Tags: flash fiction, girlfriends, sexual harrassment
This week’s challenge was to make an unlikable character the protagonist. I think I can handle that. To read more, go spend some time over here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Unlikable Protagonist
But also, while you’re here, go read my story from the challenge from two weeks ago, where we had to do a story in present tense. I really like that story, but no one read it. Such is life.
The Baby Boomer
The customer won’t shut up. Fuck. I smile and nod and kind of lead him towards the desk, and hand him a pen. “Why don’t you get started on this, and I’ll make sure they get everything ready?”
The asshole was probably still talking after I left. The shit I have to put up with to make an obscene profit–
Outside the break room I find Denny. “Hey, Lenny—“
He turned to me and rolled his eyes like a bitch. I tossed him the keys. “Prep this Merc, pronto. Joey made a sale.”
He grabbed a clipboard and walked off disgusted. What the hell is his problem? I spied Sarah in the break room. I’m gonna hit that ass, and soon. I walked up behind her and gave her a small dose of Joey’s charm. “Hey, sweetheart—“
“Oh, Jesus! Joe! Get your hands off my ass. And quit sneaking up behind me; that shit is irritating.” She walked off in a huff. Must be on her period.
After that sale, I’m done for the day. “Joey is outta here.” Joey doesn’t ask permission, not from the owner’s son. I slide into my Jaguar and get ready to roll. Rolling in a Jag takes preparation. Driving gloves—check. Expensive sunglasses—check. Loud-ass tunes—check. Perfect hair—double check. Fuck, I look good.
I don’t look behind me; behind me is for losers. Some dickhead honks his horn at me. Do you not know what a Jag is, you pick-up-driving Neanderthal?
I’m a partner in a Jewelry store. The location is shitty but we see a lot of traffic. Mostly niggas buying gold for their bitches. I got my fiancé a job there, because I wanted someone to watch out for my shifty Arab partner. “Hey, baby.”
Right away she starts in on me. What the fuck? I didn’t really pay attention to what she was saying, because I was looking at her tits. Besides, I don’t actually have to solve any problems, I just have to pretend to listen. She doesn’t like when I solve her problems for her, the ungrateful bitch. You’d think that giving her a job would have been worth a blowjob. I swear I don’t understand bitches.
After she finishes her little tirade, I expect that she’ll feel better. It’s usually slow in the middle of the afternoon. We could lock the door and go in the back for a quickie.
“Didn’t you hear a goddamn word I said? This neighborhood is fucking dangerous, and I’m not working here anymore!”
Oh, shit. I heard that part. Maybe she had a point, but if she loved me, she’d take one for the team and stick it out. One for all, all for me. I might still be able to talk her into going in the back room and bending over the desk for me. Bitches like to be complimented, so I whispered in her ear. “You’re so pretty when you’re angry.”
She pushed me away hard. “Just get the fuck out of here. Go. Come back tomorrow when Rashid is here.”
“Oh, that reminds me—did that Arab leave a deposit in the safe?”
“He’s Pakistani, Joe. No, he took it to the bank.” I stood there, trying to figure out how to out-maneuver that crafty African bastard. “Joe!”
“Get. The. Fuck. Out.”
“Fine. I’ll see you later, sweetheart.” I gave her a kiss on the forehead.
I’m back on the street, and I’m rollin’. Everybody else be hatin’. Especially this cunt in a minivan in front of me. There’s traffic all over, but she is in front, slowing me down. I can’t get in the other lane, and she won’t switch lanes to let me move ahead. What the hell is her problem? We go down a couple miles and what seems like a hundred fucking intersections. I flash my lights every so often, but she doesn’t take the hint. I honk a few times. I think she’s ignoring me.
Joey is not ignored. Not by bitches in minivans. The light changes, and I can see there is big space in front of her. She is going about 25. I can’t take it anymore. Maybe she needs a reminder.
Ever so gently, I tap the back of her van with my front bumper.
That got her attention. She looks at me in the mirror. You look good like that, honey, with your mouth hanging open. I tap her again.
I have to slam on my brakes as she hits hers hard and pulls over to the shoulder. Finally. I slide right on by, through a yellow light. Maybe a little orange around the edges.
