Another dilemma I have is the blurb. Although the story is basically about Nick and RC (as in the blurb) there is so much more going on then that. And so many more characters. I am probably going to rewrite the blurb when I'm finished the MS. I want the blurb to convey more of the whole picture.
I also sketched a cover. This is what I picture. Lite Brown background. A grey pile of stones in the upper left corner next to a pile of dark brown sticks. Cute guy of course (Nick). and a sheet of white labels on the bottom, filled out in all the terms people use to bully and bash others with. This is the cover image I keep thinking of. I want that. Don't know if I'll end up with it, but it is what I want.
So, without intending to "tease" anyone, here is chapter 2. Rough and unrefined, but still....
Work. I like it, but I hate it. When I’m bummed about whatever, I just don’t want to be here. Day in and day out, it’s the same old thing. Maybe that’s the reason this is my first long-term job? I get bored too fast and I need to move on.
I worked for Sprint for two months and got an employee discount for a Galaxy II phone by Samsung. That was neat. I’d never had a smart phone before, so working for Sprint paid off. But I didn’t really care much about selling phones. I also worked for a mortgage company for six weeks, but I’m not really the salesman type. I closed one deal and made nine hundred bucks, but it was too much work. Then, I worked for Safeway in the deli department, but I didn’t like the manager’s constant bitching. After that I worked as a bank teller, and although counting other people’s money was super cool, the job had too many requirements. The bank wanted me to learn about selling IRA’s and home loans and shit; it wasn’t for me.
So now I’m here—Papa’s Pizzaria. I make pizza for a living, and sometimes sandwiches, but the point is, it’s all food. One of the cashiers, Marcy—she’s pretty—is teaching me how to ring people up on the cash register. (Broadening my skills, as it were.) The boss moves me from one job to another so often that I’m not bored yet, and I like the manager most of the time. Result: I’ve kept the same job long enough for my mom to be proud. Go me!
When Mom said that, it made me smile. I don’t think she’s ever said she was proud of me before. My dad did a few times when I got good grades in school, but Mom has always been hard to read. I’ve wondered what she thought of me. Now at least I knew she’s proud, so I am holding onto this job as long as I can. I might even get another raise.
After the morning’s reminiscence of Corey, the last thing I needed was twenty questions from Marcy. (The cashier whom I said was pretty.) She is pretty, and nice, but she’s also extremely talkative and nosey and pushy, not to mention out to get me into bed. Oh, the life I lead.
Being God’s gift to woman as I am, it’s never created an issue unless it was with someone I worked with. I learned that on my first job—not the Sprint store, but one at Dairy Queen. I had gotten caught in the back seat of a girl’s car during break with my tongue down her throat and my hand down her pants. She happened to be the owner’s daughter and I was fired on the spot. After that, it became a personal rule—no dating in the workplace. Now, if I left the job, or got fired, all women who worked for the previous employer were fair game. I’m not completely stupid.
So, Marcy, she was becoming a problem. So far, I’d been able to fend her off because I was technically dating Chrissy. I tended to be a one-woman guy and I could stick to my guns around Marcy. Chrissy was it, so she’d have to deal. But now….
Oh, God. What would Marcy say about our break-up? Worse, what would she do?
It’s not like I wasn’t attracted to her, I was. In fact, her long black curls and stunning green eyes were exactly my vision of perfection, but she worked with me. I couldn’t date her. Girls rarely stuck around after being with me. Why, I didn’t know. I kind of liked Marcy, and I wanted to keep her in my life for more than six months. If we fucked, I’d lose what little we had growing between us. I didn’t have friends, so Marcy and I had to remain platonic.
As soon as I put a lid on the chicken noodle soup I finished scooping for a customer’s order, I saw Marcy bouncing my way and I cringed. I had to tell her about Chrissy, but I feared her reaction.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” she exclaimed, bouncing over like a brunette bunny, bristling with the energy level that only teenagers on Nos Energy Drink could attain.
