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Big Jim, the Mormon, and Hitler's Grandson by Quincey Burkhalter
published in Volume 6, Issue 2 on June 1st, 1999

Hitler’s Grandson is Alive and Living in Denver." That was the headline on the latest edition of the tabloid I stole after spending my last dollar and eighty-five cents in change on cigarettes. I didn’t believe it either. I just put the magazine inside my coat so I would have something to read while I was taking a shit. I had no idea at the time that what I read in the bathroom would soon be parallel to my life. But it’s all true.

Pressure was coming from every direction at the time. My mother would call me at night and leave messages during the day. My batty girlfriend would threaten to leave me. They both asked the same damn thing every time. ‘Have you found a job yet?’ Then pressure came in from the other side. I had just spent my last dollar and eighty five cents in change and this was my last pack of cigarettes.

So, I sat there, sat in the crapper smoking away on the sweetest Marlboros I had ever tasted and thought about my options. I had avoided this from the beginning. This would tie me to home. My parents wouldn’t give me anymore money. I’m just their loser son. So, why go back to a family that didn’t care for their son? I forced the last option I had out of my mind.

I pulled the tabloid out from underneath my jacket. "Hitler’s Grandson is Alive and Living in Denver," it said. I sucked in hard on the third cigarette from the pack. I wasn’t really counting, but I figure it was the third, because I had only wiped once. There was a picture of a young man with his arm around a pretty girl. I couldn’t tell if the man was Hitler. It looked kind of like him, but he didn’t have the distinctive little dictator grin; he didn’t look evil. He looked sort of happy. Under the picture it said, "Hitler and his ‘Secret Lover.’ She was Jewish! (1923)." Hitler had a secret Jewish lover prior to his dictatorship of Germany. His lover had been Jewish. Ah-Ha! I guess that gives a simple explanation as to why Hitler hated Jews. She dumped him like he was rancid meat.

And hey guess what? The plot thickens. Hitler’s lover was pregnant. And Hitler didn’t even suspect. The child was a boy and whether Hitler knew about him or not Hitler’s lover and his love child escaped the persecution of World War II. The kid grew up and even snagged some unsuspecting wife. It’s no wonder, his wife was American. They moved to Denver. Anyway, Hitler’s son and his wife were killed in a car accident ten years ago. And this is where it gets good. Their child survived and is "Alive and living in Denver."

Hitler’s grandson was going to the university. So, was I. He had been sighted going to criminal justice classes. That seemed right. I had always thought cops and dictators were only a step removed. And that’s what Hitler’s grandson planned to do. He planned on persecuting people who broke the speed limit. Especially if their last names were Lowenstein or Seinfeld or Rosencrantz like mine. Actually, I’m not even sure if Rosencrantz is a Jewish name, but my parents are Jewish. I looked at the baby picture of Hitler’s grandson. The caption read, "Now an employee of Big Jim’s convenience stores."

And it just so happens that Big Jim’s just happened to be my last option. My sister-in-law worked for the main office and had promised me a job if I ever wanted one. I was down to my last pack of cigarettes, so I took it. There were more than a few Big Jim’s in town. So when I got the job, I didn’t expect I would be working with you know who. I didn’t even believe that this person really existed. I’d read about him in a goddamn tabloid.

Who believes anything they read in a tabloid?


The guy that gave me the tour of Big Jim’s was a guy I like to call the Mormon. He was a burly, older, bald man with glasses. He had to have been my father’s age, so I instantly thought, What’s this guy doing working here? I soon found out.

"Don’t get me wrong, Ken," he said. "It ain’t like I like working at this place. This is the back room. What ya’ think, Kurt? Great hall of beer, huh." I looked around. There were posters of Big Jim, the owner, everywhere.

"Yeah," I said staring at the posters that lined the wall. It was like Big Jim was some sort of legendary rock star and this was his first ever live performance. "Arriving July eleventh, at a Big Jim’s near you," each identical poster said.

"Had two wives once," the Mormon said breaking me out of my trance.

"Married twice?"

