Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cranked-Out and Jammed Filler: A Short Story!

Viewer Discretion Advised. 

Sometime between dropped connections of the internet(I recently moved to my girlfriend's place in the depths of Carver, MA where we are evidently reduced to literally scavenging for internet connection) I had decided to venture into my word processor and start writing a new blog entry, which would in turn be copied and pasted on my blog site once I physically gather enough internets to achieve this.  Them internets are wily little bastards, though.  I swear there is a actual new entry on its way, but amidst boredom/ADD, I came across a short story I had written about a year ago for a college English class.  I must stress this was last year, like, yeah... that last year of Patrick's life.  For those just getting filled in, the majority of 2011 was a bit of an exercise in self-destruction(a topic will we will dive into in a later blog entry).  Like, apparently I was conducting a social experiment... on myself.  In a nutshell, there was depression brought on by a catalyst(shitty fuckstorm of a breakup), self-medication to cure this depression, and then clinical depression as a result of this self-medication.  It's just that easy kids!  So as a result, I can remember about 35% of about 75% of last year.  You do the math.

I think the answer is like, 26.25. 

Getting back on track(which is an ironic turn of phrase to use while talking about a trainwreck), the paper was written the night before I had to turn it in.  Procrastination was not a new phenomenon to me, and being Mr. Dead Inside had nothing to do with this.  I've always thrived on it as an easy motivation reserve(or so I tell myself).  And speaking of motivation reserve, I believe cocaine was involved, something the pusher of said illicit substance insisted on assuring me it was "fire" and "rocket fuel".  In regards to cocaine, these words are now adjectives, by the way.  And regardless of potency, and the fact the transaction is complete and you would like to kindly be on your fucking way now, they will continue to sing of its likeness to rockets, fire, fossil fuels, etc... And, like a true professional, I curbed the rocket fuel with a healthy dose of Franzia boxed wine, as well as a reserve stash of percoset.  Somewhere in there, I think a pretty goddamn good short story came out.

Okay, okay, I know this is sounding like a ringing endorsement for substance abuse.  I swear it isn't, and I cannot stress enough that abusing drugs was mostly not that fun.  It left me spiritually void, emotionally exhausted, and I really hurt a lot of people close to me.  But I'm not going to lie, I wrote some of the best lyrics and prose of my life last year.  Maybe I needed to be spiritually dead for awhile, and suffer for the sake of my art to truly appreciate the vast and devastating beauty of life?  Or I'm just a self-absorbed loser who never learned how to cope with the demons in his head.

Either way, I've written way more than I think I needed to preface this short story, so here goes.  The short story!

Note: Please mind spelling/grammatical errors as the author was not of sound mind at the time.  Never really was, come to think of it. 

"Geoff's First Day"

