“I’ll have a six-inch ham sub, thanks.” Jerry said.
“Er, ah. No, er. No, thanks. No.”
“Cucumber? Lettuce? Tomato? Onion? What sauces?”
“Er, normal. Just m-make it normal. Normal, thanks.”
Jerry was a man who couldn’t handle being presented with choice. The possibility that he might make a mistake put such a weight on him that he wanted to curl up into a ball and die. Better to leave it to the professionals. They worked with sandwiches every day. They knew how it was meant to be done.
“What kind of bread?”
“J-just normal, please.”
“Er, yeah. No, yes. Er. Yes.”
This was a mistake. He wouldn’t ever have bothered with an extravagance like this, but that morning he’d dropped his wrapped tuna sandwich in a puddle and, protected though it was, it had soon met its gruesome demise under the wheels of the eight o’clock bus. This was his only option. This, or hunger.
He was beginning to yearn for hunger.
Thankfully, the sandwich lady had stopped with the questions for now and was beginning to assemble a six-inch ham sub.
A particularly large-looking six-inch ham sub, come to think of it. He surreptitiously eyed the baguette, before glancing down to his own trousers, wondering if certain aspects of himself had been far smaller than he’d ever realised. But the longer he eyed the sandwich in its assembly, the more sure he was that it was far larger than six inches.
It was a foot long. Through some terrible mishap in communications, this woman was preparing a foot long for Jerry. A foot long he could by no means afford. The loose change in his pocket barely covered the six-inch. Even the addition of extra mayo would have knocked it out of his price range.
A foot long was going to destroy him.
Would he be arrested? Would he be chased out of the shop? Would he have to give away his watch to make up the difference? He wouldn’t mind that, actually. Damn thing gave him a rash.
The longer he watched, the more he wanted to say something, but the harder it became. With every passing moment, the situation worsened. She assembled the lettuce, delicately laid down the bed of ham. He cleared his throat to speak.
“Did you know that deer eat their own velvet?” damn. He’d spouted off a random fact instead. Classic nerves.
“What?” the lady looked up.
“Yeah, like the tissue that grows on their antlers. They eat it. It grows back, though.” He said.
“Oh yeah?” she looked far more alarmed than if he’d simply informed her that he hadn’t ordered a foot long. But he was in it, now.
“And also if you take a certain part of the tissue and surgically graft it to any part of their body, an antler will grow there over time. You can actually create a deer with just antlers growing all over its body. They’re actually pretty terrifying.”
“Right. Any spicy mayo?”
“No, thank you.”
The lady shoved the freshly wrapped sandwich off to the cashier at the register, and Jerry obediently stepped to the side. He wrapped a sweaty fist around his change, knowing that he was about to meet his end.
“That’ll be £8.99” said the fluffy-faced boy.
Fuck off. Jerry thought. But instead he stammered and pulled the insufficient funds from his pocket, with lint attached.
“I, er. I wanted a s… six. I er, I can’t actually. I was never supposed to…” Jerry said.
The fluffy-faced boy lazily eyed his inadequate change, then the sandwich. Then he began to punch something into till.
Staff discount. £5.99
He shot Jerry a wink, and he felt his heart skip a beat.
Solidarity. He knows.
He mumbled his thanks to the cashier and slid him his slightly moist coins. He didn’t wait around for change. He gingerly gathered up his sandwich and cradled it in his arms like a new-born baby as he left the shop.
He took a deep breath of fresh air, exhaled and began to laugh. And then he began to scream.
The stress had caused the ulcer in his stomach to erupt and he died in agony.
His sandwich was later set upon by the pigeons.