There It Is


For what it’s worth, it smelled a lot like what I remembered my dad smelling like—heavy with dust, coursed with leather, and light with cologne from the late 80s. The row of records and cassettes stretched endlessly down each of the four aisles.

In the front, toward the immense glass windows that overlooked the near-stranded parking lot was a square box, pitch black, that outwardly displayed the cassette singles. The array of colors on the soft paper packaging brought life to the dismal case—purples, reds, and whites were the most popular at the time. The ceiling was none too special—old gray paint over small, decaying bumps.

I spent most of my time staring at the singles, but once in a while my eyes would wander to the rows of records, some pushed back against their racks, others fallen forward. More expensive electronics lined the walls—tape players to guitars—embedded with words like Sony and Sanyo. The pitch-black checkout counter near the front housed the man with the hairy face and slick hair, too high up and hidden to make out the details.

There was one day that the man with the hairy face began to lean over the counter, providing me a quick glimpse of hope that I’d be able to look him in the eye.

That’s when the clown came in—bright white faced, covered in makeup, red nose, big shoes. He smelled like a combination of alcohol and whipped cream. He smiled eerily at me, drawing my attention from the counter with his gigantic red lips.

The man with the hairy face yelled at him—he knew who he was—and told him to leave. The clown tore off his nose and launched it at the clerk. It accidentally hit my father and bounced off him with a squeak. The clown immediately cursed and tore down the first aisle, knocking records off the shelf as he went. A trail of Madonna, the Jackson 5, and Salt ‘n Pepa followed the clown into the deep abyss where I assumed he’d stay.

That’s when he tore ack up the second aisle, toward the entrance where I stood. The sound of breaking overshadowed the man with the air face’s panicked call to the police. The only words I could make out were my father’s, as he leaned down toward me: “He’s drunk.”