Back to title page


Sometimes, at times like this, taking the whole family out for the monthly shopping trip, United States Air Force Captain Brian ( Big Green) Forrester reflected that what he was doing now seemed very reminiscent to what the pioneers did when they settled this area of the west almost 150 years ago. 

Like in movies such as Shane, and TV shows like Little House on the Prairie. There, the father, like Michael Landon in Little House, would gather his whole family, his wife and three girls, and load them into the wagon for the long and arduous trip on the rocky roads to the town general store. In contrast, here he was, behind the wheel of his Chrysler Town and Country, heading south down Nevada State Highway 95 for a brief trip to the modern equivalent of the general store, the massive Costco on Decatur Avenue in North Las Vegas. 

His family, Carilyn, wife of 16 years, 12-year-old daughter Lilly, and eight-year-old son Ethan Allen, were with him, all, as mandated by Nevada state law, firmly strapped and buckled into their car seats. Forrester had no idea how those old fashioned families passed the time on their much longer shopping trips than these. From the house on Fisher it may take 30 if the lights and traffic were breaking against them, 20 minutes, from the soccer fields on Alliante, if Lilly's team drew the early kick and they were through by the time the sun was just peeking over the towers of the strip, they might make it in ten. 

Still, his modern family was not just going to sit quietly and observe the parade of American franchised commerce, Best Buy, Vons, Papa Murphy, Chili's. Carilyn was listening to an MP3 of her supervisor's comments on her monthly report, Lilly was watching a DVD in the backseat player, EA was playing his Gameboy. 

Even at this hour, the only parking space for the big rigs was up at the gas pumps near West Rome, so Brian dropped his brood off, parked, met them under the canopy. They were waiting for him outside the entrance; they couldn't get in without presenting their Costco membership card, which was in his name. While waiting, Carilyn was furiously rubbing the handle and other "touch" areas of the massive shopping wagon with one of the free disposable disinfectant cloths. 

"Didn't you hear that somebody here got tuberculosis?", Carilyn said. "You can't be too careful." 

Pat Kass, the retired social studies teacher who had to go back to work after she outlived her savings at age 77, perfunctorily waved the Forrester's through with barely a glance at the card. A few meters inside, they came on the first of the sample stations, a young, portly Mexican girl, in full hairnet, total body glistening clean white apron with white stretch booties, and thick, light blue anti-germicidal latex gloves. 

"Care for a mini Chips Ahoy? Only $7.99 for a four pound box, each pound individually wrapped and sealed?" 

Carilyn took one from the disposable dish the girl had poured the cookies in. "Very nice," then motioned her family to continue walking into the store 

The cart filled up quickly, a five kilogram bag of ground beef, eight Angus T bones, five one-kilogram blocks of Velveeta, five kilograms of chicken breasts, six one-kilogram cans of tuna, 10 kilograms of rice. Forrester and EA took samples of rib eye from Dom Mattuchio, who Forrester knew was in his first job since losing his construction business last year; all four took pizza samples from Rose McGuiness, the RIFed assistant audio-visual tech who used to handle the Lightbox in Lilly's school. Departing the food section, there were four cans of Lysol wrapped into a single register item, two 48 roll, almost sofa-size, packages of bath tissue, and then they were in electronics. Lilly begged her parents for the new Jonas Brothers CD, and although he knew that Carilyn disapproved, he put it in the wagon - after all, she just aced her AP calculus class. EA saw this, knew there might be fertile ground here for another kill. 

"Look, Dad, the new Call of Duty," referring to the video game series developed by Activision. "It's the one with all the new bombs and stuff. Can I get it, please, please oh please?" 

Carilyn brusquely took the game from her son's hand and put it back on the display rack. "Now Ethan, you know that your father said you couldn't have that before Christmas unless your grades improved." She gazed back up at Brian, seeking parental reinforcement. 

But Forrester was momentarily pre-occupied, going over the depiction of a Hellfire missile fired from a Central Intelligence Agency Predator drone slamming into a posse of swarthy Chechen terrorists. 


"Listen to your mother. Not until your grades improve."