The Store

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Philip Foster
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Joined: 08/30/2011

Bob was nearly out of gas. It irritated him that he had known yesterday that he was low and that he should have gotten some. But he could not bring himself to pay the prices, so he kept passing stations looking for something cheaper. Now he was driving without the air conditioner on and the windows down. The heat was wilting but not withering. He drove a little slower to conserve fuel, knowing that he could run out at any minute.

Bob rounded the curve at a bluehair pace and saw a small store in the distance. He decided that he would put in there for some gas. He had eleven dollars in his pocket and that would get him about a fourth of a tank he thought. Easing up to one of the two pumps, Bob shut off the engine. One pump was for regular, the other for premium. The price was higher than anything he had seen in weeks. He thought of moving on, but was reluctant since he could be walking back to here in five minutes anyway asking to borrow a gas can. Disgusted with himself, he started the regular pump and began pumping gas. He watched the total dollars carefully and slowed down when it got to ten dollars, then penny by penny put the last dollar's worth in. He stopped right on eleven. Then he kept the nozzle in the fill neck for a while to let the last drops fall, wasting nothing.

The store was ancient and had not been maintained in forty years. Everything needed cleaning or painting or both. The screen door had a large hole rusted in the screen wire and it looked like another chunk was about to fall the next time the door closed. Bob walked in and found no one there. He called out but no one answered. He thought that a dishonest person would find something to steal just for the fun of it. Or would drive off without paying for the gas. But he could not do that. He was not raised that way. So he found a used Stant radiator cap on the counter and put to work as a paper weight to secure the sweat soaked eleven dollars to the counter. Two fivers and a Washington. All he had. Tomorrow is another day, but at least he had the gas to get there.