Humor & Comedy

The Christmas Donut Revolution

By

This book will launch on Nov 16, 2020. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒
Synopsis

Vive la Révolution

The American Revolution began with the Boston Tea Party. If Huck Carp had anything to do about it, the next people’s revolution would begin in the drive-thru of a sleepy donut shop in a working-class neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. It started as a single random act of kindness when an early morning customer paid forward the next person’s order, and so did the next, and the next, and the streak had been going all day long. The crew at the donut shop didn’t agree on many things, but they came together, each doing their parts to keep the streak alive. As word got out through social media, people came from across the city to be a part of the holiday pay-it-forward phenomenon.

But forces were conspiring against them. A December blizzard was blowing into Columbus. And a jealous billionaire was determined to crush the people’s Christmas Donut Revolution. All it would take was one person to ruin it for everybody…

The Christmas Donut Revolution - Chapter One

Columbus, Ohio December 19, 2012

4:30 am

Every morning, Huck Carp motivated himself to get out of bed by thinking the same thought – maybe today will be the day. He truly expected it “any day now,” just like Edgar had promised a year ago at an Occupy Columbus rally. So far, its arrival had defied all predictions and expectations. Still, Huck remained convinced that one fair day, very soon, something monumental would happen, some trigger, catalyst, or a straw of such gross injustice that it would break the back of the oppressive kleptocratic social order… and then, finally, the revolution would begin. 

If not for that, why get out of bed at all?

           Huck shivered under layers of blankets, trying to summon the courage to rise. He knew that with his first upright step into the concrete of his basement apartment, frigid air would slam him like a sudden plunge into ice water. In December, no matter how high he set the thermostat, the gurgling old boiler couldn’t keep up, and the overnight temperature in his room dipped so low that his breath steamed. The trick was to move fast. Huck skittered into the bathroom, turning on the space heater and the hot water even before flipping the light switch. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he noticed tiny frost crystals in his thin eyebrows. His cheeks were numb; his skin looked pasty, the tone and texture of a peeled banana. This, he told himself, constituted suffering for The Cause. He wondered when it would be enough.

Showering was somewhat of a guilty pleasure, being indulgent and wasteful of natural resources, okay sure, somewhat… but not so much in the winter, since he legitimately needed the hot spray to restore sensation to his skin and fervor to his soul. Still, when he recalled those chilly mornings camped out the Ohio Statehouse lawn with his Occupy Columbus cohort, everybody freezing and filthy, but flaunting their discomfort and sediment like badges of honor, he couldn’t completely shake the feeling that his daily shower was a sellout. Maybe that’s part of the reason the Occupy movement failed. He had to admit that its foot soldiers stank rather badly, which tended to undermine their message.

Huck dried himself in the shower stall and reached out to grab his clothes hanging on the backside of the bathroom door, then he got dressed in there, too. In the process of buttoning his shirt, he snapped the last frayed thread holding on a middle button. He held it between thumb and forefinger and stared, stymied as to what to do next. He did not own a needle and thread, and even if he did, sewing it back on would’ve been, to him, an undertaking on the order of solving a Rubik’s Cube. Instead, he stapled the folds of his shirt together and hoped nobody would notice. Maybe, later, he could beg or cajole Ximena into fixing it for him.

Leaving the bathroom, he carried the space heater into the kitchen, careful not to trip over its long extension cord. He placed it on top of the mini-fridge, next to the two-cup coffee maker, which, per its programming, sputtered as it finished brewing. He took a gulp – the first cup of any day was gulped, not sipped – and rummaged through the fridge for a tub of yogurt and the remaining half of a bran muffin. Putting the coffee and yogurt on an overturned milk crate that served as his kitchen table, Huck sat on a three-legged stool, logged onto his tablet, and steadied it on his knee.

