Are They Or Aren't They?
Though not a part of a series, this story does contain a minor reference to "The Favor" found on the Series page.
"Hmm," Debbie said as she saw the two men enter the store, "looks like I picked the right day to do my grocery shopping." Looking over at them, she couldn't help noticing the differences between the men. One was slightly taller, a few years older, definitely more muscular and had a slightly receding hairline. 'But with a body like that, who cares about his hair,' she thought. The younger of the two had a headful of long, curly hair, a dazzling smile and a pair of glasses perched on the end of his nose. 'Would you look at the mouth on him. I know a lot of women who would kill for lips like that.'
She continued watching as the two men walked over to get a cart. The taller man grabbed the grocery cart while the shorter man grabbed one of the hand held baskets. Then, they started down the aisle together. 'Okay, they are obviously here together. I wonder... Could they be...' Seeing the two men stare after a shapely young woman who walked by, she concluded, 'All right, they're together, but they're definitely NOT a couple. But they can't be related, they don't look enough alike to be family.'
Noticing that the two men were starting down the first aisle, Debbie hurried to catch up.
* * *
* Aisle 1 -- Bread, pastries, etc... *
When she turned down the aisle, she noticed the two were picking out bread. The shorter man had a loaf of wheat bread while the taller had a loaf of white.
"Here you go, Chief," the taller man said as he handed the loaf of white bread to the other man. After placing the wheat bread in the basket he carried, the shorter man accepted the white bread and placed it in the basket as well.
'Chief?' Debbie thought. 'That CAN'T be his name. But at least now I have something to call him besides 'the shorter man'.'
Then, Debbie watched as Chief went to pick out some bagels as the taller man checked out the pastries. Pretending to select her own loaf of bread, Debbie surreptitiously glanced at the men. Returning with a package of bagels, Chief immediately noticed some new items located in the grocery cart. "What exactly is all of this, Jim?" he asked.
'Aha,' Debbie thought. 'The taller guy's name is Jim.' Then, she quickly tuned back into their conversation.
"What does it look like?"
"Well, Jim, it looks like stuff that doesn't belong in our cart."
"C'mon, Chief, it's just a couple of packages."
Enjoying the view as Chief bent over and reached into the cart, Debbie was amused when he began counting the packages.
"There's SIX packages of pastries here."
"So, what's your point?"
"My point is that you had better put some of these back. NOW."
"I put them into the cart because I to get them. I'm not putting them back."
Moving past the two men, Debbie snickered softly when she saw Chief standing beside the cart impatiently tapping his foot while simply staring up at Jim. She was barely able to contain her laughter when Chief titled his head to the side slightly causing Jim to grumble under his breath and pick up three of the packages and place them back on the shelf.
"There, you happy now?"
"Hey, man, I'm just thinking about you."
"Really? How's that?"
"Well, just think of all the extra hours you would have had to put in at the gym to work off all those sweet rolls. Now, you can spend that time hanging out with me. Isn't that a lot more fun?" Then, Chief reached into the cart, grabbed the packages of pastries and placed them into his basket.
"Let's see, spending time in a hot, smelly gym working out and getting all sweaty or spending time with my hyperactive, talkative, trouble magnet partner? Yeah, that's a real difficult choice there. I'd pick the gym every time, without hesitation."
'Oh my,' Debbie thought as she mentally pictured Jim working out, 'is it getting hot in here? But wait a minute, `partner'? So, they ARE a couple.'
Waiting until the two men had passed her, Debbie followed behind as they turned down the next aisle.
* * *
* Aisle 2 - Canned goods, condiments, sauces, etc... *
As she intently studied the multitude of canned soups, Debbie continued to listen in on Jim and Chief's conversation. 'Okay,' she thought, 'this is just simple stuff, soup, vegetables, ketchup. They shouldn't find too much to argue about in this aisle.'
"Hey, Chief," Jim said as he picked up a can of corn, "do we need any vegetables?"
"Yeah, but only get a couple cans of each. I want to get fresh if they have it in the produce section."
"But what if they DON'T have any fresh stuff?"
"Well, then we'll just come back over here and get some more canned stuff."
"Wait a minute. The produce section is on the other side of the store. Are you telling me, we'll have to come all the way back over here if they don't have any fresh stuff?"
"Did you have something you wanted to say, Jim?"
"No, of course not, Dear," Jim sarcastically replied as he tossed some cans of corn and green beans into the cart. "Just a minute, Chief," Jim said as Chief reached to grab something from a shelf. Capturing Chief's hand in his, Jim brought it in front of his face so that he could see the item. "Okay, just making sure. I don't want any repeats of last time."
Curious, Debbie looked over to see what Chief has taken from the shelf. "Real funny, Jim." She heard Chief say with a laugh as he placed a bottle of mild Tabasco sauce into the basket.
