Ulric wants to load some e-cigarettes, and by that I mean he wants me to do it. He is bossing me around. This is his store. He’s the boss. I can’t control myself, my body moves with his will; however, I’ve been bitten by a bout of clumsiness. The marijuana, the alcohol… I end up spilling a glass of the moonshine on the counter. Later in the night I will discover a spill on the rug when I move a lawn chair. I’m not sure if I actually spilled that one or just discovered it.
I end up Filling 8 tanks of juice before stepping away from the counter. I have to take some control. I’m here to party, to take advantage of the free marijuana and moonshine – not to work.
I sit down next to the kid that used to work at the store. He has bloody knuckles. He left the store to work on a film that Keanu Reeves was in. He told me before he left the job here that he was getting an SEO job at a liquor store. Now he seems desperate to get his job here back. Things don’t seem to be going well with him.
He asks me if I smoke and produces a pack of Marlboro 27’s – I think that’s what they’re called.
I tell him that I do and accompany him outside.
While out there, I read him a sentence from the article that Ulric kicked off the site and chided me for. He seems to genuinely like it.
I leave the party after smoking the cigarette. Musette had insisted that I take an Uber home, but that is a little too intimidating. I have her subway pass, and I use it to get home with.
Through my intoxicated eyes, I fall deeper in love with the underground.
Musette is asleep when I get home. I take the dog out. He passes something. I can’t tell what it was. I try to examine it, but I am on a busy sidewalk. It looks like a big bone at first, but I don’t know, it might be cloth, perhaps a sock.
On the eve of Christmas Eve, the day after the party, I make the store over nine hundred dollars. It’s a late shift. I don’t normally work the late shift. 10:30 comes quick. I don’t normally close. It’s not normally my responsibility. I have to rush to get everything done. Lights off, switches switched, trash taken out, door locked, gate closed, music off, cash counted, payed out.
Musette told me to take the subway home. L to the G. Still in love with the underground, but the underground has a problem. No G to Church. You’ve got to take a shuttle, buddy. Here’s a ticket. Back upstairs.
And those bus drivers. They truly are heroes. I’m too far from home to walk. I have no choice. The New York streets are brutal. Wrangling that thing around corners, the multi-channel intersections. He’s talking to himself, mumbling and grumbling. Announcements piping through the overhead speakers, alerting us a reminder that it is a felony to attack a public servant. That’s what bus drivers are, right? Servants to the cause. Servants to the public. Helping us get where we need to go when our faithful underground sandworms are feeling sick. Possible shooter. Another stabber. Someone sick. New York contagion working on containment. Public servants. Going in in their hazmat suits. Their assault rifles. Their badges of shining armor.
I feel you guys. But at least you’re getting a paycheck. One of these days maybe. Ah, fuck it. What would I do without the work anyways? Ol’ Ulric. The morning ten. The tunnel under construction. The mumbler grumbler. Giving us all butterflies in our tummies. We public servants, keeping society afloat.
Musette had been watching Long Island Medium while I was at the party and through this work shift until she stopped, texting me that she saw a clip revealing her to be a fraud.
I told her that I saw something like that about her as well.
So, she started watching another medium show which was playing quietly on the screen when I returned home.
It’s Christmas Eve. Musette and I open the box from my mom that has our stocking in it. Only one stocking with a clip keeping it shut. There is some loose candy in the box around the stocking. A lot of Reeses trees, some Hershey’s snowmen, and some little peppermint bells. There is a card in the package wishing us a merry Christmas, reminding us that next year we will be spending it together.
Our pajamas are also in the box. We get pajamas every year on Christmas Eve. Mine is a white v-neck with some gray sweat pants similar to the gray sweatpants that I got last year, only lighter in color. They look more like sweatpants than the ones from last year. I don’t know if I will be able to pull these ones off as regular pants and wear them on the street and to work and stuff like I do last year’s.
Once we’ve taken the stocking and the candy out, we put Carlton’s presents in the box. They have been loosely wrapped in wrapping paper because he loves watching us unwrap things. We are very excited to give him his gifts. Giving him gifts is what has made our Christmases very, special because we are becoming parents.
I text my boss, asking him if the store is open tomorrow.
On Christmas, he replies. No. Have a happy holiday.
So, I stay up playing Battlefront until three and wake up with Musette in a couple hours. She goes to work and I stay up watching YouTube videos for another hour.
Our fridge is leaking.
Why do these emergencies keep happening on holidays, I cry out. I’m sick of this shit, and I’m done dealing with it!
But you have only just begun dealing with it, says the The Lord in one of my ears, but I’m not sure which one.
I go back to sleep. There is no water on the kitchen floor when I wake back up again, but there is an empty aluminum foil wrapper from the burrito that Musette brought home from work with her for me to eat yesterday but ended up eating herself, because I really just wasn’t all that into the way it looked, being half eaten, it’s guts sticking out lukewarmly.