Maybe it was the way the air conditioning ruffled his muttonchops. Maybe it was how he corrected the lane's sign to "Ten Items or Fewer". Or maybe it was the way he had thirty-eight items in his cart to start with. Whatever it was, I knew I was in the presence of greatness.
"You're Evil Editor, aren't you?"
"Oh, Christ.," he said.. "A fan."
"One of your biggest."
"Yeah, you could stand to lose a few pounds - just a moment."
There was an interlude while he rang up his items and remonstrated with the cashier over the total. While she tried to stanch the bleeding, he turned back to me.
"Right," he said, plunging his hands into my cart. "You want editing? I'll give you editing. What's this? Rib steak? Cliché. Lose it."
He threw it out. "Next. Bottle of wine?"
"Well," I said, "I'm having a girlfriend over to dinner, and - "
"So that explains the next item. Pack of twelve? You're an optimist." He threw that aside too. "Natural bran fibre cereal. Keeps you regular? Yeah, like the world needs more crap from authors." The box joined the pile on the floor. "Toothpaste? Listen, buddy, I don't need your breath to smell fresh when you're kissing my ass. Green vegetables? Who the hell eats green vegetables anyway?"
By the time he had finished, I had one item left. I handed the tin of baked beans to the broken-nosed cashier, who rang it up. Evil Editor was gone, trundling his cart over to the SUV parked across three handicapped spaces. In my heart, I knew I would always treasure his parting words to me.
"Goddamn authors deserve to starve."