Episode 24 – Night Shift

I dash to the store with minutes to spare. Gaze around taking everything in. It’s unlike any clothing store I’ve been to. Immediately, notice the low lighting…antique tables and floor lamps….no glaring overheads. It’s soothing…inviting. All the racks are wood, interspersed with African displays…masks, spears and shields. Incredibly cool.

I walk toward the counter. Pearl’s eyes follow me….frowning. She’s not pleased with what she sees. “Hello, Hunter. That’s right isn’t it? Hunter what?”

“Hooker.”

“Honey, you’re a mess…and you have to wear clothes we feature. We want people to ask where you shop. You’re supposed to be a walking advertisement, but right now you’re…I don’t know what…”

I’m freaked. Don’t want to lose the job before I officially start. “I’m sorry,” I tell her. “”I had…like…an accident.”

She’s edgy. Probably thinks hiring me is the worst decision of her life….turns to the racks. “Let’s not waste time.”

“Look,” I tell her. “I’m not a slob. Seriously.”

“All right. Whatever. What size are you?”

“Small shirt, and like 28 x 32 pants. I’m skinny.”

“Maybe, but reasonably well-proportioned.”

“Really? Thanks.”

“Yes…you have nice features…and look like you’re sprouting up.”

I laugh. “I hope so. I’ve been cute forever. It’s getting fucking annoying.”

“Please watch your mouth.”

“Sure…no sweat.” Why am I acting so crude? I know better. I’d do anything for Pearl. She’s so sexy and cool…bare midriff and perfect ass. Holy shit! She makes my sliver quiver.

She turns to me. “Damn, Hunter! You really stink! You need mouthwash…and deodorant. Growing boys can’t go a single day without them!” She takes ten bucks from the register. “Go to the next door pharmacy and get what you need…maybe some breath mints too, but no gum! I hate to see jaws chewing.”

“Okay, boss!” I say, snapping to attention. “Will proceed as ordered. I’m sorry about everything. I was running from the cops.”

Her eyes bug out. “You were? Did you break the law?”

“Not seriously. It’s a long story, but I threw my wallet in the trash by mistake, and it fell to the bottom, so I had to empty the whole thing on the sidewalk…and the police spotted me.”

“Where was this?”

“In the Park, like, an hour ago. The place was crawling with cops for some reason. It wasn’t the best time to lose my wallet.”

She looks mystified. Looks me in the eyes. “You’re not on drugs are you?”

“No, no, never. This morning I got attacked by jocks on the school bus, and totally lost my shit…got fed up with life, school, everything. That’s when I decided to come up here…get the hell out of my old neighborhood. I’m sick of it! My personality gets me in trouble there.”

She lightens up, laughs. “Hunter, you are some piece of work. How did you get to be so…quirky?”

I shrug. “Probably because my parents and school are so up tight, and I’m totally sick of that shi….stuff.”

“Okay. Go next door. I’ll pick out your outfit.”

“Thanks. I’ll be back in two shakes…of, uh…lamb’s tail.”

I sprint next store…a hole-in-the-wall pharmacy. The owner’s in a white jacket…wild frizzy hair. “What’s up son?”

“I need mouthwash and deodorant.”

“Whew! You’re telling me! What’d you eat?”

I laugh. “Nothing all day. That’s the problem.”

“How much you wanna spend? Small size or large.”

“Small.”

“Airline sizes?”

“No, not that small. I’ve got to get in the habit of using it.”

“You don’t use it every day?”

“Haven’t had to.”

“Well, you do now. Here’s some Scope and Brut…women like Brut.”

“Great! I slap down ten bucks. Grab the stuff and sprint into the street. Gargle at the curb and fumigate my body. Get some weird stares, but I’m used to it.

When I enter the store, Pearl waves me to the rear where she’s laid out her choices in the dressing room…totally different from anything I’ve ever worn…heavy ID bracelet, hemp slip-ons, a maroon turtle neck…and coolest of all, tight leather trousers with a button fly, and all sorts of decoration…flowers and clouds made out of sequins and shit. I’m a little embarrassed because the fly protrudes big time, making me look majorly hung…not a bad thing.

I step out and her eyes widen. “Hunter, my goodness, that’s definitely the look, but your hair’s no good. Let’s fix it.” I sit on a stool and she soaks a towel and scrubs my hair. Feels awesome to have a girl fussing over me.

“You look s-o-o-o good!” She raves. “My clothes give you a super vibe.”

She squeezes shit in my hair…teases it with one of those Afro combs. My bird’s nest takes shape…cool and shiny. Finally, she steps back. “Damn, you look good!”

Then, the doorbell rings.

To be continued Read next episode!