I really wasn’t in the mood for whatever had revved her up. I had too much on my mind already and I needed quiet. “What is it Marcy?” I asked halfheartedly.
She leaned in extra close and whispered, “That guy at the counter is staring at you.”
I shifted my eyes to the customer at the counter, and then back to Marcy. “No, he’s staring at the menu board.”
“No, I swear, he walked through the door and did a double-take in your direction. He thinks you’re hot.” She lifted her eyes brows and smirked.
“Everybody thinks I’m hot,” I corrected. Internally, I was thinking, But he’s a guy, Nick! I turned away and picked up a chopping implement and proceeded to take out my surge of aggression on the steak I was cooking. The metal-on-metal sound hurt my ears but I didn’t care. I was angry at her insinuation. When I spoke, I made sure my voice was low enough that the scruffy looking dude at the counter couldn’t hear me. “Marcy, how many times do I have to tell you, I’m not gay.” Why, of all days, does she have to bring it up—again? I tossed some onions and green peppers on the grill and squirted some oil on them.
Marcy walked away and took that guy’s order. I finished one sub and threw some burgers on the grill for the next as Marcy waltzed back over. She hung the ticket up on the metal strip above my head and crossed her arms over her chest. She wasn’t leaving if I knew that look.
“Oh come on. Aren’t you at least a teensy-weensy bit interested? After all, you did say you dated a guy last year.”
Why did I ever have to mention Corey to her? I’ll never learn! I stopped mid-chop and glared at her. I was mad and she might as well get the full blast through my look if I couldn’t shout at her in the workplace.
“No, I didn’t,” I replied sternly. “I said we hung out a few times. A few! Hanging out with a guy doesn’t equate to dating. Okay? And hanging out doesn’t make me gay.” (Although sex might, but I was in denial about that.)
I didn’t understand what the big deal was, and why Marcy, as well as the other girls I’ve met, got so hyped-up over guys hanging out together? And God forbid I mention that I kissed Corey. Marcy might end up squealing like Dawn did last year at M-L’s house when I kissed him for the first time. I did it. It was done. And I hadn’t thought of going out with Corey for almost five months—until my mom brought it up this morning.
No matter how much I wanted to be left alone, something inside would not let it go. I grumbled more as I cooked. “If hanging out made guys gay, then all guys would be gay. We hangout, it’s what we do!”
She wasn’t put off by my assertiveness. “Then maybe you’re bi?” she quipped.
I exhaled loud enough to be heard at the counter. “Oh, for fuck’s sake! I told you I’m not. I date girls. Several. Just because Chrissy and I aren’t on the best of terms doesn’t negate that.” I turned my attention back to preparing the cheese steak sub for my ticket, while Marcy stood there watching. Why was she watching? Surely she had better things to do than wait for this order and stare at me?
“Nick, come on, it’s no big deal. Gay is the new straight,” she said cheerily.
I almost missed the roll as I transferred the meat from the grill. “What? No it’s not! And what the hell does that even mean?”
My melodramatic coworker placed her hands on her hips. “You don’t have to get all snippy about it. I was just saying….”
I gawked. “Saying what? I don’t even understand what you mean.” I tucked in the meat, and turned, with the sub in my hands, to the workstation behind me so I could wrap it up to go. As I rolled it in wax paper and aluminum foil, Marcy rattled on.
“I mean that being gay is no big deal anymore. You know? Like it used to be a big scandalous act that got kids beat up and stuff, but now it’s more like… like the cool thing to be. Like if you’re gay, you’re in.”
I handed her the wrapped sub and an order of fries and tilted my head to the side. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Sure I do!” She said, as she bagged the order and called for number twenty-three through the microphone. After Marcy handed the order to the customer who claimed it, she turned back to me. Of course she turned back to me. I was the newest guy in town and she had some deep, sadistic need to figure me out. Today, she was convinced I’m gay. Joy.