"At the same time. Married to both at the same time. Grab that dolly. On my fourth marriage now. Got fourteen kids, that I’m counting, you know what I mean."

I started to look at the posters again. Big Jim looked like a caricature, a clay version of a real man.

"Two at the same time?" I said.

"Yup. Thought the first one was dead. So, I got married again. Then hidey-ho, wouldn’t you know it. First one shows up at my door."

"What happened?" I said, intrigued by his soap operatic life.

"Well, number one was better in the sack. So, I kept number two and screwed number one on the side. On number four now. I told you that. Grab the twelves of Red, White, and Blue. Don’t drink ‘em, just grab ‘em. I don’t drink no more. Quit."

When we finished the tour we returned to the cash registers up front. A new shift had come on. That’s when I saw him. You know what I mean by him don’t you? I mean him, Hitler’s Goddamn grandson. I didn’t trust him the moment I saw him. There was something about this average looking, mustached young guy that made my insides feel slimy, like warm mayonnaise. An almost poison tasting metal tinge came up on the back of my throat.

"Hi," he said. "Name’s Craig."

"I’m Kevin R-. . . Just Kevin." My voice shook. It never shook. What the hell’s wrong with me, I thought. This guy made me feel uneasy, unsteady, like my ankles had been replaced with roller bearings. That never happened to me.

"O.K. Kevin, just Kevin, you know how to work a register?"

I said nothing. I stood there frozen. I could feel the Mormon retreating behind me.

I couldn’t believe it. The Mormon had come in for the fifteen minute tour and now he was leaving me with this guy. He left me with this guy, this Craig guy, this guy that reminded me of a used car salesman and Momar Kadafi in the same breath. The Mormon was leaving and there was nothing I could do about it. I saw Craig wave. I turned to see the Mormon wave back as he was getting into the car with his wife. This guy, this Craig guy, just stood there with this smile on his face. I saw the Mormon’s car leaving the lot. The smile disappeared. I managed to speak.

"I know how to work the register," I said with a tongue that felt almost numb.

"Well, too fucking bad," he said. "You’re on beer duty tonight. It’s behind the cooler. And stock the single cans of soda too."

"I haven’t been back there," I said.

"I’ve been on the fucking tour. I know you’ve been back there. Big Jim’s gonna be here in a week. Do it and I’ll check it when you’re done."

He was right I had been back there and the Mormon had told me what I was supposed to do, but I hadn’t really been listening. I was more interested in the story about him being married to two women at once. Besides, the Mormon told me I would be on the register the first night. The Mormon managed the goddamn store, but this freak of nature assumed the position of God the minute he was alone with me. There was nothing I could do.

"Get started," he said. "They’re gonna start comin’ in sooner than you think."

"I was supposed to. . ."

"I don’t fucking care what you were supposed to do. It’s Saturday, it’s July the fucking third, and we don’t sell liquor on Sundays. If you think I’m gonna stock beer tonight you’re fuckin’ crazier than my grandpa. Now get your ass to the back."

The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I could feel my ears (What’d he mean crazier than his Grandfather) get hot a and my jaw clench. I stood there looking at him. I knew it had worked on people a lot tougher than Craig; so, I stared. I’d never had to be very big to be intimidating. I just had to prefect this stare. I didn’t move. He rang up three customers. I stood there. All three of the customers were college girls, only one of them good looking. He didn’t stand a chance with even the ugly ones. He said the same damn thing every time.

"Lookin’ hot tonight. Someone’s gonna get their fireworks early."

All three of the girls giggled and looked his way. I stood with my frozen glare fixed right at him until the third girl left.

This Craig guy turned around as the door shut. The third girl turned around to look at, I’m sure it wasn’t him, it had to be me. She looked right at me. I looked at Craig. Craig looked at me. My eyes watered and went blurry with anger.

"Did you see what they bought?" he asked.

I said nothing.

"They bought beer." He stopped to see if I would react. I stared. "Stock the fucking freezer," he said.

I felt myself backing off as another customer came through the door.

