Last night, on the way home from dinner, my wife asked me to run into the gas station and pick up some cigarettes. I asked her what kind she wanted me to get. She told me to get Marlboro Menthol Lights. I immediately got upset with her. She asked me why I was so upset and I told her it was because I couldn’t pronounce Marlboro Menthol Lights without stuttering. She didn’t believe me so I attempted to say it. I stuttered badly and she laughed out loud. She slowly pronounced it and asked me to practice. I felt like I was back in elementary school being taught how to read. It was extremely demoralizing. I tried to pronounce it again, but my stutter persisted and I continued to feel like a pathetic piece of shit. I begged her to go in to the gas station and order her own cigarettes but she told me it was too cold outside. My blood began to boil as I approached the gas station.
As I pulled into the gas station I began to have a brief anxiety attack. I hated looking like an idiot. I don’t even smoke cigarettes for fuck’s sake. I worried that I would run into somebody from high school and they would make fun of me. What if I stuttered and my former classmate went home and told their friends? What would people think of me? I was voted most desirable date in my senior class superlative. Would I still be desirable? Would parents begin to tell their children to bully my children in school? Would the mailman withhold my mail? Would the electric company shut off my electricity? All of these things breezed through my mind as I entered the parking lot. My heart continued to race. I could feel my blood flowing through my veins. My breathing sped up. I passed out briefly as I put the car in park. My wife scrolled through her phone and told me to hurry up because she needed a smoke, and she needed it now. I took a deep breath and got out of the car.
As I entered the gas station lobby I quickly looked around, scanning the scene for anyone I might know. Luckily, the lobby was vacant. I walked up to the gas station attendant and asked how his day was going. He didn’t say anything and just stared at me with a complete lack of enthusiasm for his job. Already uncomfortable, I attempted to ask for the cigarettes. Of course, I stuttered badly. I tried again, but this time with my eyes closed. It didn’t help and I stuttered even worse than before. I gave it one more shot. I slowly tried pronouncing Marlboro Menthol Lights but this time I started stuttering and couldn’t stop. I kept saying, “Marborol, Marborol, Ma, Ma, Marborol…” As I stood there with my eyes closed, I couldn’t help but think how dumb I must have looked on the security camera. I briefly opened up my eyes to peek outside. I saw my wife in the car window. She was staring at me, slowly mouthing the words, “Marlboro Menthol Lights.” I began looking around the gas station, as if I was searching for the answer. Perhaps I was searching for a way out. I still do not know. I continued to stutter endlessly until finally the gas station attendant reared back his fist and punched me square in the face. I passed out onto the lobby floor and defecated in my shorts.
I woke up three hours later in the hospital. Next to my hospital bed was a table. On the table was a glass of water and divorce papers. Outside my room were two nurses talking about what had happened to me. They were laughing and joking about how pathetic I was. One nurse even said that she had posted a picture of my soiled underwear on Snapchat. The conversation ended with both nurses leaving for a smoke break.