“Very impressive resume! We got your phone number and will give you a call if we need you!”
That’s what an employer told me at my last interview. It’s been two weeks since then. No call of course, and that’s the seventh interview since I graduated too. I’m Spade. Spade White. I just got my bachelor’s degree in advertising. I know what you’re thinking, I know. It’s a useless degree. I didn’t know that throughout college though, and now, like you may have probably already guessed, I’m working at a fast-food restaurant. I’m just kidding! Come on now, you didn’t think that low of me did you? I’m actually working at a grocery store bagging peoples’ groceries! Or wait, is that worse than flipping burgers? I don’t know or care. I need the money. I guess this is what happens when someone follows the classic advice given to a kid who’s deciding if he wants to get a degree.
“Do whatever makes you happy!”
That’s what they always say, and look at me now. Thousands and thousands of dollars in debt from school just to work at a damn grocery store. At least I know what to tell my future kids if they ever decide they want a college degree; do what doesn’t make you happy so that you can make money and be happy later in your life. I’d tell them to always choose the route that makes money. I’d tell them to not end up like me. Miserable.
I looked up at my coworker in complete confusion.
“Dude... are you good?”
I turned my head to the right just to see a giant woman with fair dark skin and big blue eyes holding and eating a family-sized bag of potato chips while looking down on me. She seemed to be holding herself up with a wooden cane and had the largest sized shoes I have ever seen for a woman.
“How long are you gonna have me wait for my groceries to be bagged? Hurry and do your crappy job and maybe you’ll receive a tip from a beautiful woman.”
She winked at me, but there was no point in responding to her or my coworker. I just turned towards the conveyor belt and began clawing at the lady’s items to bag them quickly. Tomato sauce, frozen broccoli, canned peas, a six-pack of cola, a snickers bar, and on and on, just like always I keep bagging until there’s nothing left to bag. After I finished bagging, the fat and gigantic woman simply stood still holding up the line and once more glared at me as if I were an opponent to her.
“Can I help you, ma'am?”
I wasn’t confused or intimidated at all. This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. I knew I was about to hear a speech. The lady spoke to me as if I was asking for advice.
“Remember this honey. In the real world, there are those that serve, and there are those that drink, and right now, you're not the one drinking.”
The line behind the woman grew larger, but she of course didn’t care. She was just staring at me waiting for a response or something.
“Okay? Lady, can you move along please? I don’t need to hear this crap from someone who will literally float into orbit if she lets go of her cane. This line is growing as big as you!”
My coworker slightly giggled alongside the two little girls that were with an older man behind the mountainous woman. The next thing I knew, her eyes widened and her expression changed into anger.
“Damn kids! You’ll always be a loser with a mouth like that!”
She then lashed her bag of potato chips at my face, splattering the crisps all over the floor as she walked out with her cart and a smirk on her face as if she won a battle. My coworker this time was laughing loudly as my manager approached calmly. I was so pissed that I began clenching my teeth and fists, but I knew that I couldn’t show this type of behavior in front of my manager, so I held it all in.
“Spade, why can’t you just keep quiet? Clean that up and just do your crappy job.”
I wanted to respond so eagerly, but no one talks back to the managers at my job. Especially not to this guy. The last time one of my coworkers said a word back to him after being asked to clean the bathroom toilets she was fired on the spot. My manager’s name is Warren. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s always a Warren, isn’t it?
“And after your shift, I want to talk to you in my office. Don’t forget to talk to me before you clock out.”
After four more hours of bagging, I mopped the floor, put my jacket on, and headed to the store’s office in the back. Right when I walked in, I knocked on the side of the wooden door I came through to get my manager’s attention who was vigorously typing away at his computer. He turned around and peered directly at my eyes in what seemed to be obvious resentment.
“Spade, take a seat. We need to talk.
He rolled over one of his duct-taped desktop chairs that were identical to the one he was sitting on, and I sat down quietly.
“Listen Spade. You know the rules around here. We both know what you did.”
I responded instantly.
“The lady disrespected me sir. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. I promise.”
His face skewed in confusion, and he now looked at me with even more resentment than before.
“No Spade. No. I know you’ve been applying for other jobs. We discussed this before I hired you, so you know the rules. Can you explain that to me?”
Not only did I feel exposed and completely stunned, but I also felt intense embarrassment. We stared at each other for a great number of seconds. I had no idea how to respond, but I tried anyway.
“Sir, listen to me-”
“No Spade! If you were going to quit you know you should’ve put in your two-week notice, we’ve gone over this! Now I need to find someone else to take your spot in such a short time? This is a joke! I mean seriously what the hell? It’s like you don’t live in the real world!”
After he cut me off and exploded at me with so much anger, I was speechless.
“Clock out. You’re done. Have fun at your new job loser.”
I desperately tried to respond.
“Sir, please, I-”
“Spade! Get the hell out of my store now! You know what, I’ll clock you out myself! Get out! You’ll get your last check in the mail! Damn nobody!”
He stood up and aggressively walked past me cursing softly. Completely devastated and downhearted, I stood up and went straight for the door. Of course, since I don’t have a car, I started walking back to my apartment. The same old one-hour long walk. Step after step, I always pass the same things. The towering city skyscrapers, the hordes and crowds of people walking from street to street and store to store always walking their dogs and holding their shopping bags. The constant alleyways and sounds of cars and trains encompassing my senses.
There seemed to be something new happening as I heard a bunch of ruckus coming from the city center and its hordes of people. As I entered the center, and while trying to get past these crowds of people on the street, I noticed all of them looking up at one of the huge and sharp city television screens that were attached to a skyscraper. The screen was enormous and extremely bright both illuminating upon all the glass buildings and catching the attention of every person in the area. I stopped walking and turned towards the giant screen which was resoundingly loud.
