LUNCH TIME

5928236-lunch-time-cheeseburger-and-french-fries--food-and-drink

A short story I wrote a while back about one man’s downfall during the lunch time madness. Bon appetit!

LUNCH TIME

 It’s the lunch time dash at the Good Eats Restaurant. The place is full to the brim with impatient, hungry customers. Queues have formed all the way back to the entrance. People are trying to squeeze in, just to get out of the cold. The tuts and sighs are enough to mimic a halting train. The command centre, or the kitchen, is busy with employees scuttling everywhere, clumsily bumping into each other, yelling beautiful words of encouragement (Twat!). Teamwork at its finest. The restaurant manager, Bob, an incredible specimen of a man if ever your eyes could fall on. A man you would follow into battle; with his sweaty, overweight physique.

He wipes the sweat off his brow with the back of his chubby little hand and adjusts his comb over. Well, comb over. A sign of denial if ever there was one as Bob attempts to position the three remaining strands of hair, in the reflection of the microwave surface, to look like some sort of ensemble on his head. With this magic patch of hair, he could still pass for 50. His face, a beautiful maroon with eyes as bloodshot red as the tomato-based substitute they pass as sauce. Needless to say, Bob was not amused with the team’s performance. Especially one lad in particular. Wayne.

A tall, lanky geek of a specimen. To be honest, if you were to look at the pair of them, you would have thought it was a before and after sketch in a Weight Watchers campaign. Super-Size vs. Super Skinny. Wayne averts his gaze, choosing the floor rather than his master’s morose maroon face. Bob unleashes all but the bloody Kraken at him. A twenty something student who had the silly idealism (idealism? Well, drunken epitome) that working at a fast food restaurant would be the dream. Well, free food at least. No, not even that. I know, right?

Bob continues to wag his stubby little sausage finger at the scorned student. Spit flying out, leaving little dew dropped speckles on Wayne’s glasses. He doesn’t dare wipe them off at this present moment.

“Are you completely useless?!” screamed Bob.

Wayne desperately wants to answer. Well, I dressed myself. I’m here. So . . . no! But he doesn’t. He continues to look at the disturbingly yellow stained flooring. Is that a cockroach? No, it’s a bean. Wait, we don’t serve beans. Well, ones that move anyway.

“Hello?! I’m talking to you!” shrieked the ogre of a manager.

Then Wayne made that fatal mistake. He looked into his boss’ blood shot eyes and shrugged. The laidback, sarcastic, “fuck it” shoulder shrug. A perfect symbolism of the now generation. If something goes wrong, shrug, fuck it. Not so for the balding beast. It was an invitation. Like a matador waving a cape to a bull. A hairy, fat sweaty bull that seems to be breathing through gritted teeth. Bob clenches his fist.

“That’s all you’ve got, is it?” asks Bob. He shrugs, imitating Wayne.

Some of the employees and customers notice the impending disaster. Laughs could be heard. Phones obviously ready to record, post and share to the world. God bless social media. Wayne doesn’t like the attention. He can feel his face going red. He’s had enough. Shrug, fuck it.

“You told Jeff to clean the toilet. Not me!” retorted the trembling twenty-something. Bob shakes his head. He smiles, a sinister shark toothed grin as if to say, you’ve just walked into my trap. Cue the theatrics so every nosy parker could see. Bob throws his arms up in the air as if he was ready to perform Swan Lake, not give a bollocking.

“He speaks! Ah ha. Yeah, I can see how I can get Jeff and Wayne mixed up. Those names are so similar.  J-e-f-f. W-a-y-n-e.” Bob uses his hands to help in the spelling of the names, like he was ready to show the emergency exits on a plane. Wayne is hating every second of it. Alright, Alan Partridge. I can fucking spell. Bob bellows for the witness in the trial of the designated job debacle.

“JEFF!” bellowed Bob.

Jeff, a smaller, spottier lad around the same age as Wayne, pops up like a meerkat from the chips section.

“Yes, boss?” said Jeff, in his snivelly, whiney voice.

Bob turns around to face him. He places his hands on his hips, a pose resembling a teapot.

“Settle this. Who did I ask to clean the toilets?” barks the boss man.

