I don’t like work, the only reason I go is so that I get paid. That’s the only reason, to get paid. So get this, last week we had three days off and I’m not getting paid for it! Guess who is getting paid for it? That’s right, Jerkwad #1. I could sort of understand it if neither of us were paid, after all, we had gone missing, but Enrique claimed he was here all along! He told me all this yesterday like it was nothing. I asked him why he didn’t say I was at work and he replied, “but chu wern.”
“Neither were you!” I said.
“But I lie!” he said.
“So why didn’t you say I was here?”
“Chu wern here.”
“I know I wasn’t here. I was out messing about with you! It was your idea. You do the wage slips.”
“So why didn’t you say I was at work?” I was now exaggerating the mouthing of the words.
“Shut up Enrique.”
He shook his head while looking around the empty shop, smiling at an invisible audience in a very patronising manner. What a plank. Last week Enrique and I had got lost on the sand dunes for three days while searching for The Jersey Devil. Enrique read about it and wanted to find it. I went along because I thought it would get me out of the shop for a couple of hours but three days we were gone. Totally missed Christmas. Enrique really wanted to find it, the Jersey Devil. I told him it was the Jersey in America. New Jersey.
Anyway, we hadn’t found it, because it lives on the other side of the World and doesn’t exist, but we had got lost. It had all ended with Enrique punching Carol. By accident. She’d snuck up on us when our nerves were fraught and he thought she was the monster. I’d felt sorry for her as she crumpled against that granite wall because he really walloped her but she mistook that pity for concern and now she thinks she’s my girlfriend again and hangs around the shop.
She just appears.
When she comes in Enrique will often stand in my eye-line, in the background, making crucifixes with his hands and pulling horrified faces. I laughed the first few times but it got real old real quick. That guy can milk a joke. If he gets a laugh for something he’ll do again and again forever and ever.
After I’d fought with Enrique about my wages Carol appeared. I turned around and she was there. “You!” I said and faked a smile and wagged a finger at her. How does she get in undetected? Her excuse was she passing and she was thirsty even though we are literally on the other side of the island from her jungle gym. She brought a bottle of red Oasis to the counter. Sometimes I just give her things and I say, “I’ll get that,” but of course I don’t get that, and I simply steal it. Like Bonnie and Clyde. But Enrique was milling around and being a dick and it was only 80p so I charged her.
While getting her money from her bum-bag she dropped a few coins. “Three cheers for the juggler!” I announced because I love saying that when people drop things. I heard a guy say it in a bar once when the barmaid dropped a glass and he got a massive laugh. Carol chuckled and then bent down in front of the counter, disappearing from view.
She should have reappeared in a few seconds but after twenty or so she was still down there. I leant over the counter and saw she was having real trouble picking up a five pence piece. Our floors are flat as mirrors and sometimes even I struggle picking up dropped coins. Not like this though, Carol was muttering obscenities.
“Come on, leave it!” I said. Carol did a high-pitched laugh and shook her head and continued to try and pick up the coin. It was moving this way and that, but not coming up. I stared at the back of Carol’s head from over the counter. I realised her hair was more like unspun natural cotton or a scrunched up block of spider’s web sprayed with black car paint. Her fingers were fat. After a few more seconds I couldn’t take it any more. “Wait there, I’ll ge-”
“I can do this,” she said. I leant over the counter again to watch. She was taking a break, seeming to steel herself before trying again and the coin just moved around. She was just pushing it around as she laughed and twitched her head. Carol’s movements, hardly graceful to begin with, seemed to be getting more spastic and I was growing concerned. I looked around and saw Enrique staring at Carol from his office door, his face open in wonderment as if he was witnessing the birth of a galaxy. He looked at me, his face not changing and then back to Carol.
“C@#£ucker!” shouted Carol who seemed to have lost all sense of where she was. She went for the coin again with her big fat sausage fingers and it shot off down the confectionery aisle. She was after it, still on all fours. I noticed a small pool of sweat where she had been. Grim. She dived for the coin but only managed to move it further down the aisle. She didn’t let up. The girl’s tenacious. She went after it, down the aisle, and I heard the coin ricochet off the hot food counter which is at the end. I could hear Carol pant as she chased it. She moved with incredible speed for somebody on all fours. For what seemed like minutes she scampered up and down the aisles. I had to intervene.
I picked up a flyer from the counter and left my station. Carol was taking another breather by the newspapers. “Stop!” I demanded. Carol looked up at me and I winced. “Slide this under it,” I said handing her the glossy advert for a trip to the Moon. She took it, slid it under the coin and again looked up at me and this time she was smiling. I was relieved. Then to my horror she let go of the only corner of the paper that was off the floor. She bark-laughed and went to pick it up but of course she couldn’t. She whined. Before I could tell her to simply pinch the paper, to get purchase, she was off again. The coin slid off the paper and she tried to chase both things at once. I returned to the counter. Enrique was now there. It looked like he had been crying. He went to say something but I put my finger to my lips and shushed him.
Eventually Carol returned to the counter. “It’s gone under a chiller,” she said thumbing towards to chillers. I nodded. Didn’t want to say anything. “Where’s that Oasis?” She asked, tossing her head back and blinking.