“Open bounty! Coal Jenie! Wanted for slaying his entire family! Up to $300,000 in rewards for information or support in catching him, and $600,000 for his head!”
That much money? Just to find someone? Yeah okay. As I walked I continued to hear people talking about the wanted man and pointing at the screen from all around me.
“Poor father! I heard he was just trying to protect his kids!”
“Really? The mother too?”
Back and forth, over and over, I continued to hear peoples’ comments about the act as I walked slowly. Wow, that sounds pretty awful. I can’t believe someone would do that to their own family. I wonder what kind of person this Coal Jenie guy has to be to do something like that. I can’t believe people do things like that in general in this world, but I’m not interested in trying to understand the thought process of such messed-up people. Right before I exited the city’s center, I heard one last thing come out of the giant spectacle of a television.
“Last sighted in Phoenix Village outside of Dividend City!”
Phoenix Village? People still live in places like that? As I continued to walk, I began to gain many unwanted but unavoidable thoughts. That much money just for finding or bringing in a man from a poor village like Phoenix? Ever since I was a kid, I have heard of bounty hunters in this world from time to time. Those that search for and attempt to collect the heads of people or even the heads of animals for money, but wait, I could never do that. Even if it meant I would receive something in return whether intrinsically or materialistically, I’m no killer. Well, wait. Aren’t there bounty hunters that just bring their targets to the police and “turn them in” for the police to get rid of instead. I seriously do need the money. As I entered a distance that was a few miles from my home, I passed a gym that was filled with weights and full of exercise machines. After seeing that, I stopped in silence, and I pondered and asked myself,
Can I be a bounty hunter?
A bounty hunter. I really couldn’t see myself doing something like that. I mean, how the hell could a guy like me bring in dangerous people or murderers like this Coal Jenie dude? I’m literally just a fired grocery store worker. I was simply not convinced and decided to rid myself of this possibility and thought in my head. I continued my pondering and my walk home as I neared my apartment complex. I pulled out my room key, opened the door, closed it, and laid on my air mattress. I live in a crappy studio apartment room with a half-working kitchen, a toilet that gets plugged every time it’s used, and a crappy air mattress to sleep on. I don’t really have many appliances besides basic things like a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a stove that rarely works. My landlord is a Middle-Eastern man who simply goes by “Mr. Pappagul.” I’ve been behind on my rent for a while, and now that Warren fired me, I need to find a job fast before Mr. Pappagul finds out that I don’t have one anymore. I was deciding what to do next when I heard five quick knocks on my door. I knew right away that it was Mr. Pappagul because he always knocks like that. He must’ve seen me walk into the apartment. Damn. I went and opened the door praying that there wouldn’t be any more problems.
“Hello habibi! Do you have rent?”
Mr. Pappagul told me that “habibi” means “my love” in the Arabic language and that all Arabic-speaking people say it (although I never really looked it up to confirm it or anything like that). Mr. Pappagul has an extremely strong accent obviously due to him not originally being raised as an American or English man. Besides his accent, he often doesn’t say and form sentences properly and usually switches the letter “p” with the letter “b” when he speaks. He is an old and relatively short man with white curly hair, a huge nose, and a decently grown but patchy beard.
“Not right now, but I get paid next Sunday so I should have it by then.”
“You say that always Spadey! This is starting become big broblem habibi! I know you are kid, work hard and all, but I need money by Friday or you no more live here!”
“Come on Mr. Pappagul, don’t be like that. You can trust me to pay you, I know I’m behind on rent and stuff but-”
“No more excuses Spadey! No more extension, and no more bullshit! This is real world now! I want money in one month or you no live here any longer! I evict, you hear me? I EVICT!”
He slammed the door on me in clear frustration. I never understood why he called me “Spadey,” and to be honest it always annoyed me. I was really having a rough day. I was so angry that I literally began yelling at the door as I heard him walking away from it.
“Fine! I’ll remember that you old fart! I try my absolute best out there, but you clearly don’t understand that!”
As he was walking down the stairs, Mr. Pappagul said something, but since he was kind of far away, all I heard was “rent” and “Spadey.” I was really pissed now. First Warren fires me, and now Mr. Pappagul is kicking me out in a month, and what’s this nonsense everyone keeps saying about the “real world” like I’m a little kid or something? I began kicking my crappy air mattress over and over out of anger until I heard air propelling and popping from it.
“Damn it!” I let out.
Now my air mattress is broken too along with half of the crap in this apartment! Anger turned to fear quickly as I began to wonder what would happen to me when I get kicked out of this place. It’s cold out there, and I began to truly fear the possibility of a homeless future. I had nothing to turn to. Not my useless degree, not my family who kicked me out of the house after I turned eighteen, not anyone! And I didn’t have any real or close friends that I can turn to during times like these. That’s when I remembered the huge screen in the mid-city square. The bounty. Coal Jenie. Phoenix Village. $300,000 to $600,000. It was without hesitation that I decided I was going to do this. I had no other choice, and I wasn’t planning on becoming homeless in a week. I gazed at my cracked and crappy mirror that I had laid on the wall. I was wearing a grocery store outfit with black off-brand sneakers, and I had a hat on that said “Groceries and Memories!” covering my chocolate brown hair. I was depressingly skinny now as I lost most of the muscle that I’ve worked to gain in my life when I lifted in college with my buddies. I know that I’m just a regular white guy and that it’s crazy, but I have to begin taking risks for my own sake. I continued staring at the mirror with my emerald-green eyes reflecting back on the good days in my life. That’s when I remembered the gym I passed by on my way to my place.
I have to… yes… I have to… start training.
I have to survive!
I have to… become a bounty hunter in less than a month!