Thursday’s Special by Joni Caggiano

A close up of a man's hand near his thigh and holding a knife
Image Source: Canva

It was as if the argument earlier today had grown legs and followed me to my rusty red probe. The callous words leaping and reverberating around the entrails of the safe confines of my sanctuary were horrifying.  One and a half hours to travel home, craving that egocentric time.  I turned the radio up even higher, listening to Maneater by Hall and Oates, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite tunes.  Finally, I got into the groove and left work behind me. 

The road was a straight stretch, and I often drove carelessly.  After three speeding tickets, every cop that worked on the nuclear reservation knew my name.  During my early morning drive, I would often hold a scone with one hand and a cup of coffee with the other.  I used my right knee to steer.

Seldom stopping at the grocery store on a Thursday night, I was craving a steak, which meant potatoes and salad.  Twenty minutes from home, it was unusually dark with a quarter moon, I remember contemplating as I turned off the ignition.  It was strange for the parking lot to be so barren, and I explicitly remember the sound – electricity humming above me somewhere.  My mind immediately recalled a story my husband had told me the year before.  A now mentally broken farmer whose four-year-old boy had climbed the fence of a large relay station and touched something that was not grounded.  His skin liquefied right off his tiny bones, leaving traces of his skin all over the concrete pad.  My attention returned to getting home to my family. 

Even my daughter would eat steak, and I was excited to spend time with her this evening.  Her innocence was contagious, and her school stories were a valuable gift at the end of my long day.  

Walking with a giddy-up in my step, I noticed that it was odd that there was only one person on five available registers.  Still, I knew her and smiled and said, “How ya doing this evening?”

“It has been slow the last few weeks, so I am by myself tonight, and time is dragging.”  Her voice trailed off as I felt like I was in a scene from an old western. My imagination took over.  The town was empty because a gun-slinging outlaw was there looking for trouble.  He would enter the salon, hand on his ten-gallon-hat and a three-day scruff on his face.  Some busty vixen of the evening would mosey over, tits in his face, and offer up her company for the evening. 

I put my hand on a can of corn, clicking it off the running grocery list in my head.  I also had to pee, and I still had twenty minutes to drive.  Unexpectedly, I felt a chill run up my spine!

I felt something hard and long pressing against my lower back.  I knew what it was from the chairs I had been pulled into by random drunken strangers in our house when I was little. It was some pervert sticking his cock up against me.  Sensing his hot breath before even feeling it swirling around my neck and shoulders.

Smells of cigarettes and cheap cologne were invading every uncovered pore of my skin that this stranger had now defiled.  I heard his deep voice and the five words that were thick and slow, “Well, how’d you like it?”

My mind was racing, and I just knew he had a knife.  In all the years that I had been abused and molested, I had never been so scared.  I had a daughter and a husband to get home to, which perhaps made the difference. 

Beginning to shake, the can of corn fell from my hand, and I waited for the cut to come, so sharp, I wouldn’t even feel it.  There would be blood, the warmth of it running down my chest and the front of my favorite tan suit.  As he pushed me harder against the shelving, I could not scream, move, or even breathe.  Then, I did not feel him anymore, and fortunately, I was still alive and standing.  I waited for what seemed to be an eternity before turning around.  I was sure if he saw me, he would kill me.  But he wasn’t there. I ran straight to the woman at the register. 

I didn’t cry.  Still shaking, my anger escalated as I told the cashier what had happened.  She looked at me and told me she was sorry.  I asked her why she was not calling the police.

“It won’t do any good.  This is the third time this month that this has happened to some poor lady.  We called them the first time, and they said without any evidence or identification of the perp, there was nothing they could do.” 

I told her to watch me walk to my car and dial 911 if she saw anything unusual. I made it and locked the doors, managing somehow to get home.

The following week, I was listening to the local news on my long drive home.  There was a story about a couple working the same shift at a small-town grocery store.  On Thursday nights, a cashier and her boyfriend, who was a sales associate, conspired to terrorize women. The cashier became sexually aroused knowing her boyfriend was rubbing up against lone unsuspecting female shoppers.  One night a male shopper heard them talking about it when they hadn’t noticed him standing close by. 

Note from the writer: A true story except for the part about the perpetrator working with the lone cashier: as far as I know, they never caught the man who had done this to several women, including me.

-JONI CAGGIANO

Joni’s blog is Rum and Robots, where she has published poetry, photography, and short stories. Take a look at Joni’s work in Spillwords Press NYC, Vita Brevis Press, The Finest Example, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, I Write Her – The Short of it, and MasticadoresUSA. Joni’s work was included in the following anthologies: The Sound of Brilliance (The Short of It Publishing, Volume 1 2020), Inner Eye (Poets Choice, 2021), and It’s Not Easy (Poets Choice 2021). Her blog is an effort to give back – she is a surviving Adult Child of Alcoholics. Joni is a retired nurse and paralegal.

