The store was the last one before his apartment. Jugo’s was its name and Fred was its clerk. Not, to say, that he had ever had a serious conversation with Fred. It just happened that the worker’s name showed on his badge, and Luther spent too many evenings visiting Fred for the things he forgot to buy the night before. Luther could keep his head wrapped around his work, but not his shopping list.

He entered the store and walked down the isles to the standing refrigerator at the back where he took out a blue 2% carton of milk. If he missed another breakfast due to milk shortage, he determined that he would give up on cereal for good, but not yet. He wandered up to the counter and set the product down by the checkout where Fred was waiting, or rather, reading the newspaper. Fred put down the paper, picked up the carton and brought the code scanner up, but hesitated. The scanner was moved away, the clerk considered the object in his hand, then looked at Luther.

“You’re actually going to drink this?” the store clerk asked him.

Oh, not this again.

“It’s just milk.”, Luther explained. It was a menial task he just wanted over.

“Just milk!”, the store clerk said putting down the un-scanned carton. “Don’t you listen to the news?”

Well, Luther did remember something about chemicals leaking into the water, but that was always happening.

“I haven’t died yet,” Luther said picking up the carton and swiping it by the upheld bar-code scanner. Beep.

Luther held up his credit card.

“Is there anything else I should know?”

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