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jvjim
22nd November 09, 03:35 AM
On the best day of my life, my father broke my nose. I was 15. I was innocent and beautiful. I was also a white trash, teenage dirtbag with a huge chip on my shoulder and a bullshit job at Winn Dixie. It was cold November, humid and sunny. A good day to get hit. We were in the side yard.

No one had ever hit me that hard, particularly after I’d hit them. And boy did I hit my father. It was a huge haymaker that he didn’t see. We were in it about his old green truck and my refusal to help him fix it. I remember what he said that made me throw the punch, “Then fuck you, you useless queer, go jack off in your room.” He was bent over the wheel well. I took a step and drew my arm back. I hit him. He stumbled a little. Much later, he’d tell me that made him proud. Then he hit me. He hit me and I felt white hot burning pain. I fell on my ass, crying. I hadn’t cried from pain since I was a little child. But I cried then, that’s all you can do when you’re a boy and you get hit like a man. I’ve been hit in the face many times before and since, but never like that. Never with articulated emotion and maturity. Never by someone who had lived long enough to understand hitting. The only thing that ever came close was when a professional fighter named Adrian Miles tagged me during a sparring match and shattered the top part of the bridge of my nose. I, and my nose, thank God Adrian wasn’t upset with me.

I told my mother I’d slipped while walking on the edge of the truck’s engine compartment and fell face first. It was the only time my father ever hit either of us. I actually had never seen him ever to that to anyone. He took me to the doctor that did his work physicals. The harried old quack was too busy with ladies with carpal tunnel syndrome and injured working men to ask how it happened. He just set it. After dinner, we went out back and I drank my first beer with my father, a Miller High Life. We didn’t say anything. Words were unnecessary, we had a struck a temporary truce in our Oedipal war. It didn’t last long, but I had learned a valuable lesson: when someone hits you, you have to hit them back. My father cauterized our relationship to teach me that lesson. He had to. It really did hurt him more than it hurt me. He lost a best friend that day. Looking back, I can’t think of anyone who was a better friend than my father.

But there were others that have come close, particularly those I had during adolescence. And none of them ever broke my nose. There was Puff and Russel and Patty and Chuck and Sheep and Puff’s older brother and Russel’s younger one. We were all white boys from lower middle class or working poor homes. We were all shitheads. We all loved each other in a way that would make women and wealthy men jealous if they deigned to understand the platonic bond of the beta male. Puff and I were especially close. We understood one another, as close as teenage boys can. We were losers, Puff affable, me reserved. We were poor. We were happy. All I had was Puff’s ragged, rattling Grand Am, a Magic card collection, and my virginity. The day my father broke my nose was the best day of my life because it was the catalyst that put me on my road to manhood. Each day of those following three years were close contenders too.

Now, my father taught me about finance and fishing and fixing cars, but it was Puff who taught me how to Counterspell at the end of opponent’s turn, it was Russel who taught me how to get the creepy old guy to buy you Natty Ice. It was these young men who taught me how to survive as the underdog. How to love being hungry for sex and wealth and respect.

And lord, was it a famine for us. I can’t count how many times a night would start with Puff picking me up from Winn Dixie to play cards and end with me nursing a bruised head and even sorer libido. Those times, playing cards on a folding table stained with Mountain Dew, drinking some stolen beer if we were lucky, coughing on smoke if some asshole decided to light up inside, they were the best, even if they were mostly girl free.

Even the ass whippings were great. And there were ass whippings, Jesus Christ. Of course, to be fair, none of this would have been near as bad if I had learned to keep my mouth shut. However, to the uninitiated, nothing is as satisfying as telling an asshole jock to choke on all four inches of your meat clever. Well, that’s not true. Landing a punch is MUCH better, it’s just a rarer delicacy when the deck is stacked against you. We were, after all, trashy nerds, and when the only law is a hook and a draw the guys on bottom have to live on the scraps. I guess it builds character, but all I remember now was how fun us versus them was. How good it was to be the righteous little assholes. Because ladies and cool guys, nothing feels better than giving an alpha male a bloody nose, even if it costs you ten of your own. It’s better than sex, and I miss it.

