One Each by Andrew Ball

The line shuffles slowly forward, and I shuffle along with it. I nod to a couple of my neighbors -- the ones without masks that I can recognize -- and let my mind wander. 

All this business with ‘social distancing’ and masks and whatnot: interfering with Nature, that’s what it is. When the Lord calls you, you’d better be ready to go, and not try to hang about here. And what’s with all this money that the federal gov’mint wastes on health insurance and medical research? Nothin’ more than water down a rat-hole. Don’t make a scrap of difference to the death rate. It’s still one each. 

The line shuffles again. I’ve heard the rumors, of course; who hasn’t? But in a small community like ours there’s always some sore loser with an axe to grind, spreading malicious gossip; so I haven’t paid them no mind. Perhaps I’m about to find out if they’re true. 

At last, I reach the front of the line and recognize the guy sitting behind the desk; it’s Caleb from the Lodge. 

“Howdy, Bill.” 

“Cal. Didn’t expect to see you here. D’you get paid for this?” I ask. 

“Nah, that’d be illegal. Besides, some things are more important than money... Know what I’m sayin’? Anyroad, how many d’you want?” 

“Just the one, please.” 

“Really? Can’t be too careful, you know. They say it may be closer this time.” “I’ll have three more then,” I say, not knowing if I’m joking. 

“Sure that’s enough? Here, take half a dozen; I know we can count on you.” 

So the rumors are true, then. Maybe we won’t have to rely on the Russians this time around. I carry the sheets over to the booth, draw the curtain behind me and pick up the pen.

Published in Issue #7

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