Last Minute Fadeaway to Win the Game

Submitted into Contest #158 in response to: Write a story that includes someone saying, “It’s not fair.”... view prompt

2 comments

Lesbian Latinx Fiction

 Back in high school, I was a player, a basketball star. In the sport of love though, I keep putting up bricks, it took until my last day at Vic’s to realize I was playing the wrong game. 

I had gotten to the store first that morning, with a little anxiety as I knew Lourdes was working too. She had a tempestuous relationship, she could make the day go quick with her stories, or terrible if she picked a fight. Most of the other shops in the strip mall were already open, and as usual the regulars at the Bean gave me a wave. The Coffee Bean, the coffee shop across the walkway, was where my best friend Nathan worked, and where I went every day during my lunch break.   I hit the lights and heard the buzz of the stadium lights warming up. It is the best part of my day hearing that sound, reminding me of better days of entering the gym to play ball. Set up like one half of an NBA basketball court, the polished sales floor glared in the bright lights. I walked in at the top of the 3 point line and glanced up at the scoreboard on the back wall, showing the time, just after 8 AM, and the score, always set at 94-92, the home team winning.  The front of the store is entirely glass, facing the walkway of the outdoor mall. The other three walls of ‘The Victors’ are filled with paintings of famous athletes, mixed in with screaming fans.  Muhammed Ali flexing, Babe Ruth hitting a home run, Brandi Chastain in her sports bra after scoring a winning goal, and my hero, Kobe, shooting a fadeaway jumper from the sideline. The fans are yelling, pointing, jumping out of their seats, one fan throwing popcorn that will never come down.   We had given names to many in the crowd. My favorite has always been little Nino, a kid, brown-skinned like me in the back corner eating a dripping ice cream cone all by himself.  I understand that kid, I don’t belong either.    

Vic’s is the only sporting goods store in town so along with the shoes and sporting equipment, we supply uniforms for all the different youth and high school teams, which means lots of moving inventory, and lots of back pain.  I saw from the front door the boxes still stacked in the back room, the late shift hadn’t done a damn thing. 

Suddenly, I felt a slap on my ass, and started to turn before my back twinged and I could only stand still.  

“Morning sunshine!”

I recognized the high pitched nasal voice before I saw Dwayne, the worst of the handsy managers, walk past me. Wearing jeans and a baggy t-shirt, he had not changed into his uniform yet.  I stayed where I was, building up courage.  Dwayne turned at the back room door. With his loose limbed walk, big head and scraggly goatee he looked like Steve Buschemi from Reservoir Dogs, the character Mr. Pink. I do not understand how anyone finds him attractive, though according to him all the ladies do. 

I dragged my eyes off the floor, and stared at his thin comb-over. If I looked at his eyes I would chicken out like I did last time. 

“You can not touch me.” Lips trembling, in my head I was thundering fire and brimstone,  but I heard only my squeaky voice.

“Mary, we’re teammates! That is what teammates do!” Dwayne’s grin made my flesh crawl.

“You need to get all this sorted out 'cause the customer is coming in first thing to pick them up.”  He pointed with his chin toward the back room and the stacks of clothes. He handed me the inventory order sheet.  

“I’ll be right back.”  He raised his hand, holding his uniform up, and went through the back room to the restrooms.  

“It is Mari-a!  Dwayne, you need to apolog- ” My voice cracked.

He just glared at me. “Just shut up and sort those uniforms, Mary.  You'll be fine. Lourdes will be here soon.”  I can not stand how he anglicized my name!  He would not dare to do that to Lourdes, nor grab her ass.  Dwayne would not dare make a comment to disrespect Lourdes, he was scared of her! She is a bitch, but I wish I could be a bitch like her.  

Just last week Dwayne asked Lourdes to stack the inventory boxes and she ignored him all day, until finally, tired of being asked she said she was on her period and just couldn’t. The look she gave him!  She had a way of shooting lasers from her eyes, no one could handle her stare.  He practically ran into the other room.  I laughed all the rest of the day, though I did end up doing all the inventory and wrenched my back. I was on my period too come to think of it.   

I thought about saying there is no way Lourdes was going to be on time, though I knew he  wouldn't listen. I saw him head across the walkway to The Bean. He can grab my ass but can’t offer to bring me a coffee. Thank you Mr. Pink, I will have a vanilla latte, please.  Damn him. 

“Alright then, just you and me, Nino” I said, and walked toward the back to start folding baseball knickers. I crumbled up the inventory sheet into a ball, faked right and then spun left, “Kobe!” A high arching shot, nothing-but-net into the garbage can. I am playing the wrong game. 

Dwayne came back, dressed, and ate his chocolate croissant in front of me. We didn't open until 9,  but the owner, Wyatt, had the shifts start at 8 so we could sort inventory and get our uniforms on. A straight rip-off of Footlocker, we wear football referee uniforms, striped shirts and black pants. Wyatt ordered the uniforms for us, however we had to pay for them out of our checks.  One tear or scuff, or salsa stain that doesn't come out no matter how many times I clean it -and we are ‘out of compliance’  and have to buy a new one. I have five now. After he finished his breakfast, I felt Dwayne’s needy eyes on me.

