Monday Morning

Submitted into Contest #212 in response to: Set your story in a post office.... view prompt

32 comments

Funny Contemporary Fiction

“Next!”

She did not mean to shout, but she knew what the morning would be like. The people waiting in line would be buying stamps, picking up packages, check post office boxes, etc…and then buying whatever groceries they could find in the drugstore before heading to the café or the metro. The day they decided to put her job in the middle of the brightness of a drugstore was the day she should have quit. But she was still here, after the move, wearing the uniform that indicated some level of responsibility and experience.

Yes, that was the word: experience.

She was standing behind the counter, waiting for Lee to get out from the back and help her out with whatever traffic they would face. There were now three in line, but that was early.

“Next.”

The old lady did not hear her, but that was fine. Janet knew that this was going to be business as usual with Ms. Lindar. She was always getting packages or trying to get the latest celebrity stamps if she had not bought them last time. Her thin windbreaker and cane were clear and simple props she expected on a Monday. The lady approached, with a slight scent of mothballs and polyester, and smiled to herself.

“Just a package today.” She passed over a slip from the delivery service with her name and address on it. She ran a scan over the QR code and it was legitimate.

What else should it be?

“Do you have identification?”

“As always.” In her red faux-leather handbag, she took out a set of plastic cards held together with a green rubber band (always green, she noted; just like the ones we use here). Her birth certificate and driver’s license were right on top.

“Here, my dear. Do you need anything else?”

“No, not at all. I just had to check…”

There was a decision in her mind not to check Ms. L.’s address again if she was at the desk. Lee would probably call her for help, anyway.

And where the hell…?

“Lee!”

At least there was no one in line at the moment (Ms. L. was heading toward the painkillers). She turned around the corner and saw him.

“Lee…”

Nodding out again…and no surprises here. The boy was sitting on stack of plastic boxes, now turned over and empty for their collections, and he was out of it. Why couldn’t the boy go for a large coffee loaded with sugar and cream like the rest of them at the café down two doors from them? He would always pill himself up or out and she had been very good about not saying a thing to the staff or management about this. It was easy to do so, since Lee was one of the sons of the too-rich-to-think people who owned the place (one of the sons: legitimacy is a strange animal).

The epi-pen was rolling across the floor.

“Lee. Lee, Lee…” She squatted down to pick it up, recognizing that this was a new one that he had just obtained (was that a gift from upper management?). “You are so lucky it is a quiet morning…”

It would be some time before she forgot the coincidence of what happened next. The pen was still in Lee’s leg and he was groaning and moaning after he caught his breath, stood up and pushed her into some stationery. And that was when she heard the bell on the counter…and the scream.

“Everyone, down on the ground!”

It was not an easy Monday, but it was still a Monday. She pushed Lee back down onto the plastic – he needed a moment – and walked around the corner to face a rather squat and ski-masked man waving a gun around the room.

“Lady, get down!”

She looked over the man’s outfit up close: jeans (loose-fitting, but clean), Chuck Taylors (excellent condition), thin leather jacket (weathered with a white t-shirt, so very stylish in black), and the ski-mask (a balaclava…is that what they call it?).

Something was off.

“I am the senior person in charge of this station, so you do not want me on the ground.”

“Lady, I ain’t playin’!”

“ You ‘ain’t playin’?” She actually made the air quotes around his attempt to sound tough, or “street” (was that the right term?). “You have to be kidding me…”

The man was now pointing the gun directly at her chest, stepping gingerly over the clerk on the floor (a nice kid, she thought; pants were soaked with urine and she could smell something worse down there).

Again, something was really off.

“I have a gun!”

“It is not...a real one.”

It almost made her laugh out loud when she saw how he blinked in those eye sockets. He was looking for his words.

“But, it’s my… It’s a…”

“Look,” she put her hands on the counter, knocking over a tray of pamphlets for a philatelist event, “this place is full of cameras, very few exits, and it is in the middle of the day. The police are probably already on their way, and you have a weapon that can’t do anything but shoot a BB pellet below the skin.” She took the gun out of his hands and placed it on the stepladder beside the drop box. “You know what to do next.”