“Can I help you?”
A coy yet disinterested voice muttered from behind a desk.  Justine, the young and attractive brunette receptionist for the head of the Human Resources department, was seemingly immersed in whatever was happening on her computer, which more than likely involved pictures of kittens or celebrity gossip.  There was an awkward silence after her query, which now managed to break the spell that ICanHasCheezburger had on her.  
“Oh, well, hello,” replied the young man Justine seemed oh-so-eager to help.  Geoff Wilcox, age 19, was checking in for what he believed to be his first day of work at K’Save’s, the awkwardly-named department store famous for selling brand name clothing at low- low prices.  Normally a brilliantly arrogant asshole, Geoff was reduced to a blithering idiot at the sight of the lovely Justine. 
“Hi!” Justine replied with wider eyes to show he had her full attention.  And that hopefully he would sense her impatience.  
“Well... okay, here’s the thing.”  Geoff literally forgot what he came in to do.  Which was to find Karen in Human Resources who would in turn begin his orientation.  He stalled and tried to remedy the situation with some charming awkward behavior. “Let me ask a hypothetical question.”
“Mhm,” Justine mumbled, leaning forward in her chair, resting her head in her hands.  Her fake zebra-print nails seemed to be engulfing her lower jaw like a homosexual bear trap.  But Geoff was looking at her nails, but into her dark, brown Sanpaku eyes.  God, he loved Sanpaku eyes.  Because of this, he just knew there was some troubled side to her, which just made him melt down to a frothy, awkward little boy-puddle.  Yet bravely, he struggled to get the next batch of words out.
“Let’s just say I’m like... this is like my first day here.  Which it is.”
“Yes, okay. It’s you’re first day.”
“And like, there’s a lady I’m supposed to talk to?”  
“Oh, yeah, you must want to talk to Karen,” Justine interjected.  
  “No, no, let me finish!”  Justine was startled, understandably.  Geoff was completely lost in his own thoughts, as per usual.  “There’s like, a lady who is supposed to bring me on an orientation of sorts?”
Justine, rather indignantly picked up her phone, hitting the intercom button, and paged “Karen to the H.R. department please.”
“Yeah, Karen!  That’s the one.  Where might I find her?”
Justine blinked before replying with, “Well, I just paged her.  So just wait right here and she’ll be in to help you, okay?”  When Geoff sheepishly nodded yes, she turned back to immerse herself in the world of kittens and Perez Hilton once more.  Geoff kept his hands in his pockets; nervously playing with the random sundries he kept in there... a pen, cell phone, loose change, loose cigarette.  Not working for the past four months has reduced him to perpetually borrowing cigarettes; this particular one coming from his friend Nate.  After about 30 seconds of fumbling around in his pockets, Geoff finally chimed up to make small talk with Justine, who was clearly utterly disinterested in him.  
“So... how long’ve you been working here?”
“Too fucking long...” Justine replied distantly, eyes glued to her computer screen.  Luckily for Justine, Karen arrived shortly after this response to save her from further awkward small talk.  
“Hey, hon, did you page me?”  Karen was a tall and broadly built middle aged woman.  She was well-dressed and well-groomed as anyone representing the good name of the HR department of K’Save’s should.  Justine poked her head back up, quickly minimizing the non-work related material on her computer.  
“Oh yeah, this kid is here to see you.”  Geoff shuttered when he heard “kid”.  It was too obvious there was an age difference, he guessed.  Justine couldn’t have been much older than 21, but according to her there was a drastic difference in social class. He shook it off and turned to talk to Karen. 
“Oh hi, my name’s Geoff Wilcox?  I’m supposed to be starting today in the Men’s department?” 
“Really?  Okay, well, my office is over here... let’s take a look through my files.”  Karen proceeded to lead Geoff to her office.  He took one look back at Justine, who surprisingly sent him a subtle flirtatious smile.  This proceeded to screw with Geoff for the next five minutes.  
Upon entering her office, Karen asked Geoff to take a seat, to which he obliged.  She opened up a cabinet and pulled out a folder that kept files of new hires, and asked what his name was again.
“It’s Geoffrey.  Geoffrey Wilcox.”  While she thumbed her way through the folder, which really should have been kept in alphabetical order, Geoff looked around the room.  Apparently Karen had two very young sons, and her and her very well-tanned husband liked to vacation in scenic Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Also around the room were numerous comic strips cut from newspapers that made poked fun the foibles of office life.  Her voice chimed up, breaking the spell of the Cathy and Dilburt comic strips surrounding him. 
“Here you are.  Gee-offrey Wilcox.  Right?”
“Yeah, it’s just Geoffrey.  You know, like the other Jeffrey but with a G-E-O.” He has to explain this way more than he should.