“How long have you been with Vic’s now, isn't it two years? Interested in putting in for a Managers position?  It is salary instead of hourly, and more control of your shifts…” 

He continued, though I stopped listening. I couldn't believe it was two years, I started right after high school and I just finished my 4th semester at the Junior college. What am I doing with my life?

“... so you can come by my apartment to check it out, Mari-a?”  

“OK.” I said, out of habit.  “Wait, what did you say?” 

“Before I can put your name in, it will be good to get to know you better, say after 8? You can come over, we can get some take-out, you like tacos? Netflix and chill, you know what I am saying?”  Leering at me, I noticed chocolate on his teeth.  I tried to think of what it would be like for him to put his hands on me, touching me.  I have been so lonely-

Revulsion shook through me.  “Did you say tacos!? Just because I am Latina you ask me about tacos? Get away from me! I going to talk to HR-”

 “No one pays attention to HR mumbo jumbo.”  Mr. Pink leans in closer to take his shot at getting a date, in a cloud of stale coffee and chocolate. 

“You do a favor for me, I can do a favor for you. Get you on the management track.”  His face twists into a contorted grimace. 

Is that a wink? 

Before I can swat him away, Dwayne’s cell phone rings, getting me out of the conversation, this time. 

-”Hey Wyatt.  It is Mary and me.” Dwayne gives me a nod. 

-”I’ll take care of it.  Lourdes? She is scheduled,  but not here…”

-“Wyatt, Wyatt, I know, but…” 

Dwayne holds the phone between us “Mary- have you seen her?  Have you seen Lourdes”? 

Dwayne turns to me mouths silently, ‘say no, say no’

I gave him my dumb look, we both knew Lourdes wasn’t here and he was not getting my help. 

Dwayne glares at me for not speaking. 

-“No Wyatt, '' he says back into the phone, “Mary hasn't seen her either.”  

-“OK, I'll deal with her when she comes in. I’ll teach her a lesson.” 

“What did you mean you will teach Lourdes a lesson?” I said.

Dwayne leaves without a response. Screw him then. 

It was just about 9 AM so I wandered out to enter my official timecard into the computer.

 Dwayne saw me and huffs,  “What are you doing- wait until 9!” 

I nodded and gave him a wave.  The owner, Wyatt, had us clock in and out at exact times, even though he required us to be in uniform, do inventory, and clean up an hour before and after. I tried to clock-in as close to 9:00 AM as I could, so I was standing at the front desk computer when I heard the heavy bass rattling the front window. A huge red truck with oversized tires jerked to a stop on the sidewalk right in front, the music getting louder as the passenger door opened. I recognized the two long legs that twisted out, then the rest of her slid down from the elevated passenger seat. Lourdes had arrived. I hated Lourdes. 

We were both Latina, but the similarities ended there. She was short, attractive and all personality. I was long, thin and with a face to crack a mirror. Lourdes knew how to get most men, and quite a few women, to do whatever she wanted. Always cracking off- color jokes, I thought she was rude and obnoxious. Something about her was different, that she could break  all the rules, and get away with it, drove me nuts.   She was Vic’s best employee, if you looked at sales numbers, she could make a man buy pretty much anything she said, and the worst employee by every other measure.  She was never on time, rarely did her work and had crazy temper tantrums.  She once threw a brand new pair of Nike KD’s, size 12! At a customer's head when he wouldn't buy anything after trying on ten pairs of shoes.  We had to give him those for free so he wouldn't file a complaint.  When she started, I tried to give her a chance, she was only a couple years older, we could be friends. But we were from different worlds.  She was always talking about the men and women who gave her gifts, who she slept with, and what they did in bed.  I tried not to look shocked at some of her stories, I mean there is no way they could be true. After listening to her personal telenovelas for so long, I tried some dating apps, Tinder, and Chispa, which is only for Latinx. But the men are so gross, and I just didn’t get what the fuss was about. My only excitement was watching the Lakers on TV.  I preferred to get the stories second-hand from Lourdes, even if it meant I had to do all the work in the store. 

I felt a tingling sensation run up the back of my neck from the thought of being in the same room with her. Oh, I must really hate her. She was wearing a black skirt and matching cropped jacket, over a tight blue top, sparkling in the morning light. Her skirt, already short, was riding up on her thighs from getting out of the truck, showing all her Momma gave her.  I can tell she looked damn good the night before. So used to seeing her only in her ill-fitting work uniform, I could not stop staring.  We both had the same anatomy, but I looked like a bent wire, a collection of sharp angles, while she was an ocean, big rounded swells, moving, flowing and storming when her wind was up.  She pulled her skirt down, and her top up, before leaning back into the truck to grab a bag. And then the door slammed shut and the huge truck spun its tires and screeched out of the walkway.  I can’t believe she was with someone who owns a truck like that.  I have never been so jealous of anyone as I was of the driver of that red truck. 

