The Tale of the Grocery Store Slasher

Want to hear a scary story?

Earlier in the summer the parking lot of my favorite grocery store became a crime scene.

On June 5th, 2015, at 1:30 am, a woman was heading back to her car in the South Congress H-E-B grocery parking lot when a man attacked her, slashing her throat and taking her purse. The woman stumbled back to the grocery store, where a security guard found her. The security guard staunched the blood with his vest. Doctors say his attentions likely saved her life, and she has since recovered and left the hospital.

Edward Roy Bennett was charged with attempted capital murder the following month. When he was arrested, he suggested the police “put it out there to the public that they should just do what a robber says and give them what they want, so that it would save police from having to go looking for a dead body, and that instead we would be able to just get a report from a victim.”

I’ll do whatever I want, Eddy.

Ever since moving to Texas I have shopped at H-E-B, a San Antonio-based grocery chain found only in Texas and a few towns in Mexico. H-E-B, according to one madwoman on the internet, is known for its “impeccably stacked produce.” It also has a lot of goods made right here in Texas, which people seem to like. Especially these adorable Texas-shaped chips.

HEB Chips

In recent years H-E-B has expanded its brand to include a luxury grocery called Central Market. Central Market makes Whole Foods look like a hot dumpster.

At the time of his arrest Bennett was on parole. He had a considerable rap sheet – he stabbed and killed a man in Texas in the 1980s, and stabbed a correctional officer in the face in the 1990s. Upon his arrest, Bennett outlined his plans to stab one of the guards at the prison.

Police zeroed in on Bennett as a suspect in the stabbing after his parole officer raised concerns about his whereabouts and his keen interest in stabbing.

H-E-B is named for Howard Edward Butts, one of the original CEOs of the grocery store. His mother, Florence Butts, founded the grocery store chain in 1905. H-E-B has been around a long time, and knows how to get over some unpleasantness. Shortly after the stabbing, I noticed the storefront of the South Congress H-E-B looked even more cheerful than I remembered.

This new mural represents the beautiful tapestry of culture in south Austin. The women, the men, the olives, the half-dozens of eggs that selfish hipsters bring back to their empty apartments to eat, alone and unloved.There is a man talking on the phone in the 70s. “Broc-O-Mite, baby!” he exclaims, full of hope for the future.

Grocery_Mural

If you look even closer, you’ll notice a stark portrayal of the dark side of Austin culture.

His dead eyes glower at his captor, a typical overconfident Austin woman, brimming with foody zeal.

Grocery_Mural2

He doesn’t WANT the apple, Eunice! He’ll switch to a plant-based diet when he’s good and ready, and not before!

I shop at this H-E-B because it is my favorite H-E-B, not because it is the closest H-E-B to my house. The one nearest to me is in an area of Austin that has yet to cater to uppity newcomers such as myself. My neighborhood has only just tipped the scale from Cool N’ Shitty to Laughably Unaffordable. The grocery store hasn’t quite caught up, and does not supply me with necessities like More Than One Type of Quinoa, and miracles of genetic engineering like plumcots, and plumogranate pluots.

(“What the hell is wrong with plums?” my dining companion asked. Not a thing, simple boy. Not a thing.)

I am a loyal South Congress H-E-B customer, throat slashers or no.

They make a point of pointing out which products were made with pride in the USA.

They correct themselves with a sharpie when they forgot.

Grocery_Fish

They alert me when the frozen bread section has become incredibly hazardous.

Frozen Bread Emergency

But I can’t say our relationship is totally free of betrayals.

Earlier in the summer we purchased this gimmicky salsa. Max picked it out because it was a good value, especially when you read the label and learn of the enormous salsa riches that are just beyond your grasp.

Grocery_HEBSalsa

“Try it again and again as many times as you need for inspiration, or find your own inspiration!”

Grocery_ExpLabel

Ahem. H-E-B. If you’re looking for a copywriter, you can usually find me in the ancient grains aisle.

This was my chance to prove myself. I cleansed my palette for hours, and then set out to redefine what it means to be a woman entering into a salsa-naming competition.

It tasted of tomatoes. It was not spicy, but a little bit sweet. A nearby snacker suggested it tasted like some carrots had snuck into the batch, but there was no suggestion of this on the ingredients list.

I typed furiously.

  1. Abuela’s Secret
  2. Abuela’s Promise
  3. Abuela’s Undoing
  4. American Red
  5. Mexico Sauce
  6. Baby’s First Salsa
  7. Choo-Choo, Tomatoes!
  8. Objectively Salsa
  9. Definitely Salsa
  10. Gazpacho

“Marketing Salsa,” Roommate Erin suggested.

My Google Doc spanned for miles. We were close, I could feel it.

Then Max looked a little closer at the label.

“The deadline for the competition was in April,” he announced. Several months prior to the date of purchase.

Amy W. from Round Rock had already won the competition. H-E-B had re-christened Name This Salsa with her hum-dinger, “That’s SALSAbout Texas!”

Amy. I like your energy. I like your ambition. But I need you to walk me through this, beat by beat.

Is it a pun? “That’s all about Texas”?

What is? WHAT is all about Texas, Amy?

You don’t need my approval, I get it. The people have spoken. The ghost of H.E. Butts has risen from the grave and given a grim but purposeful thumbs up.

That’s great, Amy. I’m happy for you. Spend that $5,000 however you want.

At least Edward Roy Bennett is safely imprisoned, with a $1 million dollar bail for his “ASALSA with a Deadly Weapon!” (Like I said, Butts. You know where to find me.)

 

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