Later that night, I’m at home watching Sportscenter and drinking some Dewars. Joey likes top shelf. There’s a knock on my door. I look through the window. Cops. Uh-oh—did that bitch call the cops on me after I asked her nicely to move out of my way?
“Sir, are you Joe Cannoli?”
“Yeah, that’s me. Joey Cannoli.”
“Are you one of the owners of Shiny Gold and Jewelry?”
A sigh of relief. I wasn’t busted. Wait. Shit, did I get robbed? I bet it was an inside job. That slimy Arab fuck Rashid. Man—I hope my insurance is paid up. “Yeah, that’s me. I own it. Did something happen? Was there a robbery?” This was looking better and better. I could cash out, get out of that business, ditch my partner and my pathetic excuse for fiancé.
“Sir, yes, there was a robbery. Two armed men came in, shot the clerk, and took everything.”
“Wait-shot the clerk?“ Ha. That bastard Rashid is dead.
“I’m sorry, sir. She was dead before police arrived.”
I didn’t hear the rest. It wasn’t Rashid. It was Jenny. My Jenny. My Jenny is gone. Oh my God. Now what am I going to do?
I bet I can parlay this into some sympathy sex.
Tags: 2000s, assholes, employees, girlfriends, life and death, scooters, sexual harrassment
I don’t remember if I posted this or not. For continuity’s sake I will. This happened about May of 2008, right before Scooter’s closed.
Christ in a fucking sidecar. That’s the only way to start this. Let me tell you about my weekend.
I worked Friday night at the restaurant for Scott, the owner, and my usual Saturday night. He had to work his church’s (actually his wife’s church) parish picnic, working the grill for their food. The same amount of business that 5 people can’t handle without getting bogged down he or I can do easily–if they would just get the fuck out of the way.
So I agreed to work. Friday night is a bit much for the new young-fuck Matt to handle by himself. I get there, and Megan, a cute little 20 year old driver, is trying to convince me I should let her off that night, there is a concert she wanted to go to that she had asked Scott off for but he had never given her an answer.
I thought about it a bit. That would leave me with three drivers–kinda tight, but it should be manageable; the nice weather should make it a little slower.
I said, “Okay, sure…But I need you to wear those shorts the next time you work.”
She bubbled. “Okay. I can do that for you.” She smiled and sashayed off.
I love college-aged chicks. Firm, tight bodies, perfectly shaped asses. Perky tits. Naivete. And inexperience in realizing what, exactly, constitutes sexual harassment.
“That’s what I like about high school girls. I keep getting older, and they stay the same age. Oh yes, they do.”
Meanwhile, before I even get there, Matt is working, and he’s called me twice already wondering when I’ll be there. Fuck, shithead. I get off work at 4:00. The 24 miles in traffic takes close to an hour. I’m scheduled at five. I’ll be there at five. He wants to leave. He always has some lame kind of excuse, problems with the car, car got impounded, car on the side of the road, or he has to go do something for his mother.
I’m starting to realize, after these events transpired, that I’m probably being take for a ride; I think his actual excuse is the drugs that he needs to go take.
But when I get there, I don’t let him go. He wants to skate without doing the two most important and time-consuming pieces of prep: weighing out the tips, and pounding out the burgers. This may not mean anything to you, but what it means to me is that on a Friday night, the busiest night of the week, I was going to have to do this shit on the fly.
“Matt, you need to finish this shit.” He stays an extra hour, at the most, and gets it done while bitching. The place is still completely trashed, dishes piled high, prep tables piled and covered with crap, trash and boxes piled up, grinders and slicers filthy from use and chunks of meat and cheese and other foodstuffs scattered about wildly. But I can deal; we’ll have three drivers.
But my third driver, Jody, never shows up. Matt is a friend of hers, so he goes over to her house. She calls and says she’s on her way, then calls back about half hour later and says she’s not coming in.
Many of the details I’m a little sketchy on, and most of what I’ve heard I tend not to believe, because it comes from primary sources trying to paint themselves in the bestest light.
The long and short of it is this:
Matt goes over, says he tried to get her up, says she was wasted or hung over or both, and says Jody punched him repeatedly. He left.
My Friday night was one of the worst ever. Mota’s wife Becca was working and she was a hero, the champion, of keeping it together for me.
