Sunday, June 26, 2016
“I really appreciate it. I just can’t live with Dad anymore after what happened earlier this week,” Randy shook his head.
Several days ago, Randy was digging through a hall closet and found an odd-looking device buried under clothes that went out of style before he was born. It was heavy with an electric cord that was only two-pronged and looked rusted. It looked a little like a belt sander without a belt and a metal rod protruding from it. Randy took it and headed toward his father’s bedroom. He knocked on the door.
“Come in,” Randall answered.
Randy opened the door and saw his father, naked, bent over, with his backside pointed to the door. “Oh my God! What are you doing?”
“Trying to pick up these coins I dropped on the floor,” Randall grunted.
“Why are you naked?”
“This is America. A man can be nude in his own house if he wants.”
“Why did you say ‘come in?’”
“You’ve seen me naked before,” Randall stood up and turned toward Randy.
Randy’s eyes immediately moved to where his father’s genitals were. “Aah! Yeah but you were in your thirties and I was, like, four.”
“Oh, hey. Your mother loved it when I would use that on her,” Randall pointed to the machine in his son’s hand. “I think I still have the attachment in the bottom drawer here.” Randall bent back down to open and look in the bottom dresser drawer.
“Use it on her? Oh, God!” Randy screamed and dropped the machine on the floor and ran back to his room. “Anyway, thank you for letting me move in,” Randy said to Erin.
“Again, not a problem,” Erin shrugged.
“I have to get to work. Don’t want to be late on my first day,” Randy said, glancing at a clock on Erin’s wall. “Thanks for me helping me move my stuff, Brian,” he waved and headed toward the door.
“What?” Brian breathed. “You said you’d by me lunch if I helped you move.”
“Yeah, I didn’t say it’d be today. I’ll catch you both later.”
Randy left, closing the door behind him. Brian and Erin looked at each other. “I’ll fix you some lunch,” Erin motioned to the kitchen with her head.
“I don’t mean to impose,” Brian said.
“Nonsense. It’s just lunch. Come on, let’s see what we have.”
“Right now, we’ll just have you bag and act as a floater. Just do whatever someone tells you for now and we’ll get you trained on doing stock and cashiering later this week,” the shift manager said to Randy as they walked to the front of the store after spending almost an hour filling out paperwork. “We would have a place to put you but since you haven’t had a job in almost six years it’s kind of hard to know what you can do.”
“Yeah, that’s what I get for living off the grid like an idiot,” Randy lied. “But thanks for giving me this chance. “
“I know your dad,” the shift manager said. “If you’re half the man he is.”
“Well, I’m not,” Randy said in a joking tone but was being serious.
“Ha!” the manager laughed. “This is Amanda, one of our best checkers. You’ll be working with her bagging groceries and just doing whatever else someone may have for you over the intercom.”
“Great. Thanks,” Randy said. “Hi, I’m Randy Brubaker.”
“Amanda Windom. Your name sounds familiar,” Amanda squinted her eyes.
“I may have wrote a kind of successful book,” Randy revealed in a quiet voice.
“No, it’s not that. I saw the name on a truck or something.”
“Oh, that was probably my Dad. He’s an electrician and just came out of retirement.”
“Yeah, that’s probably it,” Amanda said. “What book did you write?”
“‘Stroke Girl’,” he answered. “You ever hear of it?”
“Possibly? What was it about?”
“I found out about this girl who had a stroke in high school so I followed her around for several months hearing about her life, her stroke, her successes and failures and wrote a book about it.”
“That’s cool. Why are you here then?”
“I made it a young adult fictional story, changed the names, disavowed ever talking to her, and said it was a story that I came up with.”
“Yeah, it was. It’s in the process of going through chances. It will say ‘based on a true story’ and all my proceeds will go to her medical fund for the next four years and a charity for young stroke victims until I die.”
“That’s cool. Glad to see you are making it right.”
