REALLY OLD. NOT FINISHED. JUST FOUND.
I felt the shivers move from my left leg to my left arm then to their corresponding right parts. Fuck, it’s cold.
Hey, it’s cold in this aisle guys, let’s move to the canned food section.
Hold on, I want to get some microwavable lasagna.
Everything went dark. I could hear noises like thunder, or gunshots, or nuclear war, or something outside so I fell to the ground. I started a chain reaction; everyone followed. I looked around at everyone laying on the white tile floor and realized I was laying in something that looked like vomit, and smelled like vomit, and well, I guess it was vomit. Someone ate some bad shrimp, or pasta maybe. The generator kicked on, the store was half powered.
Attention Lucky shoppers, we seem to be experiencing some sort of emergency. We ask that you calmly stay low to the ground, and make your way to the southeast corner of the market where you will find an emergency exit leading to the parking…
The voice trailed off and the sound of coughing boomed over the intercom; I tried to listen to the sound. Does he have the same cough I have? No point. The mongoloids around me had fallen into a loud, frenzied mania. I lounged for a while on my back, waiting for stucco patterns in the Lucky ceiling to form shapes. Mob mentality had set in, women screaming, children crying, men stepping on me. I noticed a green mist filling the upper atmosphere of the market. Wait, what the fuck is going on here?
I’m crawling toward the southeast corner of a supermarket I’ve never set foot in before. The man to my left has two scarves on and is crying hysterically. The outside of the market looks like a seizure inducing strobe light. Scarves stands up and tries to make a run for it. His wet eyes meet the green upper atmosphere and start to decompose. He makes it about twenty paces ahead of me and falls to the floor. Thirty seconds later I’m crawling past a soon to be dead man; decaying, convulsing and wearing two scarves.
I’m at the southeast corner of the store, I’m looking out the double doors, I’m dreading walking outside, I’m under an orange sky, I’m looking out across the bay, I’m eyeing a black truck in the parking lot, I’m trying to remember how to hot-wire a ’67 Chevy, I’m feeling someone tap my back, I’m digging around in my purse for that .22, I’m not finding it, I’m following someone to the Chevy, I’m sitting behind the wheel, I’m watching the owner run toward me, I’m starting the car, I’m panicking, I’m digging under the seat, I’m holding a gun, I’m watching a man approach the truck, I’m aiming, he’s dead.
I’m gasping for air in my bed. My eyelids feel to heavy to open and even if I wasn’t exhausted I wouldn’t want to get out of bed anyway. First thought of the day is it’s been four months to the day since I had sex.
Hey! Wake up! Hey, can I use your car?
I see four orange walls materialize around me. A figure is standing over me.
I just had a really weird dream.
Me too. So, can I use your car? Or not?
It was a really vivid dream, it felt like it was really happening. I killed someone.
Yeah, uh, weird… I just have to go pick up some stuff from a friends house, I’ll be back in like twenty minutes.
The keys are on my desk.
I puke. The electricity was shut off three days ago. I don’t know what I’m puking into; it’s dark.
Someone is shoving my head into a bathtub full of vomit. Later I’m in an ocean of dead fish trying to swim to the surface. Even later I’m sinking into a black tar pit, it’s steaming. I feel hot grease burn my left arm and move to the left side of my face. I open my eyes wide with anger and focus on older woman with sagging breasts, grey hair and a worn slip. Her cleavage hardens my already hard morning wood. She is overweight, she is the bane of my existence, and she is smiling at me.
God damn it! That grease is burning me!
Well, maybe you could move your bed out of the kitchen, or maybe, you could cook yourself breakfast. Or maybe you could get your own place. You are 52, you know? Or maybe if you had a wife…
Shut your hole of a mouth, I don’t need to hear this shit first thing in the morning.
Yeah, you never can, whether it’s morning, noon or night, honey!
