Francis Bowers was a dangerous man. He held ultimate control over the holiday scheduling at each and every Featherweight Mattress store in the tri-county area.
In prior years, this had not been a real issue, but this year was something else. Francis knew he had a disaster brewing on his hands when Joel Summers, the manager of the second largest store, called him on a Friday morning, bright and early.
“Frank, none of my crew has shown up today. I don’t know what’s going on. The only one who had any reason to act out is Stacy, because her family is holding that reunion this weekend and I told her she still had to work, but I don’t know the first thing about the others. None of them are answering their phones. When I called Steve in Midvale he said that none of his guys would be able to make the trip all the way over here, but you know as well as I do that he only has one kid that drives his mom’s car, and the rest are middle aged champion salesmen. Help me out here.” Joel was practically in a panic, which Francis found mildly unnerving since Joel was the coolest cucumber anyone could ever hope to meet.
“I’ll work it out, Joel, just hang tight for me.” Francis thumbed the phone off and rolled over in bed to have a look at the clock radio that he kept on his Ikea nightstand. 8:30. He relaxed back into his pillows, then started bolt upright. 8:30?? Francis hadn’t slept that late in years. His stores opened at eight on the dot, and he made it a point to be at a different one every single morning the moment the doors unlocked.
Just to make sure his managers were staying on top of things, you know. Got to keep them on their toes.
With a longing glance at the Stairmaster that towered in the corner of his bedroom, Francis resigned himself to having the offest of off days. No protein shake, no Stairmaster, but most painful of all, no leisurely soak in the hot tub downstairs after the workout and before officially starting his day.
Francis rummaged through his walk-in closet for what felt like hours, looking for that one pair of ebony black Louboutins that never failed to bring him out of a funk. He couldn’t even find one. Every other pair of overpriced dress shoes in the closet was neatly shelved in its individual space, but not the fucking Louboutins. He was going to have to fire Shirley and find a new maid. Again.
Francis kicked the closet door and cracked the frame. “Dammit!” he screamed. If Shirley had been in the house, she might have wondered who had broken in, because Francis never cursed. Aloud, anyway. He yanked a pair of Kenneth Coles from the nearest shelf and threw the left one across his bedroom, striking the Frank Auerbach painting he had acquired at great personal expense and knocking it to the floor, where it landed facedown.
He gasped and held a hand to his mouth, horrified at what he had done. “No, no, no,” he muttered to himself as he dropped the right shoe on his way to check on the painting. His hand trembled as he reached out to turn the painting over, but that fell to his side as he saw the irreparable damage that he’d done. The hole went straight through the canvas.
Francis looked up sharply and saw the dark scuff mark that the shoe had made on the wall when it passed through the painting. He stood up and snatched his phone from the Ikea table and furiously dialed Shirley’s number. When the busy signal blared its dah-dah-dah in his ear, he slung the phone even harder than he’d thrown the shoe; the phone fared less well, shattering as it hit the wall across the room.
Fortunately, Francis had missed the second Auerbach that hung opposite the first.
Katie packed a quick tote and threw it in the back seat of her car, mumbling to herself the whole time.
“Shit day at work, shit day at home. Bullshit left and right. So sick of you, so sick of you, so sick of you. I’ve got to get out of here.”
She slammed her car door to go back inside the house for one final check for any obviously-needed items. She found none.
Katie picked up her sunglasses from the table beside the front door and put them on her face, snagging her ear in the process and letting a small cry of pain escape her lips. She grimaced and set her face into a sour don’t talk to me mask and slammed the door behind her.
The next door neighbor looked up at the ruckus, but hurriedly looked back down at his weeding after a glimpse at Katie’s face. If she’d noticed, she might have snickered at how well her mask worked.
But she didn’t notice.
She started her car and sat a moment, squeezing the steering wheel. “Shit day,” she muttered, one last time, as she out the car in gear and left the driveway.
A few deep breaths later, she reached out and flipped the radio on.
A few slightly off key songs later, she began to lose the tension in her shoulders.
And by the time she was out of town and driving through the dancing shafts of sunlight cutting between the trees growing to her right, she was smiling.
The mountains were calling.
Today I am just full of angsty rage. You know those days when you’re mad at the world? One of those.
I got dressed and went to the dollar store to pick up drinks and cotton swabs. Of course, my least favorite cashier was there. The one who goes to the back when you come in and is nowhere to be found when you’re ready to check out. There was so much junk in the aisles I had to walk through half the store to get from one side of the register to the other. But I was grumpy, I didn’t care how much dollar store crap I knocked out of the way with my buggy.
Fortunately, the cashier was finishing up someone else, but that didn’t make me any happier to see her. She watched me swipe my card, so I have no idea why she asked if I was paying with my card. Anyway, I got my stuff as threw it in the back seat.
As I tried to cross the street to get to the grocery store, wouldn’t you know it? Some dumb kid stopped their car right in front of the exit. He could have pulled up enough to let me out. He could have stopped five feet back. He didn’t even look over at me.
Being in the foul mood I was in, I couldn’t resist honking my horn to get his attention so I could flip him off. It’s just not the same if they don’t know you’re doing it. He inched up enough for me to whip around him, so I did.
I got to the grocery store’s parking lot and immediately had to stop for some guy moseying his way across at an angle. What did he do? He stopped to look at me. If someone’s gonna run me over, I’m not going to wait there for them to do it. This guy apparently decided I didn’t quite look stable, so he backtracked to go behind me. Not that I was going anywhere, because I wasn’t going to hit the couple walking behind him.
Someone was just leaving from the first regular parking spot, but they decided to stop when there was almost enough room for me to park. I said screw it and squeezed in.
When I got in the store, the same couple that crossed the street in front of me was blocking the entire entrance. Thanks, guys.
I went straight to the meat department and grabbed the lonely chicken that was the only thing I went in for, then began my search for a line with a reasonable wait. I picked the one with the paper jam, which was possibly caused by the fact that they were printing bibles for every customer.
I dropped my commission paperwork in the mailbox and headed home, catching the one and only traffic light.
But now I’m home, and I feel so much better! If you got this far, I’m sure you can see that absolutely nothing happened that’s worth pitching a fit over, but who hasn’t had a day like this? A perfectly normal day where every single thing that happens, no matter how insignificant, just increases those homicidal impulses. Oh well. Pumpkin carving tomorrow!