He had half an hour before he had to catch his bus; it was the most intellectually productive period of his day. In one window on the tablet, he opened his personal journal in a Word document entitled “Reflections.” In another window, he opened the homepage for the latest issue of Social Text and began reading while basking in the diabolized glow of the space heater. Whenever he found some assertion or conclusion in Social Text that raised a point he wanted to remember, he toggled back to his journal and made a note of it. Ironically, he did more research and studied harder now that he was a dropout than when he’d been a student. The difference was that now he was doing it for The Cause, so it served a higher purpose.

Before leaving the apartment, he stuffed an apple and some trail mix into his backpack, where he also kept his tablet, a Swiss Army knife, two joints in a coin purse, an all-purpose bandana, a first aid kit, a prescription bottle of sertraline, a copy of his self-published chapbook of poetry entitled Verse for the Ninety-Nine Per Cent, and the dog-eared paperback copy of Ten Days that Changed the World that Edgar had given him for his 21st birthday. He mentally checked off each item to ensure that he had them in case of need during the day. 

The last thing that he did on his way out the door was turn the page on his Daily Worker desk calendar, pausing to note that on that same day, December the 19th in the year 1843, Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol.” Huck had never thought of that story as belonging to the literary canon of socialism, but it kind of made sense, now that he thought about it. Marx was a fan of Dickens. They were pals, maybe even conspirators. Was there ever a more representative prole than Bob Cratchit? Hard-working and long-suffering, and, although meek by nature, he was a perfect candidate for unionizing. Likewise, Scrooge’s ghostly dreams clearly represented a Hegelian dialectic playing out in his unconscious.

The quotation cited on the calendar’s page was a description of Scrooge: “Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” 

Just like a typical capitalist, Huck thought. Bah, humbug, indeed.


5:00 am

The first thing that Chavonne Hayes did when she got out of bed was check Leon’s wallet. Yesterday evening, he asked to borrow $20 from her for “a couple of beers with Bo.” Now, she needed to know how much, if any, was left. 

“What for do yo’ need $20?” she had demanded when he asked for the money, adding: “I just gave yo’ $20 on Monday. Don’t be tellin’ me that yo’ done spent all of it.”

“I got just $8 bucks left.”

“That ought to be enough for just a couple of beers.”

“Baby, I’m only askin’ jus’ in case, like, say, s’pose the car breaks down an’ I need to get me a cab.”

“Ho, ain’t that a story! What that means is that yo’ plan to drink more’n a couple beers, an’ then gotta take a cab on th’ cause that if yo’ drive buzzed, not to mention with no insurance, the sheriff ‘ll haul yo’ ass into jail. Tell me if that ain’t what yo’ be really thinkin’?”

“Baby, like usual, you’re right.”

“Damn right I’m right!”

Although it had felt good to hear Leon say it, Chavonne wasn’t entirely sure what it was he agreed that she was right about – that he understood the risks of driving impaired and uninsured, or that he fully intended to exceed his promise to drink only a “couple of beers.” Leon was shrewd about getting his way, even while seeming to submit to hers.

Anyway, after making him say “please, please, please Baby,” she’d given up the $20, with the condition that he’d “damn sure best make it last ‘til Friday.” So, come morning, when she checked his wallet and found that it contained zero currency, what made her angriest was not that he’d spent every last dollar, but that he’d taken her warning so lightly.  

Chavonne tossed the empty wallet at him in bed.

“Don’t yo’ ask for no more money tonight, hear me Leon?”

Leon was either sound asleep or pretending to be. Either way, that was a subject that would have to wait until later, because she needed to get ready for work.

Whenever Chavonne got mad at Leon, she invariably felt hungry. Since, lately, she was mad at him more often than not, it had become practically impossible for her to stick to a diet. It was already hard enough, working at Drip ‘n’ Donuts, surrounded all day by assorted sticky and sugary pastries that beckoned to her to eat them. While dressing for work, she was already thinking about iced devil food cake donuts with candy sprinkles. She had to suck in her breath to get her blouse buttoned.

