They took a shuttle from their SUV, parked in Texas B-8. The kids bounced to the man in the monkey suit and presented their tickets. “Welcome to America Land,” the man bellowed, then offered a toothy smile.
Inside, aisle after aisle beckoned.
“Let’s go to the football aisle,” the boy begged.
“No, the tea party aisle, the tea party aisle!” the girl said, giggling.
“There’s time to see it all,” Pops said. “Let’s start from aisle one and work our way through.”
A man ambled by with a large trash bin on wheels. He tipped his hat and smiled a smile that nearly laughed. “Hello there! How are you doing today?” he asked.
“Another hot dog please,” called a man at a table at the other end of the aisles. There, near the meat department, was the Beef ‘N Potato Café.
“Right away, sir!” A man with a white apron tied around his waist and a white towel draped over his arm returned with a silver platter. On it was a hot dog with single packets of mustard, ketchup, and pickle relish.
In aisle one, Pilgrims asked Indians for help and they shared a Thanksgiving feast. The family helped themselves to some turkey and stuffing, but passed on the maize.
In aisle two, cowboys killed Indians.
“Interest you in a gun?” asked a salesman in a ten-gallon hat. The son begged and begged.
“Maybe later,” Mee-maw said.
The trash man ambled by again. “Hello there. How are you doing today?” he asked.
In aisle three, a zoo included all of the animals native to America. And an Indian Reservation section.
“Another hot dog, please.” The man called out at the end of the aisles.
“Of course, sir,” said the waiter.
By the time they reached aisle six, their feet were tired. Pops inserted his credit card and they all took seats on the moto-rail. Their seats faced the middle of the aisle, allowing them to view everything without having to walk or steer.
“This is the way to see America Land,” Mee-maw said, her imitation-leather pocketbook from China rested on her lap. Pops put his arm around her.
In aisle eight, a slave was being whipped in the South while another was giving a speech in the North.
At the Beef ‘N Potato, a Mexican was eating a raw onion like an apple before entering the fields in aisle twelve.
“Another hot dog, pronto,” the other man said. The waiter ran to the kitchen for a hot dog and placed it before the customer without saying a word.
A nature preserve filled out aisle twenty. These were the only plants in America Land. Aside from the ones protected in this aisle, they’d all been destroyed.
The man with the trash bin tipped his hat. “Hi there. How are you doing today?” he asked.
A traffic jam groaned in aisle twenty-three. Car horns blared and people made crude hand gestures to each other, yelling and screaming. Pops put his hands on the little girl’s ears. The moto-rail carried them along in their seats.
“Another hot dog please,” said the same customer.
The waiter sighed. “Perhaps I could interest you in our meat drip?”
“A meat IV? Do tell!”
The family watched boxing and wrestling in aisle twenty-seven and aisle thirty included a live reenactment of last year’s Super Bowl.
The man with the trash bin smiled warily. “Hi. How are you doing today?” he asked.
They enjoyed a cup of tea and some doughnuts in aisle thirty-three, without even getting out of their moto-rail seats.
The man at the Beef ‘N Potato had a tube stuck in his mouth. It went all the way to the butcher’s department. Another man ate potato chips. The light above his table grew red and he began yelling, “Wooo, weee! That’s hot!”
In aisle forty, they witnessed a drug deal gone bad, three people shot dead.
“How are you doing today?” asked the trash man as he picked up one of the bodies and hefted it up into the trash bin.
In aisle fifty-one, they witnessed a school shooting. The boy wished Pops had bought him the revolver.
In aisle fifty-five, police cruisers were pulling people over and giving them citations.
“Woooo, weee! That’s hot!” The man ate his spicy chips.
Aisle sixty-two included a recreation of the last World Series. “Getcha hot apple pie,” called a vendor with a box hanging from around his neck. “Hot apple pie on a stick!” Mee-maw bought four pies and they dug in as they watched the game. They threw the tin and their dirty napkins on the floor.
The trash man ambled by and picked them up. He smiled at them. “How are you doing?” he asked.
In aisle sixty-six, two airplanes crashed into skyscrapers and a third one wedged into an open field. There were no survivors.
The man at the table tried to talk with the tube in his mouth. “I tink I’m wedy fow desewt.”
“Very well, sir,” the waiter said, and he yanked the tube from his mouth.
A field of corn filled out aisle seventy and bags of soybeans stocked the shelves of aisle seventy-one.
“Ten Dolla,” called a salesman in aisle eighty. The entire aisle was a street market. “Special price, just for you.”
Books lined shelves in aisle eighty-four. But no one was reading.
Aisle eighty-seven was a discotheque. Ballroom dancing at one end, grinding at the other, and an assortment of styles in between.
All sorts of street foods were sold in aisle ninety. Mee-maw and Pops got up, the kids in tow. They bought some food and decided to walk a little. The deep fried butter was good when you dipped it in hot fudge sauce.
“How you doing?” the trash man asked.
In aisle one hundred, there was a war going on. Pops wished he’d bought the boy a gun.
At the Beef ‘N Potato, the hot dog customer was finishing dessert and ordering an Americana. The other man ordered another bag of red-hot potato chips. A woman ordered ramen and a burrito.
Aisle one hundred one was nothing but skyscrapers so tall you couldn’t see their tops.
“Apple pie! Getcha hot apple pie on a stick.”
“Wooo whee! That’s hot!”
“Ten Dolla. Special price, just for you.”
“Another hot dog, please!”
“Interest you in a gun?”
“How y’ doin’?”
Aisle one hundred and three was a carpet of crawling cockroaches.
© Eric D. Goodman
Eric D. Goodman writes in Baltimore about trains, wombs, and animals gone wild. Tracks, his novel in stories, won the Gold Medal for Best Fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Feel free to like him or else to give him a poke him at www.Facebook.com/EricDGoodman or www.TracksNovel.com.
Great story! Funny but true -= showing us all the cockroaches.
Tony Press said:
Excellent. Not just a good idea, but it works beautifully from beginning to end.
David Eberhardt said:
please stop by the “Great Blax in Wax” museum on north avenue- it’s “down yr alley”
eric goodman rools- compared to him, many others drools
Eric Goodman hosted the Watermark reading of 10/26- his books were selling like hot cakes- let me tell you something (who is reading this?)- Eric IS A STAR
margo christie said:
The only survivors in this waste land live in aisle 103!
margo christie said:
Fantastic story. I’m sure there’s symbolism in it that I’m not getting, and still it’s great.
paul beckman said:
Unique and well written.