JAMES HARRIS

Ten Items or Less

Just when you find what you’re looking for, it’s nabbed from you and taken away. I
thought I was on to a real winner, a real sort. She was the kind of bird you fancied as a
kid, the girl next door type.

Week in, week out, I’d seen this girl shopping in my local supermarket, picking from
the shelves, stretching for the items nearly out of reach. Christ, I'd resorted to coming
to this god-forsaken place three evenings a week- just to see her stretch for those tins-
the sad fucker I am.

Visit a supermarket after work, early evening and you’ll witness all the desperados
circling the store like animals on parade in a market. The singles with their baskets
containing micro meals, enough supplies to perhaps last a couple of days so they
could venture back as soon as possible.

Hell, I’m the same now, although a few weeks back I’d started to get the look from a
stunner I had previously noticed. Real slim, pouty lips, ash blonde hair straight from
the bottle, white stilettos, short maroon skirt complete with slit up the side… boy do I
have classy taste! I even timed my shop so I’d end up behind her in the “Ten Items or
Less checkout”- proper stalker me.

I hadn’t tasted success with the ladies since my last girlfriend, Gemma. She was
alright that one. She'd go all night; wasn't fully satisfied until she saw the sun come
up. But she wasn’t prepared to up and leave everything to move to this tiny shithole
town they call Burgess Hill. Can’t say I blame the girl either. They nick name it
“Bugger’s Hole”- pretty apt if you ask me. My new job pretty much demanded the
move and I needed the extra income; there was a chance of promotion too so I’d
thought it best. Adios nookie, hola wank mags, and trusty imagination.

So this blonde that had clocked me made her way over in the sauces isle, looking for a
bolognaise mix. “Is it just me, or do all us types hang around this isle after work” she
said smiling; she proceeded to lift a packet from the shelf. She knew I was watching
the way she arched her back as she’d reached up; probably seen me countless times
before. I managed a feeble laugh. “Nothing but micro meals and pasta,” I returned.

“On the contrary,” she said, motioning towards her basket. Apart from the usual, I
noticed fresh veg and fruit. “Nikki,” she continued, holding out her hand.

With pleasure I reciprocated. “Matt,” I said, noticing how delicate her hands were and
how her wedding finger was ring less. She smiled and held my stare, her eyes
suggesting need, the mischievous look of a naughty child. Who’s your Daddy? I
thought and grinned.

Nikki then interrupted my pervy chain of thought. “I cook a mean chili bolognaise
y’know. None of that stodgy shit you’re gonna eat. It’s great with beer too.”

“Is that an invite to a culinary delight, a genius’ masterpiece?” I mocked. She laughed
and I appreciated the way her breasts wobbled under her top. Not fat wobbly, bra-less
wobbly… the best kind of wobbly.

Anyway, I didn’t get the invite back to her gaff. However, I had the offer of a drink in
the nearest bar. See how it goes, I thought. I know the look when I see it. After a few
drinks she’ll be begging for me try her chili… After a few more drinks, she’ll be
begging for…


So after some bullshit cut-to-the-chase small talk, we ended up in the “Ten Items or
Less” checkout queue, my basket full of the stodgy shit, Nikki’s full of wholesome
goodness. Like a single bloke can be done with all that cooking malarkey, all that
preparation. Not me mate. Just chuck it in the microwave and switch on the box.
Watch for the totty in the soaps while you wait the eight minutes for your zapped
delight.

This Nikki bird stood in front of me in the queue; her arse was a real picture. Her
calves were flawless apart from a tacky dragon tattoo, its long tail wrapping around
and down to her ankle. I was imagining how great her thighs would look without the
skirt when she looked over her shoulder and turned. “That blokes got more than ten
items,” she said. Snapping my eyes away from her legs, I looked up. “Eh?” I replied,
trying not to look down her cleavage. “Him, with the black T-shirt; he’s got way more
than ten items,” she continued looking uneasy, frantic.

Now, I’ve always thought I was a fairly good judge of character, but this little cutie
had a mean streak, a real sense of moral righteousness. Her attitude changed as
fast as the wind. She knew how to turn it on, I’ll tell you that much.

“Yeah, so what?” I said, smiling. “The checkout lady won’t have the balls to question
it.”

Before I could say anything else on the matter, Nikki was on this geezer’s case. “Hey
you, black T-shirt, you’ve got more than ten items. Join another queue. We ain’t
waiting around here all night for you to haul your weekly shop through.”

The guy turned around. He appeared to be out of his nut. Shaky hands and nervous
twitches suggested he was wired on something. I’d seen my fair share of drugged up
fuck ups to know what I was seeing. His bottles of beer and spirits alone broke the ten
item rule. What little food items there were mainly consisted of the fatty variety.
“Fuck off,” he replied, feigning calmness. With arrogant confidence, he flicked his
head and turned back to face the checkout, his long greasy fringe following suit like
he was auditioning for a shampoo commercial.

“Hey,” I said, holding Nikki back. “Calm down, I wouldn’t piss this guy off. Look at
him, he’s slated.”

