Friday, March 15, 2019

Tank N Tummy #13

Dominic got to work a little before six in the morning. He saw Lauren’s car in the lot but didn’t see her in the store. He went into the store and got himself a cup of coffee. Still wondering where Lauren was, he stepped out of the back into the delivery dock. Standing to the side of the door was Lauren, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. “You smoke?” Dominic asked.

Lauren took a drag of the cigarette while looking directly at him. She then exhaled, blowing the smoke up instead of out. “No…” she replied. “Well, maybe a little.”

“You don’t strike me as someone who smokes. But on the other hand, you kind of do.”

“I want to stop but I haven’t really tried, to be honest. Someday. But we all have our vices. Like you and your coffee.”

“Yeah but coffee doesn’t slowly kill you over a long period of time so it’s not really fair to compare coffee to cigarettes.”

“It’s still an addiction. It’s still something that has a hold on you. It’s something that would be hard to quit if you had to.”

“I could quit drinking coffee. Simple,” Dominic scoffed.

“What about all caffeine? Pop, coffee, all of it?”

Dominic hesitated for a second before answering. “Yeah, I could.”

“Let’s do it then.” Lauren stubbed out her cigarette and threw it on the ground. “I’ll quit smoking and you quit caffeine.”

“Can I still drink tea?” Brewed tea has less caffeine than brewed coffee.”

“No caffeine unless it’s something that you absolutely can’t avoid. You won’t make it a day,” Lauren smirked.

“I can last longer than you. You’re the one out back here hiding your dirty little secret from the world.”

“I can’t smoke inside and doing it next to the front door is rude.”

“Hiding it from the world.”

“Fine. If I go longer without a cigarette then you give me fifty bucks.”

“And you give me fifty bucks if I go longer without caffeine.”

“Deal,” Lauren and Dominic shook hands.

“I’m totally gonna win now.”


“Because I don’t have fifty bucks to give you.”

A little less than 12 hours ago, MaryJane and Ned were sitting in a movie theater watching the ads and previews before the lights dimmed. They were holding hands and a couple of times, she leaned over and gave Ned a peck on the cheek.

They were near the top of the theater but MaryJane clearly saw Ryan come in. He looked up and around the seats and then picked a seat near the bottom in the middle.

MaryJane ducked and hid her face. “It’s Ryan,” she said.


“He’ll tell everyone that we were on a date.”

“Everyone already thinks we’ve slept together so what’s the big deal?” Ned asked. “Ne probably didn’t even see us.”

“He looked right at us.”

“He was looking for a seat,” Ned laughed. “Why can’t we just tell your friends about us?”

“We will. I just need time.”

“Are you embarrassed by me?” Ned asked.

“No. It’s just that Dominic and Ryan expect a certain level of whore-ishness from me and I worry they won’t respect me as much if they know I’m a one-man woman.”

“I think they’ll respect you about as much as they normally respect you,” Ned said. “You’re one of their best friends. Let’s tell them tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay…” MaryJane reluctantly agreed.

MaryJane came into the Tank N Tummy. She immediately went to the front counter where Lauren and Dominic were. “Whassup, sluts?” she greeted, like she did every morning.

“I’ll tell you ‘whassup’. Every day for the last four years you’ve come in here and asked that. If it was still between 1999 and 2002 when those commercials were still popular then it would make sense. It would still be annoying but, again, it would make sense,” Dominic ranted.

“Whaa,” MaryJane took a step back. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of a cold and lonely bed.”

“We took caffeine away from him and he’s not handling it well,” Lauren said.

“Lord. How long has he been without caffeine?”

“Thirty minutes. Roughly. He’s going through withdrawal very quickly,” Lauren said. “I’m giving up smoking.”

“You’re taking it better than he is.”

“I’m just enjoying watching him fly off the handle at every little comment or inconvenience,” Lauren chuckled. “How are you doing, MaryJane?”

“I’m good. I’m the lead attorney on this case of this corporation suing to be able to dump waste into the river.”


“This company is suing the city so that they can throw their trash into the river and no longer have to use the city trash service,” MaryJane explained.


“That’s what I thought just in my head because I’m a professional.”

“So they’re suing to be able to throw their trash in the river?”

“They say that since the city already does that with storm and waste water being dumped into the river, they should be able to dump their waste into the river. ‘Let our trash become Shelbyville’s problem’ as one guy put it.”

“Well, if any city deserves a river of trash, it’s Shelbyville,” Dominic said.

Ryan come into the store, grabbed an apron from the back and got behind the counter. “He---”

“Stop talking!” Dominic shrieked.

“Whoa. What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry, Ryan. You know how I get sometimes. Lauren’s being a terrible bitch and keeping me from my precious caffeine!”

“I’m not keeping you from anything, you jackass.”

“I’m sorry, Lauren. You know how I get sometimes.”

“Hey, Ryan,” MaryJane slid up to him at the counter. “What’d you do last night?”

Ryan raised an eyebrow at her. “Nothing much. I went to see a movie.”

“Oh. See anything interesting?”

“I went to see the new Woody Allen film. His movies are much better if you assume all the characters and actors rape and marry their daughters as well. If they don’t want me to think that, then quit being in his movies.”

“Did you see anything else? Maybe in the actual theater?” MaryJane asked.

“No. Nothing out of the ordinary,” Ryan answered.

“Good. Good. Carry on,” MaryJane said.

“MaryJane,” Ned was standing in the doorway of his office. “What was that?”

“I was making sure Ryan didn’t see us at the movies.”

“Was that what that was? Because to me it looked like you all but revealing that we’re dating,” Ned said. “That line of questioning is going to make him suspicious.”

“Oh, come on. It’s Ryan.”

“What’s the deal with those two?” Ryan asked Dominic, pointing to MaryJane and Ned.

“They’re dating,” Dominic said.

“Yeah, I know that. I saw them at the movies last night. I’m asking about why they want their relationship to remain secret.”

“I don’t know. But you’re right. It’s stupid and annoying.”

“I never said it was…”

“You guys can quit hiding! We all know you’re dating!” Dominic shouted toward them. “There. That fixed it. I’ve never seen MaryJane’s face that shade of red before. Heh.”

The next day, Lauren walked in and saw Dominic with a cup of coffee. “So I win?” she asked.

“Yep. You win fifty bucks. I do hope you’ll continue to not smoke though,” Dominic smiled.

“I plan on it. How about instead of the fifty, you take me to dinner?” Lauren suggested. “I can get my fifty bucks in the form of food.”

“Sure. I’d love to. Let me know where.”

“I will do that.”