(NOTE: Here's another entry in the weekly "Spohn Challenge" project that reads like it should be part of a longer story. As Michael Nesmith once said: Someday, baby, someday...)

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

Evelyn Drake jumped in spite of herself. She hadn’t expected the stockboy to sneak up from behind her like that. Well, maybe he didn’t really “sneak”, exactly; not exactly fair to lay all the blame at his feet, not when she’d been the one whose thoughts had been elsewhere. 

Even so, you wouldn’t think that a thoughtful employee would go around startling the customers like that…

Either way, she recovered quickly enough and managed to ask, “Could you please tell me what aisle your jars of spaghetti sauce are on?”

The stockboy just smiled. “Aisle seven, ma’am. Just two aisles down - right across from the soups. You can’t miss it.” Evelyn quickly nodded her thanks and pushed her shopping cart forward without a word. But as she darted around the corner, she thought she caught a glimpse of the stockboy still staring after her... she could almost feel his eyes upon her.

Was he looking at her legs?

And so what if he is?

She stopped long enough to peek back around the corner, but the stockboy was no longer there. Just as well. They certainly weren’t paying the boy – and that's exactly what he is, don't forget, only a boy, surely no more than 18 if that – to go around staring at older women’s legs. 

Assuming that’s even what he’d been doing in the first place, of course.

Had he been?

It didn’t matter.

Like hell it doesn't…

Evelyn finally found the particular brand of sauce she was looking for and steered the cart in the direction of the checkout lanes. The old lady in front of her was dickering with the store manager over some insignificant little price discrepency, but Evelyn barely noticed. She had other things on her mind. She always did anymore, it seemed. 

But never like she did today.

A bag of groceries was thrust into Evelyn’s arms, even though she couldn’t remember ever actually having paid for them. She looked up and found herself face-to-face with that same stockboy, the one she thought had been watching her legs earlier. Funny how she hadn't noticed how cute he was earlier. 

“Have a nice day, ma’am,” was all he said. But there was something in his voice, something about the way he had said it… She started to blush, and the stockboy merely smiled again.

“Well,” she heard herself saying to nobody in particular as she headed out into the parking lot, ”you were standing there in the checkout lane. Maybe he was just checking you out…”

As she opened the back door of the car and deposited the grocery bag on the back seat, Evelyn shook her head and laughed at her own silly little joke. 

Her heart wasn't really in it, you understand, but she needed something to laugh at...

(Copyright 2014 by John Allen Small)