Skip to content
Image for Dollar Store

Dollar Store

Carl ‘Papa’ Palmer | Cait Maloney

“Think! Hurry! Concentrate! Something’s got to be here that will save me! Where? What? I need to act NOW!”

It couldn’t have been but 15 or 20 minutes ago when I left my motel over by those apartments down the street. I’d been driving most straight through on I-5, up from Travis Air Force Base in California on my way to Whidbey Island in Washington. I needed to stop and the motel sign at 84th ended me here on South Tacoma Way. It looked like a quiet place, a few apartment complexes with a small strip mall on the corner. I got myself a room, downed the last couple of beers from my cooler and crashed hard around 4 or 4:30 this afternoon.

I woke up needing to find myself a cigarette something bad. It was just getting dark, 8PM or so and I could see a light at the corner store, a green neon sign, Dollar Store.

Just out the door I view some kids playing monster or something. They have on makeup, fake blood and acting like zombies or vampires or ghosts or whatever. Then I observe more, not just kids, but grownups all dressed up like the kids, acting like they’re killing each other and sucking their victim’s blood with those silly, yet real looking fangs. I start walking just a bit faster, avoiding contact, above all, not wanting to get involved.

“What is this, some kind of movie shoot, a play or production of sorts? Halloween? What’s today’s date? That must be it, Halloween!”

I begin walking even faster, hurrying toward the green Dollar Store sign. I hear screams then, too, as I sprint into the store where I see more of the same.

I watch a woman frantically grabbing a silver-tone crucifix from the cellophane packets hanging on the All for One Dollar jewelry board. She’s holding it toward her attackers, as the cross turns black and melts into her hand rather than having any effect on the would be Dracula vampire.

“Is this real? Can this all be happening?
Think! Concentrate! What can I do?”

Next I watch the remains of that man in the aisle over there, once dead, now rising. I saw him killed as he was smashing the _Only One Dollar _ 8X10 genuine walnut looking plastic picture frame to obtain a wooden stake for a thrust to the heart.

“I’m blanked out! What’ll work? Where’s the answer?
What can I do? Help me!”

Now they’re coming towards me!

“Focus! Hurry! There must be something in here that’ll work!”

“Yes! That’ll save me! The spice section!”

Reduced Special - 3 for One Dollar, Garlic Salt

“That’s it! Now I recall! Garlic will ward them off! Yes! I’m redeemed!

“No!! Not this! Artificial Flavoring!”

My last thought…Dollar Store probably doesn’t even sell cigarettes.

About Carl ‘Papa’ Palmer

Carl "Papa" Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA. He has a 2015 contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Seattle. Carl is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever. Find him on

Visit the author's page >

No ads, more features

If you enjoy The Story Shack, will you support my work with a small tip?

PayPal, credit card and many local payment options accepted.

Supporters unlock instant benefits

  • No more ads
  • Full access to all the apps
  • DRM-free artwork
  • Dark mode and other themes
  • ...and more to come!

See more details on my Ko-fi page.

Is your browser blocking ads? Then this is an awesome way to still support with hosting and further development!

Thank you!
- Martin

Something went wrong! You may need to update the web application.