As the sound got closer the further Michael moved from the register, he turned around and heard, “I’m so sorry, Dude. I totally couldn’t help it this time. You know how it is,” Trey said breathlessly to Michael as he scrambled through the automatic doors. “Let me just change into my uniform and I got you,” Trey concluded.

            “Yeah, just hurry up, man, this is becoming way too comfortable a habit with you,” Michael replied, truly wanting to punch Trey in his stupid face. Not only was he always late, but he was lazy, never doing anything right. On the shifts Michael worked with him, he did nothing. On the shifts Michael had after him, nothing would be done, leaving Michael to pick up the slack. Nevertheless, Michael never once complained to Barb, the “sort of” Manager of the store, or to Benny. Barb worked in the office and dealt with certain problems but only part time and according to no real schedule accessible to the staff, anyway. Benny was there occasionally, but Michael hated it when he was.

            Michael dialed Brooke back and let her know he was ordering his Lyft home because Trey finally got his lazy ass to the store.

“I can help you over here,” Michael said to the customer in the store. “Only one banana? They’re two for $1 if you’re interested. Seventy-nine cents for one just seems unfair.”

            “Sure, why not?” the customer replied.

            Michael was always working on upselling, and he was good at it. Benny didn’t know how lucky he was to have Michael. At least that’s what Brooke was always telling him. “You’re so good at that, even with deals on vapes and more expensive items. I don’t know why you do it since it’s not like you work on commission, but you’re really good at it, babes,” she’d tell him, adding, “I’m so proud of you.”

            Brooke was always telling Michael how proud of her he was. It would be annoying if it didn’t mean so much to him. Brooke nurtured Michael in a way he never had while he was growing up. His mother left him alone with his stepfather when he was six years old and never looked back, only resurfacing once he was in prison. And his stepfather, who gratuitously adopted Michael was mentally and psychologically abusive; hence, where most of Michael’s bad habits came from. He ran away at fifteen and started his life, doing well for himself until the incident that put him away. Yes, Michael was very grateful for Brooke indeed.

            Benny was the kind of Owner you didn’t want around during your shift. He was constantly telling you to check the stock of anything he saw in a customer’s hands, and he always put too much damned change in Michael’s drawer. Michael must have promised Benny that he would get more change from the safe if he needed it a thousand times, begging him to trust him to know how much change he needed because he had been working there for so many months now, but it fell on deaf ears, causing Michael’s cash-out to take three times as long as when Benny wasn’t around. And there were always so many God damned nickles. No one needed infinite nickles. He was a micro and macro manager and it drove Michael insane.

            Trey was finally on the register, and Michael’s Lyft was finally here.

            “I’ll call you when I get home, okay, baby? We’ll play Madden?” Michael asked.

            “Hell yes! Get ready for me to have my ass handed to me! Love you,” Brooke joked.

            Michael hopped into the Lyft and put on the playlist he and Brooke continued to collaborate on making together, drifting off to his happy place, unaware that in four days a dead body would be found, and someone would be working on trying to frame him as the killer.

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