Beth the Bioterrorist – Alex Osman

        I was about 19 when I worked at Walmart with Beth the Bioterrorist. Beth was a 56 year-old woman who loved the smell of plastic fumes, and would go on walks by the warehouses and plastic shops near her house. She’d hop the fences and rummage through the dumpsters, picking out discarded and melted toys to wrap in newspaper, and give to her nieces and nephews as birthday gifts. By coincidence, one of the plastic shops was the one I worked at for a week, until I cut my hand making snow shovels.
        Beth and I worked in the apparel section of Walmart, and would share the vicodin and codeine I was buying from my friend Tommy, until he broke my arm in a fist fight after I got drunk and fucked his ex girlfriend on a trampoline on the 4th of July. Beth would pass out in the fitting rooms, and I’d have to cover for her, telling my manager she was in the bathroom or on her break. She had no filter, and would just walk up to couples with their babies and say, “That’s one ugly ass baby. Better luck next time!” I was the laugh track in her deranged sitcom.
        Her employment with Walmart ended after she screamed at a young boy to shut the hell up. He was having some sort of epileptic fit, staring straight ahead and singing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, and walking into clothing racks without a flinch. Her last words to our manager were “My love is a soufflé, and most of the time it just don’t turn out right. I just gotta try again, is all.”
        A week later, after she retrieved a pill bottle full of bedbugs from Tommy, she walked into Walmart and opened the bottle in the pocket of an XL black winter coat. She walked out like it was nothing.
        Not long after the incident, I found out Beth had died of an opioid overdose. When I went to her funeral, there must have been a mistake by the mortician, or her spirit’s true colors forcing their way out, because for the first time since I’d known her, she looked scared.
        I quit my job at Walmart two weeks after her funeral. The world just wasn’t the same without Beth the Bioterrorist.