“Damn yo’ ass, Leon,” she hissed, “for makin’ me fat.”

“What, huh?”

Chavonne hadn’t realized that she was speaking out loud.

“Ain’t nothin’,” she said softly, then left the bedroom. “Go back to sleep.”

Fortunately, Leon complied and resumed snoring. Chavonne didn’t want him to wake up enough to get his brain working, because then he’d start talking his usual bullshit and flattery, which always ended in him asking for money to drive to the employment office, or to make copies of his resume, or pay to have his interview suit dry cleaned, or some other legitimate but unverifiable expense. Most often, even though she knew better, she succumbed to his sweet talk and left him with some walking around money, although less than he asked for just to make a point. He had a way of accepting the cash from her while managing to sound both appreciative yet disappointed at the same time.

At least Leon didn’t know about her tips stash, which she’d hidden behind a panel in the laundry closet. She knew that Leon would never think to look there, since he’d never once in their five years of living together washed the clothes. The amount wasn’t much. People weren’t normally very charitable tippers at the drive-thru, and furthermore she had to share the proceeds with co-workers (which was a goddamned rip-off, but she couldn’t complain about it without getting accused of not being a “team player”). Still, all that pocket change added up, and someday she hoped that she’d have a nice sum to spend on something just for herself, and not even tell Leon.

While Chavonne was watching the microwave oven count down re-heating a leftover breakfast sandwich, the hip-hop clip on her cell phone (skrrrrt) sounded, indicating that she’d just received a text message. That could only mean one thing. She slapped her finger across the screen to open the text from Wanda Pfaff, that skank:

SYK 2DAY, NO CAN WRK, 2MORO MAB, W

Damn that girl’s ass! This was the third time she was claiming sick since the last time that Chavonne had taken off a day, and they were supposed to take turns covering each other’s backs. Probably that scabby ‘ho was in bed with some dick she hooked up with after a night of drinking Hennessy and vanilla Cokes at the Electric Company, where there was always some dude ready to dive low enough to bang her. What was worst, though, was that Wanda was supposed to pick her up on the way to work. Now, Chavonne had no choice but to kick Leon’s lazy ass out of bed and make him drive her, which meant that she’d have to give him the keys, which meant that he’d keep the car all day, which meant that he was sure to ask for money, which meant that…

Damn those consequences! Chavonne had to stifle her thoughts, because she knew that once they started spinning into a hole, there was no bottom. The best way to cope with Leon was not to think about him. Those devil food donuts were starting to sound mighty appetizing.


5:20 am

The smooth, seductive voice with a slight Latin accent teased Val Vargas with a gentle: “Buenos dias, darling.”

The voice insinuated itself into a dream in which Val was playing the music box dancer song on a grand piano center stage at the Ohio Theater (she could not play the piano, or any musical instrument), so that the sound wafted from her soul through her music and rose like a gently swirling summer breeze into the ornate domed ceiling, surrounding her in an euphonic cloud. The voice belonged to a caped, shadowy male figure in the front row, who rose from his seat and beckoned her to “awaken to a new adventure.”

Val squinted, squirmed, sighed, and rolled over. Reaching for the nightstand, devoid of any conscious thought, she utilized muscle memory in executing a gesture to set the cell phone alarm to snooze, thereby allowing herself another ten minutes of bliss. Burying her head in pillow, she drifted effortlessly back to the concert hall and to her mysterious paramour.


5:25 am

         “¡Ay! Por favor, Tati,” Ximena Gonsalves insisted, standing in the doorway. “¡Escucha!”

           “Huh?” Tatiana covered her ears and moaned, acting like she didn’t understand. “Speak English.”

           “Repeat what I just spoke to you.”

           “What for? Don’t you even listen to yourself when you talk?”

