I heard her feet scuffling outside the fitting room door. She was uncomfortable the moment I asked to try on these shirts. Slacks? No problem. I got legs like the next guy. But shirts? Different ballgame. Horned bullheads don’t fit so well into the head hole of t-shirts and button-ups can barely clasp this bulging chest behind its cheap plastic buttons. Not my fault. Born this way. I have to wear something and they don’t exactly have a “horned” section at the local TJ Maxx.
They’re whispering now. I think I heard something about “break it, you buy it,” but I know the policy, I called corporate. Any incidental damage to clothing items is not the responsibility of the customer. And I was exactly a customer. More than that though, I just wanted a damn courtesy. I didn’t gore everyone who turned their back on me, someone throw me a fucking bone.
“Everything okay in there?” She says it with enough distance that she could feasibly deny that she had been talking to me. Even though I knew she had. Big, brave fitting room attendant, checking in on the minotaur.
I snorted, shook my jowls. I tried not to be the stereotypical minotaur, y’know, anger and aggression issues, but my eyes were shading red as I stared at the empty hanger on the back of the changing room door. This lobster print shirt showcased my musculature so well and this ladies out here questioning if I’m doing okay—what, why, because I have the head of a bull? I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. But I didn’t say that, I just snorted again, flexed in the mirror. Damn, this is a win. I’ve never fit into a human extra-large before.
It’s a rare victory for a minotaur to find such a perfect shirt in the domain of man.
“Cash or credit, sir?” the cashier asks me. $7.99, what a bargain. I mean, in a world where 75% of the shirts don’t fit over your horns, to get the perfect shirt for the incredibly low price of $7.99? It’s ludicrous.
“Do you take Apple Pay?” Anything that can be burned isn’t a valid form of currency in my book. Plus, I’m prone to accidental arson. I emphasize the word accidental.
“No, I’m sorry, we accept cash and major credit cards.”
I can see fear in her puny eyes. I can smell it in the sour body odor of the customer next to me, buying caramel popcorn from the kitchen section so she can go home and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy and wonder why she never did more with herself.
“You know what?” The cashier hands me the shirt. “Consider it a gift on the house.”
The rage lifts.
“You don’t have to do that,” I say. There’s guilt now, like I’ve used my disposition for nefarious means. It’s a snap reaction, really. Y’know how when someone cuts you off on the highway, you impulsively cuss and then thirty seconds later you’re over it? Same deal.
“I know,” she says. She smiles at me. Actually means it too, not just out of fear. “But I’d still like to. Have a nice day, thank you for shopping at TJ Max.”
Josh Sippie lives in New York City, where he is the Director of Publishing Guidance at Gotham Writers and an Associate Editor of Uncharted Mag. When not writing, he can be found wondering why he isn’t writing. More at joshsippie.com or Twitter @sippenator101.