Check Out by Melissa Mann 

I’ve been in ASDA for eight minutes, wiping the soles of my best shoes on the entrance mat. It takes it out of me all that wiping, so I rest on my stick and look to see if she’s still on the five items or less till. I smooth a hand down my lapel, hand catching on the badge I’m wearing. It’s a picture of me in uniform stuck to a bit of old cereal box and wrapped in cling film. I’ve written my name next to it in biro – NEVILLE. It’s fastened to my suit with a bobby pin.

Now I’ve got my puff back, I shuffle towards the fruit and veg aisle, shoppers trolleying past me on either side like a recurring dream. My legs are having a grumble; this is the third time I’ve been here today. It’s like the bones are jostling with each other inside my trousers as I walk. Sad business getting old; used to be the best square-basher in the regiment in my day. I make it as far as the melons, shelves and shelves of them – dimpled galia, pert cantaloupes, smooth-skinned honeydews – pornography to a widowed old man like me. I hang the stick off my arm and take hold of a pair, feeling their weight in my palms. Lovely but too heavy for me. A few Golden Delicious and a small bunch of bananas are about all I can manage. Not that I need either of course.

Ah, there she is, my black beauty, check-out three, Ruby, my life’s work, for what else is there for a man just south of 90 when he’s losing the thread of his life story? Concussed with longing, I head towards her on legs that suddenly have giant leaps inside them. There’s a queue but I don’t mind. More time to look at her, drink her in – every roll of flesh, every flash of her white teeth, every lick of her exquisite lips. Her braids swing as she moves her head, the beads clacking, almost saying something, almost speaking to me. And my heart it sings to her, three love songs all at once. I shove my hands in my trouser pockets and discretely start to sing a duet solo. I’m imagining us alone here, naked, Ruby bent over the weighing scales. I’m behind her, making a print of my epic cock in her fleshy black buttocks, yes, fossilising myself in her huge dimpled behind.

“You ag’in. Wha’ g’waan? You fo’get somet’in else?” she says like an exotic bird with a human voice. I can’t speak; desire has stolen my voice. I just nod, watching as she picks up my bits of fruit to weigh them. Watching as her magnificent bosom presses on the scales and adds to the weight. “Okay, that’s £4.10, right theer.”

I fumble for my wallet, hand a fistful of thumbs trying to find the right money, lips turned liquid trying to find the right words.

“Most expensive fruit in the whole of England, my dear Ruby,” I say eventually, carrier bag quaking in my raised hand, “but worth every penny!” And with that I shuffle away, feeling her eyes walk me to the exit.

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