Twist of Fate
Dietrich Kalteis
Break

She inspected the package. "Eighty calories just for one fuckin' cookie?"

Recognition hit me like Iron Mike. My heart beat like fists inside an oil drum, and I dropped my granola bars. "Lenore?"

"Turnip?"

I started life as Rudolph Ernesto Vegas, read too much Elmore Leonard, shortened it to Rudy Vegas, got nicknamed Rutabaga, and ended up Turnip.

"Long time since we..." She poked a forefinger through her circled thumb. Man, she was direct.

"How you keeping?" She tossed the cookies into her basket.

"I'm Goo—"

She dug her ringing cell phone from her handbag, signaled for me to call sometime, then got into hostilities with someone called Honey. She shoved her buggy up the aisle, pumps clanking.

Hypnotized by her pendulum sway, it dawned, I didn't have her number. Honey or no Honey, I went after her.

Ogling her from behind a dairy rack, I feigned a choice dilemma: soy or rice yogurt. Ranting herself red-faced over in produce, she disconnected and flung the phone into her handbag. Sidestepping a flame-headed clerk pushing a dreadlock mop, she saw me holding the yogurt tubs and grabbed a zucchini, aiming it at me. "Turnip," she called fondly.

"Zucchini, actually, Miss."

She turned on the clerk, vegetable in hand. "What?"

"Zucchini's bigger."

"Than what?" Her eyes narrowed to slits like she might ray him into combustion.

"A turnip."

"I know what it is." She palm-smacked the vegetable.

"Sorry, lady, I'm learning the veggies, working my way up to cash."

Her breasts jutted like bumper bullets on a bygone Caddie. "You propose I pay you?"

"You pay at the cash. Look, lady, have it your way. it's a turn—"

She hurled it.

Dropping the mop, he retreated, ducking a grapefruit. She pursued, snapping up fistfuls of lemons. I pushed my cart, not wanting to miss a second of this.

Rounding a corner, he plowing into a woman sticking decorative toothpicks into cocktail franks. Clerk, wienie woman and food cart ended in a pile.

Geritol-persuasion shoppers poked their heads around corners, witnessing the hoo-ha.

"What on earth's going on?" Mr. Peebles, the manager, arrived on the scene.

"Horny Lorny tried to slip me the veggie." Lenore hovered over her prey. "Now he's after her— fornicating little bastard."

Helping the dazed wienie woman up, Mr. Peebles plucked squished meat from her backside.

"I was just mopping," the clerk pleaded. "I didn't foliate anyone."

"Liar!" Like a flash, Lenore fished mace from her purse, spraying wildly, and if she hadn't slipped on the wienie, she would have finished the kid.

Tearing off his apron, the clerk fled, shouting his resignation. Lenore lay, clutched her ankle.

I squatted beside her, yelling at Peebles. "Rope this area off—get those orange pile-on thingies."

"It's not a crime scene," he protested.

"I'm never shopping here ever," Lenore yelled. "I don't give a shit what's on special."

Helping her limp out, I advised I drive her home.

Dietrich Kalteis is a writer living in West Vancouver. Twenty-one of his short stories have been published over the past year. His screenplay 'Milkin' Dillard' has been optioned to Bella Fe Films, and his short story collection 'Big Fat Love'(Cantarabooks) is due out Spring, 2010.