Flop (excerpt 1)

The first job I found when I moved here was handing out free newspapers to the public. I had to stand outside four to six hours a day. Rain or shine, mostly rain.

The first job I found when I moved here was handing out free newspapers to the public. I had to stand outside four to six hours a day. Rain or shine, mostly rain. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything on shift and my first week in I had gotten a warning from the supervisor when I left my post to piss in the back alley. This job paid decently enough and gave me more free time to work on writing my novel or just flop about idly in the room I rented.

Before my shift started, someone from the agency would drop off the bundle of newspapers in the various locations around the city. In front of shops and cafes, bus stops and wherever else employees were assigned to stand around. I had been doing this six weeks now and managed to put a little cash away. On a Thursday morning I went to pick up my wad of newspapers and stand in front of the café. Someone had beat me to the pile of papers. That someone had a pack of matches. And by the smell in the air, they now had an empty bladder. I stood hovering over the piss soaked ashes of newsprint not knowing what to do. So I just went inside the café and asked if I could use the phone to call my supervisor. On the other end of the phone my supervisor screamed at me and said I’d have to pay for the cost of printing the damaged newspapers that they give away for free. I wanted to yell back into the receiver, tell them to go fuck themselves. I just hung up the phone and handed it back to the counter staff.

I got the weakest Americano I ever had and sat by the window spacing out. One of the employees bussing the table beside where I sat asked Not working today?  I told her No, I just quit and that they don’t even let you go to the can while you’re working. She raised her eyebrow and made a weird face.  I told her No when she asked if I knew how to make coffee. She told me they were looking for staff at the café and she’d put in a word for me if I hand in a resume.

In the next couple days I had an interview at the café. I don’t think the owner even looked at my resume. He asked me questions that were more like you’d ask on a first date than a job interview. What do you for fun? What do you mean you don’t like sports?  Where have you traveled? He told me to come at eleven o’clock and shook my hand.  So, next day I come at eleven in the morning and the owner sees me and asks What happened last night? I thought he meant What I did last night so I started saying I watched a couple documentaries and made Butter Chicken and you know… He cut me off and asked why I didn’t show up last night and said I had some guts to come back here. After I pointed out that it was eleven o’clock like he said, he rolled his eyes at me and said he meant 11pm. I felt a little stupid, but he never specified. He looked at me and said OK, fine. You can do training now and we’ll get you on night shifts next week.

After a few days of training I got to start the night shifts from 11pm-7 in the morning. I thought this was actually a pretty good deal. It paid less than the shitty newspaper job, but I could actually use the toilet when I needed to. I wasn’t sure if I was making coffee that was drinkable but none of the few customers I got said anything. For the most part on the shift there were a few students studying, sometimes hookers would use the restroom to freshen up. They left it as they found it so I didn’t mind. Now and then a couple of cops came in and asked if I can hook them up with free coffee. I told them no and they got disgruntled. Said they never pay for their coffee at other cafes they go to. I told them Ok, so why don’t you go there then, I don’t give anything away for free.

From 3 AM to around five or six I usually had the place to myself. Maybe some homeless guy would be passed out at a table, or pretending to read the stupid newspapers I used to hand out. I used this as an opportunity to start working on my novel. I had the basic ideas for my post-apocalyptical fiction and no clue how it would all fit together. Well, it took place in the year 3045 or something. I wasn’t really sure yet. Humans had already colonized Mars, but it was a planet for the rich and elite. Mars still relied on resources from Earth, but had nothing to give in return. In the year 2088 or whatever, there was a huge earthquake or tsunami or I dunno. Anyway, South America had broken off from Panama, and North America’s coast was flooded over. The coast was now the Rocky mountains and everything west of the mountain range was now underwater.  And uh… There’s this resistance group that started to sabotage the people of Mars and their import supplies from Earth, but they couldn’t beat the Mars population. So the resistance group started hijacking submarines, and started to build their own colonies under water in the pacific ocean. They kidnapped dolphins and whales from aquariums and started breeding them like horses and dogs until they were docile and manageable. They learned to eat what the sea had to offer, fish and underwater plant life. They hid from the people of Mars and became self-reliant.

When the natural disaster wiped out the west coast, it took out islands like Samoa, Hawaii, Philippines, Vanuatu. Tuvalu had to evacuate before it was flooded over. They had left the people that were in the local prison on the island. Only half on Tuvalu’s land went under water. The prisoners worked at the lock on the jail door until it was busted open. I don’t know how many prisoners there were yet, I’m still working on that. But well uh…some wanted to try their luck at building rafts and going to join society. The others wanted to stay on the island and build a small paradise. Everyone on Earth and Mars probably thought they were erased off the map and they could live there undisturbed.

Umm…ya. Someone gets sick of how shit’s run on Mars and ends up finding Tuvalu around the same time that uh, another from the Underwater resistance group finds Tuvalu. And they quarrel over taking it over or joining their hidden society or…I dunno, I still need to work on this.

I been working at the café for two and a half months now. Around 4:30am the owner comes in and tells me to have a seat at one of the tables. He says he’s been watching the cameras for the past week. Says that all I do at work is sit around, he saw it on camera every shift I work. Says I could be doing extra cleaning and stuff when I have nothing to do. I tell him Ok, fine. Gimme a list and I can do that, sure. He looks at me and says Well, here’s the thing, you been letting hookers come in here, and you let homeless people sleep at the tables and our customers don’t want to come in here for coffee with that kinda thing going on ya know? This aint coming from me, Head Office saw it and I got a phone call and well, we gotta let ya go. I didn’t know what to say or how to act. I just stared at his face, noticing spots where he missed shaving. The owner told me to just sign out and I could pick up my cheque on payday.

I grabbed my jacket from the storage room and heard thumping in the café. Another person came in the café as I was leaving out the back. Outside, I heard the owner yelling inside the cafe and I looked over my shoulder. Through the window I saw the owner was on his knees, being whacked on the head with a wrench from the person who just came into the café. The owner and I made eye contact, and I stood watching until he fell facedown on the floor. I crossed the street to the bus stop and tried to make out the schedule by light of the street lamp above. The café door flung open and a couple of bills flew through the air as the guy with the wrench bolted. It’d be 20 minutes before the bus came.

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