“Oh, haha.  Okay.  Geoffrey it is.  Or do you like Geoff?”  
“Well, I guess it’s not a big deal.  I go by either.”  Geoff was being oddly wishy-washy at this moment.  He almost always goes by Geoff.  He was still thinking about Justine.  
“Well, pick one, so we can make your name badge, kiddo,”  Karen replied in a light-heartedly aggressive tone. 
“Geoff works.  So listen, what’s the deal with where we’re supposed to park?  I mean, it’s like half a mile away from the entrance.  Is there like a shuttle service from the parking lot we can put in place?”  His trademark arrogance was starting to come back.  Karen was reading over his paperwork and completely disavowed his question.  
“Okay hon, I’m gonna have you watch an orientation video now.” Karen pulled open a drawer on her desk to pull out a DVD, and flipped the laptop on her desk around. “It’s about 10 minutes, and it just kinda goes over the history of the company, and like what our policies are and such.”
“10 minutes?  That’s five times my attention span.  There better be bright colors to hold my interest,” Geoff replied sarcastically.  Truth be told, he does have debilitating ADD.  
“Well, just do the best you can.  You might find some interesting colors,” Karen said, immune to Geoff’s sarcasm.  She proceeded to start the DVD.  Although the company clearly made the effort to transfer an orientation video to DVD format, it was clearly taped sometime in the early 1990’s.  Bed music that sounded like they could have been aborted Huey Lewis and the News instrumentals played passionately in the background, and current K’Save’s CEO, Dom DaMendi, flashed a smile and welcomed the new hires to the K’Save’s family.  Geoff cracked a quick line to the effect “Oh gee whiz, I’ve always wanted a family!” followed by Karen shushing him.  He knew she thought it was funny.
...and just like any family, we here at K’Save’s have a little thing called respect.  And we want you to know that the respect goes both ways.” The CEO had a deep, throaty baritone, along with a strong Boston accent.   “So, instead of using terms like, “employee”, and “boss”, and “customer”, we like to use our own words.  We’ll say helping hands to talk about you employees there,” The accent really was not the least bit subtle. “And boss?  Call ‘em team leader.  And last but not least, the customers.  Our number #1 priority.  The reason why we’re here today.  But don’t just think of them as a cold number.  We like to call them friends.” Geoff rolled his eyes, which Karen managed to catch him doing.  The video then moved on to talk about the history of the company. 
The story of K’Save’s started in Providence, Rhode Island in 1934, with the wild ambitions of struggling fruit peddler Kristoph Savory.  His waning interest in produce gave way to his sudden admiration with high fashion at the time.  Kristoph often felt ashamed of his tattered apparel, and knew there was a market in selling nicer clothes at significantly cheaper prices.  Working with a seamstress friend who also managed to acquire designs for various name-brand pants, dresses, and shirts, they began to design clothing out of his own home, and sell almost carbon-copies of all the big name brands at the time... Fred Perry, Chanel, you name it.   Realistically, they could only produce a few articles of clothing a day, but demand was running high, and Kristoph knew he needed help.  A friend referred him to an Italian investor by the name of Vittorio DaMendi who was well-versed in the fashion district of downtown Providence.   Vittorio was a very generous man, and even offered Kristoph the warehouse where he would open his first major K’Save’s.  The exchange was simple; Kristoph would pay Vittorio a nominal fee, and Vittorio would return with brand-name clothes that the big name stores couldn’t sell, as they were out of season.  The store was exploding with customers.  Kristoph was not only surprised by the amount of his fellow working-class customers coming in, but also at the quality of the clothing coming in... much of which seemed like it couldn’t have been much older than a few weeks.  Guess that’s the nature of fashion.  Kristoph, who passed away in the early 50’s from, ahem, accidental death, left his fortune and the CEO chair to Vittorio and the DaMendi family, as per his contractual agreement with Vittorio.  Because of this, ahem, kind gesture, K’Save’s has always kept a strong emphasis on family values, with Vittorio’s son V.J. taking over in 1967, and his son Dominic taking over in 1990.”  A significantly more eloquent voiceover announced “Please pause the tape now and talk about how you can apply your family values to your job.”  Karen paused the DVD and looked over at Geoff, who was rolling up a booger between his index finger and thumb.  Karen’s facial expression was mostly blank, other than intense eyes that seemed to be asking, “...Well?”
“Uh, wait... what?”  Geoff actually was paying attention to the video.  He just was inquisitive as to the relevance of the question being asked of him.  
“Seriously, I wanna know.  How can apply your own family values to how you conduct yourself here at K’Save’s?”  
