Uh oh, he says.

I have an idea but I ask anyway.

Forget something Jerry?

I was supposed to bring beer.

Yeah. So.

I forgot to get beer.

That’s Jerry for you. Forgets everything. From picking up beer to what day of the week his mother died. I turn and I head for the Winn-Dixie store. Winn-Dixie is sort of a poor man’s Piggly Wiggly. Which, if you’ve ever been in a Piggly Wiggly, you know is really saying something.

Aisle nine, beer and wine. At the end on the left. Past the prepackaged dinners and Little Debbie displays.

Hey Steve.

Hey Jerry. Hey Abby. Help you find something?

No thanks, Jerry tells him. Just grabbing some beer. 

We all went to Winslow Dunn High School together. Steve wanted to be a cop. He was physically fit and could pass all the tests, but Steve’s color blind. Automatically disqualified him from being a police officer.

Jerry reaches in the case and grabs two six packs. Looks up at me and says, I need some smokes.

I’m just along for the ride, I tell him. Even though it’s my car.

So now Steve is night manager at the Winn-Dixie store, lording it over the baby wipes and the baking potatoes. Waiting for some kid with a fake I.D. Or a shoplifter, maybe. Make my day.

He is one of those guys who wants respect without having to earn it. Who believes that authority, by right, should be his; handed to him, with a smile, no less, like the girl from the deli who stands at the door with tiny club sandwiches on colored toothpicks.

What are you doing.

A young man—a boy, he looks barely sixteen—is unpacking bananas, though not to Steve’s liking, I assume from his tone.

What are you doing.

He says it again, and the boy turns white as the Winn-Dixie floor.

Line them up vertically. You know what vertically is, right? Up and down. This way. Like this. 

Steve Taylor line three.

Steve looks up. He sighs a weight-of-the-world sort of sigh, and turns back to the kid who is shaking by then.

Ingram, right? William or Will?

The boy only nods. He is terrified. 

Which is it son?

w-w-William, he says.

I’m gonna take this call, w-w-William. And when I get back, I want to see those bananas stacked right.

Like th-th-this? William stutters.

Yeah like th-th-that.

Ready Abby?

Jerry walks up with his smokes and the beer. Steve nods to us both in a cursory way. Out to the car. Out of the parking lot, out to the road. I can’t get William out of my head. Or night manager Steve and his jack-booted ways. 

Bad enough there in the produce aisle. Steve, with a badge…it just makes me shudder and I’m wondering if some karmic force is in play that left Officer Wannabe color vision deficient, when I hear Jerry laugh. He says “uh-oh” again. 

I have an idea but I ask anyway and he grins and he says, it’s Saturday, right?

No, I tell him. It’s Friday. Why?

Party is Saturday. I’m sorry, he says. I just forgot what day it was. 

Sometimes I think we learn to forget. And forget what we’ve learned and then we’re surprised when men roam the streets breaking glass in the night.

You’re not mad at me are you.

Jerry looks as if he might cry, and I say, it's okay, even though it's a lie.