Saturday, Everyone comes in who is supposed to. Matt worked during the day, and left before Jody showed up. Then, after they are all working, Matt shows up–with Jody’s…girlfriend.
This has become the fucking OC, or some other retarded modern teen night time soap opera. Jody likes this girl, Janna. But she cheated on Janna–with Matt. To get back at her, Janna cheated on Jody. With Matt.
Now Matt apparently likes Janna (good head goes a long way), but is friends still (supposedly) with Jody. Matt continues to recount stories of how Jody–a little firecracker–keeps hitting him and inflicting other violence on him, for no reason. “Why does she keep hitting me, Bubba?”
I had enough of this. I had been close to boiling over all night, having this story inflicted on me. I had heard all sides of it, including the stuff that he didn’t think I knew.
“WHY? WHY IS SHE HITTING YOU? WHY? IT’S ABOUT THE FUCKING GIRL, RETARD! IT’S ABOUT THE GODDAMN GIRL! ALL OF THIS IS ABOUT THE GIRL! YOU LIKE HER, SHE LIKES HER! IT’S FUCKING JEALOUSY! ARE YOU COMPLETELY FUCKING STUPID? IT’S ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THE FUCKING GIRL! CHRIST! MORON!”
The kid is completely irrational. First, he’s in denial about it being about this stupid love trapezoid, or triangle, or octagon. Pick your favorite polygonal icon.
Then he gets mad, and yells at me about how I don’t understand. Of course I don’t understand. I don’t understand how he can be this stupid. If it’s NOT about this, then what exactly is it about? Ask yourself that question, shithead. He had left, by the way, gotten drunk or high or something, and then came back up to the store. I had to keep the two separated. Meanwhile, the mousey little Janna acts like an innocent victim in all this. I’ve actually come to believe that she is a passive-aggressive manipulative cunt: She knows what is going on. She wants to have her dick and her pussy too.
I believe Matt may know as well, but if he acts like he doesn’t get it, he can get more sympathy, more ear time.
Lots of ridiculous things happen, and I don’t care to recount all of them. Matt leaves because I make him, but he takes the girl with him. He completely misunderstood. “You told me to get the girls out of here.”
“No, dipshit. I told YOU to leave. I will get the rest of them out of here.” He completely fails to realize that he is part of the problem as well. But then he comes back–again, like a fucking herpes flair up, and this time he is lamenting his sad life, and talks endlessly of driving his truck very fast into a wall.
At this point I’m willing to point one out for him. People who talk about suicide like this don’t mean it; it’s a cry for attention. “Woe is me; I’ve nailed two hot chicks but I can’t seem to get that elusive threesome lined up. Woe is me!” Hard for me to muster any sympathy.
Although, his mother kicked him out of the house (again), he gets in trouble with the law repeatedly, having his car impounded once or twice, tickets and so forth, and he needs to pay for a lawyer. His mother may be an alcoholic, I’m not sure. He’s 18, his life is in turmoil, he has no one, no place, nothing…
But, he’s fucking moron. He’s completely stupid. He’s made bad decisions, and he’s made them poorly, and executed them in the most ridiculous manner possible. I completely resent the fact that he is trying to cling to me like I am his father figure. I don’t need this. I have–
My own shit to deal with. In addition, I have an 18 year old son of my own that I hardly get to see. I don’t need this pathetic reject as a surrogate. My son is smart, drug-free, moral, and a good decision maker. Artistic and talented. He has a future. And he’s not a complete fucking drag to be around.
Plus all of this is happening late at night when I’m trying to get the place cleaned up and get out of there. Matt’s out of it, drunk and drugged up and binging on self-pity, so he has no recollection of time. He merely sees a group of people that he can suck the life force out of.
I had to go outside, and get between him and Jody. The girl in question merely stands by, no expression on her face, not understanding, like Matt, that this is all about her. Only Jody gets it, and that’s why she has become violent. I make Matt leave. I tell Jody to go check out, clock out, and leave.
Finally, it’s over. Or is it? After they have all left and we are doing the real closing work, trying to get done and get out, Matt comes back. He has no place to go, no place to sleep. He wants to sleep in the store. No, that will not happen.