“Kind of a personal question, don’t you think?”  Karen was not used to a response like this.  Her only instinct was to follow up with,
“You were serious about the family joke you made earlier, weren’t you.”  Geoff had a sick sense of humor when it came to the sordid details of his life, but he was half-serious.  He sighed (clearly doing this all tongue-in-cheek) and began to explain.
“Well, I never knew my dad.  Pretty sure he’s dead or dying in a crackhouse somewhere in Warwick.  So right off the bat I have abandonment issues.  So, how can I apply that to how I deal with customers at K’Save’s?  I hope the customers like clinginess and projecting guilt onto them.  Because I’ve got tons of that to spare.”  Geoff flung the aforementioned booger across the room, thankfully away from Karen, who kept opening her mouth to come up with a response, but shortly would second-guess herself and just continued to let Geoff speak.
“Oh, and my mother’s an alcoholic with borderline personality disorder.  So, yeah, to answer the DVD’s question, it probably wouldn’t be particularly prudent to apply my particular brand of “family values” to how I conduct myself here.   I’ll think I’ll just stick to drinking lots of coffee and trying to stay as chipper as possible for 8 hours before going home to my mom who may or may not decide my existence was a mistake today.”    Again, Karen’s awkward gasping and incomplete transitional words were finally broken by her saying,
“You know?  Let’s skip the rest of this DVD.  Let’s go meet Todd, your team leader.” 
“Yes, let’s go meet this Todd fellow.  Things just got way to real in here.”  Geoff had a slight erection.  Still thinking about Justine.  He tried to will it away when he stood up to follow Karen out of the office, but it only got worse.  Geoff discreetly shifted his package to make it less obvious, and thankfully Justine was too busy feverishly looking through Facebook to notice Geoff was even walking by. 
Geoff followed Karen onto the sales floor and towards the men’s department.  John Waite’s “I Ain’t Missin’ You at All” could be heard playing on the loudspeakers.  The store was well-lit, yet its placement in the middle of mall allowed for no natural sunlight to enter.  There was no carpeting of any kind, to facilitate weekly floor-buffing.  The aroma of plastic-y luncheon meats could faintly be smelled from the Subway right next door.  Geoff saw who must have been Todd from several yards away:  Todd was about 6’4”, pear-shaped, and borderline inbred-looking.  He most likely wasn’t, just the byproduct of very unfortunate genes.  Beady eyes, baked-bean teeth, and a scar that run up the back of his head, most likely from some sort of brain surgery.  He was also balding, but could not have been much older than 29.  Geoff and Karen’s arrival put a horrifying grin across his face, snaggletooth and all.  
“Todd! I’m glad you’re out here.  This is Geoff, he’s going to be starting today in Men’s.”  Geoff’s erection was gone. 
“Geoff!  Well, mighty fine to meet ya, sir.  Put ‘er there,”  Todd declared to Geoff in his not-so-subtle Southern accent.  He reached out for a handshake, which Geoff subconsciously responded.  Todd’s pot roast hand was literally crushing Geoff’s.  
“Nice... to meet... you... wow, Todd that’s... some handshake you got there...”  Todd let go, and Geoff proceeded to gingerly rub his hand.  
“Well son, that’s what 20-odd years of being brought up on Southern cookin’ gets ya,” Todd replied.  “...along with this,” to which Todd grabbed his own Rubenesque torso and wiggled it back and forth.  
“Yeah... so.  Men’s clothes, eh?  Good stuff, eh?”  Geoff replied to try and change the subject concerning Todd’s odd distribution of adipose.  
“I’m gonna let Todd take you from here, but I’ll let you know if I need anything from you, k Gee-off?” Karen quickly interjected.  Geoff sighed. 
“Yes, thank you Karen.  Todd and I are going to talk about Men’s clothes now,” Geoff said, having difficulty looking Todd in the eye.  Or anywhere for that matter, he was quite repugnant.  Karen left, and Todd proceeded to walk Geoff through the strategically placed sections of the men’s department(or as Todd would say, “May-ins”).  Underwear was grouped with socks, then pants, button up shirts, T-shirts, sweaters, cardigans, and jackets.  Somewhere in there was an endcap for novelty boxers, marked at 40% off.   Todd asked Geoff questions similar to Karen’s concerning his family, to which Geoff gave a similar reply.  Todd seemed too distracted by tidying the various shelves of pants and shirts to notice the darkness in Geoff’s replies.  Todd noticed an elderly man fumbling through several folded pairs of corduroy pants that were marked on clearance, many of which ended up on the floor.  Todd turned to Geoff with a goofy, snaggletoothed grin and announced,
“Your first friend! Let’s see if that gentleman needs any help.” Geoff rolled his eyes again.  A concerned Todd asked why Geoff would be rolling his eyes.
“Isn’t it a bit presumptuous to refer to our customers as ‘friends’?  Like, shouldn’t that term be saved for someone with whom… well, someone who you, you know, are friends with?”  
