The International Writers Magazine: Novel in progress Pt 2
If you missed
it - Chapter One here
On Cadillac - Chapter Two
Banks wasnt a hard, whip-cracking boss; in fact, she was
almost easygoing for all the pressure put on her from the head
office. She worked hard herself on the morning shifts, which were
some of the busiest, and she had a fun, wise-cracking way about
her that brought out the best in her employees, and kept the regulars
coming back. Word had it that she had slept with some of them.
Bar Habor Maine
The job itself
cashiering for the most part, with some shelf stocking, cleaning and
sandwich making thrown in sucked, with low pay for what was expected
of you. Because it was the season, the business was usually
steady enough to keep two cashiers busy, or one handling the register,
while the other made coffee or sandwiches or stocked the cooler. You
didnt always have time for a break that, by law, you were supposed
to get; and, often, it was all you could do to get upstairs and use
the john, or wolf down a snack behind the counter.
the hours passed fast in this way (unlike the third shift, which crawled
along after the beer cooler was locked at one a.m.), especially when
I worked with Kevin, which was usually the case. Normally, we had the
second shift - three to eleven; though I ended up working all shifts
before the summer was over. You never knew when Rita was going to ask
you to fill in for somebody, or pull a double. It was to
be expected this time of year, especially as they were shorthanded (two
people had quit early in July). I didnt mind putting in the hours
at first, but I told Rita that I wanted at least a couple of weekends
off that summer; after all, I had come out to the island to hike and
see the sights. I wanted to camp in some other places on the island.
Rita agreed to this.
you take care of me, Ill take care of you, she said. I
dont want you leaving me in the middle of the season.
knew that Kevin and I were good at our jobs, handling the money and
the customers with no major problems. She liked the fact that she never
got called at home for some kind of emergency on our shift,
and that there werent any serious complaints about our job performance.
were some complaints (and I heard some of these myself) about Kevin,
a black man, working at the store, and serving coffee and food in particular.
A couple of the old redneck regulars bitched about it, although not
to Kevins face; and there were even some assholes who wouldnt
come in the store if they saw him behind the counter. As far as I was
concerned, they didnt have to come in at all.
laughed at these bigots, not commenting on their opinions, for she knew
that some of these men came in year round. And this town was too small
a place in the wintertime to piss anybody off; she couldnt afford
to lose business.
I gotta live with these guys after you take off, she said to me
one day, without the usual grin. I dont want any of them
spreading some kind of bad word about me and turning people away. If
business falls off too much, Im out of a job.
saw her point. I knew she had nothing against Kevin, for she hired him.
And Kevin told me himself that he respected Rita for that, for he knew
that she could have easily passed him over for a white man, and not
taken any criticism for it either.
me, I know how some of these people feel about it, he said to
me one night after work, when we were relaxing with some cold ones.
Ive seen that kind of thing all over. When I first came
to Maine, I thought it might be different here, but Ive learned
enough since then. Glorias had people look at her funny because
shes with me. And I know some of her friends have said things.
Hell, she was the same way until she met me. Now she jokes about me
being the first black guy to ever hit on her, but
well, I guess
it was how she was brought up. Thats what she told me. She said
that her daddy wouldnt like it at all if he found out about me.
But I dont care what her daddy thinks. Or any of those rednecks
at the store. As long as I get my paycheck every week. Thats all
Im in that place for anyway.
raised my can to that.
not making any careers out of it, are we? I said.
no. After this summer, Im throwing that dirty blue jacket in the
trash where it belongs. He laughed.
look like something the Union forces wore in the Civil War, I
and havent been washed since then either.
company wouldnt allow us to leave the store with the uniform jackets.
The jackets were supposed to be laundered regularly, along with the
kitchen aprons and towels. Yet Rita was so busy with other things that
this was just one more thing neglected.
nights after work, Kevin and I drove somewhere on the island in his
big old, rust bitten, yellow car, listening to his music and drinking
beer. He liked the older rock from a few years before, which was all
right with me. Aerosmith had made a comeback. Old Van Halen brought
back memories, as did Rush and Z.Z Top.
course, being a Texas boy, I got to have some Z.Z. Top in my collection,
he said, grinning.
didnt mind them or any of the others, as it beat Madonna or Mike
Jackson, or the grunge sound that was just getting big. And it was before
rap became the thing.
find somewhere to park, preferably high up with a view out at the water,
and perhaps down at the harbor and all the lighted boats. Usually, Kevin
had a joint to light up some of Frank Doyles weed, which
did the job if you smoked enough of it.
bet Glorias on her way to the store now, he would always
say, as we sat there stoned. Ill hear about it from Rick.
was the third shift man, a very big man over six feet tall and close
to three hundred pounds His big round face had an unhealthy, grayish
complexion, and his long shoulder-length hair always looked like it
needed a wash. And the big man could sweat too, even though he had the
slowest shift and could sit on his ass half the time. Whenever he got
near the grill or the kitchen, which it was his job to clean, his glasses
steamed up and with his sweaty skin and slick hair it looked like he
might have stepped out of the shower.
often had second thoughts about eating the cold cuts, as Rick often
sliced the meat for the next day. He also prepared some sandwiches,
and I couldnt help but wonder about cleanliness. The big mans
slovenly appearance had caught Hemmings notice too, and he and
I laughed when the subject came up.
only eat the sandwiches I make, Kevin said. Its not
just him. You ever take a good look at that kitchen area?
couldnt help but laugh.
I? I said. I wonder when that place was inspected last.
since Ive been there, Kevin said. He had started the job
about a month before me.
they dont get out to the island that often, I said.
some of these nights, when we had plenty of beer, Id return to
Kevins apartment to watch a late movie, or listen to some more
music. I think he really wanted me there as a buffer between Gloria
and him, but I didnt mind if I had a glow on. Sometimes, Danny
was there, although he stayed with his mother on the mainland most of
went down to the store looking for you, Kevin, Gloria always started
things out with, her form of greeting.
walked all the way down there? Hed look at me and laugh,
as the store wasnt more than four blocks away.
I did. Shed pretend to be upset, but already we could see
the curl of a smile at one corner of her mouth. She knew we were teasing
her; and she also knew that she wouldnt get anywhere in a serious
vein, as wed already had a few beers in us.
you high? shed ask, the smile growing, the green eyes wide,
the thick lips showing some type of gloss.
a basic and lascivious animal, Id think. And I knew Kevin thought
along the same lines.
he would be in higher spirits if Danny wasnt around, and I couldnt
blame him there. You never knew what kind of mood the kid would be in
at any time of the day, but at that time of night, tired after a full
shift at work, it was the last thing Kevin wanted to concern himself
days hes just fine, Kevin told me. Hes in his
own world and you dont hear anything out of him. Then other days
he never shuts up and hes a real pain in the ass.
probably has to do with the medicine hes taking, I said.
He probably misses doses.
told Gloria to keep an eye on that, to make sure that he takes it. Hell,
sometimes I wish shed take some of that stuff.
© Mike Blake May 2005
If you enjoy this novel in progress, let the writer know
More First Chapters here
missed it - Chapter One here
all rights reserved