Ahoy there, readers! (Really, both of you, I'm so glad you could make it.)
My, my, my. If my lack of activity on this new-born blog is any indication, then...ah, I forgot what I was going to say. Something about decaying apples. But I apologize for the exceedingly slow follow-up to the introduction post. Due to various familial and work-related duties, I have found my free time sliced and diced into not but the most minute of slivers. In short: I have been busy.
But I have also been writing. Or, at least, preparing to. Has anyone ever heard of a phenomenon called 'NaNoWriMo?' National Novel Writing Month? In November? It's a sort of contest...a challenge, if you will...where thousands of individuals down millions of gallons of caffeinated beverages to crank out a 50,000 word novel, each.
Well, it is coming up here soon. I participated last year, and somehow managed to succeed. I plan on repeating the performance this year as well. HOO-ah!
More on this later.
Now then, I had planned on doing a book review in this post. But that was a week ago, and my critical eye has blinked a few too many times for the review to be really fresh. So instead, I'll share with you a little something I wrote for a VERY short-story writing contest a couple of weeks ago. Which I didn't win. But still, I hope you enjoy:
My eyes, young and flickering and impatient, glanced towards the fat glossy clock that hung mysteriously from the ceiling (yet somehow out of sight of every single customer that grumped in through the doors) and batted in frustration.
Time never went so slow as on the last six hour shift I worked on my first job. To protect the identity of the dirty chain upon which I so unhappily dangled, we shall call the place “JMart.” I was freshly turned sixteen. I had worked there, for four hundred and sixty five days, as a cashier. I had but another dozen minutes before I was free of the dimly lit prison, and I could break off my linty red vest and dance around its burning remains like a victorious Amazon relishing the smell of her fallen foes’ roasted flesh.
Or at least hand it back to my managers, to be respawned around the unwilling arms of some other desperate teenager.
I would have liked to think that my last day would be mercifully uneventful. No one walked into that store in a pleasant mood, almost as if they were as unwilling to be there as any of us working class were. And by the time they had tromped around for an hour, scouring the dingy, too-narrow-for-carts aisles for their overpriced Martha Stewart dish towels, and they managed to squeeze their growling tempers through the minute rows of registers…well, let’s just say that I rarely received a cheery “Hello, how are you?” at the start of a ring-up.
But despite my best efforts to shrink behind my clunky machine (I’m pretty sure it was older than I was, and I’m positive that it got a thicker paycheck) and disguise myself as a homeless person who had wandered in from the heat, I had been busy all day. Sneers and snuffles and snorts abound from my glorious customers, most of whom were drenched in the remnants of their own sweat from bygone years, their thin-cloth tank tops tye-dyed off-white in the most natural means possible. It was the perfect cap to a ‘career’ that had lasted far too long; just the kick in the pants I needed on my way out to keep me from missing the joint.
But just as the lazy minute hand had lurched its way across the finish line of the first minute in my twelve minute countdown, and I was about to sneak over to the dozy manager nestled in the customer service box to make an appeal for early release, my final customer in my JMart thudded into view.
I say “thudded,” but it should be noted that as far as JMart customers went, this fellow was actually quite chic. He was what the folks in the humble town of Missoula refer to as ‘granola.’ His beard existed, but it rested on his face the way a hippy’s tree-sap lipstick rests on her lips. His clothes were cleaner than they had been when he’d purchased them. His cart was full of the most necessary items one could possibly find in JMart (translation: it was almost empty). His feet, trim and clean enough to lick on a dare, were clad in those obscenely expensive sandal things that everyone seems to be wearing these days.
I felt somewhat like a taxi driver who picks up a bright-eyed politician with cash falling from his pockets. My last ring-up was going to be a pine-scented breeze.
The granola man reached into his cart. He pulled out a twelve pack of diet coke. He squeezed it about an inch out of the basket. And then he released his clipped grip, sending the whole case to the ground with an exclamation of certain words I hadn’t heard anywhere but basic cable.
The case burst in a splendid display of foaming coke and fizzling, carbonated uproar.
My granola man, the perfect last straw, the period at the end of my two week’s notice, vanished before the cans had even finished gurgling. Out of the stiff corner of my eye, I saw him retrieve a brand new case and go through the only other open line, leaving me stranded in a foaming sea of tasteless diet beverage.
I’m not sure who ended up mopping up his mess. I tromped on it a bit with massive amounts of paper towels. But I left that day, exactly ten minutes after Granola Man did.
I’ve been careful never to go back.