Drunk Salesman: (Arlington, 1991)

You can look at the Nikon here or the Pentax with the zoooom. Allen is slurring his words, again. Usually he doesn’t say much, just sits on his stool in the stockroom dipping Skoal. The customer looks at me for help, I slide open the glass case, take out the two cameras that Allen mentioned, and add a Canon to the mix. Allen blinks his eyes, his Adam’s apple protruding out of his pasty white neck, then stumbles back to his stool. Evans is the poor man’s department store, where mostly lower to middle income patrons come with their cut out coupons to buy toasters, televisions, and silver heart lockets. I never see anyone I know at Evans, my high school friends and their families shop at Tysons or the newer Ballston Common Mall. Allen rides his bike to work, DUI, suspended license, and no money for a car anyway. He used to drive, told me about his pilgrimage to buy Coors in Colorado; apparently it used to be a thing, before they started distributing their beer on the east coast. I’ve got the four cases in the back, he tells me, but I get to West Virginia and I can’t wait anymore, I start popping them open, get through half a case, rolling into Virginia, swerving. Cop pulls me over, lost the whole batch. Pathetic, is the word I use to describe Allen, but when he speaks, his stories help break the monotony of my 12-hour Saturday shift. When Allen’s not working, I watch Margie talk to herself as she continually sprays Windex on the jewelry display case, while I write my senior play for English class on scraps of paper. I daydream about working at Evans for the rest of my life, 5 bucks an hour, plenty of time to write. One day Allen is unable to get off his stool for customers. Goddammit, you smell like Vodka, get out of here you dipshit! Darren, our sales manager yells. I wonder now, did Allen have any clue what he had? That his disease required, demanded a fight. I watch him leave the store parking lot, teetering on his bike; he looks like he’s about to fall. I never see Allen again. A few days later I quit Evans, decide to sell baseball cards.

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