American Fiction Contemporary

“What year is it?” asked the man. I was at a loss. I remembered the turn of the millennia, but I haven’t been paying much attention since. After giving it some thought, I mustered “2007”. The man, who I know recognized to be a police officer, said, “Close enough. Alright, get out of the vehicle sir. You’re under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence”. 

“That’s impossible!” I cried, “I don’t own a car”. 

I remember getting fired at a Burger King in Kentucky. That place had the worst managers. This bitch Britney tried to write me up every time I took a smoke break, so it was pretty often. “It’s my god given right”, I f***ing told them. I’m entitled to have one every now and then, but she is entitled to complain. 

I was born in Warsaw, Indiana which is in a dead tie with Warsaw, Poland for the most depressing Warsaw's out there. I figure they are similar and the tiebreaker has to do with yearly cloudiness. Anyway, my geography is not very good beyond my childhood hometown. I know that by and large I have headed South since then. However, after I left the Popeye’s in southern Illinois, it is quite honestly just foggy. There are a lot of rectangle states and then the states divided by rivers get confusing around the clusters where the rivers meet. 

I don’t know how to describe the smell of the floors after we mop them, but it’s not clean. If there was some middle ground between leaving the smell and curing the smell, say prolonging the smell, that’s what that cleaner did. I would mop those floors every morning at 7:45 (having been supposed to be there at 7) and they’d be dirty by noon. Having grown up thinking why do this now if we have to do it again later? You know, start the dishwasher after dinner sort of family? One day I realized this job was never going to be ‘done’. This floor would be mopped long after I got fired, long after I died, and long after this store closed at this building.

Lately, my shifts ain’t been too hard to manage. I actually open, which I have come to prefer more and more over the years. The reason being that by and large, life in this country doesn’t start until twelve o'clock. They say that most heart attacks occur before noon. Anyway, opening means now that I start at 7 which is perfect because I get up at 5 and don’t come in until almost 8. They don’t care because A) I work pretty hard all things considered and B) It is damn near impossible to get fired from these places. Well not impossible. So, I get five hours in the clock before noon and tend to get off with daylight left. Plenty of time for my extra curricular activities. 

I am beyond class. Yes, I am in fact that enlightened so to speak. I may be in a class all my own though I imagine there are some others like me. My existence makes more money for other people than it makes for me. The hotel I stay at gets some sort of incentive for ‘providing me with affordable housing’. My employers do too. A little felony hardly worth mentioning back in Ohio. There are more people with felonies in Ohio than in the state you know? So, what does the man with free crap housing and free crap food use his s*** salary on? Forgetting all that trouble with stiff booze and cheap drugs. I am the tread upon. The opposite of the face of history. The gum getting scraped off of history’s boot. You won’t even read this. The algorithms won’t see it to you. P*** in the wind. 

  There  was this one time that I thought maybe I was doing something worthwhile, before that place got shut down for some OSHA violations. So, I hate to slander good American companies and I cannot remember every fine establishment that I have worked at, so I won’t even try to set these tales in a corporate place. Anyway, I did work in this restaurant and the building we occupied had a small area set for a children’s play space. There was nothing crazy, but a little jungle gym thing with a slide and basically places to climb. I would go on break and order a Big Mac meal (medium for my health) with a Coke and watch the kids play out of the corner of my eye as the sunset blinded my vision in general through the windows. It could have been the sugar rush or remembering my own youth, but I felt satisfied. My job created satisfaction or joy or fulfillment in some way. 

I have this one memory that I can describe as almost being in black and white. My grandmother is pulling me and my little sister along in a wagon. I’m not that old; the wagon is plastic and not metal or wood. It’s weird that going downhill in that thing gave me more butterflies than taking an overpass onto 55 at 100 does now. 

When I was a younger man, I really hit it off with this one coworker. She was like twenty and the perfect mix of kind and can take care of herself. Well anyway, we got along pretty well her and I. I could do this one magic trick with a toothpick and some tape. I’d stolen it from this television magician. So, I showed it to her, you know, made the toothpick disappear with a snap and come back out of thin air. I did this trick three times that day and screwed it up twice. The one time I got right was in front of her and she loved it. I was smitten and would have gone for it. The problem was she was in college and doing this gig part time. I would talk to her and when we got to weekend plans, I realized I had nothing to offer. 

‘Ah man...my head is killing me. Is that some old Warner Bros cartoon? S**t, I’ve seen that one. “You should call your mom” I hear my dad say. Oh yeah, mom died. Nevermind that then. Hey, what day is it?’.

March 13, 2021 01:42

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Kendall Defoe
14:18 Mar 18, 2021

This is rather terrifying. And funny. Good work!


Devin Carrier
21:50 Mar 19, 2021

Thank you so much!


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