And I miss them. Puff, Russell, all of them. Some of their stories I know. Some are married and have children by now, some have drug problems, some are in prison, I think. They were all nerdy, oafish bad boys, and they all had the potential to be good men. For everyone that didn’t make it, there should be a beautiful woman weeping for them. Each of us has earned at least that I think. I think if I had to choose, a deathbed lay or a deathbed cry, I’d take the lay. But I’d settle for the cry. They would too.

I miss the dichotomy most of all though. The poor, weird faggots versus the well to do, asshole pricks. Good, I envy those boys playing that game now. Because they’ve yet to grow up and become men. And the rules are different when you’re a man. There’s no such thing as a good man or a bad man, just different shades of asshole. There’s no such thing as nerds and jocks and cool guys. You’re a tick on the balance sheet. Even in college, even when you’re still a dumbass shitbag kid, the glorious, painful crystallization of puberty starts to yield to dulling adultescence. The jungle boots get thrown in the closet, the Magic cards go on Ebay, and, saddest of all, pussy, that once angelic and hallowed ingot, gets taken off the pedestal.

You can never go home. I’d trade all my friends, my car, my degree, all the memories I’ve accumulated since leaving my father’s house to get to relive those three years over and over again. I wouldn’t bat an eye. And I have some pretty cool friends and an even cooler car. But I can never go home; all I can hope to do is have as good a right cross as my father. One day that is.

Steve
22nd November 09, 03:51 AM
Props man, you said it all.

socratic
22nd November 09, 03:59 AM
My childhood was uneventful.

I was never punched by anyone in the face.

I was/am a nerd.

I like where I am now much better.

bob
22nd November 09, 04:06 AM
True story jim or copypasta?

jvjim
22nd November 09, 04:08 AM
I have the nose to prove it.

bob
22nd November 09, 04:17 AM
Well played. I can almost forgive you the law stuff.

jvjim
22nd November 09, 04:18 AM
:)

socratic
22nd November 09, 04:18 AM
Jim could give Owen Wilson a run for his money in the 'fucked up schnoz' competition

Steve
22nd November 09, 04:27 AM
One day we'll have to meet up, Jim. Have a beer and compare scars (no, not in the ghey sense).

jvjim
22nd November 09, 04:29 AM
I'd like that.

socratic
22nd November 09, 04:37 AM
I suspect there's something Jim is hinting at about the quality of his life so far if having his nose broken by his father is considered the highlight.

jvjim
22nd November 09, 04:44 AM
:(

socratic
22nd November 09, 04:48 AM
:(Come here baby, Socratic will make it all better.



But only for some crack.

mrblackmagic
22nd November 09, 10:06 AM
Please tell me you intend to turn that into a book.

I could see the critics now:

It's like the narrator from Stand By Me started reading J.D. Salinger

A heartwarming coming of age tale

S.E. Hinton would fap to this.

Ajamil
22nd November 09, 03:38 PM
Do you write, jim? Bit longer and that's magazine publishable, or at least sendable.

bob
22nd November 09, 03:53 PM
I'm thinking Popular Mechanics.

ICY
22nd November 09, 04:31 PM
I had similar experiences, sort of, but while I fondly remember the fond memories, there was a lot of it that was just shit. Being a loser just sucks.

I'm much happier being less of a loser, and being a man. I have cool friends now, but I don't have a cool car, I never went to college, and I like my job but the pay is shit, so maybe I get to hang onto the dichotomy without being a loser faggot at the same time?

I look forward to the day when I have a better job and better stuff, and I know life will be better if I have those things. The difference will not be extreme, but things will be slightly better.

I do not and will never long for the days when I was poor or trashy or a loser. Those days sucked, and these days are mildly sucky but getting better.

Kein Haar
22nd November 09, 04:42 PM
Jim,

Pro-tip: Steve only has anal scarring to compare. So...brace yourself.

SuperGuido
22nd November 09, 04:47 PM
That read like a Hemingway short.

Bravo.

Cullion
22nd November 09, 05:26 PM
I was never punched by anyone in the face.


That explains a lot.