Jeff shakes, nerves kicking in. The spotlight well and truly on him. Nothing worse for little old Jeff. He tries to get the words out, in a Morse code fashion.

“Www-aa-yyy-nnee-ssss-i-rrr, bbb-oo-sss”, croaked the coward.

Wayne mimics Bob’s teapot pose behind his back. Jeff tries not to smile. However, he made the mistake. He looked over Bob’s shoulder. Bob turns around. Wayne quickly puts his arms down and looks back down to the ground. Too late, the damage is done.

Before Bob can reprimand the reeling reprobate, he notices that he has gathered more of an audience than he anticipated with the restaurant rammed to the brim. And for some reason, huddling around a particular check out till. Go figure. Bob shakes his head and lets out a big sigh. His mouldy mank breath hitting Wayne’s face like a slap to the face.

“Finish your shift then come to my office. You’re promoted to tills. You can take orders, can’t you?” retorted Bob.

Still digging. Still waiting for a rise. Wayne nods rapidly. Not good enough for the big, bald boss.

“Yes, what?” commands Bob.

Wayne looks up confused.

“Eh?”

Bob makes a spinning motion with his hand.

“Wind your neck back in and answer me properly”, demands the dictator.

For the love of God, don’t shrug again. Bob moves closer, squaring up to Wayne, “I’m waiting”.

Jeff is trying to say something over Bob’s shoulder. He mimes the words, SAY SIR! Wayne makes a scoffing noise. That’s it!

“If you’re expecting me to say sir, you’ll be waiting a long time. This ain’t the fucking military!” shouts Wayne.

Oh no. More phones rise out of the ever-growing mass of hungry consumers. They’re getting fed one way or another. Through processed food or violence. Bob clenches his fists. He steps into Wayne’s personal space.

“Like I said, office later. Now get on the tills!” Bob barges past the weedy Wayne. The customers and employees tut and sigh, disappointed that their diligence did not at least earn a bitch slap. Videos were still being posted, of course.

Wayne turns his anger towards Jeff. He stomps over. Jeff picks up on his vibe and quickly starts putting chips into the fryer. Wayne stands behind him, breathing down his neck.

“Uh, what the hell, mate?” Wayne raises his arms like Jesus on the cross, like all was against him. Why me, Lord? “You know he asked you to!”

Jeff continues to fumble about. Chips going everywhere but their intended destination. He sighs.

“I couldn’t prove him wrong in front of everyone”, squeaks the mousy midget.

Wayne tuts. “Bullshit”

Jeff turns around to face him.

“I’m sorry, okay?”

Wayne shakes his head.

“No, not okay. It’s every day. You know, he’s got it in for me so don’t give him more fucking ammo. God, I hate this job”

Wayne grabs his hat and throws it into the fryer. He soon regrets it.

“Oh bloody hell! That was my hat”

Jeff tries to fish it out.

“Why don’t you quit?”

Wayne makes that scoffing noise again. Not even he knows where that came from.

“It’s alright for you, hang on, you got something on your nose”.

Jeff rubs his nose frantically. Wayne moves closer and wipes something. He shows his finger. There’s nothing there. Wayne smiles.

“Oh, look is that some of Bob’s shit”.

Jeff slaps Wayne’s hand away and continues fishing for the cap.

“I’ve had enough. If I’m called an idiot one more time, I’ll . . .” Wayne struggles to find the words.

“You’ll what?” asks Jeff, desperate for the drama queen to exit stage right. Wayne shrugs.

“I dunno. But I’ll do something.” Wayne brushes his hands through his hair.

Jeff tuts. Wayne looks at him, puzzled.

“What’s the tut for?” demands Wayne.

Jeff smiles.

“Did Bob give you your balls back?”

Wayne tries to find an answer. He looks up to the ceiling, hoping to pick a smart quip out of thin air.

“Uh . . . shut up, Jeff!”

Wayne activates one of the counter terminals. He brushes bits of god knows what off his uniform. He takes a deep breath and adjusts his name tag. Right, let’s do this. Bring it. He pulls the falsest smile he has ever done and shouts those beautiful words.

“NEXT, PLEASE!”

