Another with a lot of rights and (probably more) wrongs to it. But still mostly hangs together as a thing.
Because alternate text is no place for two pages of text, I’ve elected to quote it here:
[Start of page six]
the bathroom, some laundry detergent, a case of lightbulbs, that sort of thing.
As he started to cross the store’s pharmacy rows, he heard the PA call out his name: “Mr. Ogden, please come to the customer service desk. Mr. Ogden, please come to the customer service desk.”
He paused for a moment. Maybe there was another Ogden there among the endless aisles. Nobody knew he was here, and even if they had known, who would try to call him while out shopping?
He turned his cart around and started for the front of the store, wondering if a friend had seen him as he shopped and then lost him. He had seen a few dozen people with their own carts as he’d gone down his list, but none of them had looked familiar.
At the front desk a curly-haired woman stood next to a teenage girl with brown hair and overalls who was crying in a chair. Before he could say his name, the girl looked up and called, “Dad! I was looking all over for you!”
Ogden turned his head to the side, expecting to see her father behind him, but there was nobody there. He pointed at his face in a question to the girl.
“Mr. Ogden?” the store clerk asked him.
“Charles Ogden, yes. But maybe there’s another man here by my name?”
“Your daughter, Ronda, couldn’t find you.”
“Yes,” he said. “I’m sure her father will be here shortly. Must be we are distant cousins, sharing the name. And from her reaction, I’m sure that’s it. We must look quite a lot alike.”
“You mean you’re not her father?” asked the clerk. She turned to the girl. “Is this your daddy?”
“Course he is,” she said, her tears abated but her cheeks still wet. “He’s just kidding around.” Ronda got
[Start of page seven]
up from her seat and stood at the end of my cart. “Let’s go. I have a piano lesson today after we finish shopping.”
Ogden wasn’t sure what to do. “Are you sure you shouldn’t wait for your father?” he asked.
“Quit it,” she said. “It’s getting late as it is.”
He felt he should protest, but the clerk seemed satisfied that he was the girl’s father, and she did too, and so he figured he better talk to her alone, so he turned the cart back towards the pharmacy rows and the girl fell in beside him.
As they got out of earshot, he asked her, “What is all this about? You with the guy in the jeep from earlier?”
“Dad! Cut it out. It stopped being funny five minutes ago,” Ronda said. I asked where she got lost, to which she said, “I went to look at the magazines while you were getting those lightbulbs, and when I came back I couldn’t find you. I ran around half the store, and my anxiety got up. When I started crying the store clerk took me to the front and paged for you.”
“You really believe I’m your father? I bet he’s worried sick for you, probably will page you from the front any moment now. Must be a cousin. Let’s see, there’s Uncle Ernie, Aunt Jessie—though her last name’s not Ogden anymore. There’s that crew I don’t even know their names from down the shore. I met them once at the grands’ fiftieth. Lots of Ogdens aren’t even related enough to know, but some could still look like me.”
“Your Uncle Ernie had strawberry blond hair. I’ve seen the photos. And Aunt Jessie’s last name is Mares,” she said, as though it were recited from a family history book. I can tell you about yourself, too. You like to slap your knee when you laugh real hard, and you say to yourself, ‘Is it? It is,’ when you’re working onFrom some thing I threw together to have text for the book image. 2023.