Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
My friends and I left Midnight Video without renting anything and considering the movie I had chosen was title Willie Wanker and the Fudge Factory I’m OK with that.
Life went on. I had no steady work schedule, some weeks I would work 30 hours, others only 12. Good thing I was on my stepfather’s medical insurance huh?
Even though my schedule didn’t have much of a rhythm to it my days and nights at Ivanhoe Books Incorporated did. Part of my shift would be spent running the register, the rest checking in and shelving books. There was always some new display of shelving arrangement that corporate wanted us to try out, and if here wasn’t the manager always left us a long list of things she wanted cleaned and dusted.
For someone with so much to do I sure spent a lot of time goofing off.
Frank and I were hiding away in the stock room- supposedly working but mostly just playing air guitar to my Iron Maiden mix tape.
“Get anything published yet?” He asked when the song ended.
“No but I’ve been getting some very positive rejections.” I said that all the time back then. I still don’t know what it means now.
Frank pulled a shoddy looking hardcover from his locker, “I have my latest published work here. I scored a place in this year’s Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown.
“Wow.” I tried to keep the seething jealousy from voice, “You really did it.”
The cover was falling off, the pages were thin and brittle, the ink was gray instead of black. Frank was beaming with pride but I couldn’t help but notice that the Necromonicon sported better production than the Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown.
“My poem is called The Shattered Perspective Of The Secondhand Kaleidoscope of God.”
“That’s a pretty eye-catching title.” I admitted. I mean it sure wasn’t on the same level as Willie Wanker and the Fudge Factory but it worked.
The poem itself however did not work. it was a string of confusing metaphors and broken rhymes all wrapped up in a neat bow of schizophrenic pretension. Thankfully Frank mistook the look of dismay spreading across my features for artistic rapture.
“Great isn’t it?” He said.
“It’s… translucent.” I smiled, “What did they pay?”
“These things don’t pay. They’re nonprofits dedicated to giving the new generation of poets the publicity they need.”
“I wish they had something like that for horror fiction. As it is I’m starting to feel like I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to gain admittance to a place I’ll never be good enough for.”
Frank nodded, “That just comes from being raised Catholic.”
“You may have a point,” I admitted, “But I wonder if I should try my hand at poetry instead.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try but the Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown doesn’t take submissions from just anyone.”
“Oh,” I turned my attention back to unpacking books.
“There’s a $100 submission fee.” Frank bent back over his paperwork.
There was a knock at the door, I answered it to find a customer asking to use the bathroom.
“Ah.” I said, “Well as you can see from the sign on the door we have no public restroom but there are public facilities on the other side of the mall.
“I’m not at the other side of the mall,” the customer said testily, “I’m here and I need to use the bathroom.”
Frank tried to explain, “We don’t have a public restroom. I’m sorry but that is store policy.”
The customer considered this and replied, “If you don’t let me use the bathroom, I WILL GO RIGHT HERE ON THE GODDAMN FLOOR!”
Frank said nothing. How could he? This wasn’t the kind of thing they covered in training.
“Well?” the customer said, “What do you have to say to that?”
I cleared my throat, “Please don’t?”