You are bored. There’s no one around and nothing to do.
Desperate for any sort of action — even one as silly as buying a Snapple — you hop on your bike and ride to Dino Drac’s Corner Store.
Well, its proper name is Dino Drac’s Convenience Store, but everyone just calls it “the corner store.” It’s a few blocks away, and as far as you know, it’s been a few blocks away for the past fifty years.
You’ve been to Dino Drac’s Corner Store a million times. It’s a warm blanket and a surrogate friend. Sometimes you go there when you want a pack of gum, but most of the time it’s because going there just makes you feel good.
Despite your near-constant patronage, the owner rarely acknowledges you. This might seem awkward to an outsider, but you actually prefer things this way.
It’s much like any other corner store. Milk and lottery tickets drive its business, to the point where Dino Drac barely pays attention to the rest of his stock. You’ve learned to pay very close attention to all expiration dates.
The spinning comic book rack is always your first stop… except for today, because some weird businessman is totally bogarting it. “He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who reads comic books,” you think to yourself, as if there’s any set uniform for people who do.
You’ll get back to the comics in a few.
You almost never leave Dino Drac’s Corner Store without candy. If you’re with your friends, you’ll settle on a pack of Bubble Yum. When you’re alone, you buy way too much junk food. You wait for the creepy hooded sweatshirt dude to finish choosing his Mentos flavor, and then you dive in.
Oooh, Starburst now comes in an “all red” pack? Yes, that’ll do nicely.
Walking past the wall full of cheap, junky toys, you notice that the old Mortal Kombat game isn’t overrun with scary townies. This is a first!
You’re too shy to join in on strangers’ games, so you usually just watch other people play. It’s fun, but there’s only so many times you can listen to Mike (you think that’s his name, anyway) call Sonya a “ho.” Finally, you have that big glorious machine all to yourself!
(Mortal Kombat game courtesy of Classic Games Arcade)
You pop in two quarters, and off you go. You choose Scorpion, reasoning that a warrior named “Scorpion” has to be more powerful than one named “Johnny Cage.”
You manage to defeat Kano and Raiden, but Liu Kang absolutely kicks the shit out of you, complete with a “Fatality” footnote. You consider playing some more, but every round is another two packs of Big Red down the drain.
Oh, fuck. This guy. Standing between you and your Snapple is that old dude who seems to LIVE in Dino Drac’s Corner Store. He’s ALWAYS there, and he’s ALWAYS chatty.
“I saw you on the video game, how much does that cost you for that?”
(Yes, that’s how he words it.)
“Fifty cents,” you reply, trying to sound disinterested without sounding rude.
“What a racket. I bet this store gets fifty dollars a week from those games. What a racket.”
You’re barely able to make sense of him, mustering only a combined “heh” and “yeah” in response, which sounds something like “heyeah.” Your made-up word sounds stupid enough to give you an immediate case of the sweats, so now you’re mentally cursing him out.
You grab your Snapple and zip away. The man watches you like you’re a TV show.
You’re ready to pay up. Dino Drac is suddenly much friendlier, having separated you from the gobs of same-aged loiterers who treat his store like a clubhouse without ever buying anything.
“No trading cards today?” Ah, so he DOES know who you are.
After leaving the store, you toss your purchases into the milk crate that’s loosely attached to your bike’s handlebars. As you ride away, you notice that the old man is still watching you through the window. Are you that interesting?
You go home. There’s still nothing to do and there’s still no one around, but at least you have Doritos and a comic book, now. You give silent thanks to Dino Drac’s Corner Store. It saved the day like it always does.