Payphone

“Hey, how long you work here?” said the hurried man.

“Why?” I shot back.

“Because I wanna ask you a fucking question, that’s why.”

“Okay.”

“Is there a payphone around here, where’s a payphone?”

What I wanted to say was, piss off, I haven’t seen a payphone since the last time I saw your mom, a decade ago. “I think there’s a payphone on the other side of the store,” I said.

“In the store? Jesus Christ, payphones are outside, they’re not inside the goddamn store.” Then he looked at me like I was the idiot and walked away.

If I could go back in time to that exact moment, I have a feeling it would have gone much differently.

0 0 0

“Hey, how long you work here?” said the flushed, rushed man.

“Why?”

“Because I wanna ask you a fucking question, that’s why.”

“Look, asshole, do I come to your place of work, pull out my dick and piss in your face? No, I don’t.”

“Fuck you. You stack fruit for a living! What’s your name? Where’s customer service?”

“Name’s suck my cock,” I pointed to the outline of my mine through my pants. “Go, complain, they’ll promptly file it under ‘Garbage’.”

“I’m going to find a fucking payphone and call your corporate office. Hopefully, they’ll fire your ass. Hahaha, I have you now you, you little fuckwad, he was probably thinking.

“Okay, wait…no,” I fell to my knees and cried out to the produce, “Noooo!” I screamed to a doomed existence illuminated by blinding LED lights overhead, “Don’t call my corporate lords!”

“What the fuck,” the man asked, squaring off with me, poised like a crazed badger.

“Fool. You really believe anyone of any minuscule importance to the company is going to speak to some asshole asking around for a payphone? Normally, they’d buy you off with a $20 gift card, but you’d need an address for that.”

“You. Fucking…” he huffed. A faint glow enveloped him and his shoes began to simmer and burst which sent blood, steel, and wire deep into the green tinged concrete floor. His torso transformed from sweat and fat into a payphone wearing skin with keypad button eyes and his mouth narrowed into a vertical slot for quarters which squealed out a metallic, “How about I just bury you here, produce guy. Ha ha, hahahaha! Ahh, ha ha ha!”

He swung his arms, now thin cords with enormous phones connected to the ends, into our fruit bins. Galas, Fuji, and Cara Caras collided in a kaleidoscope of grapes and yams flying in all directions. The customers, who’d been mindlessly walking in circles until that very moment, panicked and screamed as they trampled one another for the doors. There was a flash in my peripheral, he caught me off guard in the panic, bringing his right phone down hard. I dodged, but the sharp blast mutilated my left side.

I rolled right, just behind the berry case and stood hard on my feet as the monster raised both phones high. Its intent to kill me was clear. I had just one chance, “Green banana, soft apples’ power, rotting onion’s will entangle—spell of binding number 58.” I looked like a starfish in midair with blue bio-plasma raging from my limbs. Concentrated grocery magic from the secret books of Moses swelled up and burst out of me, snapping my limbs together like a binder clip. A soft hum crept from under the ceiling cameras with a rising beat, and then the crescendo of lightning swirled down the pillars around us. The hellish payphone screamed and collapsed backward as the second floor came down on him, pinning his arms to the ground.

The giant began choking up rubble as I neared it and stood over it and said, “If you would have just asked nicely I would have let you use my phone.” I brought my produce knife above my head and drove it into the keyhole that secured its quarters.

It coughed and gurgled, “God…goddamn you, produce boy. You think you’ve won?” Blood oozed from its mouth and buttons, “This, ‘his is just the start. You beat me, but more are on their way—they, they’re already here…” I twisted my blade and broke the lock, and the demon let out a piercing cry as change and acid charged up from its bowls, melting it into the foundation.

 

 

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Disney Complex

People I’ve encountered don’t seem to deal with sadness very well. And I don’t mean funeral sadness; I just lost a really good friend and need to grieve, sadness–all levels. People can’t navigate hardship, manage discomfort. I know there are innumerable reasons for this, and perhaps it’s too much a generalization, but it’s worth mentioning. The human narrative is too happy.

Growing up I read stories that didn’t all have good endings–kid’s books–with trials and struggle. The original fairy tales are literally horrifying. Now those stories are just watered down rip-offs–all laughs and love with no pain, character, or tragedy.

Though many hands are involved I blame Disney. Everything about them is cheap and fake, from the music they produce to the shitty stories they rewrite. Disney’s “where dreams come true” nonsense isn’t preparing children for the real world. I know parents are responsible for doing that, but all most parents know how to do is turn on the TV.

Bike Thief

I was walking home from work when a stranger who was crouched by a new looking powder yellow bicycle said, “Hey, are you in a rush?”

“No, why?”

“Mind doing me a favor?”

“Depends.”

“Just stand there for a second and shield me from traffic.”

“You’re not serious. Are you stealing that?”

“I know this sounds like bullshit, but I’m only borrowing it.”

“I’m calling the police.”

“If you pull out your phone I’ll smash it with a pry-bar. You didn’t even hear me out. Who ever this bike belongs to, they’re probably going to get it back. All these people have more money than they know what to do with, and they almost always give a hefty reward to get their shit back.”

“Jesus Christ, that’s Fight Club shit man, get a real job.”

“ANnnnnd, got it. Come on. Where you headed?”

“Jesus, who cares, I just want to get home.”

“Well now you’re an accomplice to theft. So, do you want to keep standing there like an asshole? Look, my truck’s parked behind a gas station just two blocks over on Powell. If I can’t convince you that what am doing isn’t wrong or theft, then you can have the bike and do whatever you want with it.”

“Fine. Then after that just leave me alone.”

“Fare enough.”

“So enlighten me, why is it that what you’re doing isn’t wrong?”

“Rich people want you to steal. It’s a byproduct of capitalism. Think about it, you wouldn’t have to steal anything if you could simply make enough money working. There are only three ways to get money: you can earn it, it can be given to you, or you can take it. I’m in the position where earning it isn’t enough to really get by, but just enough to not get much from the government either; I got bills and I need food, and I just happen to be pretty good at this, so I call it creative capitalism.”

“Do you actually make anything doing this?”

“Fuck yeah I do. One year, I only had to do this once a month. Every hit, they offered a grand for their bikes back. That might not be much, but compared to my ‘real job’ it’s more than I make in a month. Even $500 is nice, that’s a steak week. That’s student loans getting paid.”

“You can get another job you know.”

“Jesus, you’re not listening. This is my second job, and it’s great. If the people in charge wanted things any other way then they’d pay us based on real life needs, but they don’t, so what’s actually wrong about what I’m doing?”

“You’re hurting the people you directly steal from, not the system you want to fight.”

“Hurting them! Are you fucking kidding me. I’m inconveniencing them. The massive tax breaks and bonuses those pricks get are actually hurting me, because all that extra money in their wallets is less food in my stomach. So I get that money back, and guess what? I don’t have to worry about making it though winter without heat. And don’t think I steal just any piece of shit on the street. If you don’t know what you’re doing then you shouldn’t be stealing. I’m not some kid trading in junk for heroin money, this is a calculated business, otherwise it’s not worth the risk. I’m right there, want a pop?”

“No.”

“Sure? Want the bike?

“…No”

“So you understand me then?”

“Jesus, I just want to get home, I don’t care either way, but you’re still breaking the law.”

“Whatever. By the way, you utterly reek of weed, and that shit’s illegal too, so fuck you.”