Leon poured two large coffees for himself, after getting a Red Bull from the cooler. He’d thrown on an old tie dyed tee shirt and red shorts when he left the house, he was not known as a great dresser, he was too pre-occupied with Athena most of the time to worry about his appearance. The coffee bar is on the aisle that leads to the back door, you should know this. I was through mopping the ladies room, same aisle, and I worked towards the backdoor, not too worried that I got a little extra water on the dirty tile. As I reached behind myself to open the door it was yanked out of my hand and I fell backwards, spilling the dirty contents of the mop bucket all over myself and what I thought was a bleeding guy in running clothes, crying and screaming in Spanish.

As I fell backwards he skipped around me and hit the cold, wet tiles and slide on his back, down the aisle and under a shocked Leon. Leon’s feet went out from under him, he held on to the coffee machine, looking for just a moment like a flag fluttering in the wind, it was fabulous. Until the coffee unit gave way, narrowly missing both of them and flooding the already wet floor tiles with steaming liquid. All this happened before I finished falling, it was in slow motion, I can recall every detail in high def, especially the next one.

Just before I landed on my back, a black bear jumped over me, it’s claws narrowly missing my scalp. The funny thing is, I mostly remember how much like a bear Charles smelled now. He landed in the soapy water and lost his footing sliding on his bear butt, right towards Leon and Jorge, who were trying to figure out where the blood came from and how they’d ended up in each other’s arms on the wet floor of a mini mart. There hadn’t been anytime for questions when the bear hit them like bowling pins, sending them spinning away from him and each other.

The screaming, begging and crying was soon drowned out by a loud and painful growl. Or was it a roar? In any event, it was a bear noise and, yup, Charles had slid into the hot coffee. He continued on, smacking into the counter that held the pastry and cash register. He somehow gathered himself and leapt with super bear strength and agility right on top of the checkout counter.

I hit the ground, the mini mart back door slamming and locking behind me. I was outside the store and soaking wet. Inside were two confused, terrified men and a stinky bear with a burned ass.

I sat up on the step and pulled out a cig.

 

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