The ragged couples stared up at the sky, hoping for some sort of redemption.
“Fish! Damned fish!” she was screaming, lurching like a regurgitating bovine.
Like survivors on a tiny uncharted island, they had been waiting for supplies for weeks. Surely a plane would drop via parachute a package that would help them cope for another week or two. But though many airplanes passed (many, many, since they lived by East Hampton airport), none dropped a package for them.
“I can’t take it anymore!” she yelled to no one in particular. “I would give an arm for a celery stalk, for a thimble of mayonnaise for this canned tuna fish.” Back in the glory days they had tuna salad for lunch, heaping creamy platefuls with lettuce and cucumbers and olives, the imported kind, the ones with pits in them. He was a writer of renown, she an artist with a loyal following. Once they were the toasts of this prosperous seaside town. They remember particularly the Friday night barbecues. Plump, juicy hamburgers, with melted cheese they devoured with bacon and ketchup.
“Do you remember those glorious nights?” he had asked her recently.
“Ketchup? What is ketchup?” she responded, her black drawn eye sockets staring into oblivion.
They both stared at the potato in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. “Should we eat it tonight, my darling? Should we have one last fling?”
“Can we melt some butter on it?” he pleaded.
“What is butter?” she replied softly.
They had all but decided to ask — nay, beg — for some food scraps, but as they kneeled by their windows, surveying the passersby, the horrible truth was revealed. These were not their regular neighbors, their friends. These were the Citiots, the infected night stalkers who came with their hideous disease like lepers.
“They cough at you and gain control of your mind that way,” she told her husband. “They eat all the celery.”
The couple vowed to fight back once they regained their strength. “But what can we do?” she asked. “Kill the interlopers! Eat their burgers!”
The ground began to tremble and the afternoon sun grew dim. A rumbling sound intensified as it neared. The pair trembled, fell together to the ground, their tattered clothes falling from their boney bodies.
A giant green vehicle pulled into the driveway. “Is it soylent green?” she wondered.
Then, they gasped as they saw the name of their savior on the side. It was the Lord himself: Peapod.
The pair groveled before him as he brought out plastic bags of every description. One had water, all the way from Poland. Others had laundry detergent, and plastic wrap, and Brillo pads.
And then . . .
Like a rainbow over the horizon . . .
Like a mirage in the Sahara . . .
Could this be heaven? They saw a package of it . . .
Better than all three! Toilet paper! Rolls of it! “Oh my God. Our prayers are answered!”
“Should we unroll one?” Karen asked. “No, never!”
“Should we put one in the bathroom?”
“No, never! Let’s make a statue and vow never to use it, ever!”
We threw jewelry and trinkets at the God-Pilot of the Peapod truck.
Six boxes of Pepperidge Farm cookies . . .
Potato chips, 40 percent less fat of course . . .
Frosted Mini-Wheats! Alas, no burgers. And no chicken. No celery!
“Will you come again?”
“Yes,” the Peapod god said. “Did you reorder?” he asked. I told him “Yes, a week ago.”
Then I’ll see you in about three years,” he said, smiling. “Be well. Don’t go outside!”