It was a liquor store clerk who came face to face with death. This clerk had become used to his role as a pharmacist of sorts. He had no qualms with what he sold, the cure for shaky hands and hollow eyes. Alcohol, a kind of poison, sure, but wasn’t all medication? The understanding that he forced himself to make peace with was the understanding that he was only a tool of what would come to pass, that if he abandoned his post, another clerk would take his place. The end had already been written for the long-bearded man with the tattered backpack who walked in that day. His t-shirt, like a poorly wrapped shroud, hung off his neck but clung tight to his stomach. The means by which this end came to be was irrelevant, or so he had to believe. Death approached his till, muttering whittled salutations between long, laboured breaths. As he put down a bag of groceries—frozen pizza sticking out the top—a scent hit the clerk’s nostrils. It reminded him of a resort in Mexico he went to as a kid, the chlorinated water splashing onto clay tile which had been ground down by thousands of sandy feet over many years. He wondered how many breaths it took this man to get from his house to the grocery store to standing in front of him, still and yet breathing as heavily as a wounded fawn. He could picture his diaphragm, far beneath the many layers of fat, sputtering violently with every inhalation. It was when he noticed his mouth that he became aware of what he was looking at—the destroyer of worlds. The white of his tongue almost shone next to the black of his gums. In a short glance he could only pick out a couple of molars and a singular incisor beneath his upper lip. “Have a great day” stuck to the clerk’s tongue—along with the peanut butter sandwich he had for lunch.