Sunday, July 9, 2017

Initial Success (Chapter One)

The book is nearing final completion but it's still a WIP. We hope to find a home for it very soon. If you like what you read, tell a friend, make some noise. If you're a publisher or an agent, feel free to contact myself  Jason J Sergi or Randy Carvalho. (contact info forthcoming) 

Here's Chapter One. We hope to release between 3 and 5 sample chapters in the lead up to publication.

Hope you have some tissues handy.


The Devil Made Us Do It

“Which one of you is Sir Gay?”
I looked from Randy to see a short, evil-looking man standing before me. Pointy was the best adjective to describe him: his eyebrows rose in curled hooks, his cheeks stuck out like Madonna’s tits, his nose like a bent spike, and his midnight chin beard stabbed down in a wicked point.
 “It’s Sergi,” I said, standing up. “Pronounced sir-jee.”
The devil looked down at the papers in his hands. “And which one is Carvalho?”
I felt it a stupid question since Randy and I were the only two in the otherwise empty lobby.
“It's sir gay,” Randy said, standing up next to me.
“Oh, a funny man then, huh? You two together?”
“Yeah,” I answered as Randy bounced him a nod.
The devil nodded back. “Follow me.”
Randy and I followed the wicked man the short distance to the vacant dining area there at Showcase Cinema. He directed Randy to sit a little ways off and then gestured for me to sit at another table. He took a seat across from me to silently peruse what I assumed was my application.
Behind us, the workers at the central concession stand began arriving to make the popcorn, warm the pretzels, and to do whatever else they needed to do before the theater opened for the day.
After a while, the pointy devil dropped my application and produced a pad and pen from an inside coat pocket, placing them on the table between us.
“Tell me why you’d like a job here at Showcase Cinema,” he said, and I didn’t know if it was the concession lights behind me or if I was having a migraine, but I could swear the man’s eyes had a red tint behind his glasses. Not bloodshot, but actually glowing!
Taking a deep breath, I took a microsecond to think of an answer. I certainty couldn’t tell him the truth: “Well, Satan, I quit my last job doing security because it was a shit show; I’m twenty-three and live in my mother’s basement and she wants the rent yesterday; payments need to be made on my decrepit Dodge Colt—I’ve already lost my Jeep to the repo man—and I’ve been to a hundred other places that either weren’t hiring or didn’t want to hire me for one reason or another, and I’m broke as hell and in desperate need of a job—any job; even one as shitty as this one.”
No, that wouldn’t do. Instead, I had to think in that microsecond: what does this Satan impersonator want to hear? That it’s been my lifelong dream to work at a movie theater? That I love working with other people? That I wanted to add my expertise—or lack thereof—-to advance whatever agenda the Showcase Cinema franchise is about? (Which, in this case, seemed to be harvesting the souls of the condemned) I couldn’t say any of that with a straight face.
Microsecond over, this is what I came up with: “I've always wanted to work in the movie business, so I figured: what better way than to start at a reputable place like Showcase Cinema?”
“So you calculated that, in some way, that by selling food, refreshment, and tickets, that it will someday lead you to the lucrative position of director or a producer of film, or some such?”
“Um, yeah.” I swallowed hard.
“Seems like a convoluted scheme. Do you agree?”
“They say it’s not how you get there, as long as you get there. Right?” I laughed my fake Kermit The Frog nervous laugh.
 “I’ll be the one asking the questions. Those who ask questions out of turn around here tend not to last long.”  I saw the red tint in his eyes again so remained silent as I waited for him to ask the next question, and wondering if Randy would have a better time with this devil when his time came…
"Do you like holidays?" Evil Colonel Sanders delivered like a local theater champ. Easy enough question. I didn’t know what Jay's problem was.
 "Yeah," I answered.
"And girrrls?" he purred, winking from behind his glasses. 
Okay, maybe he really liked me. Didn't know if it would disappoint but, "Yeah," I answered.
"Well you can forget them! If you work here you will work every holiday, every weekend! While your friends are out playing around and having fun, you will be here stuck with no social life what-so-ever!"
Several tables away, I saw Jay waving his arms, mimicking my interviewer’s anger. I made it a point to not look directly at him. Instead, I focused my attention on Colonel Sanders, suddenly imagining a future where I would have to see this man every day, and my job prospect became secondary to my wish to leave.
“So tell me, Sir Gay, what made you leave your last job?”
Another deep breath, another microsecond to think. Again, the truth wouldn’t work: “About that; well actually, I quit because one of my supervisors was a dick and literally shot himself in the foot, thereby doubling my workload. Also, my boss was dying of pancreatic cancer, but before that he had a habit of hiring criminals and the mentally challenged. I have nothing personal against either, but again, both contributed to my workload—which hadn’t been much to begin with, to be honest—and resulted in me not getting paid sometimes due to all the legal fees and client compensation my boss had to frequently pay out. Oh, and the final straw was when my dying boss accused me of not doing the job I was supposed to be doing, even though I wasn’t doing it in the first place. So I walked out, flashing my former coworkers the finger as I left.
