In our town we have one of “those” stores no one should be seen in. Garish lights off the highway illuminate the truly ugly sign that acts as a beacon for the weary traveler to and fro their daily tasks: work, school, volunteering for little league or football. Some people thing it’s a travesty to have this there, seeing this as a corrupter of our very moral values. But it sits there, bold and brazened, taunting those that hate it, and calling, like a sweet siren, to those that are drawn.
Joe got off his midnight shift and was called by that very sign. He swore that he would not go back, but he drives past everyday. He started going “just on special occasions” but then started finding that this started becoming a weekly thing. His wife confronted him when she saw the receipt in his wallet. He swore to her that he would not go back. That he was done and that everything he read told him to stay away. He felt powerless and even tried a 12 step program for his issues. But he was back.
Some people can’t help themselves. They feel needy and want what this has. They feel that they need to fill up a hole inside them with the cheap and tawdry that they can only find there. Perhaps it’s because they haven’t felt true love. Maybe they were never taught correctly that this is a gross facsimile of what they truly desire. For whatever reason, the store has it’s pull. And at all hours we see people flock.
“I saw the school teacher there a couple of days ago.” said one of the rightous town folk. Another said, “No kidding, I even saw the Mayor sneak in as his wife walked the dog!” Once you are seen there, you are marked with our modern equivalent of the crimson A. You are pariah and loathed that you’ve given in. Still, they cannot stop.
So, Joe parked. He sat in the car realizing what he was going to do and how it would hurt his wife and his community. He was in fact powerless though. When he noticed the parking lot was relatively still, he pulled up the collar on his coat and walked toward the entrance. As he walked in, he was met with knowing eyes and a toothy smarmy grin. As he heard, “Welcome to Walmart! Have a nice day.” All he could think of was, “The prices, the prices.”