“No, you don’t,” I insisted, standing my ground. I might not know loads about being gay, but I knew she didn’t either. “I’m not sure what planet you live on, but around here, gay isn’t ‘cool’ it’s more like a disease that others hope not to catch.”
“Oh come on, Nick, it’s not that bad.”
“Yes, yes it is! Remember when that chicken place up the road had all its patrons rallying to show their support against same-sex marriage. This town is full of right-wing extremists who’d like nothing more than to kick every last gay person out!” (I was exaggerating, but I needed to for Marcy’s sake.)
Her eyes lit up instantly and she snapped her fingers. “So you admit that you’re gay!”
“But you’re not against it.”
I threw my hands out to the side. “No. I’m for letting people live their own lives. Gay or straight. I just happen to be straight. Very straight. Like an arrow.”
“You know what they say about people who protest too much.” Marcy wagged an accusatory finger at me.
“Stop, okay? Just stop. I hate when you do that. It’s like beating a dead animal with a stick—it doesn’t get you anywhere.” I was so done talking about it. I started wiping down my work area as a way of distracting myself. I wish I’d stayed home in my nice warm bed and never woke up to a day with Mom asking about Corey, M-L telling me she’s a lesbian, and Marcy playing matchmaker with me and a male customer who might have been looking in my direction. I was sooo done. When does my shift end?
Marcy shrugged her shoulders. “No. I guess not. You’re hot whether you’re gay or straight, and I’d still want to go out with you. I can’t blame Scruffy Dude for stealing a glimpse of your squeezable ass.”
Oh my God. Shoot me now! She used the very same term I used to describe him and it irritated me even more. Why do we have to think alike?
I looked up and caught saw her expression. It was all “teasing and flirty” and reminded me of Dawn a few years back. Marcy couldn’t pull off “floozy”, so every time she tried flirting I couldn’t hide my smirk. I knew the corner of my mouth would not remain firm for long. It was curving. Up it went. Traitor. I couldn’t help it. I was smiling and my anger waned. She did have a way of making me laugh with all her winking and sexual innuendo and comments about my great body.
I was pretty damn hot.
But still, there was that other side of me that was done with hearing her rant over something she clearly knew nothing about—homosexuality. She was talking out of her ass and had no clue. But could I really say something? I wasn’t gay either.
I chose to ignore all her smack about my “squeezable ass”, and about her insinuation that I’m gay, and question her nicknaming the customers. That was neutral ground. Why would she do that anyway? “So you’ve dubbed him ‘scruffy dude’?” I asked. “What’s next, are you going to create a nickname for everyone who comes in?” That guy was sort of scruffy, even twenty feet away from the counter I noticed he needed a shave, but to point that out (out loud) seemed rude.
“Yes,” she answered promptly. “I already have a name for all the regulars who dine-in.”
“What? No way.” I found that mildly amusing. I put my chicken cheese steak on the roll and handed it to Marcy. “Here, this is Scruffy Dude’s sub.” I accidentally went along with her dubbed title.
Marcy’s eyes glinted when she heard me use her term. We did get along well for the most part. She took the sub and put it on a tray. “If you don’t believe me, then come up here after you’re done that tuna sandwich and I’ll point the customers out one at a time.”
“Okay, deal.” I made a point not to look up at the counter when the scruffy guy picked up his tray of food. I kept my eyes glued to the sandwich—thank you very much. It was a very nice sandwich. Cut evenly, with the lettuce all tucked under the bread. I make the best-looking food around.
I saw movement peripherally and I knew Scruffy Dude was gone. I relaxed my shoulders and took my beautiful tuna sandwich to the counter. I called the number over the microphone and handed the tray to the customer. When he walked away, I noticed Marcy over by the ice cream machine; she was texting on her phone. How scandalous!
