Published 10:06 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it was an activity generally frowned upon by one in his particular position.

As Rick slipped into Irma’s Food Mart, he glanced toward the beer aisle and perused his choices.

At the far end of the store Linda was looking for 1 percent milk. She glanced up and noticed Rick’s choice of aisles and continued her shopping.

Rick made his choice of brews and briskly carried his six-pack to the counter. With any luck, no one would be in line. To his pleasant surprise, he had the counter to himself.

“Will this be all?” asked the clerk, Tina.

Rick nodded yes and pulled out a $20, waiting for change.

As she bagged his purchase, she glanced at the customer. Tina was married to Alfred, who worked for Simmons Heating and Cooling down on the corner, who, about 10 years earlier, had flushed a raccoon out of a vent in Rick’s basement. Tina also knew Jennifer, good friends of Nelda Mae, who sometimes cleaned Rick’s house when the occasion called for it.

Rick picked up his package and headed to the parking lot. Crossing the traffic lane in front of the store, Jay Harrup eased his truck to a stop and let Rick pass.

Jay had been retired from the plant for 20 years. Most days found him riding around in his Ford truck, checking out the scenery, including the people.

Jay noticed the shape of the bag Rick was toting as he passed.

Rick arrived home and planted himself in front of his large screen TV, enjoying the contents of his purchase.

Next day, he stopped by the convenience center on the way to work and tossed his trash into the nearest bin.

Jason, the newly hired attendant, took notice of the contents of Rick’s trash, making sure they were permissible items. Discarded items, he knew, told stories.

Jason was first cousin to Jean Anne, whose son had gone to school with Rick’s son before they tore the old high school down.

Driving to work, Rick couldn’t help but get a smug smile on his face as he pondered his anonymous actions of the recent past.

“And they say you can’t get away with anything around here,” he thought, relishing his victory.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is