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Tony Marks was struggling. The toothache had started just after lunch and he knew deep down it was the sort of pain that wasn’t going to go away easily. 

In fact it was becoming that particular sort of pain that made thinking and concentration difficult. And now he found himself in the snaking, irritated queue for the supermarket’s self service machines. He had been rejected by the human being, if you could call her that, at the express till for having one item too many in his basket. The packet of painkillers had been his downfall. Lesley (from her badge) had no hesitation in enforcing company policy but only after everything had been unloaded onto the counter. She seemed to enjoy kicking him when he was down, really enjoy it.

With two of the four machines out of service it was another five minutes before he started the process of scanning and bagging his items, every movement seemingly jarring his injured tooth. After a failed attempt to scan a microwavable meal for one, a member of staff brushed past him, snatched it out of his hand and with machine gun fingers cleared the messages on the screen. Tony Marks turned his head to say a sarcastic “thank you” when he saw something.

For a few seconds his brain didn’t register it, it was just a familiar form. He had always thought it inevitable that they would bump into each other at some point, but why were they here now? They didn’t appear to have anyone with them, which was something at least. He decided that if they didn’t look up, he would ignore them and pretend that he hadn’t seen them. Perhaps they had already made the same decision.

Eventually the heart took over. The adrenaline kick-started the endorphins and for the first time in hours he couldn’t feel his tooth.

ff - unexpected item in the bagging area: Text
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