Cullion
22nd November 09, 05:27 PM
Jim, you have a gift for this.

socratic
22nd November 09, 06:46 PM
That explains a lot.I got punched in the chest once because I was apparently looking at a guy who didn't like being looked at.

jvjim
22nd November 09, 08:21 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I've committed myself to writing much more frequently, so if there's demand I'll post some of the shorter stuff up.

socratic
22nd November 09, 08:25 PM
I thought it was well done but could have done with some editing. I liked your metaphors.

Spade: The Real Snake
22nd November 09, 08:43 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I've committed myself to writing much more frequently, so if there's demand I'll post some of the shorter stuff up.

I would like to read it, please keep writing and posting.
But make sure you are writing what and how you would like and not attempting to appease any of us.

Hedley LaMarr
23rd November 09, 12:21 AM
I got punched in the chest once because I was apparently looking at a guy who didn't like being looked at.
Punched in the face is a lot different than punched in the chest. For starters, no one is looking at your chest (unless you are a woman, in which case that wasn't a punch...)

jvjim
23rd November 09, 12:37 AM
My nickname was Ponyboy btw. No of us had ever seen the movie, I was just really into ponies.

:)

socratic
23rd November 09, 02:12 AM
Punched in the face is a lot different than punched in the chest. For starters, no one is looking at your chest (unless you are a woman, in which case that wasn't a punch...)I realise. I've been smacked in the head a few times but no real face punches. Probably explains why I'm such a pinko. If I'd been smacked around by my dad I could be a real man.

Steve
23rd November 09, 06:02 AM
Being punched in the face for real by someone you don't know sucks hard, being punched by someone you do is a whole other ball park. I wish my dad had punched me in the face, but I only knew him enough for that when I was under 4 years old.

billy sol hurok
24th November 09, 08:16 AM
I look forward to the day when I have a better job and better stuff, and I know life will be better if I have those things. The difference will not be extreme, but the things will be slightly better.
Emendeded.

Like the man says: "Wherever you go, there you are." (http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:XzX8JhtwG_gJ:www.figmentfly.com/bb/popculture4.html+%22wherever+you+go+there+you+are)

@jvjim: Thank you, that was worth rereading.

Edited for some attribution. Lots.

SFGOON
24th November 09, 10:10 AM
That was a good story, but the face-punching bit would have been more exciting with an old-timey jalopy chase like in the prohibition days of yore.

Banjos and all. You might as well make you and your dad moonshiners too, or your dad a moonshiner and you the local sheriff's deputy. Except - here's the twist - the sheriff is a crooked Yankee carpetbagger!!!

Anyway, your teenage years sound better than mine. I didn't really have friends, and jocks left me alone because I made it known that I carried a syringe.

jvjim
25th November 09, 09:28 PM
http://www.explosm.net/comics/1867/

ICY
25th November 09, 11:05 PM
Billy, I meant that my emotional state will be better than it was previously, as well as the material things that I have.

Sun Wukong
25th November 09, 11:15 PM
Well, that's the first time domestic violence ever made me nostalgic. God damn it, that right there is a heavy trip.

resolve
29th November 09, 06:03 PM
Hmm, maybe I'll give writing one of these a try sometime.

jvjim
3rd February 10, 10:28 PM
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Horatio Williamson!

The secret to being a successful bag boy is putting the eggs on the bottom. If you put the eggs on the bottom, the bread doesn’t get all crumpled and the eggs don’t fall out of the bag and break. THAT, ladies and gentleman, is the worst fucking thing that can happen in a grocery store. Why? Because loaves of bread and cartons of eggs are the two most fragile things a person buys on a regular basis. That’s why people go apeshit when bread crumples or eggs break.

I have noticed something very peculiar during my tenure here however. People tend to be FAR more upset when their bread gets crumpled. This is mind boggling to me! Even if I jump up and down on your bread, as long as the bag doesn’t break you can still use it! If you’re eggs break, that’s it. Game over, insert four quarters and try again. Sure, if your bread’s crumbled to hell and back you can’t make sandwiches with it, but you could use it in meatloaf or make stuffing. Hell, you could just eat the fucking bread itself! Bread’s fucking delicious! Maybe, and I’m going to indulge myself with a little armchair sociology, maybe it’s because of the work involved in creating bread. I mean, there’s a fundamental difference between gathering eggs and baking bread. A certain level of abstract thought and experimentation, a level of humanity involved in bread that you don’t find with eggs. Any animal can sniff around until it finds a nest, but to go through the relatively convoluted process of milling and baking and leavening; that takes a certain genius.