Two businessmen in Versace suits, carrying briefcases, approach the counter. Quite dapper, if Wayne was in the mood to compliment. However, the two businessmen are different in size, more Mr Big and Mr Small. Mr Small starts ordering. He is middle aged, with a little goatee. If anything with his physique and appearance you could have mistaken him for Ricky Gervais. He doesn’t bother to look at Wayne, just faces the other businessman. He speaks.

“He looks like an idiot”.

Wayne looks at Mr Small, confused. “Excuse me?”

“Yeah I said, idiot. Couldn’t you hear me?” retorts Mr Small.

Wayne can’t believe his luck. Replace one knobhead with another. Must have been a bad person in a former life. Keep calm, keep calm, Wayne. He flashes that fake smile, again.

“I’m sorry, can I take your order, sir?

Mr Small pulls a face, “What?”

Keep calm and carry on.

“Can I-

Mr Small cuts Wayne short by raising his index finger

“I heard you the first time. I’ll have a cheeseburger. No fries and whatever other shit you’re going to offer”

Mr Big looks to be the same age as Wayne. Better looking than his shitty counterpart. Tall, dark hair, more like someone out of the Hollyoaks ensemble. He smiles but remains silent. Mr Small taps his watch.

“I’d like this done today”.

Oh, no he didn’t!

Wayne is fuming. He turns around and grabs the first burger he can find. He can still hear Mr Small rabbiting on to Mr Big.

“How hard is it to follow instructions?”

Wayne goes to slam the burger on the counter but before he can, he suddenly has a Eureka moment. He puts on his false smile, mimicking the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. He puts the burger in his pocket. The heat burning through the cheap nylon trousers. Mr Small looks up. Wayne raises two fingers, no, the normal way.

“Two seconds. Just got to be made”. Mr Small sighs. Mr Big again, remains silent. Wayne quickly dashes through the hustle and bustle of the kitchen area. He hovers outside the staff toilet door. Well, Bob did say I was supposed to clean the toilets. Wayne knocks on the door to make sure no one is in there. Knock, knock. Nothing. He creeps into the condensed area with its claustrophobic walls. He bangs his elbow against the sink. Flies are buzzing around the only toilet. Well, the only designated staff toilet. Wayne looks inside the toilet. Damn, clean! The one time. Sod’s law! Wayne unwraps the burger and looks around.

He crawls on his knees and smiles. Bingo! He wipes the burger round the toilet fittings and the rim of the porcelain, for good measure. He looks back to make sure no one has, well not walked in, but popped their nosy head in. He quickly wraps the burger back up.

Wayne flashes that Cheshire grin and rushes back to Mr Small who is looking at his watch, impatiently. He slaps the burger on the counter, “Here you go, sir. Sorry for the delay”.

Mr Small snatches it off the side. Wayne looks to Mr Big. Oh shit, I left before he could order.

“I’m sorry. Did you want anything? I dashed off to sort your colleague’s. I completely forgot to ask.”

Nice and cool. Courteous. Completely oblivious. Go on, eat it here. Actually, no don’t. Mr Small looks at Mr Big. He shakes his head.

“Oh no, he isn’t with me”

Wayne looks puzzled. Mr Big flashes that Hollyoaks smile.

“I’m being served, thank you.”

What? Then why was he talking –

“’Scuse me”.  Jeff pushes past Wayne and passes a bag to Mr Big. Mr Big thanks Jeff and leaves. Mr Small’s shout brings Wayne back to the growing chaos.

“I asked you a question!”

Did he open the burger? Shit, I zoned out. Wayne can feel the blood leaving his face, “Sorry, sir?”

Mr Small shakes his head. “Not you, son”

Mr Small places his index finger next to his ear. He turns his head around to reveal a bluetooth device.

“Signals crap in here. I’ll fire the idiot when I’m back.”

Oh no, oh no, oh no.

Mr Small chucks some money at the counter. He smiles.

“Sorry about that, mate. Work. Who’d do it, eh? Bad manners, I know. Keep the change, son. Cheers”

NO, NO, NO, NO!

Mr Small disappears into the ocean of hungry monsters. Wayne can’t see him.

“No, wait!”

