Mr. Marks’ Christmas Dose

“Christmas? No, we’re not open on Christmas.” Adam turned away from the counter, trying to look distracted by a display of button batteries.

“Well, I don’t like that at all. What if I miscalculate my pill supply? What if I drop them in the toilet? I did that once.” Mr. Marks unloaded his basket—One-A-Day vitamins, a ten-pack of toothbrushes, and a mistletoe globe made of plastic holly leaves. “And I have a prescription to pick up, Marks, M-A-R-K-S.” Adam knew the name well; Mr. Marks was a regular for more than ten years.

riteAs the store’s head pharmacist for almost three decades, Adam’s impression of his customers was forged through brief, yet intimate, monthly encounters. He knew their medical histories, their moods, their mundane toiletry needs, and even their financial concerns. He watched children grow into adults. He watched adults grow old. And eventually, he noticed when his customers never returned.

Like the majority of Adam’s regulars, Mr. Marks suffered from mental illness. He took a high dose of Prozac, an anti-depressant; and a moderate dose of Risperidone, an anti-psychotic—primarily used (but not exclusively) to treat schizophrenia. Adam didn’t think Mr. Marks was schizophrenic, he thought he was a pain in the ass.

In their first encounter, all those years ago, Mr. Marks berated Adam for not having his prescription ready on time. Adam politely apologized, but a foul relationship lingered for months and months, maybe years. This was before the Prozac. And long before the Risperidone. Mr. Marks had mellowed. He was now a friendly, albeit high strung, customer.

Adam felt a prideful sense of professional accomplishment from Mr. Marks’ improvement. “Mr. Marks, why don’t you set aside your Christmas dose now, so you’ll be sure to have it while we’re closed.”

This post falls in my”Almost Fiction” category. It is a mildly fictionalized retelling of actual events.

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