"Lookin’ hot tonight. Someone’s gonna get their fireworks early." I would have thrown up if I had to hear him say it one more time. The girl turned around.

"You’re kinda cute," she said as her dress threatened to get even smaller. She was staring right at me. She thought it was me who had used that terrible line. I stayed there, just hoping that this girl who looked like a cross between Rosanne Barr and Elvira wasn’t actually talking to me. She stared. She looked me up and down. She smiled with teeth the color of unhealthy urine. I went to the back to stock beer.

I jerked the cooler door open with what felt like anger, but was probably frustration. I slammed it behind me with the same emotion. There was a note on the inside of the door, over one of Big Jim’s posters.

1st Crew,
Don’t stock the beer. We got new blood coming in tonight.
Craig

I turned around. The cooler was empty. I hadn’t noticed it before. I’d been listening to the Mormon tell his story. The Mormon must have seen the note, I thought. He must have noticed the cooler was empty. The other six pack cans were in the back room; so, I went back there.

I hadn’t noticed before, but this whole back room was filled with alcohol. Cases upon cases were stacked at least twelve feet high. Who in their right mind would stack them this high, I thought. I would need a ladder or some rope to get to the first case.

Before attempting this miraculous feat. I decided to take a look around, get myself familiar with this back room. I might as well be familiar with it, I thought. I’m going to be back here all night and into the early morning. I walked slowly down the corridor, slowly down the Great Hall of Beer. God, I needed a drink.

I checked around for cameras. To my surprise there were none. But posters of Big Jim stared at me from every direction. He looked unreal, distorted, but his eyes followed me everywhere. There was not a place where he couldn’t see me. I looked closely at one of the posters trying to stare him down. He looked like a muppet, like one of the designs Jim Henson had thrown away. His mustache was a thick graying handlebar over a mouth that stood open in a hapless, Kermit the frog grin. His eyes stood out of there sockets like he had no lower eyelids. Hair sat on his head as if it was waiting for someone better to come along so it could escape. I checked again for cameras. Big Jim seemed to unreal to even exist, little alone to be watching me; so, I tore into a box that had Jim Beam written on the side in big red letters.

"Did you see that, Jim," I said.

I couldn’t believe it. There must have been twenty flasks in the box and there were three more boxes. I held one flask in my hand and put another one in my inside coat pocket behind a tabloid I had stolen a few days before. I had forgotten the tabloid was there.

I pulled it out as I took my first healthy drink of Jim. I felt warm as it hit my empty stomach. "Hitler’s grandson," I said laughing to myself and opening the magazine. I skimmed over a couple of articles, one about an alien abduction and the other about a werewolf that had killed two kids in Vermont. Then, I got to the Hitler article again. "I’ll be damned," I said out loud to myself. "His name is Craig." I thought about the dipshit, asshole up front and turned the page. It was him. It was Craig. There was no doubt about it, Craig’s photo was staring back at me. It was a computer generated photo of what Hitler’s grandson would look like at twenty two, the age he was now, taken from a picture of him when he was five. I dropped the bottle of Jim Beam as I was trying to take another drink. It shattered into a million pieces as it hit the floor. I held the picture in front of me.

"Hey!" I jumped forward nearly slipping on the alcohol I had spilt. "Hey asshole. We’re out of Milwaukee’s Best. Get your ass in gear." I turned around to face the voice. It was Craig standing right in front of me. I looked from Craig to the picture, the picture to Craig. I couldn’t move. "I gotta get back up front," he said. "Get your ass in gear." I stood immobile for quite some time, thinking of how he had probably seen my name on the time sheets. I’m not sure if my name’s Jewish or not. I couldn’t speak.

I didn’t see Craig the rest of the night. I worked like a mad man throwing twelve packs of Milwaukee’s Best and Red, White, and Blue beer to the front of the cooler. The twelve packs disappeared before I could turn around. I got the motion down. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. After awhile it got easier, but it never slowed down. By the time midnight rolled around I had worked for twelve hours straight. I hated this Craig guy with a unholy vengeance. I prayed a silent prayer. I don’t believe in God but I prayed silently. I prayed that this Craig guy was Hitler’s grandson and that I could prove it and sell that bastard down the river.


