The only other kids in the store were a teary-eyed toddler in a shopping basket (with a very harassed looking woman pushing it, her hair whisping every which way) and a kid sweeping out the produce section with one of those big floppy cloth push-brooms. Every other human under eighteen appeared to be doing something else, probably hiding out under rocks with the oppressive heat that was already forming outside. Yannick peeked out the front door at the shimmering heatwaves already distorting the image of their rental car. He turned back to look at his dad at the queue to the counter, then the lady pushing the shopping cart, and finally back to the broom kid. At least the broom guy looked like a kid, he was blonde haired and had a baby face, but a slight transformation happened as he drew closer--and Yannick felt one of those brief moments of disorientation--a pale goatee shimmered to life on the man's chin and upper lip, and wrinkles formed between his furrowed eyebrows as he scrutinized the floor. The only people under voting age in the store were the little tyke and Yannick.
He turned back to face the booth. It had a large orange plastic sign suspended from two dusty chains hanging over it titled Service in bold italic trebuchet font. David was now standing in the front of the line, the lady with the walker who had been in front of him was walking away clutching a carton of Camel Crush cigarettes with a shuffle click, shuffle click. David asked a question, then cocked his head sligtly, listening now to the woman behind the glass window reply. Yannick could see she wore an olive green cap with the letters Chaco stitched across the front, a white polo shirt, and a red vest over it with a name tag. He couldn't see her pants, but he bet they were shorts, and the same color as the hat she wore. Her feet probably had been tucked into sandals too, judging from the hat. She seemed like the kind of lady that would accessorize from her hat--bolstered by the fact that she was very tidy, her clothing impeccably pressed. Yannick could see the creases in her sleeves even from where he stood. Her name tag read Cheryl, and Cheryl was obviously describing directions. David held a Red Rocks map in one hand, a Moab map in the other, and his day pack had been dropped to the floor and kicked to the side. They'd come in to pick up a few goodies; some Gatorade, a pack of batteries (the ones in Yannick's flashlight had died last night on the way back from the bathroom), and get some directions. Yannick knew his dad was lonely, he could see it in his eyes when he met a woman he thought was good looking, but David never went out on any dates. David leaned slightly in, placed the two maps on the small counter between the glass panels, and put his elbow on the counter, never breaking eye contact.
The trail maps he'd held were the glossy laminated ones, the ones that never seem to fold up correctly. Yannick preferred the paper ones, but after their trip to Zion last month, David now swore by laminated ones. The Zion Narrows had put the kibosh on the paper maps, their only one had been soaked and torn in half when unfolded 30 minutes into the hike.
He asked a question, Yannick just outside earshot to catch it clearly, only hearing a slight murmuring and a few lower tones of his dad's vocal registry. David had said something that obviously excited the lady, she began gesturing emphatically with her hands. She took the Moab map from the counter, flipped it over and traced out directions, pausing and narrating at key points. Then she leaned in too. Yannick yawned and turned back to looking around the store. He walked the few steps from the magazine rack to the service booth, tapped his dad's shoulder and pointed to himself, then gestured back to the store. David continued their non-verbal communication and nodded in reply to his gesture. Yannick turned away and began to walk, knowing David would be busy for a good ten minutes talking shop with the tidily dressed hiker-woman behind the counter.
He walked past stacks of kidney beans and crackers on the aisle ends, turning down one that seemed most likely to have camera and camping gear. Yanick wandered along displays of fishing lures, egg holders, portable toilets, and hunter orange clothing, then found himself in a section that had some rock climbing stuff. He read the tags on the boxes; carabiner, rappel ring, jumar, crash pad. He looked at the pictures of the climbers on the tags, read the descriptions of each device. Some of the photography was really quite good. He thought back to the girl who he had watched climbing that boulder that morning. Maybe he could go take some photos and see how they turned out. That spot by the outhouse seemed to have a nice setting, good light, good landscape, even the outhouse was mercifully blocked by the scrubby juniper trees. It was a definite possibility. Tomorrow he'd have to go ask some of them if he could take their pictures.
He walked back around the far end of the aisle, heading back toward the service desk where his dad and the lady would most likely still be leaning over the map talking. As he turned the corner back onto the main area in front of the check stands, he spotted his dad. He was still talking with the lady behind the counter. Yannick grabbed a pack of trail mix and some Wrigley's spearmint gum. He paid the checker, a tan thin woman also wearing a red vest over her white blouse and tan shorts, and walked back to the counter. He heard Cheryl laugh as he was approaching, watched as she wrote something and handed it to David, clicking the button end of the pen before tucking it up under the band of the cap she wore. She stood and smiled, looking at them both, arms folded under her breasts.
David watched Yannick and pursed his lips out for a moment. He turned back to Cheryl, nodded and fire off a quick thank you, not one of those professional kind of niceties, but sincere, and nodded again as he left. He joined Yannick again and they walked past the magzine rack, past the paper maps. Yannicks hands twitched momentarily and he chuckled to himself ruefully. They walked together to the drink aisle, grabbed a tin of powdered Arctic Shatter Gatorade, and made their way perpindicular along the aisles, trying to find some AA batteries. David broke the silence first. "You know, there's a lady at work from Ecuador who says if your shoes squeak that they're complaining they've been stolen." Yannick turned to look at him, puzzled, lost at his train of thought. "What do you mean? Are my shoes squeaky?" David laughed and nodded. "Your left one, and every step." Yannick looked down at the pair of hiking shoes he wore, gray Asolo hiking boots he'd gotten before their trip to Zions. A lot of things had changed in that trip. He never had hiked before that time, never really talked with his dad, certainly hadn't joked with him for several years. They found the batteries, a ten pack with a bonus Shrek flashlight, and went to the checkout. The same thin woman was at the register, she winked at Yannick like he was a five year old as David paid for the groceries. Yannick put the stuff into the backpack, and they walked out the door into the heat.