Friday, February 27, 2009

Pack of dogs

-That's 3.50.
-You are out of milk.
-I know. The guy hasn't come this week. Anything else?
-So... Working late tonight?
-No. Can I get you something else?
-No, thanks.
-3.50.
A bill and a few coins. She didn't even bother counting them. If he short changed her, she could always "remind" his wife tomorrow, at 4 o'clock, during her afternoon condom shopping. Anna doubted they even had sex, much less three times a day... but it was none of her business. Sometimes she even wondered who she disliked more.
He smelled like bad cologne. She did too. He flirted with her, and Anna was sure he cheated on her. She definitely cheated on him. They both despised that little bundle of smelling screaming demanding piece of shit they had for a toddler son. Most of all, they both treated her liker they were her masters. But then again, all of her clients were more or less the same. Maybe it was just that they lived across the street, in an apartment Anna couldn't even dream of living in.
The door closed behind him, but she kept watching it for a few seconds, until the electronic bell stopped whistling its song. She couldn't point the melody, but she knew she hated it.
Two more hours until dawn. She had to do all the cleaning before the manager came, at six, to pick up the money. No problem, she thought, I'll quit today, anyway. Then she smirked to herself, yeah, right, better keep moving.
She realized she had said it out loud when the three adolescent brats giggled. No ID, no beer. She thought, and then realized she didn't say it out loud. Shit.
But they were here for candy and microwave food. It was more of a slur, but she understood alright what the girly one said.
-Aren't you hungry, lady? These Oreo Cakes are awesome!
-1 each, pothead...

Outside, a police car passed slowly by; Mike, the friendly but idiot cop, waved at her, half asking if everything was ok with those so-evidently-criminal teenagers.
She waved back, as one of the kids put back a six pack that was on its way to his big winter jacket.

4:30. jesusfuckingchrist... Layla's milk. It only took Carmen a few seconds to pick the phone up, but Anna started screaming right away, calling her a puta, the only Spanish word she knew well enough to use... It turns out Carmen had already fed Layla, and she was asleep until the phone rang.

At 5 a group of young males, reeking of testosterone, walked into the store. One of them was bleeding, though not much, from a cur on his lip. The only girl in the group, an anorexic redhead, French manicure and punk boots, was either too scared or too high to go beyond the door. She seemed to be in shock.

At first Anna though, trouble... but then, as they started to talk aimlessly about their fight, she realized they were even less harmful than the earlier group. Anna watched them wander through the bodega, telling the story of the night to each other... she could imagine the whole episode, two groups of urban males: like a pack of sad, castrated, whimpery dogs, longing for the long lost wilderness they would never see... diluted like bad whiskey in a jar of water.

When they were gone, Anna started to clean the counter, sticky with soda and ketchup. It was Close to You. She never liked that skinny Karen, maybe that's why she disliked Carmen, they sounded so alike.

The last customer of the night had just entered the store, and she had to grab the mop really hard to stop herself from hitting him with it. It was only Mike, who was just checking if everything was alright.

-You know The Barrys, from acros the street, with the cute kid? They're splitting up. Too bad for the kid, uh?
-Yes, Mike, so bad for the kid.

She thought she would go check their apartment once they were gone. Just for the kicks.

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