*

The police were annoyed (as always), the staff impressed (the boy with the biological failure was sent home with the police), the management informed (once again) and the customers consoled. Not much left over for the staff that had to stay on for the rest of the day and try to earn their pay.

Lee finally stepped out from the back. She had almost forgotten about him (the police never even looked back there). He actually looked well.

“Whu’appen?”

Again, it was very fortunate that no one was in line. She could only deal with so much today.

“Nothing. Handle the cash. I have to take my break.”

Lee was somehow managing to stand up straight and focus at the same time. The kid could actually work for fifteen minutes at a time.

“Yeah. I’m…I got it.”

She did not wait for the rest of the sentence. There was a cigarette she needed right now.

At least it was a beautiful day.

“Oh, dear.”

And she was still here.

Ms. Lindar, cane and all, was walking between the cars to the path behind the mall. Why did she hang around after…?

“It’s all right. It wasn’t a real gun, just a toy. I could see that he was messing with us.”

She frowned at her for a moment.

“No, dear. Not that. I just...” She looked at her cigarette. “I didn’t know that you smoked.”

She dropped the cigarette and somehow made it to the back entrance without rolling her eyes.

So, that was her break. At least five people were still around after the attempted robbery, one of them a shoplifter who thought that this was a golden opportunity (she brought him to the counter and made him empty his dirty backpack; another call to the management…). Lee was still at the register, trying to decide how to use the card scanner with a man who wanted a dozen commemorative stamps for a singer she did not care for (they were international; guess those songs were more popular somewhere else). The customer, a face she knew (no name; no problem), was happy to talk about it while no one else waited in line. Maybe it would be an easy afternoon.

And then the power went out.

*

It was not a bad moment. The thing about daytime power outages that she accepted was that the people around her would try to continue as if nothing happened. The customer noted the darkness, but he kept up with his history lesson as Lee flinched at the loss of light. The rest of the pharmacy got so quiet that she noted how she wanted to hear the hum from the freezers and long shelf of drinkers in the open coolers. Some curses were heard, a few laughs, but it was not a moment worth worrying about. Once she found the fuses and noted the smoke rising from the box, it was a quick change that brought everything back to what could be called normal. The moment would pass.

So would the phone call.

“Front cash.”

“You still on?”

Very friendly for a Monday… A lot of sympathy in that voice.

“Where else would I go?”

She knew who it was.

“Right, right… Well,” she could almost hear Mr. Benedek’s belly shift in that swivel chair that was more squeaks than comfort, “we just wanted to thank you for everything today. The robbery…blackout…”

“Lee?”

“What?” Did he even care about the kid?

“Nothing.” The customers were gone now. Almost noon; almost lunch time…

“Right, well, we want to promote you.”

She tried not to freeze up as she looked at the phone (it felt like an animal she should not have picked up). “Say what again?”

“Promotion. Upper management. You obviously’ve earned it. And we can get Lee and some other kid on the counter. We’ll have to talk about…”

That was all she wanted to hear. She looked at the stacks of stationery – envelopes, packaging, pamphlets, tapes, labels, posters with estimated delivery times – and dropped the phone, startling Lee to a point (he was already heading back to the storage area). She walked out the front to the main parking lot, looking up at the threat of rain and staring off at the kids from the local school getting out at the bell, the workers in the various shops looking for a place to eat, and certain customers who were aware of their hunger. Her cigarette pack was almost empty, but she did not need another one. There was something perfect about that Monday and she did not want the morning to end.


















August 25, 2023 20:59

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32 comments

Mary Bendickson
22:55 Aug 26, 2023

She was walking away, right?

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Kendall Defoe
01:52 Aug 28, 2023

You tell me... ;)

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Mary Bendickson
01:55 Aug 28, 2023

Thanks for liking my story letter. Will have to reread your piece but am behind right now

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Kendall Defoe
13:04 Sep 02, 2023

Anytime...and I am going to focus on some other pages for a while. I am getting no traction on this page after 150+ stories and I need to reconsider things.

