The Writing Disorder


kevin ridgeway

New Fiction


by Kevin Ridgeway

      Harrison was biding his time behind the cash register at Wayside Drug, reading the latest music beat sheet and imbibing the second can of Diet Vanilla Coke of his day, which he didn’t pay for. It was wrapped in the receipt from the first can he consumed in between the first laxatives sale of the morning and dusting the Metamucil. The store Manager, Cal, approached the registers with a tangled mess of Wayside Bargain ads twisted in his shaking alcoholic hands.
      “Harrison … um, hi guy. I need you to help these folks locate an item on special … er, The Super Cool Summer Fun Set.”
      “It’s on sale for $8.95,” a portly woman in a sagging fisherman’s cap said, getting the ends of her extra large Tweetie Bird t-shirt entangled in the Summer Fun Umbrellas.
      The store was tiny, storefront property downtown in the state capitol. The aisles were a maze and special sales items could be exceedingly difficult to find. Harrison did what he was told and grabbed an ad from the front stack.
      “It states that it has three inflatable pool rafts, two beach balls, cooler ice packs and a small canopy with nets to keep out the skeeters,” the woman’s other half said dreamily. He was a hefty man dressed in car harts, a white t-shirt and red white and blue suspenders all paired with a baby face that had aged ungracefully.
      Harrison looked at the ad. Sprawled out on a beach towel display in a grainy photo spread was The Super Cool Summer Fun Set. Two young men, one clad in white chinos, the other in white shorts, were holding court in folding chairs. They wore dollar rack Hawaiian shirts, had tropical drinks in their hands, and were tossing a beach ball between them in an awesome example of tableau multi tasking. A black woman was sprawled out on an inflatable raft, her young daughter splashing water across her. An Asian guy stood at the grill, laughing. All for $8.75.
      The damned thing was no where in sight in that cluttered mass of a store. They would inevitably stumble upon something called simply The Cool Summer Fun Set.
      “That’s not the Super…” the man declared.
      Chugging his third unpaid-for Diet Vanilla Coke and washing it down with three daytime cold capsules, Harrison puzzled over the showroom floor. He had helped stock it nearly to its entirety that previous week—where the hell was it? He would not have been surprised if the warehouse had shipped ten of them to their rinky dink store and turn it into a veritable sardine can of memorabilia, bargain coffee and high pallets of Wayside brand protein shakes.
      “We’ve got to find it soon or later, damn it…” the woman chimed in after a long awkward silence.
      Harrison was feeling woozy from the daytime cold medication. He had been sent to rehab for cannabis dependency by his parents the season before. His forehead was sopping wet with sweat from the cold medicine and his overall intestinal nervous disposition, Harrison spotted it, set up high atop the cosmetics display case: the Super Cool Summer Fun Set.
      “There it is—the kid found it, Mabel!”
      “Oh, boy, this is going to just make this summer! I can feel it!” she said.
      Harrison procured a step ladder and carried the trapezoidal packaging of the Fun Set down to the glowing faces of the couple. Just as he was formally presenting it to the man, a loud clatter broke loose. JJ, a morbidly obese man of a thousand pounds who got around in a motorized chair, appeared on the scene. He rode in this chair that was practically invisible, tucked away beneath his outer flaps. He barreled through the shampoo and conditioner display, green and blue bottles flying every which way.
      “I had that Fun Set on rain check!” said JJ.
      “Do you have a copy of your rain check receipt?”
      JJ pawed through his fanny-pack and could only produce several crumpled receipts, none of which pertained to a rain check.
      “If he doesn’t have it, it’s ours!” said the man.
      “I got it somewhere, maybe at home … it’s mine!” said JJ. “I’m not moving until you give it to me!”
      JJ was blocking the entire aisle. They were between him and a brick wall.
      “Umm, Cal? We’ve got a customer issue on aisle 9!” Harrison said into his walkie talkie. Cal arrived promptly.
      “You’re going to have to leave or I’m going to call the police,” Cal announced to JJ.
      “Fine, but you’ll regret it!” JJ said in reply, backing up towards the exit door, knocking over four more displays along the way.
      “I’m sorry folks; Harrison will ring you up at the front.”
      As Harrison was midway through logging his pin number at his register, he noticed a stack of rain checks wedged underneath it. The first one at the top was JJ’s, for the Super Cool Summer Fun Set.
      “Cal … we have an issue.”
      “WE JUST … WANT THE DAMN SET.” The man was furiously adamant about this.
      “You’re going to ruin our summer…!” the woman said.

                                                                                                   * * *

       Harrison bolted out the front door in search of JJ. He only ran north one block when he saw him inside the Christian Bookstore at the corner of Elm, having knocked over a display of Bible Diaries. Harrison entered the store.
      “JJ, the Super Cool Summer Fun Set is yours. There was a mix up; we found your rain check.”
      “This is going to be the most amazing summer,” JJ replied, beaming with pride.
      Harrison was lassoed into pushing the Fun Set on a cart up five blocks to JJ’s apartment. JJ was a speed demon on his chair, having glided several feet ahead of a haggard Harrison.
      “Are we almost there?” asked Harrison, dying for a menthol cigarette.
      “Yuppers,” said JJ.
      They were in the front living room when JJ told him to put the Fun Set in the corner. The room had no furniture. Just a dilapidated square coffee table that was stacked with prescription pills, hairs of marijuana and the remnants of a chicken dinner. Harrison plopped the product on the torn shag carpeting.
      “Okay, well thanks again, Harrison.”
      “No problem, uh JJ.”
      “My real name is Jean Valjean.”
      “Like in the Victor Hugo book?”
      “Yep, like in the Victor Hugo book.” JJ paused. Y’know, you could come over in the backyard this summer and we can sit in the inflatable pool, work on our tans.”
      Harrison walked back down to the Wayside, having fulfilled a good deed for the day. He stood behind the cash register during the last hour of business when a 14-year kid approached the register with a large bottle of cold medicine.
      “You gonna chug this or is it for a cold?”
      “Chugging it.”
      “Well, you don’t have to live this way. I take these daytime cold capsules that give you a mellow buzz all day long.”
      Harrison chucked the five bottles of daytime cold medicine into a bag and handed it to his apprehensive customer.
      “You’re sure this will work?”
      “Well, yeah…look at me!”
      Harrison closed out his register and Cal told him he could go home for the night. Harrison walked up State Street with a menthol cigarette smoldering in his hand and made a right at the corner and onto Elm Street.
      “I wonder if I should get one of those Fun Sets,” he thought to himself.

Kevin Ridgeway is a writer from Southern California. He studied creative writing at both Goddard College and Mt. San Antonio College. Mr. Ridgeway's work has appeared in Ray's Road Review, Red Fez, Breadcrumb Scabs, Full of Crow, Calliope Nerve, Haggard and Halloo and Larks Fiction Magazine, among others. He currently resides in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat.

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


New Fiction

by Eliezra Schaffzin

by Melissa Palmer

by Pamela Lindsey Dreizen

by Claire Noonan

by Ben Orlando

by Joe Kilgore

by Francis Chung

by Kevin Ridgeway

by Karoline Barrett

by G.L. Williams

By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2012 ™ — All rights reserved