'Tabasco sauce?' she wondered. `I don't get it. What's so funny about Tabasco sauce?'
After selecting some more items, the two men proceeded to the next aisle. Hurriedly tossing some cans into her cart, Debbie rushed to follow them.
* * *
* Aisle 3 Cereals, etc... *
"What is that," Chief asked as he saw the box Jim placed in the cart.
"Oh no. Put it back."
Amused, Debbie watched as Jim automatically started to reach for the box. Then he paused and said, "No. I like Frosted Flakes and you never get them, so I'm getting some."
"Do you realize how much sugar is in those things?"
"Hey, not all of us have your high energy level. Some of us need the extra boost a sugar rush provides."
"Jim, at your age, it's only natural that you wouldn't be able to keep up. Accept it and get over it, old man. Or do I have to repeat some of the jokes the guys said after you fell asleep during the last poker game?"
"That was your fault."
"And how was it my fault?"
"You're the one that kept me up so late the night before. I still can't believe some of the things you got me to try."
'Ooh,' Debbie thought, 'this sounds VERY interesting.' While trying to choose between Cheerios and Honeynut Cheerios, she continued to listen.
"Hey, you have to experiment every once and a while," Chief said. "It keeps things interesting."
"I don't like things to be interesting, and I don't like it when you experiment." Imaging what some of those experiments could have been, Debbie almost missed it when Jim added, "And my stomach was upset for days after trying some of those culinary disasters you whipped up that night."
`Okay,' Debbie thought, `maybe they AREN'T a couple.'
Throwing both boxes of cereal into her cart, Debbie followed after the two men as they left the aisle.
* * *
*Aisle 4 Papertowels, toilet tissue & cleaning supplies, etc..*
"Do we need anything down there?" Chief asked.
"No," Jim answered, "we can go to Wal-Mart later tonight and stock up on all that stuff. It's a lot cheaper there."
Even though she had run out of toilet tissue that morning, Debbie by-passed the aisle and continued to follow after the two men.
* * *
* Aisle 5 Chips, cookies, candy, etc... *
Going over to stand in front of the chips, Debbie eyed Jim as he approached the cookies.
He reached out to grab a bag of Oreo cookies then hesitated as he cast a glance in Chief's direction. Switching his aim, he snagged a bag of reduced fat Oreo cookies and tossed it into the cart.
'Okay,' Debbie thought, 'they ARE a couple. Otherwise, Chief wouldn't be able to have Jim so well trained.' Grabbing a bag of Baked Lays potato chips, she listened as Chief returned to Jim's side and placed four bags of chips into the cart. "Don't think I didn't see that," Chief said.
"See what?" Jim asked.
"Well, I'll give you some credit. At least you didn't reach for the double stuffed ones at first."
"I've got something you can stuff, Chief."
"Ya know, I was gonna let you get the regular Oreo cookies. But after that remark, I'm not."
"I'm sorry, Chief. Really sorry. Truly sorry."
"All right, you can get the regular Oreos. But I get to borrow the truck Friday night."
"I don't think so."
"Please. I'll get the stuff to make you brownies. C'mon. I'm taking Ann to the movies Friday night and my car isn't running right again. Please?"
"Two batches of brownies and you're on bathroom duty for the rest of the month."
"It's a deal."
`Okay,' Debbie thought, `they AREN'T a couple.'
Still considering whether the two men were indeed a couple, Debbie almost got left behind as the two men selected several more items and then went to the next aisle.
* * *
Several aisles later, Debbie was still pondering the 'are they or aren't they' question as she followed the two men to the checkout lane. While the cashier rang up her items, she watched as Jim pulled out his wallet and paid for his and Chief's groceries. "This is confusing. Are they a couple or aren't they?" she muttered as she paid for her own purchases.
Walking outside, Debbie watched as Jim and Chief walked over to a beat up old truck and began putting sacks in the back. After all her bags had been placed in the trunk of her car, she thanked the young man who had brought her groceries out and then got in her car. Adjusting the rearview mirror, she watched as the two men got in the truck. Her eyes widen in shock when she saw Jim reached across the seat and grab Chief. Pulling the younger man to him, Jim gave Chief a quick kiss on the mouth. 'Definitely a couple,' she decided as she pulled out of the parking lot.
Meanwhile, inside the truck, Blair quickly pulled away from Jim while wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Eww! What was that about?"
"Nothing, Chief. Just messing with someone's mind."
"Yeah, mine. Don't EVER do that again. Ugh. That was just too weird."
Chuckling, Jim just said, "Ya know, Chief, I just might start going grocery shopping with you more often. I never knew how much fun it could be."
Convinced that his friend had finally lost his mind, Blair merely said, "Whatever you say, Jim. Whatever you say."
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