Pump Number One, A Short Story
James L. Bogan slid his debit card through the slot, punched in his PIN number, chose his grade of gas and set the trigger on the handle to fill the tank on his well worn Honda. Then he glanced around the lot at other cars, other drivers, and finally into the convenience store itself. When he saw nothing of interest, his eyes found the digital display on the pump.
"Thanks for buying your gas at Patel's Exxon today!" the readout proclaimed.
"Cheapest gas in town," Bogan thought.
"That's true, Jimmy," The line slid magically across the display.
Bogan stared at the display. His debit card was in his proper name, only his friends called him Jimmy. He shook his head, then looked back at the display.
"Free car wash with fill up. Get your 2 liter Coke for $1.09 today only!"
"How about a little help with the lottery, old buddy." Bogan thought.
"Buy the one after the blonde, Jimmy." Bogan rubbed his eyes as the display ran to the end of the screen and disappeared. He looked around, saw no blonde and shrugged. The pump clicked off and he headed inside for a cup of coffee. No blonde in there either. Bogan went to the restroom and forgot about the strange message until he realized he was behind a blonde at the cash register.
She bought a lottery ticket. Bogan had never bought one in his life - but today he did.
The next week, Bogan pulled up to pump # 1 again, this time in the new red convertible Mustang he bought with most of his lottery winnings. Again he swiped his debit card, but this time he punched the button for 92 octane. The Shelby liked the good stuff.
"If I just had a girl to share this ride with....." Bogan thought.
"Say hello to Sally in the Jeep, Jimmy," The display read and Bogan searched the lot. No Sally, no Jeep. Bogan sighed and topped off his tank. Just as he shoved the car into first, a military Jeep pulled up and striking brunette from the National Guard got out.
It was a night he would not forget.
Two weeks later, Bogan had to wait behind a little old lady in a Thunderbird at pump # 1. When she finally returned to her car after leaving the pump blocked while she went in for a hot dog and lemonade, Bogan tooted his horn in agitation. She pulled away, but only after taking the time to give him a condescending look in her mirror.
"Free hot dog and lemonade with a fill up and your Patel Senior Bonus Card," proclaimed the display at the pump.
"Never mind that bullshit," thought Bogan. "I'm about ready for some more action and another lottery win. How about it, pump número UNO?"
"Come inside today for a peach slushy, any size $1.29 and free refills."
Bogan slapped the side of the pump hard enough that the biker one over turned to stare.
"Run, Jimmy," The display showed the two words and Bogan wondered why he was getting that message. He watched it cross the screen and then:
"RUN, JIMMY, RUN!" appeared and kept appearing in all caps.
"Why?" Bogan thought and even said it out loud.
"YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!"
Bogan looked to his left and saw the biker filling up his tank while stupidly smoking a cigarette. In his mind, Bogan saw the spark hit the gas tank, the flash, the deafening explosion!
He bolted, ran past that guy and his Harley, past a mother with three kids in her car at the next pump, past the guy putting gas in his Terminex truck. It never occurred to him to warn them as he ran clear of the parking lot and started across the highway.
The driver of the big rig didn't even have time to lift his foot off the gas. Half of his eighteen wheels crushed the life out of James L. Bogan.
The next morning Mr. Patel, owner of Patel's Exxon, called his service rep at Digital Pumps Inc.
"It just repeats the same message," Mr Patel said complaining about pump #1.
"The message about the slushy?"
"No, no,"Mr Patel responded. "It says Oops. Oops. Oops. ..... Like that."