               Now she was just being malévolo to provoke her.  Why, Ximena wondered, did they have to go through such drama every single weekday morning? Why did Tatiana, the eldest child, who was sixteen – old enough to accept some responsibility – instead act like she was being persecuted whenever Ximena asked for even the most minúsculo of a favor? Would it have killed her, just once, of her own accord, to get out of bed, get dressed, kiss her dear mamá goodbye and promise to take care of everything? Wasn’t that what good daughters did?

           “I am asking you to repeat what words I just said because I need to be sure that you have understood me.”

           Tatiana “meh”-ed in exasperation, which Ximena assumed was meant to convey that she regarded her mother’s request to be patronizing.

           Insults she could tolerate, but Ximena didn’t have the spare time to deal with outright recalcitrance. She was looking for something to throw at Tatiana – not to hit her, but just to graze her enough to prove that she meant business – when their Manx cat padded into the room to investigate the fuss. Ximena swooped it up and tossed it onto her daughter’s bed. It landed claws first. Both the cat and the girl snarled indignantly.

           “Oh, you did not just do that, did you mother!?!” Tatiana jumped up and down on the bed. “That’s child abuse!”

           Hands on hips, Ximena commenced interrogation: “After I have left, at 6:15, what is it that you do?”

           Tatiana sat on the edge of the bed, mounds of curly hair hanging in front of her face, her shoulders pointing like spears, and she spoke in the deadpan voice of a captive soldier reciting name, rank, and serial number: “Wake up Ick and Booby.”

           “Yes. You must wake up Ignacio and Barbette. Now, at 6:30, what do you do?”

           “Breakfast.”

           “Yes. I’ve put the cereal and their bowls at the table. At 6:50?”

           “Get dressed.”

           “Yes. I’ve laid out clothing for all of you on the dresser. 7:15?”

           “Bus stop.”

           “Yes. And do not forget to text me when they get on the bus.”

           Tatiana’s pent up irritation burst out: “¡Si, Si, Si, Si, Si, Si!” She sighed dramatically. “Really? Give me some credit! Do you think that I’d just put them into a car with some old perv like Mister Moon next door? You really think that I’m such a major fu… screw up, don’t you, mother?”

           Glad for even the smallest sign of respect, Ximena was gratified that Tatiana had stopped herself from saying fuck. She felt a fleeting tingle of maternal satisfaction. It almost passed for a mother-daughter bonding moment.

           “There is one more thing that I’d like for you to do.”

           Tatiana threw her hands over her head.

“Oh, really, like what, huh? What’s that? Wash the dishes? Scrub the toilets? Should I clean the litter box before I go to school? How about I should stop at the blood center and give some plasma for extra food money? Do you want me to sell my virgin body to creepy old Mister Moon so that we can pay the mortgage? What’ll it be, mother?”

           “I was going to say that I would like for you to have a muy buen día.”

            “Oh. Okay then. But…” Tatiana scooted out of bed, shook back her hair, clasped her hands together in front of her, and curled her lower lip into a pouty face. “Do you think that you could bring home some of those yummy Boston Cream donuts with the chocolate icing tonight?” A pause for effect… “Please, mamá.”

           “Con mucho gusto, princesa.”

           If donuts could facilitate even brief harmony in the household, then Ximena refused to care that Tatiana was getting chubby. Hell, she was willing to stuff a baker’s dozen donuts into a feedbag and strap it to Tatiana’s face, if that kept her happy. Besides, taking home day old pastry was just about the only perk available to her in that otherwise hateful job of hers.


5:30 am

           The mellifluous voice that Val had selected from a sample of hundreds of freely downloadable audio clips spoke again. This time, the voice resonated with increased ardor: “You must rise and shine, dearest. Open your eyes.” In the ten minutes since the first wake-up call, she’d descended to a more physical level of dreaming, where she was aware of her body, but still felt like she was floating, wrapped beneath layers of buoyant blankets with her head supported by multiple pillows, which in her dreams became gently undulating waves.

