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Susie Shircliff, 09 Nov '12

        “You old enough to play Powerball?” The gas station cashier smothers a sniffle with the sleeve of her purple faded rayon jacket, leaving a dark violet stain trailing up her elbow.
        “Yeah, but I don’t need it.”
        “Just this can of soda then?”
        “Miss Jean you don’t got to take it out on everyone?” A grizzled man in a grey sweatshirt, with a hood soiled a rusty brown, peers around me. The copper smell from his clothes is definitely from a pack of Marlboro Reds.
        “I gotta ask everyone, Hank.”
        “You should take that as a compliment ‘cause you’re young lookin’.” Hank hobbles over to the encased food tanning under a warming light. He starts tapping at it like a fish tank. Another trucker, with a tattered baseball cap, exits the restroom, still fumbling his belt buckle with large tarred thumbnails.
        “Gimme a moment, Miss, I gotta find your change.” Miss Jean ducks under the counter. “I’m tellin’ y’all I’m sick. You guys both should get behind here and do my job.”
        “Yeah, I’ll do the cookin’ and he’ll do the register.”
        The trucker looks up from his belt buckle. “I tell ya, Jean, I could do it if my eyes were better.”
        “My eyes are bad too, I just go by feel now.” Jean thumbs out nickels from a paper roll into the register drawer.
        “Well, I’m heading out.” He slaps his belt buckle. “Get to see my fiancé in a few hours.”
        “Well she’ll be waiting, I’m sure.” Miss Jean lifts a hand to him as he exits. The door shuts. “That guy used to be cockier than ever.”
        “Who?” Hank shuffles around to face her.
        “The guy in the hat?”
        “Yeah, but now he’s all done.” She hands me my change with a smile. “I guess it’s this girl he’s seeing.”
        “Marrying.” Hank corrects her.
        I exit and start my car. I pass a truck parked on the ramp, and Jim sits in the front seat, his tattered cap pulled down over his eyes, while a portable DVD player illuminates the inside of his cab.