The phone rang.
The cracked screen flickered and through the haze of her room and the haze in her head she saw it was work.
She had to answer it. She had taken too much time off (read: called in sick/hungover) and she hadn’t budgeted wisely. She needed the money. And they knew it. They also knew she was up working late and drinking late too. Fuck them.
Hello? She said. Hey can you come in. Mark called in sick. We need you at the register again and maybe the restaurant too. I was just in, she said. I left no more than 4 hours ago… I think at least, she thought to herself. I’m sorry but you need to come it. Fine, fuck you, I’ll be in an hour.
She tossed the phone across the room. The screen can’t be cracked anymore than it is.
She picked herself up off the bed and walked through the dense light to the bathroom. Her small studio, if that’s what you can call it, seemed smaller than normal as the walls radiated with heat off the stark bare white walls.
She picked up the grey Mexican blanket an old boyfriend had bought her once and hung it over the window with the thumb tacks already in place. Her pseudo-chic curtain did little though to stop the heat. It had already pushed its way in and leaned on her and her hangover.
She reached the bathroom and thought about throwing up. But the thought made her almost throw up so she turned on the water instead. It was at least cool… a little brown but cool.
She stripped her t-shirt off and underwear. She still smelled last night on herself and she wanted it off.
She stood in the water and tried not to move too much. She finally got out when the water was too high in the tub because it wouldn’t drain fast enough. That almost made her throw up too. Better quit while I am ahead.
After she was “clean” she walked into the “kitchen” area of her place and turned on the hot-water pot. She got a glass of water and chugged. Gagged. And chugged a little more.
The water was hot and she made some instant coffee. It was better than the shit at the station or in the restaurant. She couldn’t understand how people drank iced coffee. What the fuck is that anyway? Even in the heat it disgusted her. Then again a lot things people do disgusted her or at least confused her.
She grabbed her sunglasses from the table and walked outside into the sun. Wrapped in her towel and hangover.
She picked up a butt she was smoking from last night and thought about lighting it but that too made her sick. She “only” smoked when she was drunk. And only with “friends.”
The neighbors cat walked up to her and rubbed its hot black fur on her legs. Kind of cute, kind of annoying. She petted it then went back inside.
She found her cleaner uniform from the floor. White button-up shirt. Name tag still on it. Black pants. You can’t see the stains she thought. She grabbed the restaurant uniform too. Black t-shirt, black “short” skirt.
Three generic-tylenol, a hit of generic weed, a quick chug of whatever beer what’s his face had bought last night and she left.
3:36 am. Larry had been on the road too many days to count. Frankly he couldn’t even remember now come to think of it. Was it 5, 6, 12? Who knew, who gave a shit? He did know he had to pee and he needed coffee.
He walked inside the brightly lit rest-stop store. He saw a thin girl behind the register. Damn I’m horny he thought.
He walked over to the 10 identical coffee pots on 10 identical heating elements and poured a large styrofoam cup. Aren’t cups like this illegal or something? He emptied 5 fake creamers into the cup and 7 packets of sugar. He stirred and put an overly engineered plastic lid on top. He walked over to the freezer against the back wall, glancing back at the girl seeing if she was looking at him. She wasn’t. He grabbed one of those iced coffees in a can. From that one company.
He walked up to the counter. The girl raised her eyes to him from her worn book. They were big and gray, and not quite blue. They looked through him. He placed the drinks on the counter. 7.23 she said. He placed the money on the counter and backed away. She gave him his change. Thank you he said. She nodded.
He walked out into the night and the cold air punched him in the face. He saw his truck on the other side of the parking lot, beyond the other trucks filling with gas. Beyond the cars headed home from vacation or going to. Beyond the cars headed to nowhere or coming from. He thought about his own wife and kids and getting home to them. He missed them.
He climbed into his truck and drove off, thinking about the girl behind the counter.
He thought. Fuck I’m horny.