Lake Effect, Spring 2017, Volume 21: "The Kid Working Nights at the 7-Eleven"

The Kid Working Nights at the 7-Eleven

by David Clewell


Would seem to have the gift of prophecy. Since he insists
     on using it
only in the service of Good, no one bothers
     asking anymore
what he sees in the way of this week’s winning
      Lotto numbers.
He looks at that kind of money as more of a curse than
     a blessing.
We can’t quite imagine that, really, but because he’s right
about so much, we’ve learned to take him at his hard-
     earned word.

He doesn’t accept requests. He doesn’t do psychic readings.
The kid’s old school, like Tiresias or Cassandra, but
without that classical, inherent dread. He’s the Oracle
      of Maplewood.
He’s busy ringing up six-packs, Slim Jims, cigarettes,
     and candy,
but what’s his to give away, he gives away: any peek into
     the future
that could help somebody out—a little something, say,
along the lines of Next week would be a good time to stock up
      on milk.
And never mind that even your typical, ungifted
     7-Eleven employee
might have insider access to that kind of information.

Last May he told my neighbor not to visit her
      Oklahoma relatives,
and I remember thinking hey, I actually met those
     people once,
so I could have told her that much—but not the part
      about the killer
tornados in a row, an apocalyptic freight train roaring
     through Norman.
He claims to know exactly how and where every one
     of his customers
is going to die, but mostly he can’t see much good in
      telling them.

The gift of prophecy’s okay, I guess, but surely life might
     be easier
for the kid as a violin prodigy. A Stradivarius in the
     right hands
would really class up the 7-Eleven. Or if he were some
     kind of
fiction-writing phenom, his customers could live
     forever instead
in his astonishing novels. But as it is, for as long as any
    of this lasts,
we’re better off waiting in line all night if we have to for
     anything he can proffer in our general direction: Stay away from
    Lucky Strikes.
They’re great smokes, but they’ll kill you—even if he won’t
     say when.