4 - Callie

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I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning way too early for my liking - still before noon. It wasn't because I felt the need to go to church - I don't think I'd ever even stepped foot in a church - but because I had errands to run. Later in the afternoon I was expected to be at Ian's place for the Caldwell's last-day-of-summer barbeque. This was a tradition dating back all the way to the second grade, when I first met Ian, and there was no possible way I'd be able to get out of it.

The kitchen was suspiciously lacking food containing any nutritional value, so a trip to the grocery store was in order. I'd always thought it possible to keep myself going off Pop Tarts and Oreos, but that was a bit harder to do now that Ian had a habit of tattling to his mother, Nora, that I wasn't eating properly. Being dragged through the grocery store, forced to endure a lecture over what to buy to have a well balanced diet, was humiliating enough. I had no desire to repeat the experience.

I stood at the sink in the kitchen and ate a bowl of cornflakes, guzzled down some orange juice, and then padded my way back down the hallway to the bathroom. I took a quick shower and pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, didn't bother with any makeup, and left the apartment.

I climbed into my Pontiac Sunfire parked at the curb and took off for the grocery store. Shopping for food wasn't something I liked to do very often, so I tended to buy things in bulk to minimize my trips to the store. I settled on going to King Soopers, and parked up front by the entrance before getting out to find a shopping cart.

Being the person that I was, I spent about five minutes trying to free a cart from the mess of them by the entrance. I was making such a racket I was surprised no one had taken pity on me yet and come over to help.

I let out a triumphant shout when I finally managed to free one of the shopping carts, and then there was a loud groan from behind me, and a grumble of, "What in god's name...?"

I was afraid to turn around, because there was only one person I'd ever heard use that phrase. The universe would never be so cruel, though. Definitely not. But sure enough, when I finally forced myself to look over my shoulder, the guy I stumbled across yesterday in the girls' restroom at the mall was sitting up on a nearby bench, knocking a mess of newspapers off his lap.

"You've got to be shitting me."

His head whipped up and his eyes widened as his gaze fixed on me, and then he was leaping off the bench with surprising grace, making straight for me with a shout of, "You! Madam, please! I need your help!"

"Listen, pal," I said, grabbing my cart, heading for the store entrance. "I can't help you, so leave me alone!"

"Madam, I beg of you - "

"Quit calling me madam! My name is Callie, I told you."

"Then would you kindly stop referring to me as pal? I believe I told you my name is Percy."

Percy wasn't even breaking a sweat keeping up pace with me even though I was practically sprinting trying to get away from him.

We were getting several curious stares as I whisked through the automatic doors into the store. 

Percy looked even worse than he had yesterday. His suit was bordering on never-been-washed territory, and he was way past a five o'clock shadow. I was a little relieved to see that he'd cleaned the cut on his forehead, though it looked like it could still use some antibiotic ointment.

"Okay, then, Percy," I said, racing down the cereal aisle. "Would you quit following me? You're really starting to freak me out. How the hell did you even wind up over here anyway? The mall isn't even near this King Soopers."

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