I was strolling through Kroger trying to refill the refrigerator when I decided, for no apparent reason, to detour through the health foods section. Curiosity, I suppose. The prices and packaging available for organically grown breakfast cereal and pectin-sweetened oatmeal has always distantly amused me.

It seemed like the non-dairy dairy section had been growing lately, however. At least a dozen different companies were packaging and advertising soy milk, rice milk, vanilla flavored soy milk, chocolate flavored soy milk, original flavored soy milk, soy this, soy that, SOY! SOY! SOY!

I must have said that last part out loud, because a hoarse whisper entered my ear from behind me:

Soy makes you strong!

I spun my head, but saw only a shoulder of a dirty coat while the whisper reappeared by my other ear:

Strength crushes enemies!

I turned again, only to see the back of a tired, bedraggled homeless-looking man pushing a grocery cart which, against all logic, actually looked dirtier than he was. He moved away from me at a slow, but steady pace around the corner to the bread aisle. His cart never once squeaked, I noticed later. I stood up in a hurry, then had to lean against the shelf until the resulting head rush wore off. When my vision cleared, I walked quickly around the corner to see where the man was heading and what he had wanted... but he wasn't there.

I glanced down the next aisle, and the next, and the next. Not a sign of him. I turned to go back to my grocery cart, but stopped short when I saw it right in the middle of the aisle, blocking an irate shopper behind it. It had somehow followed me out of the health foods section. I looked over the side to make sure nothing had been taken out. Nothing had, but one blue box of Soy Dream had been added.


I heard in my ears again. I ignored it. Somehow I knew there would be no one behind me when I looked.

The irate shopper maneuvered around me. I picked up the new box and then, without really knowing why, carefully put it back in.

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