Extracurricular Activities, by Rick Rauch
Gotta go, gotta get home – the kids have yet another soccer game today, or is it basketball? Not sure, but the meeting ran long and I’m running late and the wife needs “a few things”, which means another stop, and there’s a damn school zone every quarter mile or so, but maybe I’m lucky and the clock’s running a little fast again today, and of course there’re no close spots in the parking lot. So, I do what everyone else does and park in the no parking fire lane tow-away zone (caught a break and found a spot on the red curb amid the red stripes – very festive, actually), and since I’m running a little late, I leave the flashers on to ward off law enforcement, and literally running like an extra in a scene from a Chinese fire drill, I sidestep through the crowd past the appropriately sedated Walmart greeter’s half-hearted but strangely upbeat slur: “… and how… are… YOU… today?” to find half the store congregated in the very aisle where I’m headed, apparently looking for the same thing I’m looking for, but in spite of their rough looks, I immediately dismiss any thoughts of conspiracy and elbow my way to the whole-wheat-high-(soluble)-fiber-no-preservatives-low-sodium-no-sugar-added bread, which I’m told will help counter the ill effects of my high-stress induced high blood pressure, and clutching my doughy prize a bit too tightly (I would later find), I spin on over to the frozen foods section, where a gaggles of old ladies are contemplating the artistic complexities of 21st century milk cartons, and with a couple of jukes, I’m in and out through a background of huffs and head waggles and sprinting for the Express Line to wait (and wait… and wait) for the disgruntled high school student to check me out, realizing (while waiting) that I seem to have slipped into some sort of a weird s l o w m o t i o n t i m e w a r p o r s o m e t h i n g … drifting away into a life worthy of starlets and paparazzi and scandal sheets… so I make my move, grabbing a Baby Ruth, a Snickers, pirouetting to swipe my card and make my mark hard against the plastic, and before you know it, it’s a robotic “Thankyouverymuchhaveaniceday…” whatever, and with a robotic whatever response, I’m out the door and on my way.
OK, so now I’m really late, and sorry, but the speed limit will just have to wait while I answer the cell phone remembering that I forgot her whatever-it-is-she-takes for her you-know-what monthly stuff (damn not again), and so she’s really mad ’cause the kids are really mad ’cause, despite my mad dash, they’re now really late for their basketball game – ah yes, basketball, yes, of course – basketball is good. Well, okay. So, now they’re en route without me, while I make an improper lane change to make an improper illegal U-turn (at least that’s what the cop called it), but that’s all behind me now shifting gears for the home stretch to the school, ending up alone with a headache in an empty gym, realizing and not altogether disappointed that this ain’t no home game.
Rick Rauch was born and raised in the suburbs of New Orleans and currently lives along Bayou Lacombe in southeast Louisiana. Trained as a physicist, he currently test rockets that one day may enable human explorers to escape Earth’s orbit and venture to Mars and beyond. Rauch’s poetry has recently appeared or is about to appear in California Quarterly, decomP, Hotel Amerika, Many Mountains Moving, Milk Money, The Oxford American, Quiddity, Slow Trains, and other magazines.
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Tags: fast, hurry, on the run, rick rauch