The small Stuff

The recipe called for Cayenne pepper, and Paul had none.
“Fuck”
Cooking for Gayle on their first date? What was he thinking?
Paul knew this was his only chance to impress her, and he was blowing it, big time. He had been courting Gayle in the Westfield Mall food court for the better part of 6 months, and here he is, out of fucking Cayenne pepper!?? Paul was flustered, beginning to rage, that feeling he knows oh so well. He was spinning.
He had to get out, but didn’t want to walk past Gayle in the living room.
Paul opened the kitchen window and without hesitation, jumped.
3 stories down he landed hard in the concrete alley.
Paul’s left tibia snapped on impact, and while he absorbed most of the force by going into a roll he learned from watching days of Youtube videos, his left shoulder dislocated in the process.
“Fuck”
Paul wanted to scream, but what if Gayle looked down from the window and saw him lying there? It would be mortifying. It would likely also end the date. Paul quickly gathered himself up on his stronger right side, and dragged his way through the alley to the street. He thew up his right hand and hailed a taxi.
“Safeway” he growled in pain as he slowly lowered himself into the back seat.
3 minutes into the drive, Paul realized he couldn’t buy anything other than organic, locally sourced Cayenne pepper, not for Gayle.
“Wait! Whole Foods!”
The cab driver hit the breaks, turned, and looked Paul up and down. He looked worn.
“Do you have any cash?”
Paul gingerly squirmed and reached his right hand to his right back pocket, he didn’t have his wallet.
“Fuck”
The driver got out, opened the rear door, and tossed Paul to the curb. Paul’s head careened off a street pole in the process creating a pretty good gash.
The cab drove off as blood trickled from the right side of Paul’s head, matting down his long dark hair.
A fire engine blew by, sirens on, but Paul could only hear the noise from his left ear.
“Fuck”
Paul picked himself up again and started limping back towards his apartment.
He was moving slowly, but it was only a few blocks. Maybe he would just tell Gayle he forgot to buy Cayenne pepper, that he hadn’t prepared for this date he had sought after for months, that he was a real dipshit loser. Paul was spinning again.
He was fighting back tears. Tears of pain, physical and emotional pain, as he made his trek. A block away from his apartment Paul passed a corner store, it was worth a shot.
‘Ding”
The sound was faint in Paul’s head, but his entrance was announced.
“Oh my….can I call you an ambulance?”
Paul realized he must look worse than he thought, there would be no hiding this from Gayle.
“Do you have Cayenne pepper?”
The attendant looked awkwardly at Paul, and without breaking eye contact, slowly reached under his counter and pulled out a small bottle of McCormick Cayenne pepper.
Paul smiled.
“Four dollars and fifty cents.”
Paul’s smile dropped.
He needed that Cayenne pepper, it was the only thing that would make this night right, it was the only thing standing between him and Gayle.
Paul snatched the small plastic container off the counter and ran out of the store like a man with 2 good legs. Unfortunately, Paul only had one, and his fibula couldn’t take it.
“Fuck”
Paul went down hard as the only remaining bone in his lower left leg snapped in two and pierced through the skin of his calf.
The store clerk stood up with a look of shock and terror. The two locked eyes as Paul crawled through the threshold of the door.
‘Ding’
Paul was pulling his mangled body across the sidewalk, literally dragging himself home.
Only half a block away, Cayenne pepper in hand, he could make it. This was going to be the perfect date. Sure, he was banged up, but if he could make it straight to the bathroom, he could clean up, maybe Gayle wouldn’t even notice.
“On your left”
Paul raised his head. A cyclist, a biker thinking nothing of a man laying on the city sidewalk. Paul tried to pull in his left hand with his dislocated left shoulder, the hand clutching the necessary condiment for a quality dinner, but he lacked the strength to get it back in time. The bike nicked Paul’s outstretched appendage dislodging the Cayenne pepper and sending it slowly spinning into an adjacent sewer.
“Fuck”
Paul finally let out a scream.
“Fuuuuuuuccckkkkkkkk!!!!”
“Oh my gosh, are you OK?”
Paul looked up and into the eyes of a police officer.
“Shit. Did you just come out of that building?!!”
Paul crooked his neck to see that the apartment building in front of him was aflame, his apartment building. He might have noticed this sooner, but he now realized that somewhere along the way he had lost his sense of smell.
“We have another one, Southwest corner.” The officer said bending down towards Paul and summonsing help on his radio. “The whole thing went up quick, probably a gas leak.”
Paul smiled at the thought that Gayle might be gone, dead, that he would never have to explain to her that he had forgotten the pepper. He sighed a sigh of relief.
‘Boom”
An explosion from the burning building, a projectile, Paul looked up. It was dropping right towards him.
As it came closer Paul realized what it was, a refrigerator. It was Paul’s refrigerator.
He couldn’t budge.
Paul could see his water bill, the picture he took last year at The Statue of Liberty, a birthday card his nephew made for him. And as this giant appliance came to finish Paul off, he could make out the words of his favorite refrigerator magnet, the words Paul had unsuccessfully tried to live by his entire life, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

cayenne