She straightened her outfit and walked in.  She saw me and smiled. “ Hey Maria!  Oh I have to tell you about the cowboy I met last night!  Did you see Jack’s truck? I betcha you want a ride in a truck like that.”  She winked at me, and started walking to the back, until Dwayne stepped in front to block her.  

“It’s 9 o’clock. You’re late,” Dwayne said. “I warned you last time- I am writing you up!”  Dwayne’s smug grin of satisfaction made my skin crawl. 

“Dwayne, let her be, she’s not late yet-” I shouted, surprising myself at my defense of Lourdes. 

“Shut it Mary! This is about Lourdes-” Dwayne did not take his eyes off her, he finally had leverage and wanted to see her suffer. 

“-I am not late.” Lourdes interrupted. “My shift starts at 9 AM, and it is not 9 yet.”

Lourdes gave Dwayne a serious look, and then glanced up toward the scoreboard on the back wall. I followed her gaze, it read 8:57 AM. 

“No, Lourdes! You’re supposed to be ready, dressed in uniform to serve customers at 9!” Dwayne yelled, his face had turned red, Wyatt had got him fired up. Dwayne's long arm lifted up to point at her. “You’re not wearing your uniform. There’s no way you can get your uniform on and be ready before 9.” You have 3 minutes. I am going to write you up! And this time your pay is getting docked.”   Dwayne’s comb over hair flopped in his face, and he brushed it back.  He gave Lourdes a smug look of victory. Dwayne was already celebrating, he didn’t think he could lose. 

I looked up at the scoreboard, the home team was still up and time was running out, it blinked 8:58. How can Lourdes win this one?

“I have plenty of time.” She tilted her head sideways and smiled.  

Dwayne turned to look at the restroom in the back. “You won't make it.”  

She smiled. “Oh yeah? Watch me.”

With time running out, as the painted fans cheered from inside the store, and the customers at the Bean cheered from outside, Lourdes put on a show.  Beautifully lit by the stadium lights, she looked right at Dwayne while she slipped out of her skirt and top, leaving her temporarily in only her bra and thong panties, beautifully matching in tiger stripes. 

She paused to give him the full view of her statuesque figure, then opened her bag, and before I could understand what was happening, she calmly donned her striped shirt and black pants uniform.

The scoreboard clock blinked 8:59. 

 “See Dwayne?” she said. “It’s before 9,  I'm in uniform, and not late!” 

Lourdes smirked, another win. 

It was everything I could do to not jump up and cheer for her last-second victory. 

Dwayne’s eyes were bugging out of his head. 

 “You are crazy!  He looked out the window and saw the Bean customers clapping.

 “You are on time,” said Dwayne, “but you’re fired.”

“What!”  I had watched the whole ordeal with my mouth hanging open, and finally shut it with a snap. I looked at Dwayne, then at Lourdes. I had to support my teammate.

“It’s not fair!” I looked at Dwayne, and finally saw him for the loser he was. 

“Then I quit too!”  I grabbed my bag from under the desk and started walking out the door.  After I passed Dwayne, I stopped, and pulled my uniform shirt off like Brandi Chastain.  I threw it in his face and followed Lourdes out the front door.  I had never felt so free in my life.  

I had thought Lourdes’ drama was over when she walked out of Vic’s for the last time, but it turned out she had thrown some size 12’s at Wyatt’s head, figuratively anyway. 

A few weeks later, I saw Lourdes buying coffee at the Bean and found out what happened.  

She had filed a claim for a hostile work environment, and said that her firing was just a cover for their retaliation.    

But then there were claims against Lourdes too.  Her inappropriate comments were overheard by customers and reported to Wyatt. Ultimately, the EEOC could not substantiate Lourdes's hostile work environment claims so Wyatt got off the hook on that one.  However he had much bigger issues.  By requiring us all to work off the clock, before and after shifts, we were all victims of wage theft. Making us buy our own required uniforms was also illegal in our state. 

“We are all going to get fat checks from it, honey." Lourdes told me, “And the bastard had to drop over a 100k in legal fees.”  

Just being in her presence again made my whole body vibrate, I couldn’t let her leave. I took a desperation shot, a last minute fadeaway from the corner.

New to this game I did not have any good examples to follow. 

“Um, do you want to come over sometime, we can get some take-out, you like tacos? Netflix and chill?” I asked, hesitantly.  

“We have to work on your pick up lines, Nina. But I thought you would never ask.”  Lourdes squeezed my leg, “I am going to rock your world.” 

A high arching shot, nothing-but-net! 

August 12, 2022 17:00

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Todd Crickmer
21:48 Aug 17, 2022

I liked it. Interesting with a cute twist. However, I didn't see the phrase "That's not fair," anywhere in the story. There were a few typos and minor grammatical errors. But I loved the ending - even though it was totally fair.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Marty B
22:15 Aug 17, 2022

Agreed- It was totally fair! Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies