Oct 4, 2021 • 2M

An Italian man makes a grand, drunken entrance at the Tesco Local — A Haibun

‘The exciting news, it seems, is that he is quite drunk and is ready to make friends.’

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Niall O'Sullivan
A monthly podcast where I read out and chat about my personal highlights and talk about other stuff too.
Episode details

Now would be a good time to shoplift, being that the lone security guard is completely focused on the ageing Italian that has heralded his own arrival as if he brings exciting news from the neighbouring town. The exciting news, it seems, is that he is quite drunk and is ready to make friends. It’s hard to put a finger on what kind of drunkenness this is — he is not yet slurring his words, nor is he staggering. He is just very excited to be at the Tesco Local among such fine company. His throat sounds raw and tender, as if he has spent the whole morning laughing at at his own reflection. Noticing the slight discomfort among his mute, fellow patrons, he adapts his behaviour to something akin to shopping, seeing some cucumbers in front of him and giddily announcing that there are, indeed, cucumbers. The security guard, a short African man, about the same age as the merry Italian, late fifties, possibly early sixties, has left his station at the entrance and is keeping a close watch on his exuberant guest. The Italian squints at the security guard’s badge and then exclaims his name aloud as if they are old college friends, reunited by chance at a New Year’s ball on an exotic holiday island. His hand rests gently on the guard’s shoulder and there is a sudden sense of imminent violence, orbiting the two men. The Italian perhaps overstepping his bounds or the guard deciding he’s suffered this foolishness enough. Bright light bursts through the sliding doors as the storm clouds of the past hour blow north. It appears that the guard has helped his new friend locate the booze that he forgot he wanted when he first entered the establishment. The till assistant awaits her moment in this fraught drama that hasn’t yet decided whether it’s tragedy or farce. I leave with my rucksack of paid for goods, not fooled by the chirpy goodbye from the self check out.

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