Oh sh-

“Found your hat”

Jeff passes Wayne’s deep fried cap. Wayne looks sick.

“Are you okay?”

Wayne places the hat on Jeff’s head. He takes off his name tag.

Jeff is confused.

“What are you doing?”

Wayne can’t find the words. He turns to his companions and shrugs.

Fuck it.

THE END

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A Day in the Life of a ‘Dog’s Body’: Holiday Edition

Chapter Two – A Gateway to Hell, or what I call, the Airport

Walking across the tarmac to the airport entrance is such a depressing site. Hardly a haven to prepare yourself for a fantastic holiday. Just a bunch of miserable looking people awaiting their doom. Well, what do you expect? Delays, technical faults, hidden fees, being shoved in a tin tube for so many hours and queuing.

Queuing. I love it. (I don’t). It has got to be one of the most quintessentially British, uh, things? Yeah, things that define us as a nation. It is just programmed in our nature, even altered in our DNA (Too far? Thought so?). You can play, “Spot the Brit” when you’re abroad. What are the signs? Just one. We’re the only plonkers standing in an organised fashion, while being barged out of the way by the locals. A tut and a dirty look will do nothing here, old sport.

If Ross, my mum and I were to stand in a line right now, people would stand behind us. The funniest thing is that no one would dare to ask. They would just stand and assume it’s for something. I know this because the first thing that happened as we entered, apart from my brother wondering why there were tramps on the floor, was no one knew where to queue so instead of asking someone, they started forming a line.

Oh the tramp thing. People were laying all over the floor. Probably delayed flights. I assured my brother that tramps don’t have suitcases. If they did, I don’t think they would be tramps. Plus tramps don’t have flight tickets . . . or Armani suits. The line thing. Back on track. We had a guide speaking through a broken speaker, telling us where to go. He took his mouth away from the mouthpiece, still couldn’t understand him. Turns out the speaker wasn’t broken, just a strange man speaking in an inaudible tongue. Parseltongue?

Passport control, such fun! Why is it when security guards at passport control look at your passport picture, you automatically try to look like it? Or you smile, hoping that will help. As if a smile will get you anywhere. Well, actually, I have a funny story about a brothel where . . . Another time. But the smiling thing. We have to fear identity fraud. Imagine that.

HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO

Guard: “This bloke got through with your passport because you had the same smile”.

Me: “What? He’s fat, bald and . . . Nigerian”.

And that little camera, web camera thing. Can’t help but strike a pose. Vogue! Nope, felt wrong typing it but also so right.

While we were waiting in another bloody queue, I noticed one of those virtual assistants. You know, those glass figures with virtual people on them. I stood next to one and busted out my best C-3PO impression. Turns out it wasn’t virtual. That was on the other side of the control desk. I was doing the robot with a rather narked off security guard. Someone’s getting frisked. Guilty! He was just jealous of my moves. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

They say (Who are they? The writer folk) the trick to writing is keep writing. Watch people, experience life, blah, blah, blah. Keep a pad. Write things down as they happen. So if you see me writing, be honoured. I might be putting something good. You could be my muse. You should only be freaked out if it’s night and I’m in a bush or outside your house, or both. That would be weird. Not that I’ve done that or considered it. I haven’t. Maybe once. Nope, kidding. Or am I?

Anyway, the airport departure lounge. Great to watch and write about people. In fact, my brother nods over to an attractive lady. Shallow, I know. Well, might as well have a gander. I nod in approval. His face drops. He bursts out laughing. What? Apparently that lovely looking lady is actually a lovely looking lady boy. Oooookkkkaaaayyyy.

Icona Pop comes out blaring on the intercom. I don’t care, I love it. (What? I’ll get my coat). I start tapping my foot. As you do. Then the bass drops, head starts rocking. Standard. I look across to see two unlikely gentlemen; saying it politely because they were two of the most overweight blokes I’ve seen in a while, giving it some serious toe tapping. Deliverance had the infamous banjo battle, I’ve got the toe tapping triple threat tap off. (Try and say that several times). A little bit concerning that one of the first film references I do and keep referring to is Deliverance. Squeal, piggy! These guys could lose serious weight with their toe tapping. New fitness programme. Copyrighting that shit right now. I am so tempted to stage a flash mob with these oldies.

