A Story by Timothy Ryan

    It felt good to be free, to be out in the world, and away from that godforsaken kitchen. There's nothing like the wind racing across your skin, and blowing away all the long hours you just endured. Even riding the bike, which felt crippling to my esteem at times, was a gift. I could see what the outside world actually had to offer; the stars of the July night, the lights of the downtown street-lamps, cars speeding by, people on the sidewalks and romance in the air. Give me anything, anything but those same walls that held me captive all day long.
    The forty ounces of malt-liquor in my backpack was calling my name. It was hard to hear, though. The echoes of the kitchen were still ringing out in my mind. All the pots and pans clattering together. Would you shut up, already?! The panicked voices, scattering around, trying to find answers to calm their nerves. No, you're order isn't ready yet. Then there was the amigos. Those little sons-of-b*****s. They did everything they could to make my life a living hell. I know they're from Mexico, and there might be a bit of a language barrier, but they knew what they were doing. Ughhh, my blood still boils thinking about them laughing like hyenas at my frustration. The way they casually lose tickets when they know we're behind on orders, making our dinner rush even more frantic. Or they how they hide the cutting knives when you need them most. I was out of work, I didn't need to still be thinking about it all. But I couldn't help it. I pictured the amigos menacing smiles, racing across the streets, chasing after me and leaving a trail of headaches and thoughts about finding another job in their wake. They were out to ruin me. They would, probably, even get some sort of sick pleasure knowing how much they weighed on my mind. I pedaled as fast as I could get get home. I needed to get away from work.
    My house was more than just a home for me. It was a home for alcohol, smoke, wayward characters and most of all, plenty of inebriated nights. It was a small apartment building that housed plenty of people. The characters came and went, but the movie always kept rolling. Carla was someone who had always been in the picture. I met her when I first moved in. We shared a lot of memories together and shared even more alcohol. She was a waitress, and had actually gotten me the job at the restaurant before she left for another place. She was a head shorter than me, with clear, blue eyes that wouldn't harm a soul, frizzy blond hair that was always tied back. She sat on the front porch of the building, in her work pants with her feet crossed, resting on the railing, sipping from a bottle of beer. She wore a white tank-top instead of her usual work uniform. She always kept her breasts covered well, but they were showing themselves off that night. I wasn't used to seeing her look attractive. She was always in uniform, but I wasn't complaining.
    I took the beer out of my backpack, after I locked my bike to the porch railing, and took a seat next to Carla.
    "Well, look who it is. Did someone just get out of work?" Carla asked with a sarcastic smile.
    "Don't remind me. It was another one of those nights," I said while taking the first sip from my bottle. God, it tasted like heaven.
    "I don't miss those at all. That place drove me nuts with how management ran it. How did they f**k things up tonight?"
    "It wasn't them at all. It was the amigos."
    "Julian and them?" Carla titled her head back and laughed at the notion.
    I hated her almost as much as I hated them in that moment. Laughing at my pain, laughing at the moments where my life couldn't get any worse. Was work really getting to me that much?  I didn't wanna become that guy who snapped at everyone because of misplaced stress. No, it was just a bad night is all. I hoped the feeling would fade.
    "Yes. Julian, Ricardo and Christian. They live to make my life a living hell there. You've seen how they are."
    "I have, but I don't think it's anything personal towards you."
    She didn't think it was anything personal towards me?! Clearly, she had never seen the look in their eyes when they knew something was going wrong. They rejoiced, they celebrated it. They were like hungry wolves waiting to find you in a weak moment, so that they could feast on your feelings. Everything they did was personal. Those little spawns of Satan.
    "Have you never seen them before? They f**k with me all the time just to get me worked up. They do it to everyone."
    "Exactly. They do it to everyone. I don't think it's a personal attack. I think that might just be part of their culture. They like to joke around and have fun."
    "I don't know."
    "Think about it. What do you really know about their culture? And don't you dare say tacos."
    "Their beer and women are pretty good too," I laughed.
    "Oh lord," Carla rolled her eyes. "I guess people have bonded over much less things. Maybe you guys would get along after all."
    "What do you mean?"
    "Do you ever hear what they're saying when they're speaking Spanish?"
    "I barely made it out of high school English class. What the hell makes you think I can fluently understand Spanish?"
    "You're right. You're pretty stupid."
    "F**k you," I held up my middle-finger with a smile and we both laughed.
    "But, seriously. If you spoke Spanish, you'd realize all they ever talk about is girls asses, girls tit's, and who they wanna f**k. All that kind of s**t. They're animals. I caught them talking about my a*s one day."
    "Who could blame them?" I leaned back in my chair and looked down Carla's backside. "That thing could orbit the sun."
    "Get the f**k out of here," Carla laughed as she pushed my head away. "Grab me another beer while you're at it.
    The night went like that for some time. Joking and drinking. I wasn't sure if the alcohol had taken over or if enough time had passed, but I finally felt like I was out of work. It's a beautiful thing to be lost in the moment of a good time, and feel completely disconnected from the rest of the world. It's just a shame how much we have to put up with before we get there. I can't remember how long we drank for that night, but it didn't matter. Every drop of beer tasted like freedom. I was home.
