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The Flesh and the Blood

Hey man how’s it going? You all right?

Today(1) was supposed to be my third day back on the job after a … company-sponsored ‘hiatus’, and I called in sick. Partly because I was sick, somewhat—feeling nauseous at six in the morning, bare feet curled up into the legs of my sweats because it was two degrees outside and the bathroom floor was freezing, pale ass cheeks cemented to the toilet in what has become, over the last couple of weeks, an early morning ritual–and because I was still angsty over the events of my first day back (more on this later) and didn’t want to be there.

So far today, I’ve used this impromptu vacation to run errands. This is pretty much how it goes during the frozen winter months–I either barricade myself inside my home and refuse to come out all day, or I shower and shave and put on my best face and return to the living and get shit done. Today, getting shit done meant renewing my Walgreens prescription card so I could avoid paying three hundred dollars for my meds, then picking up said meds (two weeks of balsalazide, azathioprine [the drug so lovely and generous I’m sure will someday give me the gift of lymphoma], and buproprion [which I’ve been off of for almost a week now due to not calling in another prescription–due to laziness borne of apathy–and just now feeling the effects of this lapse in treatment–fucking with the brain’s chemistry is not fun]), dropping books off at the library, and then hitting the grocery store with renewed determination to eat non-shittly.

So I’m at the store, in aisle two, checking out canned pineapple chunks when a buddy (I use the term loosely, with as much sarcasm as one so medically-obliterated can muster) interrupts me and asks what I’m doing. I’ve got about ten years on this buddy of mine, and we really don’t have anything in common except being co-workers a year ago, during an extreme low-point in my life when I worked nights at this store stocking shelves. I’ll just call him D. D’s one of those guys who seems to wear his weakness like a cologne. The stink is everywhere on him: the way he sort of drifts in a distracted, irregular line toward wherever he’s going, in how he often threatens to quit (because he hates his job) and then shows up the next night, how he talks about registering for school but never actually takes the required action, and in a myriad of other ways.

“Where you working now?” asks D.

“Somewhere.”

He laughs. “Not going to tell me, huh?”

“Nope.” I go back to checking out cans of pineapple. But it’s not like I can actually concentrate and see what my eyes are pointing at because D’s still there, looking at me. Eventually I say, “Ess still working here?”

Ess was my dipshit boss. Twenty-five, I think. In addition to lifting weights, playing Modern Warfare, and engaging in general douchebaggery, he liked to micromanage. We didn’t get along from the start.

“Yeah,” D said, chuckling. “You really hate him, huh?”

I did. I dreamed about hurting him. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit, the anger tightened around my core like white-knuckled hands around a baseball bat and I fantasized about taking said baseball bat to the windshield of his Ford Explorer. This urge is in response to the parting gift my co-workers had given me when, at some undetermined time during our respective shifts, they went out into the parking lot and applied boot to my front right fender. Since I always parked with the driver’s side facing the store (convenience), I didn’t see the damage until one sunny summer day months after I’d quit, while vacuuming out the interior of the car. I went around to the right side, obscene roaring vacuum-tube in hand, and tried opening the passenger-side door, wondering why it wouldn’t budge. Then it clicked. Then I got angry and kind of wanted to murder someone.

“That faggot,” I said to D.

I don’t remember much of what we said beyond that. Nothing important or revelatory. We probably laughed and searched for a nice way out of the conversation. “Well, seeya later,” D might have said. And “Seeya later,” I might have said. And both of us sure in our hearts that the other could get lost and go fuck himself.

After intense perusal of the tropical fruit salads, eventually deciding against them because of their unsavory association with Mandarin oranges, I decided to go with a couple cans of pineapple chunks.

_________________________________________________

(1) Today is last Tuesday.

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