Innocence may be a commodity, but it’s easily emulatable. I get it in thin aluminum cans from the drugstore downtown, the kind that energy drinks come in. They’re kept behind the counter; innocence isn’t a controlled substance, but like condoms and suppositories, it’s kept out of reach to deter the easily embarrassed. Our society needs a moral compass, after all.
Me, I take pride in asking for a can. I keep my eyes languid and my tone casual, and I watch with a slightly widening smirk as the clerk’s smile fades to uncomfortability. I make no effort to hide it from the people in line. They’re all silent, watching me with individually tailored levels of outrage or disgust.
The clerk rings me up with thin lips, thanking me tonelessly for the purchase and handing me my plastic bag. As I leave, he wonders what kind of person would need to purchase innocence. He imagines what I’m trying to hide. He worries that this town isn’t safe with me in it. He wonders if I’m using it on a date with his daughter tonight.