Speaking of change, I’m almost out. I broke a hundred earlier. I wish I hadn’t. I’ve got a register full of big bills. There are a few ones here, but they’re going fast. Someone’s coming in to do an exchange of something that I just sold him. He’s wanting the less expensive model of the product that he got. It’s the battle of The Crafty vs The Mighty. If you’re in the industry, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m going to ask him for change. This is my shop. I’m the one who’s here. I’m the one in control of the register. I’ve got The Crafty, you’ve got The Mighty. Let’s see just how crafty I can be. What I can get away with. That’s the question. I just want some smaller bills.

The guy delivers. He comes through with a few. But they are quickly sucked back up and out of the register by a woman paying for a one hitter with a twenty. Sometimes it feels like you just can’t get ahead in this world. You’ve got to do what you can. You’ve got to give it your best shot. Sometimes you get lucky. Like that time I found a twenty in the subway. I’d thought that it might have fallen out of my wallet. The way that I swiped it up was so nonchalant. It couldn’t have gone any better. I had to count my wallet three times to make sure that I wasn’t the one who dropped it.

I wasn’t.

Earlier in that same night my coworker, Nikoli, had given me ten dollars because he had been very late to relieve me – over a half an hour. My boss was there. We knew that Nikoli was going to be late, but we didn’t know he was going to be this late. Anyways, I took the ten dollars. I had no other choice. I tried telling him that I’d already paid myself for the extra time that I’d stayed, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He had to show face in front of my boss.  

It was two fives. Add that to the five that I’d paid myself plus this twenty that I just found, and I’m over eighty dollars. At my age, eighty dollars is the minimum that I should be making for a day’s work. At least it’s not taxed. It’s cold hard cash. Plucked from the register at the end of every shift. This job definitely has its benefits. But Nikoli is becoming a problem. He set up a camera behind the register. It’s a really shoddy rigging that he did. Wires strung over the rolling papers. A dangling router. The camera points right at the computer. No more writing on the clock. I have to constantly be working now. The camera rotates. It can see me no matter where I am. It follows me. And it can hear us. It has audio recording capabilities. It even talks to us.

What were you doing behind the water pipe case, it asks.

Hello?

It’s me, Urlic. What were you doing behind the water pipe case?

I was tidying.

He likes that. It’s what he wants me to be doing.

He’s not mad, which means that he hadn’t caught me writing.

Elektra’s not going to be happy. She’s the one who had warned me about these cameras. It’s her who is replacing me today. I’ve got to warn her. I can’t do it in here. This place is dirty, filthy, full of bugs. I’m going to get her outside. It’s cleaner out there than it is in here. She’s a smoker. That’s my in. I’ll ask her for a cigarette. It’s worth it. These are patriot games.

She’s late. I’m getting impatient. I put my coat on and grab my books. I figure I’ll meet her outside. She’s stepping out of a taxi as I’m stepping out of the shop. She looks good. There was a point there where she didn’t. I don’t know what was going on with her at that point in her life.

She mouths that she’s sorry.

I tell her that it’s fine.

I need to warn you about something, I say.

I tell her about the camera.

He can hear everything we say. He follows you with the lense. There’s no escaping him. He has mirrors set up all around the shop. If I hadn’t already put my two weeks in, I’d do it now. I only wish it was expiring sooner. This is torture. No more singing. No more dancing. He wants to put a cut out of his face over it. Cut a hole in the eye. He wants to talk to customers. He wants to be in the store at all times without having to actually be there. He wants to watch us deal with his problems and then ‘pipe’ in about how we could be doing it better.

She pulls a cigarette out of her bag.

I resist asking her for one. I’ve got my e-cigarette. The Schmiggy, as you may know it. It’s all I need. It keeps my wife happy. She wouldn’t be happy smelling cigarettes on my breath, me telling her that I’d smoked them with my hot coworker who wants to do drugs with me, suck my dick, ride my cock, take my sperm, have my babies before Musette can, produce a little thing that looks like I did when I was a baby just like how my sister just did, making her jealous, threatening her chances of achieving that dream of hers, just like how The Lord seems to be keeping me from achieving mine, just like how my father had kept himself from achieving his.

The Schmiggy… I guess I’m coming back to names. They’re good for holding onto. Not so good for the presses, but I shouldn’t concern myself so much with the presses right now. The Google Doc, the blog: this is good for me. I’ll keep submitting, but I’ll keep more focus here. Which reminds me, consider this a notice. I’m putting up a paywall. It’s going to come into effect on the first of next month. April Fools Day. It’s no joke. This will be the front gate. It will link to my Patreon. I’m thinking three dollars. It’s a monthly thing. You get access to all of my work. I’ll be posting here, on this site that you’re reading from right now, at the more frequent rate that some of you are used to. I mean, probably not crazy frequent, but I’m thinking definitely more than once a week or month or whatever it has been. You’ll be able to read free stuff through the presses. I’ll put links up on the welcome page. Twitter will be a good place to follow me. I’ll probably put a condensed feed linking to the publication pieces if you want to follow that. But I’ll be going through and adding chapters to my old works here. As well as the live writing feature. You can talk with me, chat, watch me write, whatever. I’ve put a lot of work into this site. A lot of myself, a lot of my soul. It’s hard to think without it, but I’m going to open it up even further, beyond the paywall.

I know this might upset some of you. I mean, I know that’s a possibility. I don’t expect many of you to follow me beyond the wall, but being concerned so much with followers shouldn’t be the determining factor. There’s the aspect of making a living doing what you love. One cheeseburger a month for the cost of what you can buy from many authors for quite a bit more. I’ll think of other deals as well, they’ll go on the Patreon. Hardcopies for members, a record if it comes out. I don’t know. I’ll think of stuff as things progress. You could consider this a source for the super fan. There’s a lot here.  

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