Episode 1 – Employed

I’m so fucking relieved to get the flower shop job! My mom and I struggle to get by. She’s been a receptionist for ten years, but it doesn’t bring in much. She’s smart as shit, and snoops around for something better, but the job market totally sucks. Her parents were from Hungary where my Grandfather, Laszlo Toth, was a doctor. He fled when the revolution cratered in ’56 and Mom was born here. I love her name…Ilka.

My grandparents did the best they could, but Grandfather ended up as a limo driver doing abortions on the side. When Mom was in her teens, she got tired of being cooped up with traditional, Hungarian parents, so she took off…lived hand to mouth upstate doing odd jobs, then joined a commune near New Paltz. Fell in love with a guy named Walter Curtis from Barbados, got pregnant and had me, but he was a wanderer, and took off…so Mom ended up naming me after her favorite Hungarian uncle, Tamar Toth.

Two weeks ago, I turned sixteen and started looking for work….couldn’t find shit, and Mom busted my balls unmercifully. For days, I came home empty-handed, until the flower shop gig fell in my lap.

My buddies and I hang on the corner of 88th and Amsterdam, on the curb outside the shop. We’re not serious street kids. Just guys who’ve hung together since like 4th grade, and on the upper West Side, it’s a mixed bag. Rich kids hang with poor kids…whatever. It’s more about groups than anything…so, yesterday the owner yells at us: “Hey, you!” My friends and I look at each other, like, what’s this shit? Normally, “hey, you” doesn’t deserve a response.

Seems like he’s staring in my direction. “You talkin’ to me?” I ask.

“Yeah. Come here a second. What’s your name?”

I look at him, like, “who the fuck are you?” Wonder if he’s gonna report us for carving our initials in his tree out front. I think of telling him to fuck off, but basically I’m not a prick…so I tell him: “Tamar.” His sudden interest is weird, and I’m sort of curious…but cautious.

“You want a job?” He asks.

“What?” Can’t believe he’s asking me. Then, it hits me….the guy wants me to take care of some shitty task like taking out the garbage. Gotta be bullshit. We study each other. “Doing what?” I ask.

“Help around the shop, make deliveries, a regular position.”

My friends can’t believe it…Ronnie elbows me. “Say yes.” Stan whispers: “You lucky fucker.”

It’s surreal. “Seriously?” I ask. “Why me?”

“I’ve noticed you out here. You’re a presentable kid. How old are you?”

“Just turned sixteen.”

“Criminal record?”

I’m stunned. “No! What do I look like?”

“Just checking. Gotta ask.”

“You have working papers?”

“No, but I can get them.” Have no idea how, but it can’t be that hard. Lots of kids get them.

“You go to school?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“When can you start?”

“Shit! Right now…and I’ll get the papers as soon as possible.”

“You’re on Summer vacation, right?”

“Yeah. Just finished 10th Grade.”

“Good. I had to fire the last guy.”

“The old guy, Ted? What happened?”

“I couldn’t depend on him. He had problems.”

I nod. The guy was definitely a boozer.

I take a few steps forward. Hesitate. Wonder if I’m supposed to, like, start immediately, or what.

He motions to me. “Come on in.”

I say goodbye to my friends and step inside. It’s a hole in the wall. Pretty typical. Shelves on the street…houseplants and flowers. One of those refrigerated flower cases on the wall. On the left, shelves with vases and fancy pots…work shelves everywhere else with arrangements in progress. Discarded shit on the floor everywhere. He takes me through a small door beside the showcase…back into a rundown storeroom with piles of cardboard, rolls of wrapping paper, tools, myriad shit. In the far corner, there’s a narrow bathroom filled with mops and buckets. Good place for magazine breaks.

“I do mostly commercial work,” he explains. “Displays for stores. Stuff like that. I’m creative and have a good reputation. If a store wants a striking focal display, they call me.” Turns to me. “What’s your full name?”

“Tamar Toth.”

We shake hands. His name’s Steve Holt. He looks me over…like he’s having second thoughts. “Can I depend on you, Tamar? I can’t afford to hire somebody who goofs off.”

Shit, I’m thinking…can’t lose my job before I get it. Turn on the charm. “Yeah. You can depend on me 100%! I’m totally psyched. I really like flowers and artistic stuff. I noticed a couple of amazing arrangements in the case.”

He smiles. “Any bad habits I should know of?”

I shake my head. “Not really. I don’t do any serious drugs or booze…maybe a joint now and then.”

“Okay…but no joints while you’re working. After work, I smoke, but never in the store. Where do you live?”

“97th and Columbus.”

Steve nods. He’s normal-looking…out of shape, pale, thinning red hair…probably Irish…maybe handsome once. I’ve watched him from the curb. He’s an observer, curious….watches the world go by…stares at me and my friends when he thinks we’re not looking. Could be gay. No rings or anything.

I tend to catch people’s attention…I’m totally mixed race….like a fucking alien! My coloring’s pretty unusual, fair skin, dark eyes, frizzy ginger hair, and like, chiseled, Afro features…a few freckles. A couple of people think I should model. I look pretty decent….girls…and boys, proposition me.

I’ve gotta confess, I’m overly obsessed with looks. My mother’s really attractive, and to hear her talk, my grandparents were striking too. Grandma was an actress. Haven’t a clue what they’d think of my mixed-up roots. “Dad” was from Barbados, but his Mom was Kenyan, and his father was some wealthy British dude.

Generally, I don’t hang with ugly girls or guys….but there are occasional exceptions. My attitude’s pretty despicable. I’m addicted to beauty…I don’t feel special with ugly people, even if they’re nice, but it’s no big secret lots of hot-looking people are self-centered fucks, but I try to avoid that type. Ronnie’s tall and skinny, cute as shit, and Stan’s a Latin-lover type, a total stud with multiple girlfriends, but they’re good guys. None of us pick on kids, and we work hard at school, but we stay far far away from acne, bad breath, greasy hair and body odor! Ugh!

I’m pretty lucky. I don’t play formal sports, but can do anything…basketball, football, baseball…just learned in the playground and am really coordinated. Doesn’t hurt that I’m tall and wiry…never broken a single bone.

I’m blessed with the big three: Looks, body and cock…key weapons in a guy’s arsenal. Not everybody knows it, but Hungarians have the biggest dicks in Europe. No bullshit, and I’d be above average, even there. Maybe the Kenyan heritage gives me an edge. African guys are the the world leaders, so I definitely have elite bloodlines. A mini-dick is a fucking curse. Mine definitely commands attention. In skinny jeans, the bulge is almost embarrassing…almost…but not really.

To be continued…Read next episode!