Three days later I had gotten used to the cooler and started to like the hard work and free Jim Beam. I worked every night with Craig. When I did, it was me in the cooler and him up front using the same damn line on every girl that came in. I tried to talk to Craig when I could, tried to get a clue, some sort of incriminating evidence. I asked him how old he was. He wouldn’t tell me. I asked where his last name, Brown, came from. He said, ‘Charlie Brown.’ I asked what he’d meant by ‘meaner than my grandfather.’ He said he didn’t have a grandfather. No question phased him. He was made of stone.

Finally one night he just said it without me even prompting.

"Hey, Rosencrantz," he said. "Is that name Jewish?"

I turned around. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I could feel my head bob involuntarily up and down. "What’s your point?" I said trying to appear confident.

"I was just wondering," he said. "Do you have a girlfriend?"

"I’ve been dating someone for awhile, off and on," I said nothing knowing it had been a little more serious than that. "What’s your fucking point?" I said.

His face looked puzzled, but I knew it was fake. "Just trying to make polite conversation," he said. This guy hadn’t had polite conversation once in his lifetime. I just know that his first word as a baby wasn’t Mama or Dada. It was probably. . . I don’t know. Maybe it was stab or shoot. Gas, gas was his first word. It had to be gas. Stabbing and shooting were just too humane. I gathered my composure.

"I’m going to the cooler," I said. I knew it was completely stocked, because no one had been in the store in over three hours.

"No you’re not," he said without raising his voice. The hair on the back of my neck stood up again. "You know how to use a microwave?" he asked.

"What the hell do you mean by that?" I said thinking of the ovens at Auschwitz and of the pictures of my grandfather after he had come home from there, frail and brittle with sunken cheeks.

"I mean," Craig said with an obviously misleading tone. "I mean, I brought us dinner. If you’ll run to the break room and zap it in the microwave, you can have half."

"I’ll zap it," I said, "but I don’t want any. I mean, who the hell do you think you’re dealing with anyway?" I may have been half lit up on Jim Beam at the time, but I wasn’t stupid.

"You’re fucked in head," he said as I took his four burritos to the microwave.

The food smelled good. It was supposed to. If it didn’t smell good, then I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t think he was trying to poison me or anything stupid like that. Craig was to damn smart to try that trick. He needed me. He needed an army. His idea was that I would get hungry and sit down to eat with him. A comradary would form and we would become friends. He’d ask me things about my life. I’d tell him. He’d use my childhood memories to manipulate me, like Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. He’d drill ideas into my head, brainwash me. After awhile I would think like him. I’d walk like him. I’d talk his lingo, "Hey baby, lookin’ hot. Somebody’s gonna get their fireworks early," Most of all, I would hate myself for what I am, a Jew. I would believe that what his grandfather did was right. I would believe that my relatives suffered, some even died, for a cause that was just. I wasn’t going to eat his damn burritos no matter how good it smelled.

In my mind, those damn burritos were proof enough. This guy, this Craig guy, was spawn of the devil, spawn of the Antichrist, Hitler’s Goddamn grandson. My scalp burned with a heat that came from inside. I say, it was the heat of knowledge. I held my hands in front of my face and saw them shake. I forcibly calmed myself down by looking at the poster’s of Big Jim that covered the wall. I took a long drink of the bottle that hid in my inside coat pocket and breathed deeply. "I can’t let him know that I know," I said out loud to myself. Besides, I knew that if I wanted to prove anything I needed evidence. Nobody had been here when he gave me the burrito’s. They wouldn’t believe it. Finally I felt my face get warm and numb from the alcohol. I was calm. I walked out with the burrito’s. They smelled damn good.


The next day I came into store an hour and thirty minutes late. That was the day I found out why they called the street I worked on Canal Street. There was a canal along the street, a canal that I soon was to become very intimate with.