Now everyone was watching and I felt my cheeks burn; my pulse made my face
throb. I couldn’t believe it was happening; it was as though I wasn’t really there.

“Tell me to fuck off? Join another queue!” Nikki broke free from me and confronted
the agitated man. “Hey, ‘you listening to me? Move it!”

The next few moments really were surreal; I watched the whole bizarre scene unfold
in slow motion. The T-shirt man turned and hissed, “Fuck off I said!” Nikki, red
faced, jabbed him with a finger and pulled at his sleeve.

Oh fucking hell, I thought. Here we go, I'm gonna have to step in. Do the right thing
and all that bollocks. Shit, I hardly even know this crazy bitch.
One minute I was
thinking how I was finally going to get the old boy wet, next I'm getting pulled into a
fight with a geezer who looked as though he’d happily kill his own mum for a diet
coke. T-shirt man then pushed Nikki towards me and she fell into my arms. “Hey, you
stupid cunt! What the fuck d’you think you’re doing?!” I shouted. Women watched on
with looks of disgust. I remember thinking, are they giving that look towards the
fucked up druggie, or me for saying the word, cunt?
That word is such a no go area
with woman, I’ve noticed. Funny, I thought back to my ex. She’d had this swear box,
and if I ever used the forbidden word I’d have to pay double. It’s weird what runs
through your mind when you’re in a situation. I swear your mind tries to fuck you
over for fun sometimes.

Anyway, through all the confusion, Nikki was now swinging for the bloke. There was
a proper audience too; women were gasping, the few men in the area nervously
smiled at each other. Although the situation appeared to progress in a painfully slow
sequence, simultaneously it all happened so damn fast. I couldn’t see at the time but
the T-shirt man pulled something out from his back pocket and pushed it towards
Nikki - I learned later on that it was one of those Italian stiletto flick knives. She
gasped, fell back and turned as I caught her. The man bolted for the door; no one tried
to stop the fucker either- including me I’m sorry to say- I was still suffering the slow
motion affect, not a hundred percent sure I was even standing there. She looked up at
me with wide, startled eyes. Her face looked as though it was trying to cry and smile
at the same time. An ever growing red patch spread through the thin material of her
top, her right breast suffering the blow. I gently laid her out on the floor where she
remained perfectly still until the medical staff arrived. Even though the evening was
cool and the hard, shiny floor must have been freezing to lie on, sweat poured down
Nikki’s face.

Part of me felt responsible for her; the other part told me to run away. I stayed, but all
I could do was watch down over her as she shivered with shock; listen to her last few
gurgled breaths as everyone else rushed around trying to help. So much for the
fucking hero.

So that was that. The fat lady of Nikki’s life had sung. Although medical help had
arrived within five minutes, she had suffered severe shock and eventually drowned in
her own blood from the knife wound to her chest. Apparently the blade had severed
an artery as it punctured into her lung.

They say shit happens but that really did take the piss. Such a nice piece of totty so
unnecessarily wasted.

They’d caught everything on the store camera. The T-shirt man was a paranoid schizo
known previously to the police for shop lifting- nothing but a fucking crack addict
with two charges of GBH under his belt. That bastard had taken a sure thing from me
that evening- just my damn luck!

Since then I’d given visiting the store a miss as far as shopping three times a week. I’d
just stuck to shopping weekly; didn’t miss the “Ten Items or Less” checkout one little
bit.

But human nature soon kicks your hormones into gear- God’s design finally giving
you the urge to multiply. Natural male instincts y’see; it can’t be helped. All the wank
mags in the world are no substitute for real pussy. The 2-D fantasies soon grow
tiresome. The way I was going, I would've ended up with arthritis of the wrist before I
was thirty.

So I’m standing in the queue with my weekly shop laid out on the conveyer belt. I’m
just watching all the young mums and young checkout girls with a renewed vigour.
The girl at the checkout sees me looking down her top and blushes. I look away and
remember the way Nikki’s breasts wobbled under her top… bra less wobbly… the
best wobbly.


Grinning, I look away. Entering the store, a woman in her late twenties walks over to
the lottery stand. She’s a real stunner, a right proper sort if you ask me. Nice tight
little arse, perky tits, a set of pins you’d need hiking gear for to reach her snatch. She
sees me looking and smiles. I return the smile, watching her bend over slightly as she
pulls a lottery slip from the holder. I know she’s holding that sexy stance for me. I
continue to ogle her as she fills in the slip… I can’t quite see if she’s wearing a ring.

Well, I guess I’ll be popping in here more than usual. Guess I’ll be using the “Ten
Items or Less” checkout sooner than I’d imagined too.


James hails from sunny old Sussex in the UK. He has loved horror and mystery
since day one. Ever since he witnessed the death of King Kong (aged four),
he has loved the genre, watching and reading everything that is macabre and grim.
He has been published in The New Camp Horror, Underground Voices, Whispers of
Wickedness print and e.zine. His first and second attempts at fiction were published
in Skive magazine.







© 2005 Underground Voices