Being a predator fitted Les better than being one of the herd. Not for him the shuffling along the aisles or the focus on nothing more distant than the nearest shelf. Les took in the entire supermarket with a sweeping glance without breaking his stride. His predator’s eye was caught by the sign for the meat, hanging above the shelfline, as his basket clanged against that of a man of the herd dithering between apples, pears and lemons.
It was a foolish man of the herd who didn’t see a predator coming in time to get out of the way. Les didn’t turn his head at the irritated ‘sorry’ that followed him. No predator had time to respond to passive aggression and a man so obviously of the herd would express very little that wasn’t passive.
Lucky for him. Les had bought a gym membership only this morning and already signed up to a kick-boxing class, which made him more prepared than any maverick who broke from the herd to challenge him would be.
Les reached the end of the fruit and vegetable aisle, executed a right-angle turn on his heel, changed direction without losing momentum like a cheetah chasing down a gazelle. Arrived in a corridor of meat, stacked on refrigerated shelves like an offering a herd might make to appease a predator.
Now all Les needed to decide what he wanted to sink his teeth into. Would it be beef like a lion that had ambushed a buffalo? Or mutton like a lone wolf that had run down a sheep?
Mutton, he decided. Everyone ate beef, which made eating it a herd behaviour even if it was a kind of meat.
There was only one mutton shoulder left, so he powered toward it through the trudging herd and their errant trolleys until his fingers closed on ice-cold shrink-wrap.
A slap stung his wrist.
He looked down and flinched as the fierce eyes of a woman who was already returning the hand that delivered the slap to the bar of the trolley. It looked as if leaning on it was all that was keeping her on her feet, but it was Les who dropped his gaze first.
“I saw that first, young man,” she said.
“Sorry,” mumbled Les.
He backed away, then turned and picked up his pace. He left the meat aisle at a fast and purposeful walk.
It wasn’t a run because predators don’t run away from little old ladies tottering around with trolleys that were too big for them. He’d simply changed his mind – a predator’s mind, after all, was his own so he is free to change it whenever he likes – and was now bearing down on a frozen pizza.