I stumble down the floral print doublewide to the bathroom. I make sure to piss on the toilet seat that morning due to mother’s cruel and abrupt method of waking me.
This wallpaper is nauseating, mother.
Don’t I know it, child. You’re mad if you think I wouldn’t change it in a heartbeat, but, you know, all I got, well, all we got, is your father’s pension.
Why don’t you get a job?
Come on kid. I’m 75, I’ve got no experience in any field, it’s been over 30 years since I’ve even set foot in an office.
And you scream at me for my laziness when it’s clearly your genetics that have cursed me.
I’m in the food stamp line. I found a pair of old headphones in a free box last week, they don’t work but I wear them anyway. It’s a new strategy I’m trying out to repel unwanted conversation, it’s not working.
The man in front of me in this endless line for free food believes I’m related to him. I stare straight ahead listening to my headphones.
Father, it’s you! Can I have a cigarette? Do you have any change? I just need bus fair, I have to get to Berkeley to see my wives.
I stare straight ahead listening to my headphones.
I was just a child. You put needles in me. Now I only need bus fare and a meal. I have to see my wives, you owe it to me.
He was shaking uncontrollably, licking white residue from his upper lip. I stare straight ahead listening to my headphones.
Ellis, we can help you at window three now, rang over the loud speaker.
I’m back at home. I’m broke. I’m sitting in the dark on an orange couch with Shark.
I wasn’t eligible for food stamps.
What? How is that possible? What if you whore me out on the Internet?
What if we divorce the bottle?
We won’t do either.
I search skynet for possible pyramid schemes.
Mother is still nagging at me so I turn my walkman up as loud as it will allow me to. I dig through my drawer and pull out a zip lock bag. It’s only 7:46 am; I’ve got time to jerk off before work. I do and wipe up with her sweater. I check my Internet accounts, nothing new. I post another ad.
Instead of using up lots of water and energy cleaning your dirty underwear, how about you selling a pair to me? You get to be green, and have an extremely generous donation for your wallet! I’m seeking a very attractive girl to sell me your extra well-worn and extremely dirty underwear. Send picture with response. Please be able to meet in person for trade, public place is ok. Serious replies only.
It’s after eight now, I’m some how running late. It’s laundry day so I hurriedly stuff all the sweatpants and button downs scattered around my floor into a pillowcase and set it in the hallway. Off to work.
Well, this sounds promising.
What? The slave guy?
No, that guy is old hat and he’s a prude, I e-mailed him four times. I’m talking about this guy.
Oh, wow. What are you going to say to that?
Shit, I don’t even know.
How many do you need? How much per pair? Where do we meet?
He was scheduled to show up at 10AM. He always left to work one hour early. On his walk to Gino’s Pies and Hotdogs, he detoured down Fifth Avenue and collected flyers from the windshields of parked cars. This week it was a sale on RV’s at some dealership out in Pleasanton. He held hundreds of the advertisements between his palms, straightened them and wrapped a red rubber band around the stiff pieces of paper. Next Sixth Avenue. An opening of a club on Webster St. this Friday night, lots of women and an open bar. He wrapped a blue rubber band around these ones.
Isaac, this is your third late arrival since the start of the year, it’s only April.
Save it. I’m a parking lot attendant, Mallard. I don’t see any cars in the lot at this hour, do you?
Are you suggesting your not needed here?
He laughed to himself.
With the way you guys operate, I think I’m the only reason Gino’s is still in business.
Don’t matter if there’s no cars or a thousand, you were scheduled at 10 and it’s 10:17. Now, I’m not a mathematician, but this is real elementary stuff. I have no choice but to write you up.
He stuffed the pink piece of paper with his collected flyers and zip lock bags, shot a wad of snot onto the sidewalk and took his place in the tiny wood booth of Gino’s parking lot.
