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Cort at Home, Part 1 -- Arrival

Cort Marshall

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A parking lot late at night, on the outskirts of Glendale Arizona. Old-style red gas pumps brighten up the dusty lot, fluorescents drawing traffic in like moths. A busted-up truck pulls in, and Cort Marshall slumps out, tired from the long drive. He looks around for a second, taking in the long-gone familiar sights, before heading into the store.




The door jingle brings an employee out of his magazine. He looks up and squints, studying the visitor.


Employee: Good evenin’.


Cort nods, walking by, stopping and studying the soda coolers while rolling back and forth on his feet. The cashier takes another look before his eyes drop back to the magazine, a cowboy revolver standing proudly on the cover. After a moment, Cort snags a monster energy schizophrenic volcano power java, or whatever the coffee ones are called.


Employee: Late night?


The cashier asks wryly, smile twitching his bushy orange ‘stache. Cort nods.


Cort: Long haul. I tell ya, the old girl never dies, but she ain’t very agreeable on the highway.


Employee: Wife?


Cort laughs.


Cort: Truck.


Employee: Ah. The employee peeks out the window.


Employee: The old Chev?


Cort: Yup. 73. Was my cheap, just-outta-school ride. Figured I’d drive it till it gave out.


Employee: That’s the thing about them oldies. Until they rust apart they don’t really go.


He holds up a finger.


Employee: It’s the old sayin’--a Chevy will run badly longer than most cars’ll run at all.


Cort: Haha, yeah, ain’t that right. Old American iron. Don’t make it like them anymore.


The cashier tilts his head.


Employee: ‘Course now they make em with airbags.


Cort: True, true.


Cort’s eyes slide over to the pepperoni sticks. Not slim jims. Because those are disgusting and slimy and thin, like the meth addict version of a meat snack. Nah. He picks one out and places it down on the desk too.


Cort: Ah, hell. It’s been a shit week. Gimme a doughnut too.


Employee: Well, what happened?


Cort: Just my job. One of those times where you wonder if you’re really cut out for what you’re doin’ to get paid, y’know?


Employee: Boss bein’ a hassle?


Cort: Nope. All me. Just tired and old and… grumpy.


Employee: Well, I’d love to retire. But ya don’t exactly rake in cash at the gas pumps.


Cort: So the buck fifty markup on the doughnut’s all goin’ to the owner huh?


The cashier laughs.


Employee: Yup! Speakin’ of… that’ll be sixty-three fifty, with the gas.


Cort shakes his head.


Cort: Y’know, I don’t hurt for money the way some people do, but you almost gotta be rich to survive these days.


He looks down, and his eye catches the scratch tickets. The camera follows, passing over lazy clipart leprechauns and desperate slogans. His eyes land on one… Bill Billiamson’s COWBOY BILLIONS! The golden ticket is presented by what is basically Boss Hogg, arms stretched wide to sell the idea that ANYONE could strike it rich like an oil baron by buying a ticket!


Cort: Eh, why not.


Cort adds the ticket to the bill and pays, bidding goodbye to the front desk jockey. He steps out into the night, breathing in the combo of clean night air, petrol, rubber, and concrete that permeate the urban sprawl. The camera sits behind him as he stares out at the city, eating his pepperoni stick.


Cort: Home, huh.

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