Watching the stunning ladies and the not so stunning, or as my brother calls them, the Jabbas. It’s bad when you look at certain couples and think either the girl is tapped to be so good looking and hanging with that fat guy. Or that guy is either loaded (not the American drugged slang word, the British rich slang one) or he has a huge appendage. Appendage, what a word. I mean, heart. What? Just me? Come on . . . Well, I suppose they have great personalities and . . . . Yeah, moving on.

I complained about paying £3 for a coffee outside the airport. The crying woman who sold it to me (I joke!) said, “Wait until you get inside”. In the Costa Coffee near the Check-in, £4! And in the Duty Free, what a load of shit. £5! I better have a never-ending buzz.  Come into the Duty Free. No tax. BIG CON! They put everything flipping up so they don’t have to worry about tax. Must be a send-off gift from home. One last rip-off before you leave. If you leave us now, we’re take away the biggest part of you. Ooooohhh. Yeah my money. Should be cheaper on the plane. HAHAHA. Give the cabin crew your flight pass, your arm and go on, have a leg as well.

Anyhoo, my brother made a friend. Awww, travel companion. Friend. Flight friend. He ended up feeling guilty by an elderly gentlemen. He was put on some medication that we felt was not needed. More a cure for hypochondria after suffering an “anxiety” attack. Basically went overkill on a gym session, thought his chest was going to explode. That crappy diet. Beans and rice. Probably heartburn. He’s on the same pills as an octogenarian, who really needs them.

He’s like my Mum, not the hypochondriac thing. My mum is always able to strike up a conversation with anyone. Annoyingly, we always get an extra travel companion. In this case, it was an elderly Irish woman. A cross between Mrs Doutbfire and Mrs Brown. I’m not stereotyping, she does! Did you see her? Shut up. I felt sorry for the old dear. Travelling on her own. Meeting her Morris Dancing company abroad, apparently. Mental but good for her. Me, I don’t like people. They’re my family, so kind of have to put up with them. I joke. Don’t like them either. Oh God, they’re on our flight. They’re sitting with us. Super Duper! To the plane!

A Day in the Life of a ‘Dog’s Body’ – The Holiday Edition

Chapter One – I’m off on an Adventure!

And so it begins, the frantic packing, the constant worrying and double checking, “have I packed my dwarf costume?” and the more important stuff I suppose; condoms, gadgets, no, of course not, passports, money, etc. Mum running around like a headless chicken, Dad trying to organize everything with military precision. He was never in the military, just very efficient. Squinting over his glasses, like a school head teacher, trying to work out the scales to weigh the cases. My brother, the “helpful” son, in full fly catcher mode, mouth gaping open, dead to the world, but not the flies.

Honestly, Mum is never organized, if she packed her case as quickly as she did mine, we’d be well away. I kid. I do try to pack my own case (I do honest) but all I get is Mum monitoring every object in the case like I’m already passing through customs. “Why do you need that?”, “Going somewhere nice, sir” and “You’re only going for a week!” Et cetera et cetera in Yul Bryner voice. Oscar and Hammerstein? The King and I? No? Really? Ironic that Mum moans about me taking two pairs of shoes when she will have three different outfits for every flipping hour of the holiday, with her many bags and the shoes. Lord, the shoes. Hate to be a chauvinist but ladies, you love your bloody shoes.

I digress. I just help avoid the inevitable arguments and confrontations by allowing my mum to pack my case. Sounds bad but it’s all for the greater good. Then Mum looks at me, distressed. She’s forgotten something! She needs to clean the house. What? At two in the morning? Why this sudden urge to clean? No one is checking on the house. And there’s a very good reason for that because Dad is staying. Didn’t fancy a week in the sun. I know, right?

My Dad is a fidget. He can’t stand still. Programmed like a robot. Up at the crack of dawn. Don’t be rude. I was thinking it while typing. Has to be doing something. I woke up to him stomping outside my room to check the floorboards weren’t raised. I had to help change the clocks on every appliance. It’s funny watching the Formula One racing. Sebastian Vettel is on the verge of winning his fourth title at the age of 26 and I can’t work out the clock on the blasted oven.

