The saddest thing I ever saw was
in the lot of a shaky Stop & Shop,
the kind where you can smell
the meat section long before
you get there. The only other
store served by this parking
lot was Canton’s Liquors
side by side with a yellow-bricked project:
four attached squat buildings
only a few stories high.

I’d just replenished 
my bourbon supply,
comfy in the car,
my wife beside me.
As the engine woke up,
I saw a young man
run in a sort of frenzy,
out of the supermarket door,
limping and weaving.
This Irish-looking kid, red
wild hair and hard pink face,
stumbled across the asphalt
in drooping jeans and a
bulging checked shirt, 
which he hugged like a child.

He was the kind of drunk 
who’s almost frightening 
in his premature and powerful
relationship with alcohol.
You see them once in a while,
some not yet in their 20s, faces
sunburnt red, guttering eyes,
stilted walk. Almost gone.

Then out of the Stop & Shop 
burst a boy, about
the same age as the thief,
a superhero dressed
like a cashier — tie,
white shirt, shiny black slacks.

The young drunk was no match
for the model employee,
and as he tried to speed 
up to elude the good little shit,
drumsticks and wings and maybe
a breast or two, already roasted,
tumbled from his shirt
and scattered on the parking lot
pavement. The cashier stopped
his pursuit and the young
drunkard, hands outstretched,
explained in a high, candid wail,
“I’m hungry.”

About the author:

Alec Solomita is a writer working in the Boston area. His fiction has appeared in Southwest Review, The Mississippi Review, and Southword Journal, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal. His poetry has appeared in Poetica, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Driftwood Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, The Galway Review, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. His poetry chapbook “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published in 2017. His full-length poetry book, “Hard To Be a Hero,” was just released by Kelsay Books.

Feature image by Egor Gordeev on Unsplash