“I’d rather have the money but going to Heaven is good, too, I guess,” he shrugged.
Customers began coming through the line, Amanda checked them out while Randy bagged their stuff. Occasionally Randy would look up at Amanda, long brown hair, thick, nerdy glasses, no chin, cute but not in a pretty way. “Separate the meats,” she said.
“When you bag meats, separate the meats from the other food.”
“Cross contamination. Don’t want to get salmonella on your chips.”
“But the chips are in a bag. So is the meat,” Randy looked down at the groceries he was bagging.
“I don’t make the rules. Just separate the meat.”
Randy shrugged. “Are you good at bagging?”
“Maybe you can show me what to do. Clearly, I have no idea.”
“Just a second,” Amanda scanned a few more items then called for someone named Jackson over the intercom. “He’s the best sacker in the store. He’ll give you some tips.”
Within a few seconds, a guy with brown hair, a cute nose, and thick lips came over. “What’s up?” he asked.
“Jackson, this is Randy. He’s starting today,” Amanda introduced. “He wants some tips on bagging.”
“She said you were the best sacker in the store,” Randy said, trying to flirt but just being dumb.
“Are you coming on to me?” Jackson asked.
“Jackson likes to make guys uncomfortable with his sexuality,” Amanda said.
“It’s not my fault if I make them uncomfortable. I’m just being friendly,” Jackson said and stepped close to Randy.
“No, it’s fine. I’m gay, too,” Randy revealed.
“Really? Well, that makes this more interesting,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to meet you. We should hang out sometime.”
“Yeah, I’d like that. I need more friends,” Randy said.
“Don’t we all. Now, onto the bagging,” Jackson refocused and began explaining how to correctly bag groceries which was more complicated than Randy could’ve thought.
“We’re so lucky to have found you,” Leah Tilghman said to Jess as they went into what was now her classroom. “This will be your room. If I remember the schedule correctly, you have four study halls, two English classes, and a Resource English class so you should have it pretty easy. We wanted whoever took over to have it easy for their time here.”
“Thanks,” Jess chuckled. “I should be fine no matter what the schedule. I’m just glad to find something so soon.”
School started at eight and Jess prepared for her first class, a study hall with only eight students and a para. The para was Frank Campo, who had been doing this for three years. While most of the students in the study hall were quiet and at least faked working, two students were very talkative with each other. Lexi Golden was a blond-haired girl in glasses. Haley Barnett was another blond girl with wide green eyes. Haley was flipping through her phone and showing Lexi what was on it. Both laughed at what was on the screen.
“Hey, girls, what’s up?” Jess asked as she sat down in a desk in front of them.
“We’re messing around with SnapChat,” Haley said. Lexi had backed away, not wanting to get into trouble.
“I know you should have something to do. It may be my first day here but I’m not stupid,” Jess smiled at Haley. “Mr. Campo, you may know. Do Haley and Lexi have anything to do for a class?”
“Haley has a worksheet for chapter seven in science and Lexi could be working on her math,” Frank said as he was working with Travis, a mostly quiet boy who had been held back twice and was still a sophomore.
“There you go,” Jess smiled bigger. “Put the phone away and get to work.”
“Blah,” Haley commented, sticking her tongue out but relented and pulled out her science book.
“Thank you, Haley. Thank you, Lexi,” Jess said and walked away.
“Thank you, Mr. Campo,” Jess said to Frank.
“I know everything about Haley. I’m in just about every one of her classes. We get along well,” he said. “Lexi will always have math homework. She will not do it in class. Leah’s been trying though.”
“Still, thank you,” Jess smiled at him and he smiled back.
It was almost two in the morning when the pounding woke up Chrissy. Just in her shirt and panties, she angrily got out of bed and stormed toward the front door, throwing it open. “What?” she shouted and saw someone from her past. “Kate?”
“Hey,” she breathed heavily. “I know it’s been about ten years since we’ve seen each other but can I stay with you?”