Corey Pandolph

Cartoonist | Illustrator | Writer | Crime Fighter

Diversions

In working on my novel, I’ve ended up with small diversions, separate from the story, but good character exercises for the bigger deal. I’ll post a few of these disjointed short stories here from time to time. Just because.

“Donna”

The plain woman checked her phone. It was 10:17 in the morning. She sat on the first stool near a window and crossed her legs. The floor was wet from a mop, and glasses clanged somewhere behind a wall. Two unopened cases of Jameson sat on the bar to her left. She started pulling lint from her shoulder when she looked up at the sound of keys held by a very heavy man in gray overalls. Without acknowledging the plain woman, the man in overalls limped to the front window and pulled open a heavy shade, immediately soaking the front bar and hostess stand with daylight. The plain woman recrossed her legs and checked her phone again. She had been waiting 35 minutes now.

“Donna?” An attractive black man appeared behind the bar.

“Mr. Denton.” The plain woman said.

“Call me Brock.”

She smiled and said, “Brock.”

Brock Denton filled a rocks glass with seltzer form the soda gun. “I read your resume. Impressive.” He said.

“Thanks.” Donna said, “I’ll be honest, I’ve never had to submit a resume for bartending before.”

A very loud clang filled the restaurant. Donna, Brock and the man in overalls all turned their attention to the open-air kitchen. Three stocky Hispanic men prepped for the lunch crowd and one of the men had dropped a large stack of sauce pans. A tall blonde woman dressed in chef whites began barking Spanish in a Russian accent. Brock yelled something at the kitchen in Spanglish. He still had the soda gun in his hand. The man in overalls shook his head, unlocked a corner closet and disappeared.

Brock was still looking toward the kitchen when he said, “Really? You’ve worked in some pretty swanky places. You must’ve had to impress someone at some point to get those gigs. Like, list impressive experience on a resume, for example.” He returned the soda gun to its holster and looked at Donna.

Donna chuckled and said, “You know how it is, you have this community. When you leave a place, someone else always knows of a job elsewhere, you know? We take care of each other and it gets to the point that after a while, some of us become managers and even owners, so you know who’s out there. There’s no need for digging any deeper, because chances are, you’ve all worked together before, you know? I dunno, maybe you don’t. Maybe that’s just a New York thing.”

Brock Denton shifted and relaxed his posture. His guard was down now and it felt good, so he said, “No, I know how that is. We have that here. A community, I guess. I suppose if you lived here a while and I knew you — or I knew someone who knew you — there might not be a resume and this wouldn’t be so much of an ‘interview’.” He leaned back against the liquor with the intention of telling a story. “I grew up here, ya know? In Maine. A place about 30 minutes outside of Portland — Lewiston. There’s another town so close — Auburn — that they call it L.A. In Maine. We have an L.A!. Except there’s no Hollywood or celebrity sightings, just a growing population of Somalis. Which has the locals up in arms, of course, brown terrorists moving in next to their kids, they say. Gimme a break. I mean, the world is messed up for sure and I’m just as scared as the next guy, but it seems crazy to start blaming every guy in a turban or lady in a head dress. But that’s the way the world is goin’, I think — crazy. My dad used to tell me, ‘Like everybody, until they give you a reason not to.’ Good advice, although people seem to be a lot quicker to give a reason these days.”

One of the stocky Hispanics waddled up to the soda gun next to Brock and starting filling a pitcher full of cola. He smiled at Donna and nodded with over-exuberance. She smiled back and felt the awkward pause in Brock’s rambling. The stocky Hispanic said something to Brock in Spanish. Brock tipped his head in the direction of the kitchen and said something back. The stocky Hispanic waddled back to the kitchen. The Blonde woman with the Russian accent started yelling again.

