our youth, but it just wasn’t there. I feel it with you Anna. We have it,” Ricardo told her putting both of his hands on her shoulders.

“Ricardo, I told you when we started our relationship that I wasn’t looking for anything serious. I didn’t want to interrupt your marriage,” Anna told him in a firm voice.

“We can be together Anna,” Ricardo pleaded.

Thomas leaned backwards a bit. He didn’t want the smell of desperation to get on his clothes. He had just done laundry yesterday and smelled great. Customers could smell desperation on a salesman and they avoided it like the plague.

“I’m sorry Ricardo, but we can’t be together. I never wanted a long term relationship. I think you should leave now,” Anna told him and walked back into the store.

“I’m sorry Ricardo. Things will get better for you I’m sure,” Thomas said and walked back into the store. He hoped his salad wasn’t turning brown.

“That was pretty cold Anna.”

“Yeah, well he shouldn’t have cheated on his wife.”

“What’s your deal with married guys anyway?” Thomas asked.

“I was expecting a lot worse based on what he was texting me earlier. You never know with these guys who want to play with fire and get upset when their house burns down around them. You don’t ask why fire burns do you?”


If you liked this please give me a recommend, follow me at Anthony Maiorana or check out some of my other stories such as The Modern Woman, The Worst Mood, or The Mugging. Thank you for reading.

Writer of The Polymerist newsletter. Talk to me about chemistry, polymers, plastics, sustainability, climate change, and the future of how we live.

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