“They are friends with the whole K’Save’s family.  They have a vested interest in purchasing the product we provide for them.”
“Right, for all we know this old guy just wandered in here out of boredom.  He clearly has no regard for the displays you worked so hard on, as every pair of corduroys seem to be on the ground at this point.” Todd noticed this, and became visibly flustered.  He shook his head, flashing his award-winning baked-bean smile, and approached the old man.
“Hello friend, what can I do for y’all today?”  The old man perked his head up the ground where the pants lay, revealing a face that did not reflect the sunny disposition of Todd.
“Eh? What?  Just lookin’ for pants.”
“Right, was there a size in particular you were looking for, sir?”
“Pants! I’m lookin’ for pants!”  The old man was shaped something like a basketball balancing on a pair of popsicle sticks.  He was wearing a weathered cardigan, despite it being the middle of June. 
“Okay, let me know if you need any help, friend,” Todd replied exhaustedly.  Geoff remained the background, hands in pockets.  He rubbed his fingers along the one lonely cigarette in his pocket, as dreamed of smoking it at that moment.  Todd broke his daydreaming with,
“Geoff, could you do me a favor and help refold some of these pants?”  Geoff complied, and proceeded to pick through the pile of discarded pants.  The old man managed to always be in the way of Geoff no matter where he stood to pick up the pants, and at one point upon standing back up, Geoff’s head collided with the old man’s jaw, causing said man to lose balance and topple to the ground.
“What’s wrong with you, you fuckin’ idiot?!” The old man managed to wheeze out while he rolled and writhed on the ground. “Oh god, I broke my hip! I know I did.  Why don’t you watch where you’re going, are you stupid??”  Geoff was horrified, although he knew he didn’t actually do anything wrong.  The old man clearly was in Geoff’s way, so much so it almost seemed on purpose.  
“Uh… I’m sorry?” This was about as much remorse as Geoff could muster up in any given situation.  Todd’s normal cheery face suddenly turned sour; intensified even more by his grotesque features.  
“Boy, I say what is wrong with you?  Y’all nearly killed this old man!”
“Yeah, y’nearly killed me, retard!” The man managed to sputter out between coughs and pained moans.
“Uh... it wasn’t… I mean, I didn’t mean… um…” Geoff was speechless.  Todd was standing right there in plain view of the situation, yet still insisted on blaming Geoff for this accident.
“Oh, that’s it, mister.  I am tired of your excuses... you are fired!  Come into my office right now!”  Geoff got sick to his stomach.  Fired?  On his first day?  That’s a new record.  And this time he wasn’t at fault!  Todd called another employee to watch after the old man while he called an ambulance, and then stormed to his back office where Geoff was to meet him.  Geoff sort of looked around before leaving the old man to meet Todd out back.  He entered his office, which was covered in way too much Disney paraphernalia for a grown man to keep in his personal office.  Geoff’s sickness was slowly being taken over by anger.  He was livid.  
“Whew, that was a close one, huh Geoffy?”
“Fired?? It wasn’t my fault, I swear!  The guy seriously got in my way on purpose!  Trust me, if I wanted to injure an elderly man, I have way more effective and interesting ways to do so.  This is ridiculous!”  Geoff was thinking about that cigarette even more.
“Relax Geoff, you’re not fired!  That was just a great example of one of our policies!”  Geoff was again speechless, but out of confusion.  He asked Todd what in Sam Hill he was talking about.
“Listen, sometimes, especially for our, ahem, elder customers, it makes them feel better if we just, you know, pretend to fire a helping hand in front of them.  Even if it’s clearly not their fault.  You know?”  Geoff was still in awe. He blinked incredulously.  Todd continued, 
“Okay, we don’t actually fire you.  It just makes our friends feel like we are really going above and beyond to rectify a situation, even if it’s at the expense of a helping hand’s career here.” All of this was said in Todd’s cloying Southern accent.  Geoff finally chimed up.
“This is insane.  Not only is it sadistic to consider that old people like to watch employee’s lives get ruined… because by firing us we no longer have jobs, which is essentially our livelihood… but, what about the off chance that, let’s say, that same customer comes in and sees that I still work here?  I’m still there to injure him again!  Makes no sense to me.”
“Boy, you think these old fuddy-duddies remember what y’all look like? You’re just another nameless, faceless helpin’ hand down at K’Saves.  Why I could fire you three times in a week, and that guy wouldn’t remember!”  
Geoff sighed, his hands back in his pocket.  The two exited the office and headed back towards the sales floor.  Geoff finally turned to Todd asking,   
“So, when can I take my first 15?” 

...Eh? I never got a grade on this paper, come to think of it.  Probably for the best.  I have a real blog entry coming within the next few days; sober as a churchmouse.  

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