Aloud I said, “Initially I left to seek more money.”
 “How much were you making there?”
“Twelve an hour.”
“It says here that you’re only asking for ten.”
"Are you on time?"
For some reason I couldn't figure out what he meant. Jay tapping his watch like a cartoon character at the edge of my vision wasn't helping.
“On, time,” Colonel Sanders growled. “Do you show up to work," he gestured at the movie theater around us, "On...time?"
 "Oh. Yeah. I'm not working now."
Ignoring me in favor of a pen he turned in his fingers, he said, "There was an old lady who once worked here. I can't quite recall her name. Very sweet, very harmless. She loved everyone and they?" he laughed a little to himself, "They loved her right back. She came in late a few times, however. Five minutes here, ten minutes there. Then one day she stopped coming at all. And do you know what happened to her?"
I shook my head.
"No one does. She was never heard from again."
“It says here under education, ‘will explain’. Did you graduate high school, Sir Gay?”
 “Kinda what? This is the part where you explain the ‘will explain’.”
“Well I graduated from a high school; I just didn’t graduate from the high school. I never saw the twelfth grade, is what I’m saying. But I got my GED, and if you subtract six years off the date from when I actually got it, I’d be considered a child prodigy.”
The joke was lost on him.
“How old were you when you got your GED?”
“Twenty,” I answered.
 “Do you have a copy of the transcript?”
“The diploma?”
Red eyes glaring.
"American children are stupid and undisciplined. It's appalling, the crap that walks in here thinking they deserve a job..."
Colonel Sanders went on to ramble about German kids and their lofty accomplishments in Science and Math. I thought for a moment that I’d won him over; that he was confiding in me. It didn't matter. Even if I landed the job I decided I was never coming back. Not even to see a movie.
 "I know, right?" I said, agreeing on autopilot.
"And you're one of them!"
 “Okay, Sir Gay, let’s say, hypothetically, that there is a tidal wave that floods the town and knocks all power out at the cinema. You’re working the concessions. A customer approaches and orders a large soda, a medium popcorn, a small soda, one order of nachos with cheese, one without, and a pretzel with extra mustard. The customer hands you a twenty dollar bill but the cash register isn’t working due to the power outage. What change, if any, will the customer receive back from you?”
“How are they watching a movie without power?”
“What did I say about questions? Do yourself a favor and answer the one I have asked.”
“Okay, but I don’t know how much any of that costs in the first place.”
“You should know.”
“How could I?” I asked, braving a question.
“You passed the concession stand menu on the way to this interview, did you not?”
“Yeah, but I didn't think to memorize it.”
“This is a job interview. Prospective applicants should be prepared for everything and anything.”
“I don’t think we have to worry about tidal waves anytime soon. Blizzards and earthquakes maybe…even riots and asteroid strikes, but not tidal waves.”
He picked up the pad and pen and placed them before me. “Answer the question.”
"5 dollars and 56 cents?" Colonel Sander's curled eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Everything's divisible by a quarter here."
 "There's no tax at the movie theater!"
"I don’t know. I don't work here."
“Spell Wednesday, Sir Gay! Spell it! Spell it, you little motherfucker!”
 “W-w-e-n-s-d-a-y—” I stammered.
 “Wrong again, you scrawny twit! Spell it just how it sounds: wenessday! Do it now!”
“Uh, w-e-n—”
“Wrong again, Sir Gay!” He abruptly stood and held out a clawed hand. “We will call you with our decision shortly. Good day now.”
I shook his sweaty hand, then walked over to switch places with Randy, using one of the napkins on the table to wipe my own sweat from my brow.
"How do you spell Wednesday?"
"Same as everyone else, I guess."
"And how is that?"
"Could you use it in a sentence?"
 "Your friend making faces behind you can't spell Wednesday to save his sordid life."
 "W-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y. Wednesday."
 "Ah, finally! Now how about 'cashier'."
 "I don't really know."
"Well it's right here on your application."
"And if you're asking me to spell it, it’s probably wrong. Whatever’s there is my best guess. If you want, I can change it to 'cash box operator.' "
"Spell it!"
With our interviews over, we fled the cinema and made our quick ways across the vast parking lot.
“That was brutal,” I told Randy as I jumped into the passenger seat of his Mustang, via the open window. It wasn’t a bad car, for the most part; there was something wrong with the engine that made it sound like it was going about thirty miles above its actual speed and the passenger door was secured closed by a bungee cord, due to a minor mishap that occurred a few days prior. Randy was backing into a parking space and I’d been guiding him from the passenger seat—problem was, I was doing so with the door wide open and never saw the fire hydrant.
“Sir Gay," Randy repeated with a laugh. He started the Mustang up and then waited for the engine to cease its coughing drumroll before going in reverse—sans my help—and taking us back on the highway towards his house.
I sparked up a Parliament, tossing the match out the window.
Randy nodded as he sparked up his own cig. Blowing out the first drag he asked, “Did he tell you he killed an old lady?”

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