Friday, August 28, 2009

The Collector

From the moment I saw his face I knew he was evil. More importantly, it was his eyes. Bright, lying blue eyes. He had the innocent look of a child, but you could tell. Behind the innocent face was a lying, manipulative bastard. I handed him my credit card uneasily. I had no choice. I had to. He took it in his boyish hands, and swiped it in the machine with a sly smirk. He had me. The fuck had won. I took my card back quickly and grabbed my bag of goods. “ Have a nice day,” he said with a phony vocal inflection. “ Yeah,” I mumbled as I fled the tiny boutique. The street was its usual cluster fuck of people. Tourists, workers, homeless, and traffic. God this place sucked.
I walked up to a street meat cart and got in line. I was starving. I spaced out for a moment staring at two pigeons fighting over a French fry. “ Next!” I heard. Oh shit, that’s me. “Uh… I’ll take a hot Italian sausage with peppers and onions.”
“That’ll be 3.50.” The grimy salesmen barked. I followed the line to the next man who was grilling the assorted meats. He handed me a deliciously greasy sausage, with all the fixings.
“Thanks.” I said. The man did not respond. He just eyed me, and then eyed the tip jar. There was no way in fuck I was going to tip these crude bastards. I took my prized sausage around the corner to a park bench and devoured it in about 30 seconds. I was sure my face was stained with mustard or hot sauce, but I just didn’t care. I sat for a little bit longer. I looked in my bag. The boss had better be pleased. I finally got up and rounded the corner to the bus stop. I waited for about 10 minutes before the big blue bus screeched in front of me. I got on and whipped out my wallet. I quickly flashed the driver my metro pass and kept walking. He stopped me with a grubby hand on my back. “ Hey buddy, that things expired. The new ones are green.”
“ I just got the thing yesterday,” I lied.
“Bullshit, fare is a buck and a quarter, pay or get the hell off.”
“I’m not paying the fare, I have a pass!” I started to get angry, even though I knew I was wrong. I couldn’t give up the lie just yet.
“Well, what are you gonna do, you’re holdin’ me up!”
“I bought this pass from the metro station on Venture, from a lady named Linda, call and check with her. It can’t be expired”
“I’m not taking your bullshit, pay or get the fuck off!”
Suddenly a teenager walked up and waved two dollars.
“Here, just take this, I’m gonna be late for Christ sakes.
“No, no, fuck it, I’m outta here.”
I stomped out of the bus and flicked the driver off as I left. Goddamn, I have to get a new pass. I should’ve just taken that kids money.
Now I was going to be late. The boss was going to be pissed as usual. I kicked a littered McDonalds bag in frustration. It hit the shoes of a businessman who was walking by.
“Hey, you better fuckin’ watch it. I’ll fuckin’ bury you!” he snarled, but kept walking. I hate this damn city. I continued my walk down the long crowded street. I clenched the blue double bag tightly. If I lose this, I’m up shit’s creek without a goddamn paddle.
Up ahead on the sidewalk was a male and female arguing. They must have been married, I could tell by their language.
“Honey, I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to go out every night”
“Oh but you can afford all those porno movies every night!”
“Those aren’t…“
She cut him off, “Yeah, I see the bills, get away from me you disgusting pig!”
The woman walked faster ahead. The husband hurried to console her. What’s the point. They’re just going to end up old and cranky, like every couple ever. I’m so happy I’m single. I slowly reached my destination. I was sweating and out of breath. It must have been 100 degrees in this shit hole valley. I approached the boss’ house. I slid my face to the intercom and pressed the speak button. “It’s Joe, let me in.”
“You’re late Joe.”
“God dammit, I know, just let me in.”
There was a slight pause. Then the gate swung open. I staggered up the long winding driveway, still clutching the bag tightly. After what seemed like a decade, I reached the goddamn porch. I walked over and opened the big wooden door. I entered the same way I had hundreds of times before. Past the kitchen, past the john, right into the living room where the boss usually sat. This time was no different. When I entered, he was lying on the large leather couch, sipping a cocktail. Cartoons were playing on the massive screen in front of him. Not anime, or adult cartoons, but children’s programming. The fat fuck still watched cartoons. I don’t know why.
“What do you have for me?” he mused. He stroked his mustache like some kind of movie villain.
“Here,” I took a small green box out of my bag and handed it to him. He popped it open and examined it closely.
“ Hmm..” He sat silent for a moment. Damn, I knew he wouldn’t like it.
“You know I already have one like this!” He began to get unruly.
“Hey man, it was the only one they had!” Again I lied. I could have gone to a different boutique, but neglected to.
“Take it back. I don’t want that shit in my house.”
He practically threw the box back at me. “Be gone,” he said with an air of arrogance.
“Get out! That means fucking leave!” He shooed me out. I left in a depressed slump. Fuck this job. What did I ever do to deserve this? I was back on the streets. There was no way I would get to the store in time, so I just sat on .the curb and stared, blankly. Traffic was zooming by, left and right. I opened the green box, took out the stupid Chewbacca figurine, and threw it into the street. With my luck, it bounced up and struck a Cadillac. The driver immediately pulled over, got out and lunged at me. Oh shit, how am I going to get out of this one?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Big Day

I dreamt restlessly that day, tossing and turning. My dreams were the very definition of strange. Colors and swirls of offices and mops, dazzling lights and filing cabinets. I awoke a minute before my alarm clock would tell me to awake. I turned it off with some haste and lay there for a minute, still, delirious. Today was my interview, my big day. I finally rose from my stiff air mattress, and headed to the washroom. Should I shave? Well maybe just a little touch up. I meandered back to my room and found my one shirt that contained a collar. It was a green shirt. I was dressed to impress, sort of. I gathered all of the spare change on my desk and headed out into the world.

