The Hi-Lo was a run-down, bare-bones concern with more fruit flies than customers. Anyone with a car went to the Purity Supreme a mile away. The Hi-Lo was where kids got sent by parents on orders to buy cartons of milk. If there was change, they fed the coins into the gumball and prize machines at the front of the store, the heaviest machinery they’d ever operated by themselves. Broke, they fiddled with the big, cold silver keys that worked the machines and hopefully lifted the metal doors over the chutes. They stole things: candy, the terrible toys in the terrible toy section, the school-supply kits with pygmy plastic rulers and pug–nosed scissors. They drank coffee milk in the parking lot, sitting on the concrete blocks at the ends of spaces.
Good writers should know that when they do things to their characters they are doing them to their readers at the same time. Heartbreak leaps of the page and down our throats. Losses are beamed across the short distance, and lodged like chalky mints. It’s the transitive property of well enunciated emotion. This is classified as a good hurt.