At the same time, she was also conscious enough to feel the pull of those words, summoning her earthward with gentle insistence. When the voice urged her, again, to “open your eyes,” she recoiled, biting the insides of her cheeks and squeezing her eyelids shut tight. With the same automatic motion as before, she swiped a single finger across the screen of her cell phone, enabling another ten minutes to snooze.


5:38 am

On nights when Tank Turner went drinking at the Zig Zag Club, he parked his Dodge Ram truck behind the dumpster next to the dollar store across the street from Drip ‘n’ Donuts, so that after closing the bar at 2:00 am he could stagger to the truck, climb into the back, catch a couple of hours of boozy sleep, and still get to work on time the next morning. It wasn’t like he could go anywhere, anyway, with that damn breathalyzer hitched to the truck’s ignition. Whenever he slept in his pickup, he supposed that he was still technically drunk when he clocked in at 6:00 am the next morning, but he figured that the old bitch, Ms. Johar, appreciated punctuality over sobriety. So long as he wasn’t hurling chunks or shitting squirts, he could soldier through low-grade headache and nausea. It wasn’t like he needed to any higher cognitive functions just to operate the turbo chef oven. Besides, a moderate hangover helped the day pass faster.

It'd been colder than icicles hanging from a polar bear’s balls when Tank staggered out of the Zig Zag Club, but when he closed the canopy door behind him, he lit a survival candle and placed it on the wheel well. With that and his heavy-duty sleeping bag, not to mention a high blood alcohol level, he stayed toasty for the duration of the night. In the army, while in Afghanistan, he’d developed a skill for falling asleep immediately and deeply, irrespective of environmental conditions, up to and including submachine gun fire, mortar shells, sand storms, scorching heat, and scorpions crawling over his ass. Without the ability to ignore distant and/ or non-lethal threats, he’d never have gotten any shut eye over there. However, if the outpost’s danger siren went off, he could shift gears from dreaming about getting a blowjob from Bashira through her the mouth hole in her burqa to heart pounding, wide awake, on his feet and combat ready in half a second’s time. It was a somewhat transferable skill to his current lifestyle, which often left him with minimal turnaround time from sloppy drunk to reporting for duty.

Absent any active combat to awaken him, Tank depended on Huck to rouse him in time for work. Huck had offered to perform that service, no strings attached. Initially, Tank declined, not giving a reason other than to say “I don’t think so.” Still, Huck insisted; it was no inconvenience, he swore, because where Tank parked his truck was visible from the sidewalk between the bus stop and Drip ‘n’ Donuts, so if Huck noticed it when he got off the bus in the morning he’d just bang a couple of times on the aluminum roof of the canopy to let Tank know it was time to get up. Tank agreed to the arrangement but remained suspicious, as he always was of favors. Oh, Huck wasn’t a bad kid, even though he was a fag, a gook, and commie. The biggest drawback, though, was that Huck was so damn responsible that he usually clocked in for work early, which meant waking Tank up a few minutes before absolutely necessary.

So, when Huck rattled Tank out his stupor by slapping the roof, the first thing that Tank did was check his watch for the time – 5:38 am. Huck kept banging until Tank shouted: “Go away, asshole!” He meant it appreciatively.

The side windows of the canopy were glazed with hoarfrost. Tank melted a peephole by pressing his palm against the window, then looked through at the grim urban winter scene. It was starting to snow. Under the canopy of streetlights, flakes flashed and twinkled in the wind like sparks from a magic wand, but as soon as they blew into the darkness, they lost all form and became swirling streaks reminiscent of a bad experience he’d once had with hallucinogenic mushrooms. The storefronts in the strip mall were dark and desolate, except for the lonely Drip ‘n’ Donuts, which stood out in stark relief against the abyss with its migraine-inducing fluorescent lights seemingly intensified by the clear glass frontage. Just inside the door was a silver tinsel Christmas tree, decorated with a blinking garland of multicolor LED lights. Not a soul was visible inside, as if it had been abandoned hastily and nobody turned off the lights.