She walked through the sliding glass doors, six pockets full of receipts. Rex followed twenty paces behind. They made their way to the sporting goods department, separately. Rex hopped onto a small pink bike, rode to a red shirted worker, put on his autism façade and touched the small mans face sensually. Ellis pulled out three receipts from the left pant pocket; Coleman 150 watt lantern, a box of thirty fishing hooks and some sort of gas for a portable stove. Rex voice was now loud enough to hear from men’s ware to electronics. The monotony of the shopping trip was broken and the mongoloids were gathering like moths to a light. She lit the 16th cigarette of her last pack. Rex was six isles over lying on the floor, convulsing. The Alka-Seltzer was just now starting to foam from his mouth and the crowd kept growing. She fumbled around and tried to match the numbers on the receipt to the items on the shelves, eventually found all three and made her way to the front of the store. She did her best to look concerned and stopped to check on Rex. The red shirts were crowded around him and he had began to cry hysterically.
I know CPR, Mr. Jackson, I can help, I swear!
Shut up Brittney, this man has epilepsy CPR won’t help him.
Put a wood spoon in between his teeth! Ellis yelled from the crowd.
My husband has seizures! I know what to do! I can help! Screamed an overweight red-faced woman from the back of the crowd as she dropped her pool noodles. Pool noodles pushed her way to the front. The situation continued to escalate. Children were crying, mothers were clutching husbands, husbands were thinking about sex.
Ellis was walking to the front of the store, almost to the registers now, she stomped her cigarette out under a company telephone. She picked up the receiver, punched the in the numbers to access the intercom.
The words rang through the store.
Rex stood up and spit the foam from his mouth.
Thanks, you guys were really a great crowd but I’ve got to be moving on. Have a lovely night, all of you. He took a bow.
You asshole! Pool noodles howled. Various other insults were screeched as he made his way to the exit. Ellis reached the counter and waited for a redshirt.
Can you believe that guy? Faking a seizure like that? She asked the bewildered employee.
No ma’am can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. What can I help you with tonight?
I’ve got some returns, just these three things.
All right, would you like cash or store credit?
Okay, so that will be $73.28 in exchange for the three items. Twenty, forty, sixty, seventy, one, two, three, and twenty-eight cents.
Great. You have a good night and watch out for the lunatics who wander in at this hour.
Ha-ha. You have a good night, too.
Out the doors and around the corner, under the string of streetlights, across the street and under a dark freeway. Ellis sees Rex and his shit-eating grin from a block away.
Cheshire cat! I see you!
Huh? Rex asked as he handed Ellis the Canadian Mist.
Hey, is the whole seizure thing necessary? Really?
No, not at all, but isn’t it fun? How much did you make?
Only like seventy bucks. Should we hit the next shop? Do you have more Alka-Seltzer?
Wow, only seventy? Don’t you need seven hundred? That was supposed to be the gold mine.
I know, but what else can I do?
We’ve already done this three times tonight. What about that Internet creeper?
Let’s finish this bottle.
Isaac’s mother, Bee, grabbed the white stained bag set out by her son that morning and took it to the laundry room. She meticulously sprayed each and every stain on every article of clothing; every week there were hundreds of new stains. Isaac wasn’t exactly neat, particularly while eating. She remembered a time when she had taken her son to an Italian place in the suburbs. They had just got out of a science fiction movie and Isaac was explaining all the flaws in cinematography and how Artificial Intelligence is only an invention of the paranoid human mind. Froth had started to form around the corners of his mouth as he stuffed his cheeks to the brim with breadsticks. He was shouting that man could never outsmart Artificial Intelligence if it actually did exist when the food finally arrived. Harrison Ford is an awful excuse for an actor, he added. Isaac’s temper surfaced when he tasted the Zuppa Toscana. He gagged and spewed soup into his mothers face.
Waiter! Waiter over here, now!
Yessir, what can I help you with?
You call this soup? This watered down horseshit would make Masaccio turn over in his grave!
Sorry, sir, would you like me to get you something else?
