The Vendor

Pig held steady a gaze suggesting his struggles against despair. He leaned forward ever so slightly and gracefully extended his arms upward, cupping his hands, wishing to fill them with more than hopes. He did not lurch. No, not this time. Pig has learned his lesson.

Slow, thoughtful movement enacted with zen-like focus. This is the behavior of a polite man. This is the behavior of a man perhaps worthy of rewards. A man moving slowly and thoughtfully is not a man to be chased from the premises, nor should he be scolded, nor should he receive reprimand beyond that which fairly addresses general vagrancy.

Tricia, caked in all manner of pungent nautical fluids, hastily dragged on a cigarette with the intentions of quickly smoking one more. Her break from the octopus carving station in the rear of Nippon Ocean market allowed her only five minutes, but never felt like more than a few seconds. Her break was the only time she had to herself, the only time she had to review the morning’s regrets and to anticipate the regrets yet to come. Sadly, she still had to spend every break disregarding the gaze that watched her pacing on the delivery dock smoking cigarettes as fast as they would burn.

While lost in her thoughts, she let down her guard and accidentally acknowledged her breaktime intruder. Cupped hands reaching up, he asked the question he asked countless times before.

“Excuse me. Do you have any change for the.. machine?”

“Goddamn pig!” Tricia angrily huffed. She threw her cigarette on the dock, stomped it out, and stormed back inside.

Pig recoiled as slowly as he reached for charity and turned his attention to the vending machine. His desires, organized neatly and each identified with a unique letter-number pairing, called to him. He rested his forehead on the display glass and pressed the “purchase” button. HIs mind could hear the churning of the coils, the muffled “thump” of his prize hitting the collection tray. But, as he carefully pushed open the dispenser flap and felt around, he found no prize. No reward. No satisfaction. No musk. Nothing to quell his yearning. Unpaid, the machine held Pig in the same regard as those from whom he begged assistance.

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