A Question of Entry / Joe Bruce

Devin, a private security guard employed by Shopfine Grocery, discovered subject Q41 in a catatonic state approximately fifteen feet from the front door of the store after noticing him as an anomaly in the black and white surveillance footage standing in place like a statue since the previous evening. He had gone unnoticed by local shoppers, who walked around him keeping their appropriate distance. Devin twisted to reach his walkie talkie buried underneath a sparkle fest of bite sized Snickers wrappers he’d been snacking on during his shift. “We got another one,” he radioed in. He was constantly radioing in, but there was never any response. He was the one that had to go now and wake up this gumball goofball.

As he walked in the direction of the catatonic man, Devin practiced his motivational voice. “Come on, buddy, you just gotta buy some food,” he said, trying to sound like a gentle easy-going guy, not at all aggressive.

Devin always liked the moment when the image of a person on a security video became an actual flesh and blood person, hairs and clothes and skin. A person he could interact with and provide the service he was there for: security.

To his surprise, the catatonic man was young, in the flower of youth. In this respect, his youth gave his catatonia a gentleness and an innocence Devin hadn’t expected. His heart softened and it took him a moment to notice the letter hanging on the front of his shirt, dangling by a safety pin at each corner. Devin squinted his eyes to read the scratchy cursive.

“What is everybody else thinking?”

Then, as if he were digitally unpaused, the catatonic man went back to normal. “Finally,” he said. “That took longer than I thought it would. I’m ready now.”

With that, the man walked into the store, leaving Devin standing by himself. He stood there for a few moments as other customers walked past him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another bite sized Snickers. He pinched the wrapper in his fingers and tore it open, revealing the partially melted goodness, which meant he had to hold the wrapper open and raise it to his mouth and eat it out of the wrapper so he wouldn’t get melted chocolate all over his fingers. He bent the wrapper to get to all the chocolate buried in the corners. And he felt good there outside the store, enjoying this sweet narcotic.