Help wanted IV


For my Friday shift at the pizza store I wore an untucked red polo and parked the Bluebird around the back. Boss grinned and mocked the cleanliness of my new uniform.

He’d brought his PC in for some kind of gaming event the night before. It remained set up on a bench near the flour bags, screensaver scrolling through his exhaustive gallery of hookers and headless horse-men tangling in every way imaginable. The guy approached this stuff the same way he did his food. More is better and now is always best. Those images stayed with me the way a blackened version of the sun remains in your vision if you stare too long. And I stared for ages.

After the dinner hour rush, the local young folk started to appear. Like country wildlife at dusk, I had to be careful not to run them over as I hurtled down those dim streets. Pulling into the carpark, I had to put my lights on low so as not to dazzle them. Sometimes I used the horn.

Those kids were plastered: Goonie bags, slabs on shoulders, bottles of Jack and Jim and phosphorescent poisoned lolly water. High-heeled girls wobbling with baby-deer-first-steps, openmouthed boys stomping about like lusty grizzlies. Spit, shit, vomit and volume; haymakers and stolen trolleys. Absolutely, crapulously maggotted, the lot of them.

And, like ants around a honey spill, they trailed to the shop. Front door, back door, leaning on the counter, swaggering behind the counter, lying on the counter. Writhing couples, half-standing against the outside wall. Slumping wide-eyed in the chair by the computer.

Towards the end of it all, there was a conversation in lowered tones at the front of the store. Boss and someone. A small plastic bag on the counter. A handshake. Two men with right hands in simultaneous pockets. And a smile betrayed by folded arms.

It was to be the single step at the start of what would become a literal thousand mile journey.


~ by Daniel Townsend on July 2, 2013.

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