There I am, Horatio Williams, the word’s sexiest bag boy, waxing philosophic when a customer pushes her cart down the lane next to me, breaking my chain of thought. She does this so I can put her bags in her cart. How helpful.

“Would you like some help out with this ma’am?” I say politely, secretly hoping that the answer will be a solemn “no.”

The answer is, of course, yes, and off I go. The lady, stubby, pale and gray, bought an entire week’s worth of groceries. I have to bend my back a little to get the cart moving, forcing my head down. I get to appreciate the red and white floor and black place mats. The linoleum carries just enough sheen to reflect a dull, dingy version of the ceiling above. I notice the dark stains and streaks that marr the floor. Some of those mother fuckers I’ve been trying to get up for over a year.

We move across the entrance, the automatic doors slide open just in time. I walk outside first, she follows. The cold air hits me and I stifle a shudder. “Lord, where’s your coat?” she asks, her concern genuine
I smile back at her, “I try not to put it on until night, when it gets really cold. If I put it on too early in the afternoon, I’ll get too hot and have to take it off. I’ll get sick if I go through that too many times.”

“Oh, I see,” she says. The real reason I can’t wear my coat, a sweet fucking brown, sheep skin bomber jacket, is because it’s emblazoned with sigil of my gym. The symbol features the Alabama flag represented with blood soaked bones as the red diagonal stripes, complete with a golden skull directly in the center. Above this, written in black kanji, or Japanese script, are the words “Alabama Oni-te Judo.” For the unitiated, that means: “Alabama Demon Hand Judo.” Badass, huh?

For some reason, the store manager won’t let me wear it around the customers. I don’t want to spend my money on a lame, normie jacket and my old man won’t let my mother buy one for me. He was pissed at her for buying me such a nice jacket and even more upset when I put the gym’s logo on it.

We get to her car, a late model Oldsmobile. It’s wide like her, but much, much prettier. She pops the trunk. I move the cart to the rear end of the car, reach under the cart and hoist her 100 lbs bag of dog food up in an Olympic Grip and slam it into the back. She must have a big fucking dog. By the time she’s moved her grandchildren’s school books out of the front seat, I’ve neatly arranged her groceries around her emergency preparedness kit and spare tire. Everything’s where it needs to be, everything except the eggs and the bread.

This is the part I hate. It’s time for the Ceremony of Authentication. She knows I know this diabolic ritual, but she takes glee in reminding me of its infernal rites. “Hold on one minute,” she says, “don’t put the eggs or the bread back there.” Her eyes are dark voids, her face expressionless.
I smile, swallowing disgust. She continues, “I want those up here in the front.” I bring them to her.

I place the bag down on the passenger seat as if it were some ancient Ashkenazi relic. She pushes me out of the way by slamming her considerable girth into my hip. She gently pulls the bread out of the bag, giving a brief grunt when she’s satisfied it is what it is supposed to be and, most importantly, is not crumpled.

Next, she inspects the eggs. She holds the blue carton eye high. She opens it. Her face contorts in a grimace of pain and recrimination. Her expression reminds me of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the head Nazi’s face melted off. Seeing it recreated in the dim light of a late October afternoon in South Alabama is eerie and unwelcomed. Her face is still horribly contorted when she says “One of the eggs is cracked.” Her voice is dark and soft, like stagnant water.

I peer over her shoulder. By God, she’s right. On the back row, three spaces from the left, sits an off white oval with a small but noticeable crack running north to south on the northern hemisphere. “Well ma’am,” I say, “we can certainly get you another cart-“

“You broke my egg,” she says, interrupting me. Her voice unchanged, but showing that stagnant pond is deep.

I smile, God help me I couldn’t resist. “Pardon me, ma’am?” I ask, innocent and genuinely incredulous.