I had ridden my bike clear across town to my girlfriend’s house. She lived just off of Canal Street about ten miles down from Big Jim’s. I gave myself plenty of time to get to work. It usually took me about thirty minutes to get to there this way so I left an hour early. It was unusually hot for Denver and humid beyond belief. I enjoyed this type of weather. This was probably the only reason I loved working at Big Jim’s. I could show up to work drenched in sweat with my lucky bandana wrapped around my head and no one would care.

I had been riding along congested Canal street weaving in and out of traffic. I ran lights. Cars honked. I gave them the bird. "Hit me," I yelled, "I’ll sue your ass." I didn’t really give a damn what the people in the cars thought. None of them could do what I was doing. They weren’t in the shape. They sat in their cars eating donuts one after another, putting on their Goddamn makeup, and singing badly along with their five thousand dollar stereo systems. I passed right by them on a beat up old ten speed I had bought from some guy who used to run triathalons. I was stronger than any of them. Smarter than any of them. And on Canal street, I was faster than any on them.

Of course it couldn’t always be that way. Some asshole always had to prove me wrong. This time it was a guy in a ‘79 Bronco. The Bronco was high off the ground, raised up so the guy in it would feel superior to the rest of the human race. It was exactly the kind of testosterone machine I could see Craig driving. The first time I noticed this guy behind me he was trying to push a red Geo out of the way. He managed to do it with a few revvings of the engine and a slight push from behind. The car moved over to the shoulder. I looked back to see the Geo driver, it was a girl, flip him off. That was exactly what I would have done.

Then he got behind two seventies gas guzzlers. These guys weren’t going to let him through no matter how much he pushed. So, Mister Ejaculation On Wheels started swerving wildly back and forth. I could hear his wheels squealing, smell the rubber burning on the pavement. The Bronco wasn’t going to get past the LTD and the New Yorker, they wouldn’t let him. And I wasn’t going to move. I owned the fucking road.

Then the old man in the hat that was driving the LTD made a right turn. I never have trusted old men in hats. That was just enough opportunity for Mr. my engine’s louder than your so get the fuck outta my way to get around.

That was when I noticed. I looked back to see his face. I could see the fire of hate burning in him, a vein pulsing wildly on his forehead. His black hair was neatly combed to the left and plastered to his head. Blue eyes glared madly from underneath savagely distraught eyebrows. That evil dictator grin flashed brilliantly under a square patch of hair. His eyes burned with rage.

I started quickly for the left lane since he was in the right and there wasn’t much of a shoulder. That was a big mistake. I felt like my feet were going to fly off the pedals even with the toe clips on. He came closer. I could see the fury in his eyes. A human life was of no consequence to him. I could tell he knew I was Jewish and hated me for it, just like he had hated my grandfather. It felt like my tires weren’t even touching the pavement. I looked back again.

The evil he possessed was strong. His lips were pursed tightly together. He ground his teeth in fury. But above all he seemed to be enjoying himself.

The Bronco roared and pulled up close. I could see the grill, bugs smashed in the radiator, the chrome bumper reflecting the image of my back tire. My legs were on fire. I turned to see a curb. Without thinking I managed to pull my front wheel high enough to get over the curb. I felt a hard jolt and heard my back tire pop. I could see the canal coming toward me. I jumped off of the bike and landed in a crazy forward momentum on the gravel of the street. The bike landed in the canal

Dazed and angry, I looked up for the Bronco. The street was empty. There wasn’t a person or a car sight.


I was bloody, sore, and soaked to the bone. I had wrecked my bike on the way to work and in the process of trying to save the bike, fallen in the canal. I had walked three miles and come very near to hypothermia. I walked in the front door of Big Jim’s Gas and More. The Mormon was behind the register.

"Calvin, you’re here," he said. "Clock in and get on the register. Craig’s in the cooler."

I wanted to say, I’m bleeding. I’m soaked to the bone. I was almost killed by some asshole in a ‘79 Bronco. I can barely walk. Look at my ankle. It’s swollen. Instead, I limped behind the counter, dumbfounded, and put my smock on. When I walked up to the register the Mormon calmly stepped aside.

