A Story by Peter Rogerson

An odd little story set at a check-out in a supermarket...


Tanya was bored.

It was boxing day, the shop was open but not so many customers seemed to want to shop and the queue at her till was non-existent. Maybe, she thought, they all filled their fat bellies yesterday on Christmas dinner and can’t be bothered to roll out of their homes and down to the shops today

Or maybe,” murmured Davy Oldster, making her jump, “or maybe they’re bothered about buying too much.”

She looked up. She didn’t know Davy Oldster from Adam, though there was a little something about him, an odd little flirtatious glance, that suggested she might. She hadn’t seen him forming a queue as he pushed his few purchases along the belt towards her till. It was as if he’d materialised out of thin air like people do when you’re day-dreaming.

Pardon, sir?” she asked out of politeness. In truth she wasn’t remotely interested in what the older man had to say. She had a few random thoughts of her own playing hide-and-seek inside her head and that was enough for her. And, to underline her total lack of fascination in the words of this particular gentlemen she had a hangover. At least she hoped it was a hangover because her head wasn’t half fuzzy.

Who wouldn’t be suffering a bit after a Christmas day which had started brilliantly and only got better as the wine was sipped (or gulped depending in your definition of events) and, around midnight, you found yourself, like she had, in bed with a bloke she hardly knew, a mature bloke with wandering hands. The hangover was inevitable.

I was wondering,” murmured Davy Oldster, “if most people might be worried about buying too much.”

I suppose it’s possible,” she conceded without thinking about the matter, “some people will worry about anything.”

Maybe because they have to,” he chided, “take me, for instance, I’ve got enough to last me for the rest of my life, so why would I need to buy more?”

She thought about that. Tanya didn’t like committing herself to anything without thinking first. She’d thought about it last night when a virtual stranger had whisked her off to bed in her own home and done goodness-knows not with her, and after due consideration she seemed to remember helping him with her bra strap as she’d climbed rather unsteadily into bed.

That’s all well and good if you know how long the rest of your life is,” she told him, blushing as she remembered one or two things she’d suggested last night to the blond ... or was it dark-haired or ginger rather mature stranger under her duvet with her.

Oh, I know that,” he grinned, broadly. “It’s either more or less than a week or so, and who can possibly want cupboards filled with comestibles when time’s that short? I mean, it would be the height of cruelty to slaughter a bull for meat so that I can have dinner a week next Thursday if a week next Thursday is never going to come along for me and I’m actually being incinerated at the local facility a week next Wednesday?”

The local facility?” she asked weakly.

Crematorium,” he filled in for her and pronouncing the word as one might if he was shortly going to become intimately involved in the place.

But … but you’re alive and well!” she exclaimed, waving the turnip from his basket in front of the flickery red scanner light that read its details in an accurate microsecond.

He looked at her and shook his head gently.

How can a bloke shake his head like that if he reckons he’s got no more than a week left? she asked herself. It’s a good job that man last night did what he did with me … if I only had a week and a bit left I’d be wanting him to do it all the time. I only wish I could remember it but I know it must have been great! And what a hangover to wake up to. Pity he’d left already. We could have enjoyed a second chapter before I had to come to work…

Not everything is what it looks like,” he said quietly as she scanned his pork pie. “Sometimes things are very much opposite to what they look like. And what I see now looks like one thing, but you can take my word for it, it’s something very different.”

She was confused. “I’m confused,” she confessed, “and that’ll be four pounds thirty, please.”

Of course it will be,” he sighed, and he rummaged in his pocket for his money. “I only hope I finish this pork pie in time,” he murmured as he sorted the copper from the silver.

Of course you will!” she told him with a girlish giggle, the sort that she knew men liked because of the way it made her sound childishly innocent. She’d used it last night at the party, in her bedroom, in her bed...

But I fear I’m not that keen on eating it,” he murmured, “it’s the sort with an egg in it, all hard-boiled and delicious, but when did they boil it..?”

It looks lovely,” she said, her eyes sparkling as if she was actually feeling pleasure deep inside her at the thought of him eating a pork pie.

Yes, I would normally agree with you, but not this time, you see, it’s almost out of date. That’s why it’s cheap, but I’m a bit of a cheapskate, so woe to me!” he whispered, packing the pork pie with the rest of his few items of shopping in a reusable carrier bag.

