His head snaps to as his eyes lock on mine. "Can I ask you a question?" he blurts, red-faced. He's clutching a crumpled bit of paper--presumably his shopping list.
I blink once, twice. My options are limited. "Of course," I say.
"What the hell does 'tropical rain shower' smell like?" he asks, jabbing the list in my direction.
My options dissolve further. "I cannot answer that question," I say.
"Tropical goddamn rain shower," he mutters, turning back to the rows of bottles. "What the hell is tropical goddamn rain shower?"
"Maybe it smells like wishful thinking in Cleveland in December," I offer, but he does not respond. Instead he scowls and grabs one of the products.
I gingerly pluck an $0.89 bottle of V05 Sun-Kissed Raspberry Balancing Shampoo from the shelf and sneak a sniff to verify that it will be an acceptable to my 13-year-old daughter. I drop it into my cart along with a bottle of the corresponding conditioner. The man continues ranting beneath his cap of wiry gray hair.
"Good luck," I say, never more sincere.
"Tropical goddamn rain shower," he says.
Three miles to the east, a woman gasps in the throes of orgasm. In the south, a gun fires. In the north, the gray water roils. A baby's cries pierce through the west.
I exhale, swallow a diamond, and push into the rest of my life.
* * *