Alicia thought she recognized him from somewhere but couldn’t quite place him. And then it hit her. The guy always made a spectacle when he arrived at the little blues bar on his Harley. He went through a ritual of dismounting, taking off his helmet, then his leather gloves and making sure his vest hung open just enough to cover his beer gut and minimize its appearance at least at first glance.
He was fondling the peaches in the produce aisle. Alicia thought about how odd it was when she saw someone outside her frame of reference and their persona was shed as they became just another human being. In this case, he wasn’t the macho biker but a man buying groceries. He was intent on choosing the fruit that was not overripe but almost ready to eat. He hadn’t noticed her watching him.
Alicia turned away and picked up a bell pepper, inspecting it for flaws. Then she placed it on the scale. Grocery shopping was part of life. She was a coupon clipper, careful with her money. Working at the book store was her dream job but it paid just above minimum wage. Her job had its benefits the best of which was being able to bring the books home to read as long as she reviewed them for the “staff picks” shelves.
As she tore the plastic bag off the dispenser and placed the pepper in it she almost bumped into him. He looked at her blankly at first and then a glimmer of recognition crept into his eyes. He was trying to remember where he had seen her before.
“Hi,” he said. “I recognize you from somewhere.”
Alicia was just about to respond when he continued talking.
“You work in the book store, don’t you?”
She couldn’t hide her expression of bewilderment. How did she not notice him at the store? She was there 40 hours a week, sometimes more, and yet her mental association had gone directly to the blues bar.
“Yeah. I do,” she said. “I’m Alicia.”
“Nice to meet you Alicia. Name’s Marv. I’ve noticed you there but you always seem so busy. That other lady with the short hair helps me find what I’m looking for most of the time.”
“I’m sorry, Marv. I thought I knew you from someplace else. I didn’t realize it was from the book store,” Alicia said. “I do keep pretty busy there and I don’t normally run the register so I can’t keep track of who’s in and out unless they have a question.”
“Well, you’re not usually in the economics section. I kind of hang out there most of the time. I’m a financial advisor so I try to keep ahead of the trends. I see you around fiction and literature,” Marv said.
“Yeah, I’m a fiction reader so that’s what I know. It’s always better to help people with questions in my area of interest. I wouldn’t know how to recommend an author in economics,” Alicia said. “You know, I thought I had seen you at a blues bar a few weeks ago. Do you have a twin?” She laughed as she said it.
“No twins in the family. That would have been me. I’m a big blues fan. You really go to that bar, too?”
“Yup. I’ve been going there for years. I’m a writer. I like observing people at the bar and I love the music. I love working at the book store. Being around books inspires me. Every time an author debuts her first book it gives me hope that someday people will be handling mine.”
“Wow, that’s really cool. Makes sense to me. Writing and reading go together.”
“Are you going up to see that new band this weekend?” Alicia asked.
“Probably not. My Harley’s in the shop. I’d look stupid driving up to that bar in my Beemer. I’ll wait ‘til I get my bike back. Don’t want to ruin my image.”
“Stop in the book store next week. I’ll let you know if they’re any good.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll stop in. Nice meeting you. I’ve got to get home to feed my dog. Boy does she love peaches.”