Her face locks in that horrible grimace. She shoots her hand out with unbelievable speed and grabs my ear and twists, hard. Shock dulls my senses for a moment, for an instant I even think she may be grabbing on to me because she’s trying to keep from falling from a seizure or stroke. That I could be so lucky. Once shock wears off, incredulousness sets in. My attacker interrupts my introspection.

“I’ll teach you to smile at me you little fuck-face,” she says softly, calmly, and controlled. She brings her hand down, and I go with it. I let out a yelp and land in a kneeling position, bracing myself with my hand. She softens her grip slightly, I look up at her. She outweighs me, but not by much. I’m 17 and muscular, a stocky 180 pounds and she’s several inches shorter than me. There’s no discernable athletic muscle, but her expression, that fleshy wrinkled sign says clearly: “I have nothing but cold, pure disdain for you.” That’s how she’s doing it, that’s how she’s easily manhandling her much younger, stronger porter. She’s channeling that ancient, beautiful force: indiscriminate hate. I see that look often, the look of someone who’s engaging in a socially acceptable hate crime. As a society, we’ve (mostly) advanced beyond the evil and ignorance of endorsing attacks against persons based on their race or sex. We’re enlightened, now we know it’s okay, beneficial in fact, for society as a whole to hate store clerks.

I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before, like I said, it’s a common phenomenon. I could have deescalated the situation, prone, hands raised to my new personal Jesus asking for forgiveness for my sins. But then I took another long look at her and really saw her. I notice her black stockings are ripped on the left legging. I follow the rip up under her long, black skirt to her oversized underwear. I’m momentarily sick, but that’s not what does me in. I pull my gaze away from her nethers and take her top part into view. There she is in her true glory: she’s wearing an orange sweater, fluffy but faded from too many washings; two gaudy bracelets jangle on her left hand; I can’t make out the right because it’s attached to the stubby, orange arm that’s pinning me down; her face is still like the Nazi’s, all melted with indignation and rage; but it’s the sweater that sets me off.

There was simply too much of her to notice it before, or I would have escaped her clutches with only a bruised ego. I hadn’t though. Stitched across her massive, bulbous stomach is the smiling face of a jack-o-lantern. Just the face, no outline of a pumpkin. In fact, the only outline is her gluttonous form. I, possessing a sound and logical mind, can only conclude that she is the pumpkin! But not just any pumpkin, oh no. She’s too big to be your garden variety, carve it up, put it on the porch and use the innards in a pie pumpkin. The only pumpkin that can pin a fully grown bag boy with vengeful ease is the Great Pumpkin. The one from the Peanuts Halloween special.

I simply can’t take it. I’m almost a grown man. Every waking hour I’m not working at this shitty grocery store, at school, or playing Magic the Gathering, I’m training with my loser buddies in an abandoned barn. My only sexual contact is with a 200 gigabyte hardrive filled with lesbian porn. I take my joys where I can find them, and I find this frumpy, housewife version of the Charles Schultz classic very joyous. I laugh.

If I were a betting man, I’d say that this woman is a loving grandmother and wife, who very rarely utters an obscene word or indulges in her darker, baser urges. We, the American serving class, get the honor to experience her at her most truthful and beautiful. When I start to laugh she asks, “Why the fuck are you laughing?” Her voice is still soft, calm, and controlled.

I stifle my chuckling long enough to say, “Because I’m getting my ass beat by the Great Pumpkin!” I bust into gales of laughter again. She doesn’t like that. Not. One. Bit. She doesn’t kick me in the face as much as she pushes me over with her heel. I get a very, very brief taste of the bottom of her shoe. It tastes like hate and loathing and black things. People are starting to gather. It’s too much, I stop laughing. I take a step forward with my right foot, grab her right hand and push up. “This is too fucking much-“ I say. I should have stepped out and away from her left hand, instead of toward it. Rookie mistake. She moves with a speed that should be impossible for a woman her size. She hits me as hard as she can in the testicles. All the fight and righteousness leaves me in an instant. I’m on my knees again. She has hold of my left ear still. Her grip is the only thing holding my head up.