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Daniel Rogers
19:59 Apr 06, 2024

I’m showing up late for the game, however, I believe she quit. The promotion was the final straw. 😂

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Kendall Defoe
17:10 Apr 11, 2024

I'll never tell... 🤔

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Helen A Smith
21:18 Feb 05, 2024

Full of life this story. I felt as if I was there. A character who keeps it all together in impossible circumstances. Keep writing.

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Kendall Defoe
19:56 Feb 09, 2024

I do want to return to this page. I am looking at the next set of prompts and may get to it!

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Helen A Smith
20:25 Feb 09, 2024

That’s good. It’s hard if you aren’t inspired by the prompts. Somebody here suggested to me to only write when feeling inspired. Sometimes, inspiration comes unexpectedly.

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Kendall Defoe
04:13 Feb 17, 2024

I agree. I have joined another page, and am getting more of my response to my work, but wherever I can write is fine by me. Thank you for your comments!

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Helen A Smith
09:06 Feb 17, 2024

It would be nice to get more responses. Writers write to be read. I enjoy this site, but do get a bit frustrated at times. It’s rewarding but you have to work so hard on it.

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Judith Jerdé
16:23 Oct 16, 2023

Kendall, I loved your story! All is well that ends well. l read your comment about your plan to take a break, I hope that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be writing. You have a gift, let us see more of it.

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Mirage Kinsey
18:48 Oct 09, 2023

She can't catch herself a break, huh? Such an eventful story in a setting of a post office. You have an interesting way of going about this prompt, I like it! Keep it up, I can't wait to see what you'll do next.

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Kendall Defoe
01:05 Oct 10, 2023

Thank you. I am taking a break from this page for a while, but I might be back...some day.

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Mirage Kinsey
01:17 Oct 10, 2023

Ah, I understand. Whatever you're going through currently, I hope you feel better soon, things will get better. Keep your head up high and roll with the punches. Stay strong, Kendall. You're a valid human being. <3

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Kendall Defoe
03:35 Oct 10, 2023

;)

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05:11 Oct 02, 2023

The Monday from hell and it turned out ok in the end. But . . .was the gun a fake? I held my breath while I read that part. There was no indication it was a fake. I guess it was. Actually, I think she is better on the counter. She has a knack for saving the day. But what is her name? I know. You wanted me to read it again to try and find it. "front cash" isn't her name. Made me laugh. You mentioned about 150+ stories (Wow. Impressive.) But what did you mean by "traction"? (in answer to someone's comment)

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Kendall Defoe
23:16 Oct 02, 2023

By traction, I meant more readers... And I have no idea if the gun was loaded, or what her name is. Some things must remain mysteries.

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03:44 Oct 04, 2023

You get way more readers than I do! Quit complaining. What frustrates me is when someone has read, liked, but doesn't comment one point they specifically liked. Likes are great, mind you. They are still from readers.

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Kendall Defoe
08:39 Oct 09, 2023

All fair points...

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15:30 Sep 01, 2023

Amazing, how do you do it?

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Kendall Defoe
16:03 Sep 01, 2023

This one came from my environment- thought of the mall near my place - and imagination.

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06:46 Sep 02, 2023

That's good

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06:46 Sep 02, 2023

I don't know if I can do that,well I'm not really a writer

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Kendall Defoe
13:05 Sep 02, 2023

You wrote to me,and you joind this page. You must want it, right? So...write!

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Unknown User
10:12 Sep 14, 2023

<removed by user>

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05:13 Oct 02, 2023

Who the hell is this 'unknown user'? Is it a hack?

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Kendall Defoe
23:18 Oct 02, 2023

It is just someone who decided that their comment was either not good enough or too revealing.

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03:41 Oct 19, 2023

It's Jo Malgeri who has removed her comments and herself. Loved her writing. She isn't with us anymore!

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Jill Murphy
10:56 Oct 11, 2023

Whenever it reads “UNKNOWN USER” it means user was removed from this site, either by choice or by force. User did not remove comment, even though it reads “REMOVED BY USER.”

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Kendall Defoe
15:50 Sep 23, 2023

I have taken a break from this page, but I may come back... Thank you for your comments.

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Unknown User
19:14 Sep 23, 2023

<removed by user>

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