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The Grocery Store Conveyor Belt Thing

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“Dude,” Dean said, checking the backseat, “we need to go shopping. We are running seriously low on vital supplies.”

“You can’t be out of porn.”

“Oh, I’m not out of porn. If I were out of porn, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, we would be, like, in a gas station already, feeling up centerfolds. Or I would be, anyway. You’d be standing in the corner, looking all pissy—yeah, that’s it, kind of like that. See, Sammy, you never disappoint me.”

“Okay,” Sam said, “don’t grin at me when you’ve just finished talking about porn.”

Dean waggled his eyebrows. “The point is,” he said, reverting in a split second back to his This is Serious Business face, “we have to hit up a Seven Eleven.”

“I just want to go to bed.”

“Slurpees,” Dean said. “The blue kind. The Big Gulp kind. It’s like seventy-two ounces of pure, liquid sugar cocaine. It’s like heaven in a plastic cup. It’s like an orgasm that you drink through a straw—okay, maybe not that last part, but everything else? So, so true.”

“Do we actually have to go shopping, or are you just craving a Slurpee?”

Dean shrugged. “Why can’t it be both? What do you have against shopping, anyway?” He put on his Where Did the Bad Man Touch You voice effortlessly, like a hat, and said, “Is this about college? Did you become a Communist or something? The workers are oppressed in the Slurpee’s native country, so I shouldn’t contribute to the capitalist machine that exploits them?”

“I don’t think the Slurpee has a native country.”

“Of course it does,” Dean said, shocked, like Sam had just said that Santa didn’t exist, or the hot bartender’s breasts weren’t real, as if it were extremely inappropriate and, honestly, a little untoward for Sam to strip him of these illusions. “The Great Country of… Slurpia, where they grow the blue that is harvested to make the Slurpee, the nectar of the gods, the drink of kings.”

“The blue what?”

“Huh?”

“Where they grow the blue what?”

“Just blue,” Dean said. “It’s just blue. Have you never seen a Slurpee before, dude? What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m still having this conversation?”

“We’re a team, Sam. I just want to consult you before making important decisions.”

Sam put his head down in his hands. “God, Dean, just drive.”

“Awesome,” Dean said, restarting the car. “We’re out—make a list—of rock salt, lighter fluid, and Twizzlers.”

“Oh no. No. Okay, we’re not doing this. We’re going in—separately, or something.”

“You don’t want to be seen with me in public, Sammy?”

“Never. But no, that’s not it. I just really would like, for the love of God, just this once, to avoid the grocery store conveyor belt thing, okay? It’s a nightmare, they always look at us like we’re serial killers, and you grinning at them like a maniac? It doesn’t help. I’m not doing it. We go in separately and we split the stuff up or you can get it and I’ll just wait in the car.”

“I can see you have very deep and not at all girly feelings about this,” Dean said.

“You want an example? This is borne out by history, Dean! This is not some random theory that I’ve concocted! The last time we did this, we bought an ax-head, two leather belts, a hammer, lighter fluid, and Cheetos, and what you should be getting from this, in case you need help, is not that you have ridiculous taste in food, or that we run out of lighter fluid a lot, but that when we buy all this shit at the same time, we look like we’re going to kill someone, hide the body, and then have a snack!”

“That is what we’re going to do, usually,” Dean said. “Add Cheetos to the list.”

“There is no list. The list is in your head.”

“I told you to make a list!”

“There were three items! I can remember three items!”

“Well, now there are four, and without a list, you’re just not prepared for that kind of escalation.”

“I’m going to murder you and destroy all the evidence.”

“Not without rock salt and lighter fluid, you’re not,” Dean said. “’Cause seriously, I’ll haunt your ass.” He parked. Grinned. “So what kind of Slurpee do you want?”

Sam sighed. “Blue.”

“That’s the spirit. Are you seriously staying in the car? I mean, I’ll crack the window, but you’ll look like a golden retriever. More than usual, I mean.”

“What? How?”

“The floppy hair. The sad eyes. The way you kind of look like you have to poop. Do you have the list?”

“We had this conversation about twenty seconds ago, Dean. There is no list. There was never a list. The list is a fiction that you invented, like Slurpia—”

“Slurpia is real. It lives. It’s a beautiful country with a vibrant culture, and you shouldn’t be insensitive about it, dick.”

“Well, maybe the prime minister of Slurpia can make out your shopping list for you, then.”

“They don’t have a prime minister. They have a Council of Elders.”

Sam gave him a do-you-listen-to-the-shit-that-comes-out-of-your-mouth look. Dean returned with I-will-always-be-older-than-you and don’t-make-fun-of-Slurpia-do-you-remember-the-two-weeks-you-thought-Narnia-was-real, which Sam did, actually, because he’d spent all that time dragging Dean to antique shops and unlocked motel rooms so they could open the doors to musty wardrobes and try climbing inside, which Dean had borne patiently and even heroically, despite making a large number of joke about fauns, until Dad had come home almost gray-faced with exhaustion, burned all down one arm, and told Sam that the good things were never real. Just the bad. Only the bad. And Sam had cried himself to sleep and Dean had freaked, like he always did in situations like that, and stolen a copy of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the library, because it was the one that had been missing from Sam’s secondhand garage sale set.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had been his favorite. He could still remember the cover, and the way the laminate had peeled away underneath his fingernail.

He sighed. “Rock salt,” he said. “Light fluid. Twizzlers. Cheetos. Slurpees, two, blue.” He unbuckled his seatbelt.

Dean beamed. “You’re coming?”

“And miss out looking like a pre-diabetic psycho? How could I ever pass that up?”

“I hereby dub you,” Dean said, “the ambassador to Slurpia.”

“I’m honored,” Sam said dryly, and they went into the store.