Who would have thought that a simple trip to the grocery store for my wife would have resulted in this?
We'd moved to the west coast from the "Heartland,"
that mostly rural mid-section of the country known for old-fashioned values. Read "outmoded" morals. E.g., marriage is an institution decreed by God to be only for man and wife. Note: not woman and husband, but man and wife. Everything about the dominant belief system was founded in myth, misogyny, and ignorance.
Oddly enough, nobody ever harassed my wife and me. In fact, Iowa was one of the first states to decree marriage between man and man or woman and woman to be legal, which is why we'd moved there from Colorado. We had no grievance with the church-going majority. Just the weather. Socially, the climate was fine, but arctic Midwest winters and tornado summers were just too brutal for two Denver natives. We missed the dry air and sunshine of Colorado but not the anti-gay legislation, so we headed for the coast this time.
My wife and I sported matching haircuts, part buzz cut with long bangs on top side-swept and oiled into a comb-over that looked like feathers. Chris's black hair glistened like a raven's wing. I was born one of those white-blondes with invisible eyelashes, so I looked more like a swan with too much mascara and eyeliner.
With our matching Harleys parked outside, we stood in the meat department in our tight jeans and leather jackets, trusting that the "Life is good" T-shirts at the end-cap of the aisle were on clearance only to make way for all the new "Bless the Beasts and the Children" shirts.
The locals surrounded us, twenty of 'em at least, men, women, and children, chanting, "Go to hell."
Well, that was unexpected.
Chris blinked in surprise while I stood hands-on-hips and faced them. "You first."
"You sick, sadistic, animal-skin wearing cannibal," a matronly woman said. She hurled a tomato at me and it splatted right in my face.
Behind the meat counter, the butcher looked at me with a shrug and a helpless palms-up gesture.
I blinked and rubbed tomato juice from my lashes, knowing I'd have mascara turning me into a panda. This was just crazy. Where was store security? Didn't every business have surveillance cameras and security forces on hand to catch shop lifters? What about these protestors?
"Cows taste good," Chris said. I winced. She never had a clue how not to escalate a tense situation.
More tomatoes rained down on us. I held up my hands in the universal "Halt" signal.
"Enough," I shouted, summoning my most manly and menacing Clint-Eastwood vibe. "You'll never get away with this."
"Oh yeah?" a snarky little boy sneered at me. "That's what you'd like to think. Butch."
"My name is not Butch." I traded glances with Chris, hoping she'd remember the gold-standard of our relationship: trust me to do the talking while she refrained from blurting out all her common-sense "Captain Obvious" insights. I opened my mouth to launch into a speech on their egregious abuse of Freedom of Speech--"egregious" being the kind of word that causes dimwits a moment's hesitation, and words being my favorite weapons.
But Chris spoke first. "Just you wait."
The matronly woman broke the taut silence. "Wait for what?"
"You'll find out," Chris said, "when the aliens come get me this Saturday." She jerked her head toward me. "And her."
She held up her left fist, nudging me to do the same. We showed off our matching rings, Egyptian inspired moonstone, which had always given off a weird extra-terrestrial vibe. We'd watched too many sci-fi movies, I know, but it was fun to use practiced moves like this to intimidate anyone who was trying to intimidate us. We'd stand our ground.
Eyeballs fixated on our rings. The confidence Chris and I had acquired from too many nerdy re-enactments of video games and movies had the anticipated effect. Heads down, shifty eyes shooting wary glances at us, the mumbling crowd dispersed.
"Clean-up in Aisle Three," a voice came over the loudspeaker.
We washed up in the restroom, came out, and resumed our quest for just the right cut of beef for a cookout. The butcher had all manner of ideas on how best to roast a slab of meat. We listened politely as he packaged our T-Bones and New York Strips.
"About Saturday," he whispered as we reached for the packages. "I heard it would be two weeks from Sunday." When Chris and I traded blank stares, he leaned closer. "You know. The aliens."
Was he having fun with us, or was he for real with this desperate-looking plea to get the hell outta this place? I spotted a tomato seed in my zipper and knocked it out. "Whassup with the activists here harassing your customers?"
"We are outnumbered," the butcher whispered. "They're Voluntary Human Extinction zealots."
"Well, dang." Chris didn't have my way with words, but she was never without words.
"But help is on the way," the butcher said. "We've seen images of it. A UFO that looks like a giant double cheeseburger was captured on camera by an amateur astronomer in Australia. And, with his home-built radio, he made contact."
I wasn't sure who might be crazier, the Voluntary Extinction zealots, or the butcher.
"Omigod," Chris said. "Now it makes sense. Those pop-up ads about cleaning our windows."
"That dirty window," the butcher said mysteriously.
"Yes!" Chris fist-bumped the butcher. "The code word."
Whaaat? I was the smart blonde here; she was the ditzy one. Until now.
She amazed me with a quote from the Bible. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
I waited to see her pass out from the vocabulary expenditure, but she was more like a tail-wagging dog eager to catch another Frisbee.
"First Corinthians," the butcher said. "And, yeah. The Second Coming is coming. It's coming in the form of a Big Mac of a UFO, and it's coming for people with common sense, not those zealots."
My mouth hung open. "Well...dang!"
Nothing more articulate came to mind, but just you wait.
Who would have thought that a simple trip to the grocery store with my wife would have resulted in this?
Prompt 1 - First Sentence; Prompt 2 - Interference; Prompt 3 - dramatic twist - the conflict:
(1) Who would have thought that a simple trip to the grocery store for my wife would have resulted in this?
(2) when the aliens come get me this Saturday
(3) that dirty window