Mota makes the mistake of offering him a place to sleep. Fine, you do that. Then Mota and his wife ask if we want to come over to their house, party a little–
Are you sure? We have a pool, and a firepit–
Not a chance.
Is it because Matt is going over?
Bingo. I’m done with the pity party. Any conversation is going to be monopolized by his constant woe-is-me desire for attention. He drains me. I just want to go home.
Detroit came up to work to see me that night, by the way, and I’m glad she did. For one, she may not have believed everything if she hadn’t witnessed it herself. For two, she thanked Megan for wearing the shorts that night–I needed that kind of thing (of course I told her. She knows me so well. “You are such a pervert,” she said. Hey, if they’re over 18, technically, I’m not a pervert.)
For three, she knew and understood exactly the stress that I had had inflicted on me that night, and said, “I will [take care of you] tonight when we get home.”
God, I love this woman.
Tags: 1980s, college, girlfriends
I had just returned to SIU-Carbondale for my second semester, after a pathetic first try and an awkward winter break with my parents wherein I tried to explain.
Explain what, exactly? Explain how I was smart but completely undisciplined, how I had turned into a pothead and had no motivation? How I was wasting their money and embarrassing them in our small community?
One of the few classes I had passed the previous semester was Composition, so here I was in the next step up for engineering majors: technical report writing.
I hadn’t been as lucky with some of the other classes. FORTRAN I passed with a D, so I don’t think that really counts as passing. Engineering physics had been as hard as Chinese Calculus. I flunked that, as well as Calculus, ironically.
Luckily I have a distorted perception of how I view myself, otherwise it would have been embarrassing when the dean of the math department came to my Calc II class–where I was sitting in the front row!–and escorted me to a new Calc I class.
But in writing I had excelled–at least relatively speaking–and so I was excited to be in tech report writing. I remember our instructor was a young woman, and cute, which was guaranteed to get me to go to class in much the same way that the very hot lab TA for my biology class got me to an 8 am lab on a Friday morning.
In addition to the instructor, there were a few other chicks in the class. And there was one very hot little blond chick. I sat casually behind her and to the left, so I could more easily check out the shape of her ass in those jeans.
And so it was a complete shock to me about two weeks later when some girl that I had never seen before flagged me down in the cafeteria. She was cute, but at first she seemed somewhat plain, at least in comparison to the overly-made up chicks in the 80s. She had an easy smile and a wide grin, and her chin seemed to crinkle devilishly when she laughed. She didn’t wear make up, which is what gave me the impression of her plain look. To her, however, it was a statement of honesty and simple living. I would have expected her to have a flower in her should-length, wavy, reddish-brown hair…it reminded me of that Zeppelin song.
We talked, and became friends quickly.
Of course I wanted to have sex with her; I’m a guy. But she had a boyfriend. I never really saw him, except maybe once–she kept her many lives separate. I was her school-friend. Her boyfriend was in the campus-approved campus-adjacent housing for sophomores.
I felt like I was finally living the college life. I had a few friends now that I hadn’t glommed from my roommate, and I had a hip girl as a friend as well.
We were really good friends, and fit well together. Meaning, she listened to me ramble on endlessly about random bullshit and seemed to be entertained. She was eccentric, and I guess she detected in me a kindred spirit.
And so it went that semester, and then I was out of that school–I had flunked out. Would I see her again?
During the summer, I had occasion to drive down to school–about 2 hours away–and hang with my old roommate and his friends. Heather had gone back home for the summer.
We did talk on the phone–oh, the long distance charges!–and wrote to each other. By the time school had started back up, my family was living in St Louis. I kept in touch with my friends, and two of them were getting married.
And let me tell that story. My roommate John knew a lot of people. Gail and Susan were roommates on the third floor of the same building in which Heather lived on the first floor.
Susan had a boyfriend named Scott. They had broken up, and John had quit his girlfriend for a while. I don’t remember her name, but she was cute. John and Susan hooked up. They were together for quite a while, in college terms (almost a semester).
Towards the end of the spring semester, Scott was in an accident. Actually, an accident happened in front of him and he got caught in it. He and his friends were standing on the street corner because parties often fall out of the house and into the yard. A drunk driver came barreling down, hit a car, caromed off of it, and hit Scott, somehow dragging him between two cars.
