writing exercise #44: A deli technician and the too-long to-do list

(I’m falling behind in posting!)

_______

MONDAY

“What is a deli technician?” Marlene asked Sean.

“A person who works at a deli, I guess,” Sean answered.

Marlene twisted her mouth to the side and gave Sean The Look. He was digging around in the fridge and failed to notice. She frowned. “Sean!”

“What?” he turned to her, soy milk in one hand, yogurt in the other. “Do you think the expiration date really matters when it comes to yogurt?” he asked.

“Omigod, Sean.”

“What?”

Marlene narrowed her eyes and gave him another look.

He elbowed the fridge shut and took a step backward.

“What?!” he said.

“Nevermind,” she sighed and returned to scrolling through help wanted ads.

 

TUESDAY

“Sean!” Marlene barged through the door.

“Marlene!” Sean yelled from the couch, four feet away. He pushed the bag of Sriracha-flavored Kettle Chips aside to make room for her. “Sit!” Sean said. “I’m on my fifth episode of Louie. You’re just in time.”

“Sean!” Marlene flung her purse on the couch. “Listen!” She stomped her feet.

“Oh, fine,” Sean said. He punched the remote and the TV went dark. He pulled the bag of chips to his lap, stuck his hand inside. “Yes?”

Marlene rolled her eyes, then flopped over the chair arm, landing next to Sean. “Chip me,” she ordered as she leaned into him.

Sean pulled out two chips and placed them in Marlene’s open mouth. “There you go, little bird.”

“So,” Marlene crunched, “Hang on.”

“No worries,” Sean said. “I have all the time in the world.” He placed his feet on the combination of plywood and milk crates they used as a coffee table, leaned back and started whistling.

Marlene swallowed. “Do we have any beer?” she asked.

“Um,” Sean answered.

“Sean!”

“I’ll go to the store, fine.” He swung off the couch, stood up.

“Wait!” Marlene said. “Guess what?”

“You’re not pregnant?” Sean hazarded.

Marlene reeled back. “What? Why would I be pregnant? Are you insane?”

Sean shrugged. “Who knows anything with you?”

“Sean, that’s not even funny.”

Sean laughed. “What is it already?” He leaned down and grabbed her shoulders. “Tell me!”

Marlene laughed and pushed him off. “I have a job interview! The deli technician!”

“Hooray!” Sean jumped in circles around the apartment, then stopped. “What is a deli technician?”

“I don’t really know,” shrugged Marlene.

 

WEDNESDAY

“Hello?” Marlene eased through the door of the Stay and Shake Delicatessen. Four bare bulbs cast a bluish light from above. Four white tables with two silver chairs each lined the plate glass windows. From the deli case, color burst forth. Various cuts of raw meat stood draped into piles, dark greens arranged at their base, the green emphasizing the orange-red of the, what was it? Marlene thought, leaning closer. Oh, pepperoni, of course. She identified the chorizo and salami, figured the whiter meat had to be chicken. But the other six, no seven, no nine other meats, some pink, some almost purple, those she could not define.

“Hello?” she called again. The bottom of the deli case held cheeses. Cheddar, swiss, pepper jack, fresh mozzarella balls. Flowers, too. Orange and yellow blooms floated in shallow glass bowls.

Next to the deli case, a counter held the cash register, a stack of menus, an almost empty bottle of sangria-flavored soda. “Hello?” Marlene called again. Behind the counter, a door marked “Employees Only” was closed. Marlene pulled the corners of her mouth down, wrapped her cardigan more tightly around her polka-dot blouse. She stepped around the counter and knocked on the door. It swung slightly open from the pressure. No handle, she noted. Nothing to hold it in place. “Hello?” she called, softly.

Through the inch of space the door had opened, she could see the edge of a desk, papers, the soft glow of a lamp. She swallowed and pressed the door open further. “Hello?” she whispered, leaning forward. Now she could see the entirety of the room. Bookshelves lined one wall, floor to ceiling. Filing cabinets another. Then the wall with the desk, on which stood a lamp, green and brass, illuminating little but the papers strewn about. Marlene pushed the door open as far as it would go and stepped in.

The topmost paper on the desk, she couldn’t help but see as the handwritten title was two-inches tall and in Sharpie, read “To-Do.”

She picked it up.

“To-Do

decide on wording for deli technician job

place ad on Craigslist

interview applicants

hire the best candidate (or a cute girl)

train technician

get money from safe deposit box

buy plane ticket

ditch car

set house on fire

leave country

make YouTube video laughing at them all

write autobiography

jump out and surprise cute girl applying for job”

Marlene shrieked as the hands landed on her waist.

 

 

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