Ha! Let’s see, would I like another arbitrary array of over cooked garbage thrown into a bowl and pissed on? No, but thank you.
Isaac pounded the table with his fist repeatedly; marinara and soup filled the air and fell back onto the couple.
Leave my sight, you piss ant. And mother! You bring me to this circus posing as an Italian restaurant? Have a grand time removing the stain of this oil-based piss from my Sunday shirt.
He poured the Zuppa Toscana down the front of his shirt.
Bee was spraying that very shirt with Shout now. The soup had been gone for ten years now and new stains had formed around the underarms. She finished spraying, threw it in the washing machine, reached back into the pillowcase and pulled the next dirty garment. In her hands was a cotton woman’s thong. The sight of them, filthy and blood-stained, caused her to gasp as she dropped them to the laundry room floor.
According to her calculations, it had been about thirty years since Isaac had been with a woman. The soiled underwear puzzled her at first, but Isaac’s mother, after some contemplation, decided that her son must have raped and killed some poor innocent woman.
It’s about 2:30PM now and I’m sitting in the Gino’s parking lot. The midday sun hung around ‘til 5PM on summer days. Every pore on my entire body is dripping with salty sweat. My uniform feels like it is probably about 40 layers thick and I have about one half of an hour before Mallard returns and I have to get back to my post. I head to the Gino’s bathroom and undress. There is not enough toilet paper to dry all the moisture dripping off even my face. I use what’s left and redress.
Mallard passes the booth and gives me a nasty look from the corner of his eye as he walks in the front of Gino’s. Fuck him. I go back to carving a woman’s figure into the wood inside the booth, I measure out her anatomy to fit my liking, her name is Sparrow. I grudgingly had to admit that Sparrow was the only naked woman I had seen in over twenty years, maybe thirty, I haven’t been keeping track.
About four blocks from here I can see one man with a blue beanie and one man with a red beanie headed toward Gino’s. Wow, it’s getting close to 4PM already? The flyers are in my bag under some ziplock bags and citations written with Mallard’s pen. I dig them out.
Scram, you ingrates.
Come on, kid. We gots a message for you.
Horseshit! Get out of here.
No look, I’ve got it written down and everything. Red Beanie handed me a piece stationary, the logo at the top read Babies ‘R Us and the body of the message was in very neat cursive and read
Mr. Isaac Tronofski.
I have observed your work habits at Gino’s for the past six months. Please forgive this intrusion but my company is looking to hire a new team member and we often scout out new employees long before we deem them adequate to contact. My associates and I have had an eye on you; in our observations we noticed you
have great interpersonal relationships with co-workers and above average
intelligence. We would love for you to come in for an interview at a mutually
convenient time. Give me a call as soon as possible to set the meeting up. Ask for
me, Mr. Behr.
Behr & Lyon Inc.
Phone: (510) 632-9595
Fax: (510) 632-9526
Who gave you this?
A man in a suit came by last night when you wasn’t working. He axed us if we knew you and ‘o course we’d say yes, so he told us to give you this piece of paper… Hey what’s it say anyway? What’s the message, captain?
Yeh! Aint you goin’ tell us?! Blue hat chimed in. We’d held on to id for all dis time for ya, you should ad least tell us what we was holdin!
Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Please you mongoloids, someone has finally realized my genius and I will soon be out of this dump forever. Just one phone call away. Yeah, you know what? It’s time for you guys to scram, here’s your flyers.
I handed the ones with the red rubber band to Red Beanie and the ones with the blue rubber band to Blue Beanie, along with two dollars to each of them.
And. Hey! I’ll check Fifth and Sixth Ave tonight, if every car isn’t flyered you guys won’t be getting any more work from me. You hear?
I watch them walk off and prepare for the conversation I’m about to have with Mr. Behr. I think of various ways to demonstrate my intellectual dexterity, to be charming, to prove that I’m above my current employment. I pace back and forth in the hot sun going over the conversation again and again. I couldn’t ruin this opportunity, it could be my chance to finally get out of this dump. No more Mallard, no more Red and Blue, no more long miserable hours roasting in this wood shack. Okay. I pull out my brick of a phone, extend the antenna and punch in the numbers.
