It's just another Friday morning. The kids are off at school and you're sitting at the dinner table with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Your boss had given you the day off which means a 3-day weekend. You flip open the newspaper to check the scores from last nights game. The Yankees had been making a comeback and the inner sports fan gets riled up as you flip to the sports page. You guide your eyes down the page looking for the scores "Perfect! They swept the Red Sox! The streak continues!" Your wife walks in from the kitchen drying off a plate with the dish rag. She's still in her pj pants, and a white tank top.
"Alright Sporty, now that you've had your fun, how about you go and pick up some milk." You slump down in your chair and fold up the newspaper. She's not a kill joy until it comes to sports. She never did understand them anyway. You finish your coffee, put the cup in the sink and snatch your keys off the counter.
"Don't forget about the party tonight. 5 O'Clock." You freeze at the door with a giant lump in your stomach. You had forgotten to get a gift. Like waking the morning of your science project, without a project. Your wife walks out into the hall and leans against the door frame crossing her arms.
"You forgot about the party didn't you?" she asked. You put on your shoes in silence trying to find an excuse.
"You forgot about your little brothers 21st birthday party!" she said hitting you with the dish rag. She turned and walked back into the kitchen with a look of disappointment.
"Try to get something." she shouted. The grandfather clock rang in the dining room. 4 O'Clock. One hour before the party. You grab your coat and hurry out the door. You wave down a taxi and jump in before he could stop. The driver is an old man with a bald head, thick fingerprint covered glasses, and a hearing aid.
"Walmart, K-Mart, or Target. Whatever is closest." The man turned around cupping his hand around his ear.
"What's that? I can't hear well."
"Walmart. K-Mart. Or Target. Whatever is closest." The man leaned in closer trying to hear better.
"Walmart what? You'll have to speak up!" he said.
"Walmart! Go to Walmart!" The man did a thumbs up and started down the road. You lean back in the nasty, smelly cab running your fingers through your hair. Joey had been picky his entire life. Food, friends, clothes, even gifts. If he didn't like what he got, he would take it back and return it, no matter what it was. You and Joey had never gotten along, so you had to find the perfect gift. He hated getting clothes, and didn't need another lamp. There's so little that he doesn't already have or won't use.
"We're here." the man said. You pull out your phone to pay but it won't go through. You try again and it still won't go.
"Our system is down. Cash only. $22" you pull out your wallet, count out $22 and get out of the taxi.
"No tip?" the man asked rolling down the window. You angrily pull out your wallet again and throw a $20 bill at him. He smiles and rolls up his window. You quickly run into Walmart searching frantically for anything Joey might like. He always did mess around with computers. You run down to Electronics when an acne faced teenager blocks your way.
"Can I help you with anything today sir?" he asked. You don't have time for a sales pitch, but you also know nothing about computers.
"My little brother likes computers and I want to get him a gift." The boy smiled and takes you down a row of laptops and computers and stops in front of a large laptop.
"This is our best and latest laptop. 2 TB of storage, 32 gb of RAM, and NVIDIA G-Sync. $1,299." You turn to him with a look of disbelief. After a moment of silence the boy awkwardly shows you the rest of the laptops in the row. You shake your head no, and check your watch. 4:30. 30 minutes. You run back outside and see the same cab driver that had dropped you off. Not the ideal driver but there's no time to try to find another. You jump in and he turns around.
"You didn't get anything." he said confused.
"K-Mart now!" the man turns back to the wheel and starts down the road to K-Mart. Luckily it wasn't very far away. You take a $20 bill and wait for him to stop the car. You jump out and slap the $20 in his hand and hurry inside. You run around the store almost in a circle trying to find something. There's nothing else that Joey liked except drinking. You look at your watch again. 4:40. There's not enough time to check Target and still get back in time. You cave and run back outside.
" The nearest liquor store." The man looks at you confused for having come out again with nothing but nods and takes off. You sit back in the seat holding your head. It's a 21st birthday party. There will already be alcohol, but on short notice this is the only choice. You look out the window and notice that he's driving in the same direction as where the party is being held. Luck may be changing. You charge into the store almost running over other customers. A few bottles of Jack Daniels, a bottle of Tequila, and vodka. You make your way up to the counter and are stuck behind two other people. You look around for anything else that might be useful. Under the counter, where they sell chips and candies are little bottle cap shooters. You can open your beer bottle with them and then shoot the caps at people. This is it. This is the perfect gift. Joey always was immature. Once you reach the counter, you place the bottles on the counter with the cap shooter. You check your phone for the time, and there's a text from your wife.
"Did you get the milk?"