When Ward was a child, he played with broken glass and bullet casings and some of the kids around there, like Barney Shampillow, Gorgon Zamboni, Francois Shoishois, Nightie Camisole, and Crustclover McLeprosychaun. He worked at a recycling center through high school, dating thousands of beautiful supermodels, and invented a cure for cancer that he accidentally sat on while driving to the mall one day. His parents had died after he got back from the mall. They just died. Died! I mean, they just, you know, died.
Ward later married his high school sweetheart, Fling Temporarily. They lived for a long time, and whether or not they had children is unimportant to this story. In fact, children are utterly unimportant entirely, because all they do is whine about their “needs” and how “hungry” and “thirsty” they are. Anyway, Fling died, thankfully, because she was kind of a shrew, and Ward returned to his bed-hopping newspaper-gathering ways for a few years. Then he died. Other stuff happened between Fling dying and Ward dying, but who cares about that stuff? Ward took a trip to the hospital trying to recycle a mother-daughter combo he had 10 years prior, when their husbands took exception to the arrangement and scared him by popping a balloon by his head, giving him a heart attack.
Ward went to Wal-Mart to fill the prescription for his heart medication. His first meeting in Wal-Mart was “The Greeter”. As a boy, Ward had often punched The Greeter in the balls while making it look like an accident. The Greeter had worn a cup to work for the last 15 years, and he remembered Ward from that time. The Greeter harbored no ill will towards Ward, because the presence of the cup had allowed his package to appear quite large to all the hot grandmothers coming in, and The Greeter had had more than his fair share of GILFs since wearing the cup.
The second person Ward met in Wal-Mart was “The Gym Teacher”, Ward’s high school phys ed instructor. The Gym Teacher had a near obsession with making sure the students took showers after class, threatening to fail them all. While they were showering, The Gym Teacher would disappear for several minutes and come back looking very relaxed. Ward hadn’t seen The Gym Teacher for about 10 years, except one vague impression he had seen on the news of some kind of trial. The Gym Teacher avoided Ward’s gaze, barely nodded, and scooted off down an aisle and out of sight.
Refusa is the third person Ward met. He knew her from the recycling plant. When Refusa was younger, like last week, her boyfriend tried to keep her young forever by biting her neck with the blood kiss of eternal life. However, he was not a vampire, and she beat the crap out of him, breaking ribs and fracturing his jaw in two places. While in the hospital, her boyfriend had been in the same hospital room with Ward’s parents before they died, where they had waited until all the nurses were on break and had group sex. That’s not important to the story, but isn’t it weird?
Ward’s fourth meeting was with Fling, his wife. Ward recalled their life together, horrible and bitter, nasty and intolerable, feathers, iron, bargain buildings, weights and pulleys, Leonard Bernstein, birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom. Fling asked Ward what the hell he was talking about, pointing out that those were mostly R.E.M. lyrics. Then Ward realized that it was R.E.M. that he hated, and he had mistakenly projected those feelings onto Fling all those years. He apologized, and Fling said that was okay, and punched Ward in the face. Fling taught Ward a lot about what a friggin idiot he was. Especially the part where he had thought she died, when she had actually gone on vacation, meaning he had unwittingly cheated on her thousands of times.
During the war in the Middle East, Ward was nowhere near it, because he was lighting a grill to cook out on. The igniter didn’t quite work properly, but Ward turned off the gas and held out one of those lit matches that are 10 inches long. You know, they come in a long box, and they are for lighting things on fire that are 10 inches away? Yeah, so anyway he lit the match and turned on the burner, but all the gas hadn’t quite cleared the area, and it exploded in a small fireball, not dangerous enough to burn him, but enough to burn all the hair off his arms and singe his eyebrows. The meat he was going to cook was from a cow, and other meat from that same cow was in the Wal-Mart that day. This happened just last week.
Anyway, the fifth person Ward met in Wal-Mart was “The Pharmacist”. The Pharmacist sold him the heart medication, but suddenly stopped him, telling him to hang on while she “checked on something.” It turns out, he didn’t have a heart condition, and hadn’t had a heart attack at all. The 37 prescriptions of Prilosec told The Pharmacist that it was far more likely that Ward had had heartburn, and his left arm had been tingling because she was the mother in the mother-daughter combo he had shagged a few years back, and she remembered sleeping on his left arm. He remembered her, and asked how her daughter was, and then asked if they wanted to get together and have some coffee, just talk, no strings attached, and she said she got off work at 6pm, and her daughter was over at the auto center getting an oil change and they could all meet up then.
Later that night, Ward floated away to his own heaven, his Dean Martin bachelor pad bedroom with heart shaped bed, swirling lights and torch songs, and of course, The Pharmacist and The Pharmacist’s Daughter.