    There's nothing like waking up in the middle of the afternoon. All the responsibilities of waking up early, rushing to get out the door and being confined by time restraints vanish. Some people might call it being a bum. I call it living the life. Of course work is always waiting there to ruin your day, though. The only thought running through your head is "What would be an alright excuse to use so I can call out today?" No matter what idea you think of, none of them sound good enough to be believable. Believe me, it was hard to find motivation to go in that day. Everything was a reason to stay home for a few extra minutes; the bed was begging to be made, there were clothes on the floor that needed to be picked up and I just didn't feel like leaving. It was the same struggle I faced every day before I went into work. I even double-checked that I locked the door on my way out. It was no use. I had run out of excuses. I was on my way to work.
    No amount of cigarette breaks would help. I was trapped. I was enclosed in those walls, again. I was back in the kitchen. Home felt so far away. It was testing me in every way possible too. From the dry heat of the ovens slowly melting me down to defeat, to the list of food I'd slave away prepping, only for it not to be enough for the night. I looked at all of the plates stacked on on the kitchen racks, imagining all of the dinners they would hold. God damn it. It was going to be another one of those nights. Then there was him. Following me around the kitchen with those same eyes that haunted me on the ride home. He was standing by the cutting board, watching me cut tomatoes. He was considerably shorter than I was, with gelled black hair, a white kitchen coat and a smirk that was ready to ruin my day.
    "Hello, my b***h," Julian greeted me with a slow roll in his voice that blended all of the words together. It was helpful that he knew some English, but I hated that he knew how to use words like that effectively. He was a smartass in every language.
    "Que pasa, Julian," I answered with a mono-tone voice without looking at him. I hoped my disinterest would push him away
    "Nada, Ryan. You no bueno."
    "Por que?"
    "You lazy," Julian roared with laughter.
     Did he really call me lazy while he was standing around, watching me do actual work? I could feel him poking my patience, seeing how deep under my skin he could actually get. The only thing he enjoyed more than other people's misery was laughing at their misery with someone else. I looked around and tried to find someone else to pick on. Poor Mark. He was a scrawny kid. A busboy, who still lived at home with his mom, but he had a good heart. Unfortunately he was an easy target and I didn't feel like dealing with Julian any longer.
    "You see Mark?" I asked while pointing in the direction Mark was standing in.
    "Why Mark?" Julian asked.
    "Mark no bueno."
    "Mark no bueno?" Julian's whole face lit up. His eyes widened and so did his smile. "Por que, Ryan? Por que, Mark no bueno?"
    I had him reeling. He fell right into my trap. His English wasn't the best and neither was my Spanish. So, I'd have to act out what I wanted to say We'd make a great charades team.
    "Last week, me mucho cerveza. Muy bien. Mark, uno cerveza," I did a motion for throwing up. I did the best I could with my Spanglish, but Julian seemed to get the message just fine.
    "Si," I confirmed.
    Julian slapped his knee on his right leg, which was stomping up and down as he cackled.
    "Hey, Mark. You no bueno," Julian said as he walked across the kitchen to Mark.
    "Why am I no bueno?" I heard Mark echo back. I was in the clear.
    It wasn't long before we opened for business. Which meant it was the best part of the shift, employee meal time. Every day the chef would make a big meal for everyone to have before the walls completely closed in on us. It was trickery, but it worked every time. We were all scattered around the kitchen eating our separate plates, when Ricardo came racing in, thirty minutes late as usual. He was maybe an inch taller than Julian, with buzz-cut length hair and a shirt that read "Peter's Pizza" which was the job he worked before coming to our kitchen. 
    "Ricardo, how nice of you to join us," John said. John was a server, dressed head to toe in black dress clothes and a bald head. He was the only other employee who drank as much as I did. We got along famously.
    "No bus today, man," Ricardo said with a Spanish accent. His English was much better than Julian's.
    "So, how did you get here?"
    "I walked. Pasta tonight?" Ricardo pointed to John's plate full of pasta.
    "Yeah, it's real good."
    "Muy bien," Ricardo kissed his fingers and opened them open like fireworks in the sky before grabbing a plate and heading to the other side of the kitchen for his share of pasta.
    "Did he say he walked all the way from Peter's Pizza?" I said.
    "Yeah, that's his second job," John said while filling his fork with another load of pasta.
    "No s**t that's his second job. That's like fifteen miles, though. That's a hell of a walk just to get to work."
    "Yeah, but it was a lot longer walk for him to get here from Mexico."
    I felt ignorant. I felt lazy, and I felt a new sense of appreciation for the amigos in that moment. It's hard to drag yourself to a job you don't want to be at everyday. I couldn't imagine that being the sole reason for uprooting your entire life into a foreign land. As badly as I wanted to go home at times, I'm sure they felt it even more. Home was just a little further away for them.


© 2016 Timothy Ryan

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I like your overall premise & where you are trying to take this story. Here's the narrator, being all whiney & discontent, but then finally he understands that others go to great lengths for privileges the narrator seemingly takes for granted. I like your manner of showing much more than telling, using many anecdotes along the way to build the scenario & the characters. The ending just didn't pop, tho. I'm not sure what it needs, but I'm not really feeling the narrator going thru a believable change of viewpoint here. Maybe this realization could be fleshed out a little more. Also there are quite a few mistakes thru-out.

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Added on July 18, 2016
Last Updated on July 22, 2016


Timothy Ryan
Timothy Ryan


A self-taught, soulful degenerate who puts life into words. IG @timothyryan1990 more..

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