You can also read her writing on Instagram @jonicaggiano and Twitter @theinnerchild1.

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Terveen Gill says:

    Joni’s short story is a true, terrifying incident with a slight sprinkle of fiction. The woman in this story could be me or any other unsuspecting victim. The writing is crisp and descriptive with the protagonist’s thoughts running alongside the narrative. A wonderful attempt at quickly familiarizing the reader with the character’s inward and outward situation. The ending leaves me horrified but not really too surprised. The ways of the world have conditioned us to processing shock with lesser effort. That’s a shame…
    Congratulations Joni!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you so very much Terveen and have a blessed day. Lots of hugs, Joni

      Liked by 2 people

  2. kenhume31 says:

    I was going to like this post Joni but then I thought that wouldn’t make sense! It’s frightening and disturbing and excellently written. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that awful experience! ☹️😠 Major kudos and admiration for your courage and bravery in writing it down and sharing it with the world! 🤗🤗❤️❤️👏👏

    Liked by 4 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you Ken for reading and liking. It was very frightening at the time. That was a long time ago. I always appreciate your reading my work and especially on MasticadoresIndia. Hope you have a blessed day my friend. 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

      1. kenhume31 says:

        You’re very welcome Joni, I admire the bravery and eloquence with which you write. 🤗❤️😁I could never fully imagine just how frightening it was! And you too! 👍

        Liked by 2 people

        1. jonicaggiano says:

          Thank you so much Ken. I appreciate your kind words very much. We live in a crazy world unfortunately. Blessings to you and your family. Big hugs, Joni

          Liked by 2 people

  3. It is frightening and disturbing but written so perfectly well…lovely Joni. All the best and love and hugs from Turkey!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you Francis. I truly appreciate it. There will always be flashers and people like the man in that store. Thank you for the lovely compliment. Blessings to you two. 🦋

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re very welcome Joni. I truly admire your writing. Blessings to you both as well. All the best.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. jonicaggiano says:

          Thank you Francis that means a lot. ❤️

          Liked by 2 people

        2. You’re very welcome Joni! ❤🙏😊

          Liked by 2 people

  4. Jaya Avendel says:

    Loving the imagery and vivid emotion in this piece!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you so much for reading, Jaya, I really appreciate you kind comment. Have an amazing day!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. bobro87 says:

    I’m liking this because it’s so wonderfully written, but as far as what happened – it’s utterly horrifying and I’m so very sorry you went through that. I give that a huge thumbs down, and I hope the creep had to answer for his crimes. As always with your writing though, your work takes me with sense- assaulting realism right to the scene and puts me in that tan suit in that grocery aisle. Impeccably, brilliantly crafted, Joni!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      First, a big happy birthday yesterday Jill!! Thank you so much for your many kind words. You have always been so supportive of me over the years and I can’t thank you enough Jill. Please give everyone our love and Nick too if you talk to him. Sending you gratitude and love for being such a loved and treasured neighbor. Big hugs Jill and love and prayers for you and your family. Joni

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, Joni, it is difficult to “like” a story like this, but you tell it so well. Sending you love and hugs my friend! 💏 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Tiffany so sorry I did not see this until today. Thank you for your kindness in reading this rather long story. Yes there are some strange people out there. I have never seen a flasher and hope I never do. I think because I had a little daughter at the time is why I was so horrified as I didn’t want to die. Sending you my love and hugs right back my lovely red headed friend. xoxoxoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow this is electrifying, horrifying and just plain great writing. what a story you tell..I ran through a million emotions reading it, but the cincher was the twist at the end. You totally blew me away with that..but in this perverted sick world…oh yes, that was totally possible. You stories are so real; they bore right into the reader and make each one the victimized protagonist.. Soo good my dear friend. Much love to you, Karima

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Hi Karima, sorry that I am just now seeing this now. What a very sweet comment, you always make me feel so good Karima. The story was real except for the ending about the two people at the story getting turned on by doing this at night. I made that up because as you know we all pull from our world of experiences. Thank you for this very thoughtful comment Karima and sending you big hugs and lots of love, Joni

      Liked by 2 people

  8. HensBlooms says:

    What a horrible and terrifying experience Joni, I’m very sorry that you had to endure such terribleness. You are amazing and your writing reflects your great courage, very well written story. Sending you a big comforting hug🤗 and lots of love ❤️ 🌸💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you so much Henrietta, you are a sweetheart to read me here and I really do appreciate your kind comment. I was young then and it was scary. I didn’t shop there again for a long time unless I was with someone and it was day light. The ending was not real. There are a lot of strange people in this world we live in my friend. Sending you and your family my love.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. It’s even more frightening that this is based on a true story!

    Liked by 2 people

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