Working

by Death to Elvis

The man picked me up out in front of the hotel. I figured him for a salesman who worked from his car, which was filled with boxes of files and shit like candy bar wrappers and fast food garbage. It was hot out, and his air-conditioning was full-blast. Even though he was really, really fat, he was nice and said I was pretty, that I reminded him of his daughter, who was a model in Milan. Even his questions were soft and friendly, and I assumed he was Mormon. As he loosened his tie, his underarm looked like the Great Salt Lake itself.

As we sat at a stop sign off Main Street, he was talking about his Harley and how it was a perfect evening to ride into the mountains. His focus was on the traffic to his left, like he was ashamed or avoiding me as he spoke. It felt like he was talking to someone else when he said, “Are you hungry, darling?”

“I’m more thirsty than anything, but there’s no place around here for a drink.”

“There’s Chili’s. Do you like Chili’s?”

“Wherever you want, mister,” I said to the back of his head.

His turn signal began clicking over the air conditioner, and he cautiously inched out, still talking about his motorcycle. He was peering over his left shoulder, like his back had seized up like that — not even so much as a side glance ahead.

I was exhausted, wishing I was anyplace but here, and annoyed by his hesitation. All I needed was another 60 bucks. On my side, there was a young couple standing on the curb waiting for him to go. They were sorry looking, like they just brewed a batch of meth behind their trailer. But mainly it was the guy and his patchy facial hair, gold chain, and creepy, confident smirk. He was holding a white sack which I assumed was food, because the girl cradled a giant bottle of sauce they had obviously just swiped. It was about half full and had a pump on top, the kind they put by the soda fountain, where you get the rest of the crap you need, like straws and forks.

The guy glared at us as he lost patience and decided to cross. They were in front of the car when I tried to say something but couldn’t, like in a dream. Without looking, the salesman finally punched the gas.

The kid threw himself up on the hood, and tacos flew from the white sack. One unwrapped when it slapped on the windshield, soggy bits of taco shell and lettuce, and then the orange powder blowing away.

As I got out, waves of vinegar went up my nostrils, hot sauce cooking on the pavement. The girl was pinned, the tire having driven up her leg. I hurried up the sidewalk without looking back and kept walking, fast.

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