poetry, prose, plays, and prints

He's pump #1, the green pickup truck, Uncle John's Landscaping & Construction hand-painted on the side. "$4.24? The pump said $1.06." Soft spoken, a little shaky. "I'm sorry. I'll go get more . . ." White ponytail, Canned Heat t-shirt, he drifts out the door, still wondering how he went so wrong.

It's obvious what he's done--confused the number of gallons with the total sale--but that's ignored by the rest of the customers in line. ("What decade's that dude living in?" / "Yeah, what did he smoke for breakfast?") What nobody says: it's impossible to pump a dollar's worth of gas. If not some miracle, it would require inhuman reflexes, technological assistance perhaps, or genetic modification. At the very least, it would require rigorous training and self-discipline. You couldn't squeeze the pump handle any longer than you'd squeeze the trigger of a rifle--and not like unloading 50 rounds of guesswork in some sandswept outdoor market, but a split-second pull: as if your survival hinged on placing a single bullet between the eyes of a winter moose, or your president.

But let's be honest--who among us has that kind of focus? No one in the check-out line. Certainly not the ancient hippie fishing for lost change under the seat of his truck--he's ready to pay up and go peacefully. Just ask him and he'll tell you: Christ Himself would have done the same.