This old cove is dafter than a brush, she thought, frowning suddenly, I wonder what turns him on? Does anything? I mean, not being around a week next Thursday…

Next please,” she said to the queue of two that had formed behind him at her till.

You fancy him don’t you dear?” asked the over made-up young beauty with dark rimmed spectacles next in the queue.

No!” she exclaimed, almost loud, “it’s just that, well, he said he might die soon and that made me think...”

Oh, he will,” nodded the ravishing creature. “We all die, sooner or later, and he’ll die and be buried by a week next Thursday.”

You know that?” she asked, eyes open wide.

It’s why I was sent, dear,” smiled the bombshell, “it’s what I’m doing here. Collecting the souls of the almost departed, cataloguing them and then taking them to where they rightly belong. And it’s good to get two together. It makes my job so much the easier, especially on holidays.”

Two? Together?” stammered Tanya.

Well, he bought that pork pie which he’ll eat for dinner, and I happen to know it’s full to the brim with salmonella which will breed like mad inside him and do for him, and last night, my dear, you died. That makes two.

Me?” Tanya went suddenly pale as though there ought to be something she could remember but had forgotten.

Of course,” almost cackled the smiling beauty, “it was a good party yesterday, eh? And all those nibbles. And that gentleman who tucked you into bed?”

Yes,” sighed Tanya, then “how do you know about that?” she almost yelped.

I’m sorry, dear, don’t you remember? But they seldom do! But he’s got a bit of a reputation, you know! It was a mistake going with him, dear, a terrible mistake, but you were too gone to care. I’m afraid he killed you after he’d had his wicked way with you, and it was wicked, really, really wicked, goodness me it was...”

Nonsense!” she yelped.

Don’t you worry, dear, he’ll be joining us once he’s chewed his way through the egg in that pork pie. Remember it was you who served him with it. Then you’ll be able to tell him exactly how you feel about serial killers who have serially killed you! Now come on, take my hand, walk this way, we’re nearly there, who cares which Thursday it is any more, or Wednesday come to think of it, or that your very last lover was a sad old man with a penchant for murder...”

© Peter Rogerson 26.12.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

My Review

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WOW! What an imagination! Your story is spellbinding, as well as puzzling! I admire a writer who can maintain two parallel stories at the same moment (my train of thought is too easily tangled for that!) The very weaving of these two disparate lives is fascinating & admirable, the way you did it with so much care! I'm jealous of your storytelling! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Year Ago

YES! Very cool story. Very short, simple, and to the point. The ending was great as well!

Something that is totally my taste!

Posted 1 Year Ago

Peter Rogerson

1 Year Ago

Your taste and mine then, Devin.
" though in truth they write themselves. " It may seem that way, in the way the wheat seems to grow itself after you have ploughed, fertilized, and sown, yeah, after that it grows itself.

But, the story was what I wanted to talk about not your comment to a comment. Firstly, I enjoyed it. It was predictable, but I like being able to see the future (in this case the ending). Not saying predictable is bad or good just saying people like to discover what they already know. Makes people (readers) feel clever. A clever writer won't miss that trick, you didn't.

I thought Allowing Davey OLdster access to her thoughts was over the top and not appropriate to the story. Unnecessary is the word I'm hunting. I felt the introduction to his name, Davey Oldster, was a bit like having my face slapped with a mackerel and his name could have been introduced more genteelly or even omitted.

I wouldn't bother with all this typing if I had not enjoyed the story so get busy and write some more.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Peter Rogerson

1 Year Ago

Write some more? Isn't around one a day for years enough? Thanks for your views anyway, they are muc.. read more
Delmar Cooper

1 Year Ago

Well yeah that's pretty productive. Thanks for sharing that one.
I really liked this story! It seemed real and fantastic. I really liked how you held back the twist till the end. Awesome job!

Posted 1 Year Ago

Peter Rogerson

1 Year Ago

Thanks a lot. It's the sort of story I really like writing, though in truth they write themselves.

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4 Reviews
Added on December 26, 2017
Last Updated on December 26, 2017
Tags: check out, salmonella, murder


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 75 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..


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