By contrast, headlights of the slow and already heavier than usual traffic on Cleveland Avenue looked hazy through the haze and snowfall. Brake lights flickered on and off repeatedly. Tank watched a couple of cars spin out while making left hand turns from Innis Road, where it looked to him like an accident was just waiting to happen. In inclement weather, some folks who worked on The Ohio State University campus or in downtown Columbus sometimes drove on Cleveland Avenue to avoid the freeways. The increased traffic mixed with the regulars – the security guards and cleaning staff returning from their night jobs at suburban office complexes, the single mothers grabbing any excuse for their kids’ breakfasts before dropping them off at day care, the commuting businesspeople from Clintonville who regularly cut across Innis Road en-route to jobs at Easton or in New Albany, not to mention the old timers from the neighborhood who still woke up early out of immutable habit, even though long retired – to create backlogs. In any case, it meant that the drive-thru would be extra busy. There was something about bad weather that seemed to make people crave donuts.

Tank retrieved his Drip ‘n’ Donuts shirt from on the floor of the pickup’s bed, where he’d balled it up and tossed it after peeling it off the previous night. He opened the shirt and shook it in the snow, a half-measure for washing it, hopefully good enough to extract the worst stains and smells. Tank threw back his head and stretched his arms, as if showering in the snow. Before trudging off to work, he swished some mouthwash, blew his nose, and snuck around behind the dumpster to take a piss. Basic hygiene taken care of, Tank felt good to go for a nine-hour shift.


5:40 am

           Snooze options having been exhausted, the program on Val’s cell phone alarm defaulted from the smooth baritone of her Latin beau to something more imperative. The blast of a French ambulance siren filled the room and savaged Val’s eardrums like audio drill bits. The force snapped her eyes open so wide that she felt the skin tighten on the back of her neck. She grimaced and ground her teeth. Her heart beat like a captive beast trying to break through her rib cage. She clapped her hands over her ears, shrieking out loud: “Oh poop, poop, poop…? Why didn’t the alarm go off?!? Now I’m gonna be late for work!!!”

And she hopped from her bed with alacrity, as if being chased by a guilty conscience.

 

6:02 am

Ms. Uma Johar rubbed her temples while listening to Scooter Opalinsky deliver the bad news from the overnight shift.

“The delivery meant for here got unloaded at Polaris by mistake, so you’re left with not enough maple bacon donuts, turkey sausage instead of pork, egg white instead of whole eggs, and more smoothie mix than you guys will use in a month. Meanwhile, up there in the suburbs, they’ll be wondering what they’re going to tell their customers when they run out of veggie scrambler wraps.” 

She couldn’t prove it, but Ms. Johar was certain that, somehow, this mistake was all Scooter’s fault. Whenever Scooter mentioned Polaris, it sounded to her like he longed to go back there, where everything was posh and brand new, like the black leather easy chairs in its “lounge,” its two-lane drive-thru, and a fancy new, app-driven online ordering system. He often started his sentences by saying, “Well, when I worked at Polaris…” The Cleveland Avenue shop always lacked in the comparison.

Business had been running more-or-less smoothly until three weeks ago, when the erstwhile day manager at the Grove City Drip ‘n’ Donuts store suffered some kind of mental breakdown and walked away from her position in the middle of a shift, carrying with her a chocolate frosted donut that she claimed bore the image of the Virgin Mary in its swirls. This event triggered a chain reaction whereby the suits at the regional headquarters transferred the night manager at Cleveland Avenue to fill the Grove City vacancy, thereby aggravating the night manager at the latter, who believed himself worthier of the position, to the point where he, too, walked off the job... and that led to an additional transfer of yet another staff position from Cleveland Avenue to Grove City. To Ms. Johar, the last remaining staff supervisor at Cleveland Avenue, these events confirmed the belief that her store was the poor stepchild of Drip ‘n’ Donut franchises in the Greater Columbus area, always treated like the lowest priority. She spent a frantic day on the phone with Mr. Jack Gentile, the regional manager, begging for help. He offered sympathy, urged her to “hang in there,” and promised to do “something” as soon as possible.