I’m lying on the cold pavement, outside of myself and pondering over this funny looking kid rendered helpless by a blow to the yarbles delivered by none other than the Great Pumpkin. It’s all too much. I start in laughing again. Each guffaw courses through my body to my genitals, sending me into spasms of pain. My right testicle has rescinded into my body. It hurts the most. The Great Pumpkin is upset by my continued laugther. She pulls me by the ear. White hot pain compels me forward. She leads me away from her car. I can’t get to my feet, so I scuttle along sideways on all fours, like a maimed crab. The pain in my ear distracts me from the pain in my groin. I picture myself being lead on all fours by a deranged Great Pumpkin and laugh harder.

I laugh even though my hands are being ripped open by the asphalt. I laugh even though I’m afraid this crazy bitch caused irreversible damage to my fresh, unused balls. I laugh even though the Great Pumpkin is weeping. She was the only person who gets to think this is funny. This is her sole catharsis her banal, grey life. I’m her two minute hate. How dare I not cower? She keeps repeating the same line over and over, “We’ll see who thinks this is funny you little shit. We’ll see who thinks this is funny.”

She goes through the automatic double doors, but I’m too far to her right and my ribs crash into the metal hand rails. I yelp. Her grip holds. She pulls me up off the floor. She takes three big steps to build momentum, pulls me from behind her and cracks her arm like a whip. She finally releases her hold on my ear and I go end over end and instinctively breakfall. As I’m flying through the air, I muse on this old woman’s natural kuzushi, or balance breaking ability. The force of impact squeezes my right testicle and it rejoins the other. Splayed out on the floor I labor so arduously to keep clean, I finally notice the other people in the store. Everyone, the cashiers, the customers, the challenged black bag-woman, all stand motionless, mouths agape. There’s nothing in the company training video about this.

I’m lying on the floor. I cup my ear and my groin, alternating between gales of laughter and huge gasps for air. The Great Pumpkin demands to see a manager. As if on cue, Rodriquez, a portly pale front end supervisor comes to her aid. He literally steps over me and says, “Can I help you ma’am?”

She locks eyes with Rodriquez and says with a Dreyfus like incredulousness: “This person broke my eggs and laughed about it!”
I had managed to stifle my laughing by this time, but when I saw the look of concern and compassion on Rodriquez’s face, I lost it again. It was just so bizarre to see him as a humanist, like finding out Ed Gein loved cross stitching. Wait… bad example.

“Is this true?” he says to me, glaring down at me, not bothering to hide his disdain. I match Rodriquez’s stare but not his attitude.

“I didn’t break this woman’s eggs,” I say, still supine.

“He did!” the Great Pumpkin insists. “And he made fun of my weight!” She says that last part with a sob, like her love of high fructose corn syrup and hatred of light exercise is a Shakespearean tragedy.

Rodriquez is not a smart man, a kind man, or a handsome man. But he is a strong man. He has strength derived from a lifetime of hard work and shame over being a pale, white man with, as his peers called it, a spic name. Rodriquez is in fact a Sephardic Jew, but his mother quite wisely told him at an early age to acquiesce to his classmates’ label as “white Mexican.”

Rodriquez uses this shame strength to hoist me up by the shoulders. With a considerable effort, he turns me around to face him. I feel this deep down in my testicles, the freshly descended one particularly. “That I did do,” I say, smiling right in his reddening face.

I’ll never know what Rodriquez would have done to me, but I can bet it would hurt a lot more than the Great Pumpkin’s thrashing. On the other hand, it would probably have been less embarrassing. I’ll never know because at that precise moment the Head Cashier Pamela walked out of the till room to approve a check. Pamela is an oddly shaped young woman slightly fatter than the Great Pumpkin and about half a head taller than me. She does have a pretty face and is very sweet.

For what she said, however, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world. “What the fuck are you doing to my golden goose?” she screams, partly with anger, partly with concern. Yeah Rod, what the fuck? I thought to myself. Pamela calls me her golden goose because, about 6 months into working at the store, I managed to retrieve a bunch of vendor accounts she accidentally deleted on the office computer. I just used a piece of data recovery software I downloaded from Usenet, but to her it was like I was some strange, wonderful alien. I come in peace, Pamela, bearing advanced technology. Also, I’ll always be on time, won’t bitch about cleaning the bathrooms, and I’ll always be nice to customers (as long as they don’t look like the Great Pumpkin.)
Rodriquez’s grip slackened as Pamela huffed toward him, her face reddening as his paled. Again, I feel to a knee.

