Stuck Between Jacks of White and Black

Stuck Between Jacks of White and Black

A Story by T. Sorrell

A scene in a liquor store.


The kid who worked at the liquor store in Horner's Corners, Kansas was about 21. His name was Hunter or Lennon or Holden. Maybe Milo. One of those was probably right. Whatever his name was he had a round, bearded face and head of shaggy hair. We'll call him the clerk.


The clerk was sitting on a stool behind the register wearing Buddy Holly glasses and a t-shirt representing The White Stripes. In his soft, clean hands was an old Rolling Stone magazine with The White Stripes on the cover. The clerk's cell phone was on the counter to his right, playing Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.

To his left, silver sleigh bells hanging from strips of red and green jingled over the door as a man in his early thirties entered and shook off the cold. The man was tall and had short brown hair. His face was dirty. He walked with an awkward gate like someone uncomfortable in their skin. His name was Billy. It said so on his shirt.

“What a loser,” the clerk muttered under his breath, pushing his horn-rimmed glasses up his beak of a nose.

Over at the door, Billy took off his thin-framed glasses and wiped the fog from the thick lenses. When he put them back on he was greeted with a huge smile by a cardboard cutout of a jolly Santa Claus holding a green bottle of beer in one hand and the curvy hip of a bikini model in the other. Billy looked past the cutout at the clerk and waved. The kid looked back down at his magazine and sighed.

“What an a*****e," the clerk muttered, turning back to the article he was reading about Katy Perry's cat "Kitty Purry."

Billy didn’t hear the comment. He was mumbling along to the lyrics of the song playing from the phone as he walked in a beeline for the whiskey section in the back of the store.

“We’re going to Wichita,” Billy sang, softly. “Far from this opera forever more...”

He grabbed a bottle of Jameson whiskey and approached the counter as the verse came to an end. When it did, the clerk put down his magazine, closed his eyes, threw up rock horns and chanted along with the guitar riff.

“Ohhhhh. Oh-oh-oh-oh. Ohhh. Ohhh.”

He did this several times. Billy shook his head and put the bottle on the counter, disrupting the clerk, who opened his eyes and rolled them as if he were offended. He looked at the bottle and punched in a number on the register. Billy nodded over at the phone and grinned.

“You like Jack White, huh? I have to admit, he is pretty g-g-great. Have you ever heard listened to the song C-C-Conquest?”

Billy stuttered sometimes. The clerk snickered and shook his head.

“No, dude," he said. "I don't like that fat old b*****d. 'Pick of Destiny' sucks."

Billy frowned.

“I'm sorry ... w-w-what?”

The clerk looked at Billy like he was an idiot.

“As in 'Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny'? What are you, retarded?”

Billy tilted his head as the clerk sneered in disdain.

“Do you mean Jack B-black?” Billy asked.

The clerk scoffed.

“Uh, no, d****e. Jack Black rocks.”

He pointed at his shirt and at the phone, then held up the magazine and pointed at the cover. Billy silently mouthed the word “d****e?" as he shook his head and blinked, completely confused.

“Ok,” Billy said, flustered. “Jack B-b-black is awesome, but t-t-that’s n-n-not-”

The clerk interrupted with a dramatic eye roll and a loud sigh.

“Tuh-tuh-tuh-23.38,” he said.

Billy closed his eyes, inhaled deeply and heard a loud whoosh.

Inside his mind Billy opened the bottle and took a large drink, glaring at the clerk. He put the bottle on the counter and wiped his mouth with his sleeve like an outlaw in the old west.

“F**k you, you ignorant little hipster jackass! How dare you look at me like I’m the idiot? Jack White is in the band on your shirt and you don’t even know it. Let me guess, you listen to that one part of the song over and over, huh? I bet you don’t even know the lyrics.”

In Billy’s head the clerk groaned a response like a zombie. Billy laughed, picked up the bottle, took a drink and walked over to the cutout of Santa with his model mistress.

“I wonder where the cutout of Mrs. Claus with a shotgun is,” he said, taking another drink. “And why does Santa drink s****y beer in a green bottle? Who is this ad for, anyway?”

Billy took a drink and walked back to the counter, staring the clerk up and down. The kid reached up to scratch his head, but poked himself in the right eye with his finger instead. It didn’t seem to hurt him. Billy shook his head.

“F****n’ zombie. I bet you’re wearing that shirt because you want to be seen wearing it. You probably think it’ll make you cool by proxy, right?”

The clerk grinned and nodded, stupidly, a line of drool hanging from his mouth. Billy chuckled and took a drink.

“Well it doesn’t,” he snapped. “You don’t even know the difference between the two Jacks, White and Black. You act like you’re his biggest fan, but you’re not. You’re a fraud and an idiot. Do you think I give a damn what you think about me?”

The clerk nodded. Billy frowned.

“Yeah,” he said. “You’re probably right.”

Whoosh. Back to reality.

Billy pulled out his credit card and swiped it in the machine. The clerk glared across the counter as if he’d heard everything Billy had just thought and bagged the booze. Billy took the bag and left the store as the bells announced his departure.  

© 2013 T. Sorrell

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Added on September 12, 2013
Last Updated on September 12, 2013
Tags: Jack White, Jack Black, Katy Perry, Santa Claus, Beer, Whiskey, Bells, Rolling Stone