The “something” that he eventually did was promote Scooter Opalinsky, who had all of three months experience at the Polaris shop in the suburbs north of Columbus, to serve as her interim night manager. Ms. Johar was convinced that Jack Gentile had selected Scooter for the assignment because staff at Polaris wanted to get rid of him. He had freckles and a puppyish quality that she found unseemly for a manager, and although he insisted that his proper name was indeed “Scooter,” she simply could not bring herself to speak of him using an epithet that described an ignoble form of locomotion. Still, he was all the help she was likely to get until they could hire new people, and the paperwork was stuck in HR at the regional office, where paperwork had been known to disappear without a trace. In the meantime, she and Scooter had been working twelve-hour days, five days a week (exempt from overtime, of course), with no relief in sight. 

“May I assume then that you placed a new order for the afternoon delivery?”

Scooter shrugged, explaining: “I figured that you ought to do that. I mean, you know what’s needed down here better than I do. Am I right?”

On one hand, Ms. Johar felt gratified at Scooter’s apparent deference to her authority. On the other hand, she was not so flattered that she did not recognize a cop out. He was right about one thing, though: she had zero confidence in his ability to handle the task, so it was better left for her to do. 

“I will take charge of this situation.”

“Okay, then. Good luck. I’m outta here.”

“Please close the door behind you.”

With one foot outside the office, Scooter skidded to a stop, turned around, and called back to Ms. Johar: “It looks like your team is awaiting your orders.”

Ms. Johar pushed back her desk chair and went to ascertain what the problem was, this time. Standing side-by-side like a picket line in front of her office, the team members of the Drip ‘n’ Donuts morning crew presented themselves for duty. Privately, she referred to them as her “dalits.” In a single eyeful, she could count about a dozen policy violations, not to mention basic lapses in etiquette and cleanliness, which she made a mental note to cite in their personnel files, but otherwise said nothing.

The dalits sighed as a group.

“What is this matter?” Ms. Johar asked.

Chavonne: “That Wanda Pfaff done called sick again.”

Ximena: “And Val is late, again.” 

It irritated Ms. Johar that the team knew very well what was expected of them, but they refused to act until she told them what to do. Their dependency seemed vindictive, like petulant children testing her. Still, summoning her inner brahmin, she spoke, gesturing and pointing at each of them accordingly:

“For now, then, Chavonne, you will perform the duties taking drive-thru orders. Please spit out your gum. Hyun-ki, put on your nametag, and you will have to run orders and also serve at the pickup window. Ximena, you can handle both front counter positions until Valerie reports for work. Please do not forget to mute your cell phone. And, of course, Mr. Turner – tuck in your shirt – has the kitchen. Any questions?”

There were none. That being the case, Ms. Johar could not understand why none of them moved until she clapped together her hands and said: “Why do you continue looking at me?”

Without another word, she pivoted and marched into her office, pulling the door shut behind her.

Inside the office, she leaned with her back to the door, rubbed her eyes, bent her knees, and slid down slowly into a squat, wrapping her arms around her legs into a posture like a fetus resisting birth.




           “Bitch,” Tank mumbled as the door closed behind Ms. Johar, loud enough so that everybody could hear. Nobody disagreed. He did not tuck in his shirt.



About the author

Gregg Sapp is author of the “Holidazed” satires. The first three books are “Halloween from the Other Side,” “The Christmas Donut Revolution,” and “Upside Down Independence Day,” with “Murder by Valentine Candy” forthcoming. Previous books are "Dollarapalooza" and “Fresh News Straight from Heaven.” view profile

Published on December 01, 2020

Published by Evolved Publishing

50000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Humor & Comedy

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