He ended up having to have part of one leg amputated below the knee, and some serious metal installed in the other. Susan went running back to him.
Since this was college, they were all able to still remain friends. Susan and Scott were going to get married. John wasn’t the best man or anything like that, but he was invited. It was in the fall, I think in October.
I coming down about every weekend to hang out (and also buy pot), and I would crash on someone’s couch. The weekend before the wedding was the bachelor/bachelorette party. We had turned into a large group of friends–mostly women. There was me and John and Mike, and now Scott, and half a dozen or more girls. The party ended up at a blues bar, and after I ended up driving…shit, what was her name? Mary? That sounds right. I drove Mary’s Mustang, because she was completely plastered, and she crashed in the back seat. Cindy rode in the front, with me. John, Gail, and Cindy had all gone in together to rent a house, so that’s where I headed. Cindy was pretty drunk, too. I was just a little drunk, but not out of it, which made me the designated driver. We placed Mary into Cindy’s bed, and Cindy came out and sat on the couch. I sat next to her. Drunkenly, she makes a move on me, and we started making out. Then she passed out.
It was a special moment, one that I would see replayed a more than a few times in my lifetime: the moment when you realize you are not getting laid. I covered her up, and lay on the floor next to the couch, and went to sleep.
Several weeks later, I called ahead to make sure I could crash at Scott and Susan’s. I didn’t know (and still don’t, to this day) if Cindy had ever told anyone what we did, or almost did. Hell, I didn’t know if she even remembered. But I didn’t want to just invite myself over to their house. I remember some part of this conversation with Susan, where I told her that where I really wanted to stay was at Heather’s, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen.
I did stop by and see John, and we went to the Hanger 9, one of the college bars. We were groovin’ to the live band, and during a break in the music, it happened.
This was such a subtle thing–little thing–a sudden twist of fate, the most exact of timing, that I believe if things had been off by just a few seconds, my life for at least the following several years would have been different.
It was killing me to know what Cindy knew, and how she felt, and if there was an “us”–a future. I liked Cindy. She was a few years older than me and way more mature, and pretty, if not a bit chunky. And she thought I was interesting.
John was her roommate, privileged to all information, and confidant to many. He would know, and could advise me. I could scope this situation out.
At the exact–exact–same moment that I tapped John on the shoulder in this noisy little bar to get his attention to ask him about Cindy, I felt a tap on MY shoulder. Just as John turned around to me, I turned around.
To Heather. Having been my roommate, John knew I was in love with her. He turned back around and ignored us.
Heather! She was surprised, shocked, and happy to see me. She had broken up with her boyfriend a few weeks prior, and of course I had been right there to comfort her. Yeah. It comforted me. I listened to her as she talked and bitched and got it out of her system, I was her sounding board. Then I left. I knew that it was not a good time to profess my love, or lust.
While we were talking, John came to us and said, “There’s a party at my house tonight. You guys should come.” So we did. It was your typical small off-campus rental house, and there were about 50 people there, all over the place. Several stereos going at once, including one in John’s room. Heather and I ended up sitting in there; she on a stool, a little higher than me, and I was on a chair. John popped in once or twice, gave me a knowing smirk, and closed the door behind him as he left.
It was loud in there, so I had to lean over to her to tell her anything. I did, and she would lean in too. I did this two or three times. Then, the last time, I leaned in, she leaned in expectantly, and I kissed her.
She drew back slowly, and looked at me. She had the look on her face as though she were making a decision. She may have even had a hand on her chin, I don’t know. This was mid-November, 1984. I was 19. Three months away from being 20.
She stood up, took my hand, and led me to a different chair, a bigger one. She sat me down, then slowly she straddled me and sat on my lap, put her arms around me. We began to make out.
We left the party, and we drove back to her dorm room. I was shaky and a little nervous, but mostly excited. We get to her dorm room, and she hangs a little flowered thing on the doorknob. The signal, I guess, for her roommate.
Afterwards, as we lay in each others arms, I was aching to tell her something. I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I turned to her and, “Before this–before tonight–I was a virgin.”
Don’t you just love this reaction from a woman? She rolled her eyes and groaned, and turned over.
And from there I proceeded to ruin it.