There was a line of people all the way to the back of the store. The Mormon moved to the other register. I stood there looking down at this conglomeration of keys and slowly started punching them. I asked for an I.D. from the guy behind the counter and slowly punched some more keys. "Is that all?" I said. The guy said it was. "Fifteen forty-two," I said. That’s when the shit hit the fan. The customer said I had over charged him. I explained that this was a convenience store and things cost a little more here. He started yelling for the manager.

"Can I help you, sir?" the Mormon calmly said.

"This jerk doesn’t know how to work a fucking register! It took him two days to ring up my order. Then, he over charged me."

The Mormon calmly looked over the ticket and rerang it. Craig walked behind us and started to ring out the customers on the other register. The guy was satisfied with what the Mormon came up with and left.

"Craig, hold down the fort," the Mormon said. "Calvin, can I talk to you." I followed him to the break room. "Clint," he said. "We need to talk about how you run the register."

I wanted to say, that was my first time. You just witnessed my first time. But I had been employed here nearly a month. The Mormon wouldn’t believe me if I said I had never worked the register. I told him when he hired me that I had worked a register just like this at my last job. My last job was as a janitor.

"You’ve come up short three times so far on your shift."

"It was Hit-. . . It was Craig," I said knowing I couldn’t reveal the truth yet. I wanted to say, I’ve been in the cooler. Craig hasn’t let me work up front. Instead, I said, "I’m dyslexic."

"You are? Hey, that’s a relief. Why didn’t you tell us before?"

I hadn’t needed the excuse until now, I thought. "I hoped it wouldn’t get in the way," I said.

"Tell you what," he said. "Why don’t you work the cooler tonight and let Craig watch the front for a change. I’ll help you." He told Craig what was going on and we walked to the back. I kept up with the Mormon who was always in fast-forward mode. Then I remembered my ankle. I started limping.

"Ain’t got long you know," the Mormon said as he opened the door to the cooler.

"‘Til what?" I said.

"The big guy," he said. "Gotta hidey-ho, buster."

"What?"

"The big guy, you know, Big Joe."

"The owner?"

"Yup, you got it, the owner, the big cheese. So, gotta hidey-ho. No questions. That’s why I brought you back here, Kyle."

"Kevin."

"Huh?"

"Nothing."

"You see Chris."

"Kevin."

"What?"

"Nothing."

"O.K., the big banana’s gonna be here. Gotta hidey-ho. Cooler’s not gonna get up to specks on it’s own. That’s why I brought you back here. You’re a hard worker, Curtis."

The only thing I can figure, is that The Mormon got to close to the Agent Orange when he was in Nam. He started to do the thing I had learned the first day. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. I followed suit. There was absolutely no reason to be going at this crazy pace the cooler was about half filled. It was Wednesday and the only reason it was down to half was that the first shift had not touched the cooler since last night. I could tell. I had put tape on the top of the Red, White, and Blue beer all the way to the bottom. They would have had to cut the tape to move any of the twelve packs. The tape was intact. All of this would take a couple of hours to fill, even with customers coming in. With the Mormon back here with me we would be finished in less than thirty minutes and I would have to go back up front with you know who.

"Two days," he said. "Yup, gotta hidey-ho. Big Joe’s gonna be here in two days."

"Jim."

"Huh."

"Big Jim."

"Yeah, what about him?"

"His name’s Big Jim."

"I know. What’s your point?"

"Never mind."

"You know Calvin I feel sorry for you."

"Why’s that?" I said.

"That Craig guy," said the Mormon. "He’s not the easiest guy to get along with."

I was quiet. Maybe the Mormon knows, I thought. I doubt it. He can’t even remember my name.


And it was two days right on the button when Big Jim showed up. It wasn’t unannounced in the least bit. There were little black and white posters of him everywhere. I couldn’t even find an empty space on any wall and I looked.

