She hit the shopkeeper squarely in the center of his face. The cartilage in his nose snapped loudly. His eyes teared. Blood gushed abundantly over his lips.
Pausing only to inhale properly, she shouted at him in full volume. Stealing from beggars was loathsome. Stealing from cripples was despicable. His claim to honor defenseless persons while all along exploiting them was, in basic terms, more contemptible than she was prepared to accept.
She stretched over the benchtop and pulled his head forward, using his hair for leverage. After spitting in his face, she smacked him on either side of his head, making sure to rake her nails into his pocked skin.
He pulled away, leaving large handfuls of hair in her hand. He meant to duck behind the counter. A sentry, visibly armed, who stood at the business’ doorway, abruptly became interested in tying his velcro shoes.
The two customers, who had been in line, left behind bananas, boxes of cereal and cellophanes full of green tomatoes. A tin of sardines dangled precariously on the checkout’s edge.
Before leaving the store, the woman gathered all of those items and rained them down on the cowering man. She had seen him operate in the outdoor souk at an hour when she sought to buy the freshest fish and the newest herbs. Early mornings, on market days, was the best opportunity for her to score select comestibles. Apparently, it was also the best opportunity for bullying the helpless.
She was no super hero. Although she marched, faithfully, on the treadmill, three times most weeks, at a women’s gym, she was not bulked up with muscles. Although her son was an army officer and her husband was registered to carry a gun, she bore no weapon, not even a small knife. In fact, she limped permanently from a back injury.
Reaching over the counter, she bent, backward, the fingers of the man who was frantically trying to dial his cell phone. More splintering sounds transmitted through the shop.
She then took his phone, lifted it overhead and threw it, with some viciousness, at a stack of tomato puree. Although its parts spewed over a considerable swath of the grocery’s floor, only one canister got dented.
The man called, suddenly, for the guard at the door.
That protector shrugged, said something about an unexpected need for a cigarette break and walked out into the midday sunlight. He smashed a storefront window on his way out. Too often, he had witnessed his boss preying on the old and injured. Macho to the bone, he would not be bettered by some frumpy looking, hobbling stranger.
The proprietor pulled off his shirt to use for his seeping nose. Palm up, he asked the woman to at least call an ambulance.
She laughed. Her ill-pitched screech was like the release of air from soda. A new equilibrium among phases was being established within her.
On her way out, she kicked over every display within her scope. The she hissed about the pictures of the man she had taken on her cell phone. Next time, she’d call the police or the fancy lawyer that lived in her neighborhood.
It was not enough, she spoke softly to herself, to put money in the cups held out by the city’s indigent. One had to make sure that the money stayed there, as well.
Kj Hannah Greenberg’s a verbal vagrant, who gave up a academic hoopla to chase a hibernaculum of imaginary hedgehogs. Some of the homes for her writing have included: AlienSkin Magazine, AntipodeanSF, Bards and Sages, Big Pulp, Morpheus Tales, Strange, Weird and Wonderful, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction, and The New Absurdist.