“Marcy! What are you doing?” I hissed as I walked over to her. True, no one in the restaurant noticed, but this was still a work place and she could get in trouble for it. (I’m a rule-follower for the most part.) “You know you could get into trouble. The boss said no texting during work.”
“Then we should date.”
“What?” Shock, confusion, and a general WTF went through my brain. “No. What? I’m dating Chrissy!” Or I was until this morning.
“If you’re as straight as you say you are, then we should go out. You know Chrissy wouldn’t mind. I just got a text from Deena that said she saw Chrissy kissing Terrell Burke. That means she’s cheating on you. You should dump her and date me. I’d be loyal. I promise.” Marcy accentuated her point by crossing her fingers over her heart and holding up three fingers. I’m pretty sure that was the Boy Scout sign and salute, but I didn’t need to drag her off on some tangent about being a scout. I had too many conversations going on with Marcy at one time to add another. My brain could only handle so much.
I replied, “No. I told you I don’t date people I work with. And besides, I know about Terrell. He said he didn’t know she was seeing me at the same time. Chrissy and I already talked about it.” I knew I should tell her the truth—truth, always truth—my mom told me that. “Besides, we broke up this morning.”
Her eyes lit up instantly. “You did? Why didn’t you say something?”
“Because I didn’t want to think about it. We’ve been on and off for a long time and it’s draining. Can’t we just drop the subject?” I hoped she would.
She frowned. “I’m sorry it’s been hard.” Marcy reached out and rubbed my arm. She’s nice that way. “You know Chrissy wasn’t good for you, right?” She sounded sincere and that made me feel good. Then she had to ruin it by adding “But still, we should go out,” with a perky change of expression. Why does she have to persist so much? “I could make you forget about that cheater.” Now she was pouting and sticking out her lip. God, I can’t handle it!
“No, Marcy. I already told you why; we work together.”
She bit her lip and squinched-up her eyes. Oh no, “contemplative” Marcy! “Is it my boobs? It’s my boobs, isn’t it? They’re too small. I know guys like big boobs. Mine are a C-cup. That’s too small for you, isn’t it? You look like a double-D kind of guy to me.”
I think I was more annoyed at her prattle about her boobs than I was about her talk about homosexuality. Or even about Scruffy Dude looking at me. I didn’t fucking care about her boobs. I had never really understood the fascination over breasts anyway. I liked nipples, but all that extra flesh just flopped around. I told her, “No, they’re fine Marcy.” I was getting a headache.
“Oh really?” She peeped, pleaded as punch, stepping closer and leaning her C-cup boobs my way. “Then we should go out.”
“No. Stop. Just… stop.” I backed up and walked back over to my station. I wiped the cutting board and straightening the boxes of wax paper as I went. I had to look busy or she’d never leave me alone. As I thought she would, she followed me. “You’re giving me a headache, Marcy. Can you just… go away?” Honesty is the best policy. (Again, a lesson from Mom.) Marcy didn’t look happy, but she didn’t say anything either.
Luckily, a customer fake-coughed behind her to get Marcy’s attention. She turned and the conversation was dropped. And it stayed that way for several more hours. Thank God!
I went home with a migraine. Too much thinking. This was why girls drove me crazy. How could one girl think up so many different things to talk about in the same conversation? It was exhausting. One subject at a time, please.
I didn’t even eat dinner; I went straight to my room. Today was draining. I took out my phone and opened the pictures folder. Corey, I sighed. Why was I so attached to him? He wasn’t that special. He didn’t fawn all over me, and he didn’t compliment my body constantly like Marcy did. Corey was somewhat detached, actually. As I said before, we mostly fucked. Then why was I missing his company so much?
I turned my phone off and went to sleep, confused.
So... there ya have it. I am still working hard to get this finished and submitted. I WANT to deliver quality, so I plan to refine this. (Don't worry.) But this is an idea of the story. I hope you like it so far. I have over 100k written. I'm hoping to be done soon!
For other installments see blog posts: