by Peter Clarke
Vinchenzo discovered marijuana one shitty day in February while skipping math class. Struck by hunger pangs like he’d never imagined, he fled school premises, determined that nothing would ever again hold him back from his dreams. Till—abruptly—at the edge of a crosswalk, he halted. Across the street: Oscar’s Burritos. “Oh God, burritos,” Vinchenzo murmured longingly. The crosswalk sign said walk twice. Three times. Walk. Don’t walk. Walk. At last his feet budged. The sign was saying don’t do it, but he did anyway.
If only he had paid better attention in his math class, he would have known that his coins would never add up to the price of a burrito. First he counted 83 cents. Then he counted 76 cents. He felt the money growing smaller in his hand every second. If the line didn’t move more quickly, soon he would be completely broke.
The cashier woman glared at him but he would not be intimidated. At that exact moment, he discovered the power of thinking on his feet. “Um, can I get some chips and salsa?” he asked. It was 50 cents. He ordered just in time with only four extra cents to spare.
With hunger pangs temporarily satisfied, he flew back to school, raising his arms like a champion as he raced through the crosswalk. Back at school, he felt in his back pocket just to be sure. Yes. The marijuana was still back there. Now he would only need to find a lighter and some paper so he could smoke it.
◊ ◊ ◊
Peter Clarke is a writer native to Port Angeles, Washington currently living in Oakland, California. His short fiction has appeared in 3AM Magazine, Pif Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Hobart, and elsewhere. He’s an assistant editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal and founding editor of Jokes Review. See: www.petermclarke.com.