At first it was wonderful, of course. That fresh romance thing, and young love. Although it was November in a college town, through my love-colored glasses it was April in Paris. It really was just lots and lots of sex, which I equated with lots and lots of love. Through the end of that semester and the following spring semester, I went down to see her every weekend.
I liked her roommate–I forget her name–but she started to not like me. Of course. I made her dorm room a hostile environment for her. I had school and work Monday through Thursday. Friday–and sometimes Thursday–I would drive down. I crashed in their room Friday and Saturday night (and sometimes Thursday night) and drive home Sunday afternoon. I was *always* there. And we were either having sex, about to have sex, or just finished having sex. How is she supposed to live in her room?
We did go out of the room a lot, so she was able to get in there. But I remember a few comical times…
Early on, we were in bed, under the cover. Just got done, maybe? A knock on the door. She pauses, then comes in, averts her eyes and puts her hand up as a blinder. “Sorry-didn’t-mean-to-bug-you-I-just-have-to-grab-something-real-quick-and-then-I’ll-be-out-of-here.” She said it all as one word.
Two of her friends were standing in the door. I guess they had heard about us and wanted to see. One of them said to us, “Did you two know you still have your socks on?”
“…We were in a hurry.”
Actually, the truth would have been funnier. I should have said, “We’re going to go out later.”
I told Heather that I loved her once. Maybe a few times. For my birthday, she gave me a card where she had written down everything she felt. “Love” is not the right word, the right emotion, for what we have. It’s like, it’s infatuation, it’s lust. Not love.
Maybe she was right.
Every weekend I went down there to see her. Funny, if I had just gotten there before 5pm, I could have gone to the security office and gotten a visitor’s parking pass for free. But I never did. And so, every weekend, I got a parking ticket. Sixteen weeks, sixteen tickets. Of course, 13 of them were on the Maverick, which was technically in my dad’s name. But the last three were on my Chevette, which was in my name. The next year when I needed my transcript transferred, I had to pay them. All three of them, five bucks each.
For the summer, she went home to the Quad Cities. I went up to visit her once–
I went up to “see” her, but it was pretty transparent that I just wanted to have sex. She wanted to “take a break” from sex for the summer. I thought that was silly, and also thought that paradigm would change if I came up to see her. Right? But actually it did not. Eventually she relented–was I forcing myself on her? What the hell kind of relationship was this?
At home, by myself, I had too much time to think about it and not enough data or experience to process; in essence, I was spinning my wheels.
But school was starting soon–
The first weekend–hell, it might have been the weekend BEFORE school starts, when people show up early to get acclimated or just get away from their parents–I showed up at her doorstep.
There were no words, but there were looks. At that time I was still socially retarded, but even I was able to pick up on the look of surprise and subtle distancing on Heather’s face, and the stern disapproval on her roommate’s. And I felt the warm flush come over my own. It was actually late at night when I showed up. I recall saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll just sleep on the floor, and leave in the morning. I lay down, used my little backpack for a pillow, faced the wall, and brooded myself to sleep.
I think I began to piece some of it together that night, but it wasn’t until years later that it all finally clicked for me. I had no idea what love was, most likely. I was using her for sex. Of course, no one “gets used” without their permission–but she was seeing it get out of control. It was affecting her school work, probably, as well as obviously her other relationships (like that of with her roommate), and my insensitivity was reflected in how we were treating her. And where was this going? I was just clingy, and wanted sex.
And in my moody, self-pitying introversion, I reasoned that if she didn’t want to have sex with me, she didn’t love me. And she had already said this wasn’t love. I didn’t think about what it was doing to her, or her reasons; my only thought was how much she hurt me.
In the morning, I got up and left without waking either of them.
Sometime later we had the awkward in-person conversation, the break-up. The closure. The whatever. She was passive-aggressively trying to get me to take a hint, and I was stubbornly looking past it for any kind of sign that there was still hope. Finally, I guess, I got it.
“So…I guess…this is it, then…”
“Well, maybe…maybe we can…you know, maybe we can be friends still…”
“Friends. I’d like that.”
“So, I guess I’ll see you around, then. Next time I come down, or whatever–”
“Or if I see you in town, or something.”
“Okay. That’d be great. Or good. That’d be good.” She gave me a weak, thin smile as she let the door close on me.