It was hot out, must have been 85 degrees already. I headed down the sidewalk toward the bus stop on Ventura. At the corner, some road rage was brewing.
"Hey asshole get a move on", followed by a bundle of angry horn honks. Still I kept walking. Past the mini mart, past the law offices. Past the borderline run down Mexican kitchen. Past the homeless, the employed, the confused. I finally came up to the bus stop. I'd never taken the bus before. I had myself a seat at the bus stop. The bus arrival time was set at 10:58 am, and it came right about that time. Only it didn't stop for me, it kept right on going. I stood up confused, and then realized that you must stand practically in the road for the bus to stop for you. So I sat around and waiting for the next round. A half hour later, another orange bus came shooting down the boulevard. This time I was determined to get on. I stood poised, and sure enough the bus driver pulled to the side and picked me up.

I boarded the large, loud vehicle, paid my fare, and had a seat. I was one of four passengers on the morning bus. We got going down the busy morning street. We stopped to pick up some passengers at the next stop. A disheveled gentleman entered, walked back and took a seat. He nervously glanced around, took a flask of cheap vodka from his pocket and took a swig. He squirmed around in his seat for about thirty seconds before going to the driver and asking to get off the bus. He exited. The entire bus smelled of his cheap putrid vodka. It was 11 in the morning. Still the bus kept on moving. We crawled through the morning traffic. I sat and mentally prepared for my big interview. I would be ready for this one. I practiced some responses I had cooked up in my mind. Finally we neared the stop. Hart Street. I pulled the weird metal cord to signal the bus to stop, thanked the driver, and exited the machine.

I needed to walk a couple blocks to reach the office. It was on Canby Avenue, surely a big street. I walked and walked. I was still a half hour early somehow. I finally arrived at a large desolate looking building. Suite 108 was painted on the door in front of me. Taking a deep breath, I entered the building. A young attractive woman greeted me.
"Hi are you here for the interview? Name please."
I responded with my name, and she handed me a paper to fill out. I sat down in the waiting room and nervously filled out the application. There was loud rap music playing from a door adjacent to the waiting room. The secretary and another applicant were chatting nearby.
" Yeah, me and my friends used to go to Vegas a lot, but then I found the lord."
"Oh, yeah I know how tempting a place like that can be."
"Ya know I just feel so much better knowing that Jesus loves me."
Just then the door opened, and the music got louder. A thin strung out Asian gentleman stood, dressed in a black suit looked around the waiting room.
"Who's next Nancy?" He screamed over the loud music.
" Oh I'll send Tim in, here is his application."
I watched Tim in his full suit walk into the room. I heard some sort of yelling coming from the other side of the door. The door opened about 30 seconds later, and Tim sauntered out.
" They only hire people with cars, good luck".
"Well, I hope Jesus guides you on your job search." The strange secretary shouted. He was gone.
Finally after waiting for what seemed like forever, Ryder, the Vice President called all the remaining males into the room. We looked at each other and then him, and entered the office.
The office was a small room that had several paintings on the walls. There was Donald Trump's newest book lying on the table. We filed our way in and stood in front of Ryder.
" Hey guys how are you doing today."
Before we could answer he was already going into his pitch.
" Do you guys want to make money? I mean a lot of money? While you guys have been standing in here I have already made about 1000 dollars. What I did was get trained and then kicked everyone's asses in sales. I made my way up to this office. We have offices all over the United States. I'm talking Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Florida, uh, Cincinnati, places all over. So many opportunities. If you get sick of it here in Los Angeles I'll fly you out to a new city, take you around in a helicopter to see if you like the city. You see that book, That's Trump’s book. I follow it like a bible. It’s a guide you know, guide's are perfect. It's like if you go to Hong Kong and eat a Big Mac, it tastes the same as a Big Mac you eat in California. Because they are all made with a guide. That's what we train you on. A guide for you to make money. Then you make residual income. You get like eight people under you, and make a ton of money. I make money when I am hanging out with my friends. If you are good you can make 80 thousand a year."
Just then someone cut him off.
" So it's a pyramid scheme?"
"Oh no no nothing like that"
" Yeah, I'm out of here, thanks."
The gentleman that spoke up left the room. I followed him. Once we got out of the office the man spoke to me.
“I knew it was a scam.”
“Yeah, what a crock of shit.” I responded, as we walked our separate ways.
“Well, good luck with your job search.” He yelled.
I reciprocated the same message of good luck. Was luck what we needed to find jobs? Certainly luck did not lead me here today. I wandered back to the bus stop, and got on. The bus was crowded, it was now midday. I nestled in and grabbed a hold of the metal bar. I rode the bus all the way home. The job search continues. Good luck.