For a week we had worked our ass of for this man on the poster. None of us had ever even met him. We weren’t even sure if he had a last name. We worked like none of us had ever done before. We labeled. We straightened. We dusted. We cleaned. We stocked liquor. I hadn’t worked harder in my life, but it felt good as long as I was in the sanctity of the cooler.

On the day Big Jim arrived I was still trying to make order of the strange way the Mormon had organized the cooler.

Big Jim came in with no pomp and circumstance, no trumpets blaring, not even riding a big white horse. The poster’s had all been taken down before his arrival and it seemed as if no one cared. He came in unnoticed. At least I assume he was unnoticed.

"Hey son!" he said in a voice that nearly knocked me over. I jumped, nearly dropping a twenty ounce Red, White, and Blue.

"Sorry, son. Didn’t mean to scare you. Big Jim here," he said. I could see his hair trying to escape.

I wanted to say, How are you sir. Nice to meet you. I’m Kevin Rosencrantz. Instead, I said, "Where’s the Mormon?"

"What, son?"

"The m-m-manager."

"Ooooh, him. Skipped him, didn’t bother. Store’s making a profit. Why should I bother the manager?" He looked around. I remembered the fresh bottle of Jim Beam I had just stolen and started to zip my jacket. "Tight ship you run here," he said. I tried to keep from screaming as the zipper on my jacket was stuck. The whole reason I was back here was so I wouldn’t have to meet him. "How you keep from goin’ batty back here," he said. I reached in my pocket trying to shove the bottle back further so he wouldn’t see it. "Oh, I see," he said looking directly at my hand. I knew I was caught for sure. "Can I have a swig?" he asked.

I pulled it out, still unsure of what he was doing. "Here," I said handing it to him.

"Used to do the same damn thing," Big Jim said as he took a long drink. "Had one of them just about every couple of days. Only way to keep sane, when your working with a potential dictator."

I had heard it, but couldn’t believe my ears. "Potential dictator?" I said as if I knew nothing about it.

"Yeah boy," he said laughing and patting back his escaping hair. "You probably don’t read those stinking rags. This tabloid keeps on printing these articles about how Hitler’s grandson has been workin’ in my store."

"Really sir. That’s fascinating."

He laughed again, this time harder. "Yup. And I’ll be damned if that boy up front don’t look just like the Goddamn picture."

My hair stood on end. The beer bottles were breathing. I can’t tell him, I thought. He doesn’t really believe. Then the words came out of my mouth. "You gonna give my Jim Beam back sir."

"Oh yeah," he said and handed me back the bottle after he had carefully screwed the lid back on.

As Big Jim left the store I watched the guys up front, the Mormon and Hitler’s grandson, stare at the counter. "Have a good day," they said in unison as the bell rang announcing Big Jim’s departure.

I pulled the tabloid out of my jacket pocket and looked again at the picture. I stared through the beer bottles at Craig standing up front. He looked mean and strangely pathetic. Big Jim had not really believed Craig was ‘you know who’s’ grandson. I looked down at the picture. I felt strangely hot and more than a little stupid. A girl came in the front door.

"Lookin’ hot," Craig said. "I’ll have a burger and fries with that shake."

I took a slow drink of Jim and thought about some way I could possibly get out of this job. Craig could stay here and plot to take over the world or maybe he would just stay here and insult women. I guessed he would do the latter. Craig and the Mormon looked funny. They seemed almost cartoonish through the brown glass of the beer bottles.

"Gotta hidey-ho," the Mormon said, sounding like Deputy Dog. "Big Jake’s gonna be here any second. Look busy."

"Sounds good," said Craig in a completely nondictorial way. He quickly grabbed a mop and bucket and headed for the floor. "Gonna mop first," he said, "then I’ll take out the trash."

"Do it quick," the Mormon said. "No time to doddle."

Craig looked oddly human, oddly normal. "Hidey-ho," he said. I looked away from the front of the store and down to the tabloid. "Hitler’s Grandson is Alive and Living in Denver," it said. I slowly tore the tabloid into small pieces and threw it into the trash can, into the trash can on top of at least a hundred posters of Big Jim.

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