“I’ll take care of this Rod,” Pamela said. She was the only one who could call him that. Technically I think Ol’ Rod is higher up the chain of command than Pamela, but Pamela controls the tills. That means she determines who’s short (not enough money in their register at the end of her shift) and who’s over (too much money at the end of her shift.) Now, I’ve never known Pamela to cheat for her own personal gain, but whenever there’s been a problem the Store Manager can’t handle officially, someone’s till “magically” is short or over and that person “magically” resigns instead of having it reported on her store record. That includes the daily gross, which the Front End Supervisor, aka Rodriquez, is in charge of. The look on Pamela’s face told Rod she was ready for a little sorcery. I’m an alien and she’s a witch. What a beautiful relationship!

Rodriquez, defeated, returned to berating a young black girl near tears over some trifling mistake. “What happened here?” Pamela asks no one in particular. The Great Pumpkin is too distraught to give anything but incoherent burbling.

“That lady hit Horatio in nuts and broke his ear,” Laketia, the mentally challenged bag lady and my only other help today, offers. She returns to her work, stuffing someone’s cans on top of their bread. The customer is livid, but Laketia, shielded by her impairment, is oblivious. Or secretly enjoying herself.

“Is this true Horatio?” she asks me.

“Not necessarily in that order,” I reply. I’m all laughed out.

Pamela turns to the Great Pumpkin. The smaller, older woman begins “This person,” she says, putting sarcastic emphasis on person, “broke my property and laughed at my weight. Then he tried to attack me. I want to know what you’re going to do about it?”

Pamela smiled her “I’m about to work some magic” smile, “I’m going to call the police and hand over the surveillance tapes.” The Great Pumpkin didn’t like that. Probably because she didn’t know the cameras outside were fake. If they were real, the entire front end would have been fired for drinking nicked beers after hours, your humble alien included. The Great Pumpkin began to pout again.

Pamela cut her off, “My best employee is on the ground holding his balls and cupping his ear. Another trusted employee told me exactly what happened. I have a feeling that the tapes are going to say the same thing. Horatio, do you want to press charges against this woman?”
With her power revoked, the Great Pumpkin was just an old, lower middle class grandmother trying to get by on her husband’s pension. “No ma’am,” I say.

“Then get out of my store and never come back,” Pamela tells the Great Pumpkin. With a sulk, she leaves.

Pamela helps me back to my feet. “Are you okay?”
I smile and say, “My ear hurts.”

She smiles back, “Go take an hour off, take some ice for your ear.”

I hobble back to the bathroom, ignoring sideways glances from
customers. I’m off the clock mother fuckers, work release release.

If it’s at all possible, I’m even more disheartened when I get to the bathroom. Luketia and I had a deal, I’d watch the front end of an hour by myself, and she’d clean the bathroom. Instead, she must have been gossiping with the women in the bakery or fixing her hair or picking her nose, anything except cleaning the fucking bathroom. It’s filthy. I throw the small bag of ice I dug out of the deli cooler into the sink. The condensation quickly yellows as it picks up the grim of a day’s worth of hand washing. I check my watch. It’s only 4 o’clock, I still have 2 hours left before I have to go train.

I look myself over in the mirror. I have a scratch on my left check from The Great Pumpkin pulling me on the asphalt. My ear has what looks like mild cauliflowering. “Thank god I didn’t crumple her bread” I say to no one in particular.

Commodore Pipes
3rd February 10, 10:48 PM
My...

My testicles are actually aching.

jnp
3rd February 10, 10:58 PM
jvjim, I've read good fiction all my life. I have two suggestions. Keep writing emotionally naked because it's your greatest strength and get an agent.

You are good. Really good, damn you.

Yiktin Voxbane
3rd February 10, 11:32 PM
That

Was

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