Thank you for calling the Oakland Zoo, how can I help you?
Hello miss, I’m calling for a Mr. Behr. Can you transfer me to him?
Um, you’re calling for a Mr. Bear?
Yes, it’s about an employment opportunity.
Sir, there is no Mr. Bear here and I don’t appreciate the call, one more and we will have your number blocked.
Wait! No! I swear it’s either Mr. Behr or Mr. Lyon, they contacted me earlier this week and gave me this number to call..
No use, the line was dead, the receptionist had disconnected. I looked up and saw Blue and Red Beanie across the street laughing hysterically. Hyenas.
I’ll just call back.
Oakland Zoo, how can I direct your call? It was a males voice this time.
Hello, I’m calling for a Mr. Behr.
I’m sorry, there’s no Mr. Bear here, sir. Can I help you with anything else today?
Well, can I have the extension for Behr & Lyon Inc?
Sir, I think someone might be playing a joke on you. I have to go, very busy over here, have a good day, thanks for calling the Oakland Zoo.
Blue and Red are still staring at me with that shit eating grin. I don’t understand it, why can’t they ever leave me in peace.
Alright, chickenheads! Get out of here, get! Don’t you have flyers to distribute?
I grab the broom from the wood shack and walk quickly toward them.
Are ya gonna hit us fatty?!
Yeh right, he’d hafta catch us first. He couldn’t if he tried. He must weigh, about, uhm, what? 300 pounds?
Thas the two of us both, aint it?
I finally reached them and swung the broom wildly in their direction.
You’s crazy, fatty! Come on, let’s git outta dis dump!
I walked back to Sparrow. Took a customers money, gave them a slip of paper. Did that again and again and again. Those punks really got to me today, I thought they’d never leave. I’d been doing the flyer thing for almost three years now. Before, I had tried just giving them money to leave but that only worked for twenty minutes or so until they came back. I tried calling the police but they never seemed to side with me. So I started the flyer thing, it works, they stay gone for the entirety of my shift. Maybe because the work requires that they travel some distance from Gino’s and by the time they are out of flyers, they don’t feel like walking back just to pester me. Who knows?
Oh, fuck. I get it, Mr. Bear and Mr. Lion. At the Zoo. Shit heads.
You know that four people, in the history of all mankind, have been decapitated by an escalator?
What? No. That’s horseshit…
No, I swear, I read it in the Encyclopedia of Death.
That’s not even a book. And how the fuck would you get you head cut off by an escalator? It doesn’t happen.
Prove it. Did you know that Jack Daniel, like as in the alcohol, died from a toe infection. He kicked something while he was mad.
What was he mad about?
I don’t know. Maybe Jim Beam slept with his wife.
Did you hear about that Russian guy? Who died like last year? He bet two whores that he could have sex with both of them for twelve hours straight, he did and got like four grand.
How do I get into that business?
Well, he died one hour afterward, his heart failed, I guess he over dosed on Viagra.
Hey. Let’s walk this way. Less traffic.
Alright. So, wait. Stop for a second. I want to go over this again. The deposit box, or whatever the fuck it is will be unlocked from 9:02 until 9:04 and it’s by all those pallets, at the southeast corner of the store. It’s 8:43 now, I’m going to go buy some microwavable lasagna, then, well, you do your thing outside and I’ll do my thing inside.
Wait, my Murphy’s Sense is tingling.
Murphy’s Sense. Like, when something fucked up is going to happen, I get a sharp pain in my asshole, it’s called Murphy’s Sense, it’s an extrasensory thing. Doubt you’d understand it.
Well, I think I understand but I also think you’re just being paranoid. A pain in your asshole?
Forget it, let’s just go.