How We Got The News
"Oh, good grief! Why do you insist on having a Slurpee after going out drinking? It's gross."
"I'll be right back," my roommate said and slammed the door of my car.
I kept the engine running and fiddled with the radio, trying to find the new Donna Summer single we'd heard just heard at the Parliament House. I looked through the windows of the 7-11 to see my roommate looking around the store in puzzlement. He looked out at me and waved at me to come inside the store. I turned off the car and walked inside.
"What's the problem?"
My roommate indicated the unmanned counter, "Look, there's no clerk! Nobody is here. Do you think they've been robbed?"
My pulse quickened. A few weeks earlier, there'd been a slaying of an Orlando convenience store clerk. The clerk's body had been found by the next customers to arrive in the store. That thought in mind, I peered into the back room of the store.
"Hello? Anybody here?"
We heard a small sound, like a kitten mewing. But the sound wasn't coming from the back room, it was coming from behind the front register. Fearfully, we leaned across the wide laminated counter, pushing aside the hot dog condiments and Slim Jim display. The clerk, a young woman, was lying there on the floor, sobbing, her mouth open but only an occasional faint cry escaping.
"Are you OK? Do you need help? Do you want us to call the police?"
The woman pulled herself to a sitting position, shaking her head. I noticed that she had a small transitor radio in her hand. She ran her hand down her face, as if trying to wake herself up from a bad dream, and said, "He's dead! He's dead! I can't fucking believe it!"
"Who's dead? Not the president!" my roommate gasped.
"No. It's Lennon. John Lennon. They shot him and he's dead," she sobbed, falling back over on her side.
We left her there on the floor and drove home in silence. Before I fell asleep that night, I heard my roommmate playing "Double Fantasy" in his room, and I think I heard him crying too.
That was 25 years ago, today.