"How are you this morning?" He asks in a polite voice.
She shrugs her thin shoulders and fidgets with her watch band.
He knows she won't reply in words, but it has become a routine long established, and he is afraid to deviate from it.
A can of warm RC cola and a package of Necco wafer. Her usual purchases. They never vary. Some days he wonders why he bothers to scan them. "Ninety-eight cents" He smiles at her, trying to make eye contact.
Her dark blue eyes like deceiving pools of calm water hiding some lurking danger beneath the surface, stare vacantly towards the front of the store. With a curt flick of her wrist she tosses a crumpled up bill his direction.
There is blood on her faded grey sweat shirt again. Evidence supporting his vampire theory. He knows the white skirt and nursing shoes she wears are a disguise. Nurse are caring, compassionate and she is sullen and distant.
As he counts out her change into her outstretched palm his eyes naturally fall on the three jagged scars that run across her thin wrist. When he has first seen them he had been so taken back, that he had to count her change twice before he got it right. An exotic sultan perhaps had in slaved her and broke her spirit.
Sliding the can into a sack he noticed that she was paler than usual. He figured that she worked in some mad scientists laboratory, helping with diabolical experiences. Perhaps a caustic chemical injected into her larynx robbed her of her speech, and she had been instructed a Necco an hour would prevent her wind pipe from growing shut.
She left the counter leaving behind a still shadow of silence.
He watched her go, eternally intrigued by her.
Twelve hours later he shifted from sore foot to sore foot, grumbling silently under his plastic smile. His patience for the public worn thin. He stopped making eye contact and tiredly counted out change to bodiless hands.
"Four and five. Thank you for shopping with us." He forced himself to stay, the surliness coming though despite his efforts to sound cheery.
Glancing at his watch he saw that he only had six minutes remaining before he could peel off his phony Saran wrapping and become himself again.
Reaching for the next item to be scanned he found a can of warm RC in his hand. He watched as the Necco's rolled a few inches and stop.
Glancing up he is shocked to find himself staring into familiar blue eyes. These eyes are different somehow....almost alive.
Perhaps this is a twin to the morning one, grown in a petri dish.
He tests his theory.
"Strange to see you this time of night." he says scanning the soda.
A large smile warms her face. "Yeah, I suppose it is. Are you working a double or changing shifts?"
Well damn, there goes his mute theory. "A double" he sighs,
"Doubles are killers on the body" she sympathizes.
He nods in agreement and scans the Neccos. "Ninety-eight cents." He smiles for real.
She hands him a dollar bill.
"Ninety-nine and one." He counts while gazing at the scars, almost disappointed in discovering that a sultan hadn't broken her spirit. Why she seemed to be fairly normal, average.
'Briar-Oaks Convalescent Home' is printed in bold letters on her name badge. He stares at it as he hands over the sack. "Thank you for shopping with us." he says as his voice jelling back into the forced cheerful sound.
Again she smiles, "see ya!"
As he watched her walk out. The game was over. He could see no point in playing any longer. She was just ....a mortal who worked in a nursing home. Not a spy or mutant experiment or relocated government witness, not even a vampire. Disappointed, he shook his head.
Though tired eyes the next morning He saw the can of RC and Neccos on the counter. "Howjur night go?" he asked with a wistful ping in his heart for the spoiled game.
She shrugged her shoulders and fidgets with her watch band, Her eyes deep and shut off are gazing towards the parking lot. She flicks the crumpled bill his direction.
His heart skipped a beat, suddenly intrigued again. What could possibly occur night after night inside the wall of Brier-Oaks, to remove all traces of humanity from her. A smile snaked across his face.
Perhaps, Brier-Oaks was a nursing home for vampires, or aliens...or...
This is actually a rough draft of a character sketch for my college writing class in 1991. The soda/Necco price really dates it.
The assignment was to describe yourself without just listing your physical features. I wrote this then a different one called DMV that I turned in as my finished project.
This story is based on a actual event. After a particularly stressful night at work me and two co-workers hit up the min-mart on the way home. I looked every bit the description in the story. We were all giddy and rummy from no sleep. I bought a warm can of RC and neccos. The cashier was eying me up and pointed to my name tag and asked me how to pronounce my name.
One co-worker, butted in and said "Oh, she can't talk, she's got no tongue."
The other piped right up and added, "She has to eat an Necco an hour to soak up all her saliva."