The Cost of Winning

in #freewrite4 years ago (edited)


"Aw, he's a good lookin kid. I don't think he'd do a thing like that." Werthers moved the dish of pennies to the other side of the counter. "There's definitely money missing from the register, but I don't this it was Jax fault."

Doreen wrinkled her stubby nose and turned her back to him. "You never believe me."

"C'mon, it's not like that. He's a good boy."

"It's okay, take his side."

"Take his side? He doesn't know anything about this."

"You haven't confronted him?" Doreen's forehead turned red. "You are a coward!"

"How can you say that? That don't make sense, you just told me about it like, five minutes ago."

Doreen bolted out the front leaving the glass door trembling in her wake. Werther knew it was only a matter of time before she scared off another one. He slapped both hands on the counter. This one he felt bad about. Jax was from the city. He didn't have a high school diploma and he didn't have anywhere to stay. He was just a lonely kid with a denim jacket and an old pair of tennis shoes to his name.

"Hey." The youth smiled as he made his way behind the counter. He grabbed the three bags of cans and headed out the back.

Werther slumped down in the folding chair waiting for him to return. His fingers drummed on the counter. "Jax, I gotta have a conversation with you."

"Sure boss." The thin boy stopped and held his breath. He knew what was coming. He saw Doreen slip the fifty out of the drawer and he figured he was gonna pay for it. He could feel the emptiness in his guts strangling at the thought of long day without food. "You can take it outta my pay."

"What? What the hell? Are you saying you took money from me?" The old man's stubby fingers wiped the sweat from his neck.

"I'm saying I need this job." There were plenty of other guys looking to replace him. He couldn't compete with any of them so, if Doreen set him up, he was gonna have to suffer the consequences. The one thing he knew he had going for him was he had a sense about things. He knew how to work a situation. "I am going to make it up to you. I will be the best worker you ever had, I promise." He flashed his green eyes into the old man. "You're the best boss I could ever have. I'm sure if you explain to Doreen how you worked me over, she'd feel sorry for me and give me a second chance."

"Doreen, huh?"

"Yeah, I'll tell her you picked me up by the collar and pinned me to the wall, right there."

Werther almost spit out his false teeth. For a minute, he could imagine himself with the strength of a bull. "Yeah, okay. What the hell. You really gonna tell her all that?" He shook his head at the thought of it. "Yeah, okay."

He stood up and sauntered back to the office for his afternoon nap. Jax picked up the list from the counter. He had to fill the bags of ice first of all. It was the fourth and they would sell every single bag. Jax prepared himself for the next ten hours and hoped the old man would spring for a hot dog like he did the day before. That's what winning looked like, a foot long, loaded with melted cheese, spicy chili and onions heaped as high as he could get them.

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