“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.” James muttered aloud to himself.
He stood in the snack aisle at the grocery store, scanning the shelves in frustration.
“Out of gingerbread cookies...why does nobody have any gingerbread cookies?”
A hand tapped his shoulder tentatively, and he turned to see an old woman carrying a small shopping basket in the crook of her arm.
“Young man, do you have any gingerbread cookies?” she asked.
James turned back to the shelves, bending low to look in the very back; “I’m looking for some myself; Shyla asked me to pick some up-”
“Why don’t you ask your manager?” she asked abruptly, not realizing that James didn’t actually work there.
James straightened with a smile; “Of course! They may have some in the back! Good thinking;”
With that he turned and marched off; the old lady followed close behind, talking loudly to herself.
“Kids these days have no respect for their elders; if I had my way, these thugs would be locked away. What is this world coming to? Can’t even get gingerbread cookies...”
James rounded the aisle, almost colliding with a man standing with his back to him. The elderly lady bumped into James, and would have fallen if he hadn’t managed to catch her.
“Oof! What is the meaning of this?” the lady said sharply.
“Sorry, ma’am;” James said, helping her stand.
“James Garland?” a voice said.
James turned to see the man he’d nearly taken out holding out his hand; James shook it firmly, all the while making sure the elderly lady had steadied herself.
“Yes sir; do I know you?” he asked.
“I am Nathan;” the man said, bowing his head slightly; “in the exchanging of names we become known as ally or enemy.”
“Well, let’s hope we’re allies then;” James said with a smile.
“Excuse me? What about my cookies?” the old lady demanded.
“Oh yeah;” James said, offering her a quick apologetic look before addressing Nathan; “do you know where we can find gingerbread cookies?”
Nathan looked thoroughly confused; “Cookies?”
“Yeah, cookies; I was told to pick some up.” James replied.
Nathan regarded him a moment, his expression a mixture of confusion and displeasure. The old lady gave a huff before storming off; James glanced back at her as she left, then shrugged as he turned back to Nathan.
“Splitting up is usually a pretty good strategy; when looking for cookies anyway.”
Nathan smiled, shifting his whole demeanor rather abruptly; “I’m sorry, you must not be the James Garland I’m looking for.”
James cocked his head to the side; “You’re looking for a James Garland? What for?”
Nathan gestured, shifting his wings to test if James could see them; “A young man by that name lead a break-in into my home; a good friend was killed that day.”
James shook his head; “I’m so sorry; that’s horrible.”
Nathan smiled gently; “You do not lead a band of villains, do you?”
James couldn’t help but laugh, but he caught himself quickly; “I’m sorry; I’m just not the leader type. I tried leading some friends once, and it nearly ended in disaster.”
He offered his hand to Nathan, inclining his head with respect; “If there is anything I can do to help, just let me know; I know what it’s like to lose someone you care about.”
Nathan shook his hand a second time before turning to leave; “I do not sense any gingerbread cookies in this place; you may wish to try another store.”
“I’ll do that;” James said, waving at the man’s back.
As he turned to leave, he spotted the old lady hurrying towards him with a balding store clerk at her back, speaking rather hurriedly and pointing his way.
“Excuse me;” James called, walking toward them; “do ya’ll have any gingerbread cookie mix?”
“That’s him;” the old lady shouted angrily; “he was supposed to help me, but he just stood there talking to his friend in the angel costume.”
James glanced back, but Nathan was already out of sight; “He...he wasn’t wearing a costume, ma’am.”
“You!” the clerk shouted, pointing his finger at James; “You’re fired! Get your stuff and get out!”
James glanced around a moment, confused; “Um, you can’t fire me; I-”
“I don’t care!” the clerk shouted, trying to keep his voice low; “If you quit, that just means you don’t get unemployment; now get out!”
James pondered this turn of events briefly before offering both the clerk and the old lady a stiff bow. With that he turned and walked out of the store, still wondering how he managed to get fired from a job he never had when all he’d wanted was gingerbread cookies.He stepped out into the sunlight with a cheerful smile; “Even normal life can sometimes be exciting.”