Anyway, my father would wake my brother and me (or is it and I? Screw it) at 7am on our holidays to reserve towels by the pool. You can sleep by the pool. I can sleep now if you let me. But if he did, we’d sleep most of the day and not get up until the evening. In a way, what would be the point? Might as well take the week off and stay in bed, save a shed load of money.

Back to the cleaning. Mum smiles and thanks me for my help. I passed some items. She gives me permission to go to bed. Yep, need permission. Could tell her to get out of my room. But she always replies, you could get out of my house. Touché ma mere. Touché. I finally drop off, only for loud stomping and the hoover blaring away like an agitated elephant. Just when I think the noise has stopped, the sleep fairy spreading that glittery mucus to seal my slumbering eyes, Mum decides to have a shower. The sound of a blistering storm above my ceiling.

Another moment of silence. Finally. Nope, the bloody hair dryer! For what seems like an eternity. The silence transcends. That beautiful silence. Peace. Knock, knock. My mum turns the light on and stomps into my room. “You asleep?” God damn it, woman! Well, your brother’s asleep. Don’t seem fair to wake both of you. You’ll have to sleep in the car. Whaaaaatttt?

Mum moans at me and my brother for being unorganized and not ready. My zombie brother hobbles into the car. Yeah, I don’t why he was hobbling. I don’t want to know either. I follow in suit. We looked like prisoners being escorted into a police van, not two lucky buggers going on a sunny holiday. Every time Mum goes to leave the house, what do you know she’s forgotten something!

Where’s my glasses? On your head, Mum. Where’s my glasses case? In your hand, Mum. Where’s my bag? On your arm. Do you want me to tell you who has your nose? SLAP. Worth it. Actually, that stung. Ow. Your TV needs polishing (No! That is not a euphemism. Stop it!) Dad is not going to be in my room. Nobody else is going into the house. Agnes and Kim will not be doing a surprise visit. If for some strange reason, they do then . . . shit. Not actually, shit. I mean, um, next paragraph.

Finally, in the car. Forever the social pariahs, my brother and I put on our iPods and went to sleep. Well my brother got to. I tried but got Mum’s bottomless bag (Stop it!) thrown at my face to make sure we had the tickets and passports. I don’t why she couldn’t – SLAP! Too busy worrying about my Dad’s driving. Remember Keeping up Appearances? Oh that you remember!

My Mum is Hyacinth Bucket. (It’s pronounced Bouquet). Tells my Dad to watch out for the people on the pavement. As if they are all suicidal morons who will play chicken in the road. Well wouldn’t put it past the school kids in the afternoon. Little shits. My Dad’s driving is okay. Okay in the sense that one journey, he may have slightly nodded off at the wheel and went slightly, kinda, over the other side of the road. My bro and I soon woke up then, I tell you. Shiiiiittt!

My Mum can’t watch my Dad driving. She has to look down, especially on motorways. Freaks out at the giant wheels of the lorries. She says, “I need knocking out to get in the car with you”. Silence confirms her statement. My Dad with that face. That face that says, “Too fucking right love”. SLAP!

Approaching the threshold of Northampton, or whatever village we’re passing through. Threshold is a quality word. Bon voyage, Northampton. Nothing says farewell better than a pissed up middle aged man crawling on all fours and vomiting into a bush from the local pub. Wait a minute . . . Uncle?

Dad, the gentleman, insisted he would drive back and check on him. Mum and Ross (yes, my brother does have a name) told my dad to drive on. Don’t need to worry that Dad is getting into trouble. Knowing Dad, he would have bought him a pint and get drunk with him. Mum was babbling on about woods, Deliverance and rape. Yeah, I know. Rape seed’s gone now. It’s winter.

Goodbye, Northampton. You stay . . . classy. Couldn’t even type that with a straight face, let alone read it. Nah, it’s alright. I’m (well we’re) off on an adventure!

PLEASE NOTE: Dad did drive back that route to say if the man was okay. I wonder where Dad is. Been a while. I joke! The man was gone. So, he got home safe or he passed out in a ditch. Nothing in the papers so it’s all good. At the moment.