Gallstone #16

July 19, 1999

I stopped by a cheesy 99-cent store today, to pickup some random goodies
for this year's burningman adventure. You know, dumb plastic toys, duct
tape, that kind of shit. This 99-cent store was cleverly named "99-Cent
Store". I called to get directions-

"99-Cent" [very thick accent, almost unintelligible]

"where you guys located?"

"grandview washington."

"where is grandview?"

"grandview washington."

"ok, I know you're on washington. what other streets are nearby?"

"grandview washington." [patience obviously waning]

"um, are you near lincoln and washington? is grandview near lincoln?"

"yeah sure bye." click.

should've taken the hint, maybe. undaunted, i drove around until i found
it. nowhere near lincoln, by the way.

this store is a gathering place for the insane. no, seriously. really.

i'm poking around, and down the aisle comes an ill-kept 50 yr old woman.
housecoat, stringy hair, high-mileage face. she is talking involuntarily,
like a tourette's patient, but continuously and loudly. nonsensical,
profane jabber.

"they come to us for a human sacrifice. the lowest fucking scum of the
universe ripping human flesh lowest scum fucking bastard. another human
sacrifice and from this is scum of the earth and hitler sacrificed humans
but he didn't make art out of jews human flesh."

she is pushing an empty cart, blathering, staring at her shoes, and picking
scabs off her arms simultaneously. she picked up something and tasted it,
i'm pretty sure it was flea powder. no shit.
i'm keeping my distance, watching the show but wondering if staring could
provoke a violent outburst. i get kind of trapped in an aisle with a couple
300-pounders, and here she comes. she saunters by without incident, still
yelling about human flesh and scum of the earth...
she is moving away, and a meek-looking asian housewife next to me says

'i cant believe how she's acting.'

so i smile a little and give the stranger-nod of agreement.
the asian housewife says, louder this time

"i can't believe how she's acting when there is someone supreme and she doesn't know god or she would
give herself to the cross and BE HOLY WITH JESUS who died for her... "

and so forth, by the end of the sentence she too is not quite screaming but
talking quite loudly.
I am trapped between a proseletyzing Jesus-freak and an uncontrolled
schizophrenic. i make the best of it by carefully examining the bin of
99-cent plug-in-the-cig-lighter rechargeable flashlights. they're so
fascinating, i put four in my basket, one at a a time and thoughtfully,
until i have a clear escape from this aisle. and away i go...
the next aisle is half-length and the end is somewhat isolated in the
corner of the store. on the floor are three round plastic laundry baskets.
a middle-aged grubby homeless woman, whose jeans are shiny with ancient
shit-stains, is busily walking all around the store, getting three each of
seemingly random items. she returns to put one item in each basket, in the
exact same position as in the other two baskets. so there's three identical
laundry baskets, each with maybe forty 99-cent *things* in it. she is
walking hunched-over and shields her head like she's michael jackson
avoiding the press.
the manager came over and politely asked her if she planned to buy all
these things. she stood bolt-upright and scampered out of the store yelling


the whole way.
Meanwhile the schizo is talking to [or at, or near] a 1-yr old and its mother.

"you're ugly little piece of shit aren't you the ugliest fucking thing ever i can't wait til you grow up and they beat you to death just for being so ugly. you think they do that to richard gere to condy crawford no they don't get their asses kicked inside out for being ugly but that's a sacrifice..."

i noticed right away she was more lucid, and seemed not crazy but just
plain old-fashioned mean. the 1-year-old thankfully wasn't grasping much of
what was being said, and the mom moved down the aisle as quickly as she
could without actually running.

sure, they have the occasional cheeso-trinket you can't find anywhere else.
but the real treat is the clientele.

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