Brock turned back to Donna, who had her chin in her hand now, her elbow resting on the edge of the bar. “Like these kitchen guys. They’re all okay.” He said, “No felonies, keep out of trouble. Cook a steak like the goddamned Cordon Bleu. Some of these rich fat white guys come in, just off the golf course, already three Manhattans deep an’ get a couple more in ’em at the bar and all the of the sudden they’re the goddamned immigration police. Start talk about building a wall around my kitchen, won’t eat a steak cooked by no Mexican when there are good white kids in need of work. Well, ya know what? I used to have ‘good’ white kids working for me and they were all the laziest buncha — just jeez, man. I’m tellin’ ya, have one of these guys cook our NY Strip for you. You won’t care if fuckin’ Hitler cooked it, it’s so good. Some of that basil butter on top, Damn. We make good food. I dunno. I do love this place and I love serving great food. That should be all that matters, right?” Brock took a shot of seltzer like it was bourbon and starred out the window. Donna’s eyes followed his out the window, head still in her chin, like there was something she needed to see.

There was an uncomfortable pause, Brock looked down at Donna and said, “Can I get you something? Water? Coffee? Bourbon?”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

He sat down on the beer cooler that was just under the bar. “We know you can bartend.” He said, “Now let’s hear about you. Who is Donna Parson and why does she want a job in my bar?”

Donna smiled, for real. “Maybe one drink.”

The Predictive Future

To: All Departments

From: Editorial

Subject: Features changes

In order to cut costs here at The Gazette, we’ve handed over the writing of the horoscopes, obits, sports pages and a few human interest pieces to Jordan, the copy intern. To facilitate a fast turnaround, he will be writing each piece using only the predictive text feature on his phone.

We hope this move will help avoid cutting staff, while introducing a new and exciting way of generating edit-free content in the future.

Below is Jordan’s first round of horoscope readings.

 

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Aries

Find out if there’s something wrong with an old friend. There’s a little something that you can get from a couple of different people. That’s the best way to start your week! Celebrity news from a familiar group of men with a large number is out of order. Beer is a great way of thinking!

 

Taurus

Today is the one day that has the best chance of being an option you want. Love is the only thing that can make you look like you have no idea how long you have been around. Be there! Money finds you a very happy new life. Chess is a great game!

 

Gemini

A caveman with an iPhone is not the best way to make an old movie. There are some people who don’t like you. Ignore it! You have no place for a long timeline. Brevity and clarity is the only way. Employment in the new world is a very good place for you. Jump out the door!

 

Cancer

Bitter love from the world and the past is not enough. You’ll have to pay more for your friends than the other day. Sadness is the only thing that can make you feel. Find a way out for a great chance of being a famous person. A deadline is for sale!

 

Leo

Money is your best thing ever! Spend your whole day on your phone. The only way to make your friends happy is the best way to make you happy. Timing is your best friend so go to bed with your phone. Familiar faces from the last week and the last couple of years have been sent back. Hide under duress!

 

Virgo

Conflict isn't something you need. You can make it all if you want, but that’s not what you want. Watch out for your friends and family. They have been around for a long time but they are the closing costs. An encounter between two ferns is a good idea. Fight for the money!

 

Libra

Bury your heart with your own hands. There are some people who don’t know what you are doing, but they don’t have a good chance to make you happy. Only a few things can make you look like the best person. A death will make you feel so close with your heart. Act as if you don’t want to talk. Keep up with your new favorite songs!

 

Scorpio

Go back on your friends! They don’t have the money for their own game. You can make it to a different level but it won’t be the same for the first week. Tread lightly with the exciting new look of a cowboy. You’re a dog! Run to the corner of a glass.

 

Sagittarius

You have a stellar career with a great game but that’s not what you want. Pets are the best way to make your day better when you are your own dog. A chance for a great day with the young and growing heart is a good place to start. Bite your finger and make your own way! Canned food is a great option.

 

Capricorn

The bridge between the two sides of your heart is the best thing you have. A parent who has been on your phone and is not a very good person is having to make a new look. Laziness has made it worse! Find your own place to live. Fly higher than you can!

 

Aquarius

Bullies have been around the scene for a long time. Don’t let your own stuff get to you when you run away. A friend of God is not what you want. Church is a very bad place for the people who have a plan. You miss your old times but it’s not a very good game to play! Spirits are filled with the young and old. Take a picture of your hair.

 

Pisces

Be of the young ones! Bravery is not an option. Follow back from the last day of your work week. Adversity makes you feel better about being able to make your own decisions. A movie of the week is just around the corner. Embrace the new world! Resistance is not an option. Resistance. Is. Not. An. Option.