“Your finger, sir.”

The Clerk stared disinterestedly off into the distance. Morton hadn’t been paying attention…that seemed to happen a lot these days.

“I’m sorry?”


She made a half-hearted gesture toward the device poking out at him from beside the credit card scanner at the front of the sales counter. Somewhat dazed, he apologized again.

“What is it you’re asking?”

She gave a sigh, part boredom part contempt, before corporate protocol kicked in.

“Sir, I need you to put your finger into the scanner before I can process this sale.”

“Ah…yes…of course…”

Morton tentatively placed his withered digit into the finger stirrup before him. A younger Morton would have thought he was past this. A younger Morton would have been wrong.

The Clerk’s eyebrows raised slightly as she scanned the screen before her.

“That will be $27.39, sir.”

“Excuse me?”


Already past her initial astonishment, The Clerk’s mind now wandered. By the clock, she’d be off in 2 hours or so; maybe Bobby would be off work by then, and…

“Excuse me, but I have a coupon…”

He’d caught her off-guard. Most of his kind┬ádidn’t put up this kind of fuss. Thank God for corporate protocol.

“I’m sorry sir, but we aren’t allowed to honor discounts for folks with your…signature.”

She spat out the last word with barely-concealed contempt.

“I don’t understand, young lady. I just wanted this Snickers bar…”

…but he did understand. All too well. Ever since the insurance lobbyists had convince the government that it would be in “everyone’s best interests” to collect personal health data on every individual with any kind of coverage, things had been headed down this path. …and the fact of the matter was, Morton happened to have a family history of diabetes. Add to that a high blood-glucose level – verified by a blood test at every CVS, Meijer, and Wal-mart he’d entered for the past several years, as a matter of course – and the Consumer Health and Wellness Act of 2011 hit him hard any time his sweet tooth came to call.

$1.39 for the candy, $26.00 for his “potential”.

[…nowhere near 500 words. I apologize, but I’m still fleshing this one out. We’ll be seeing Morton again…]