one VINCENT part 3

photo: J.R. Schaefers

< part two

My final coaching conversation was a speakerphone three-way with Sharon at HR. Kyle rubbed a flaky hole in his earlobe and nodded while Sharon charted my course according to PapaTaco’s flat-Earth map of corporate expectations. My current heading had long ago sailed beyond the point of here be dragons, she explained. I was now running swiftly toward the edge of the world.

I was about to press Kyle for my cash but the pudgy Machiavelli with a mouthful of rebar was on a roll.

Your uniform is PapaTaco property. Jenny or I will pay out your tips when your complete uniform is returned clean. The cost of cleaning or replacing your uniform will be deducted from your tips. We have that right.

Fucking hardcore. Never had I dreamed the kid would fizz like this when shaken.

He licked his scaly lips. I knew he was dying to pull out a mucky tube of Carmex and grease them up. Kyle was also one of those assholes who is constantly smearing Carmex on his lips.

Kyle offered his hand, palm down. A flaccid fascist salute that ran out of gas.

Good luck to you Vincent. And God bless, he said.

I stepped into the space between us and gently turned Kyle’s hand to make his palm perpendicular to the pavement.

Kyle. This is how men shake hands.

I looked into his eyes and clasped his hand, no tricks. No jacking up and down, no absurd Hulk Hogan grip. Just an honest analog reading of my emotional temperature. A genuine gesture of farewell.

See that? I asked. Our palms are parallel. Now I don’t feel like you’re waiting for me to kiss your ring and we’ve created a brief moment in time where neither one of us looks like a dick.

Kyle’s eyes flickered and fell.

I released my grip and dropped his hand. Rubbed my palm over the crusty front of my apron to wipe away the feeling I’d been holding something fragile that died and started to cool.

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