A Day in the Life of a Sandwich Artist by Tom Roth

I got up from the floor and glanced at the frozen lake. In the morning, the sunlight streaked across it like bright scribbles of yellow crayon. I saw yellow spots all over the cabin.

“You got a little too mcskunk last night,” Wiley laughed, pressing empty beer cans to his chest. Wiley was big. His body was shaped like a bulb baster.

B was small and just flushed the toilet. “Mcskunkess is up. How ya feelin’, bitch,” he smiled as he walked toward me. B had a patch of frizzy hair that looked glued to the top of his head.

“Um,” I said.

I shook my head and walked into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror as I pissed on the toilet seat. “Fuck.” I wiped the piss with my coat sleeves, then set my bare ass on the toilet and checked my email. I read one of them. Thank you for sharing your submission. After careful consideration, we will not be able to publish this piece. Although we would like to send an individual response etc. etc. etc. Fuck ‘em. Who the hell gives a damn about a short story of a heroin addict when you’ve never done heroin? What’s the worse way to write? Clichéd… Full of shit… I flushed the toilet. I walked out to the couches where they were scrolling Netflix.

“You should check out this documentary I watched a few nights ago,” Wiley said. There was a picture of pyramids. “It’s about how they believe there’s energy sources beneath the pyramids and how like… it like… it helps explain some things about religion and humanity and shit like that.”

“I don’t know what to believe in anymore,” I said. “But I’ll check it out. I’ll see you guys later.”

I probably wasn’t going to check it out. What the fuck is he talking about? Who’re they?

They said goodbye as I walked out the door.

#

“Big dog?”

My boss looked at me like I was making fun of him. He had a drooped nose and lines of black hair over his bald spot. We had trouble communicating at times because of his accent and my bullshit.

“Yeah, big dawg,” I laughed.

“You calling me a dog? Because I’m from Lebanon?”

“No no no. Big dawg’s not an insult. It’s a compliment. It’s you’re the dawg on top you know? Like the man or whatever.”

“Don’t call me big dog.”

“Alright Alright. It’s not an ins”

“Do you call customers that?”

There’s a deaf woman that comes into the store and orders a foot-long with pepperoni. Sometimes she’ll order a salad. I like her because she’s nice and the store always gets real quiet when she comes in. She walked in.

She held up her hands.

Foot-long.

I pointed to the toaster.

She shook her head.

The veggies can be hard with the pointing and everything, but today we didn’t have any problems. It was like we knew each other for years. She’d point and I’d throw four tomatoes down in a line. She’d give a thumb up and I’d follow her finger along the glass until we reached the end. Then it was just smiles. No bullshit about anything. Just smiles. She had a nice smile too.

#

She had mustard stains on both boobs. Tiny yellow smudges on her blue Eat Fresh Live Fresh shirt. I wanted to rub my lips against them. She was refilling the sauces. Twisting off the caps, then polishing them with a cloth. I was arranging the chip bags in front.

“I’m gonna’ call Big Dawg and tell ‘em you’ve been seducing customers with your mustard tits,” I laughed at her. Three rows of Lays. Five of Doritos. Last time I only had four rows and he thought customers would start a riot if they didn’t get their Doritos.

“Shut the fuck up,” she laughed. “I’m gonna’ smack you.”

“You’re not gonna’ do shit.” I threw the other chip bags into the box and walked toward the mop. “Hey..”

“Hey, what,” she asked while screwing on one of the caps.

“Never mind.”

“What?”

“Forget it.”

The mop looked like green fingers being dragged across the floor. They came out of the bucket, stiff and dead, dripping brown water. The floor was never fully cleaned. No matter how hard you scrubbed there were still some brown swirls and splotches left over at the end of every shift.

#

I miscounted the cash registered again. I’d hear it from him the next day. I wrote a note for the morning shift to recheck the count tomorrow. They won’t read it though.

I walked out and locked the door. The hangover was still pressing against my forehead. At least I could turn my hat backwards now. I hated wearing it forward.

I watched her walk to her car as I headed for the gas station across the street. The doors slid open and I saw one of my coworkers from the store. He worked at the gas station and always ate chicken teriyaki. He liked looking at the women who worked with us, even though they were twenty and he was forty. He had a shiny, black head.

“How’s it goin’, man,” I asked him. I put a case of beer on the counter and handed him my ID.

“Goin’. Workin’ past midnight,” he said and handed back my card.

“That sucks. Hey, how long have you been workin’ here?”

“What’s that?”

“Never mind. Take it easy.”

#

I decided to drive around the lake for a bit before heading back to the cabin. The streets have nice views of it. It’s better in the summer time when you can see lights from the houses and streets glistening on the water, but I still checked it out anyway.
I pulled over to an open spot and got out. It was quiet. The only sounds I heard were cars running along in the distance. Trees around the pond were still. Most of the cabins were dark. I walked out on to the ice, watching my breath emerge in front of me while I listened for cracks.

The middle of pond seemed miles away. I imagined what it’d be like to sink into it. The ice would drown out every sound from above. I’d sink into the middle of the pond until I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face and then I’d come out freezing to death, but as something different. I tried writing about it later that night, but nothing surfaced.

Thomas Roth

Banner Image: Pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “A Day in the Life of a Sandwich Artist by Tom Roth

  1. Hi Thomas,

    This was moody and real. It is quite difficult to explain what I liked about it. I think it was just how, as a reader, I was quite happy to be taken along by the story.

    I’m really interested to see what else you can come up with.
    Hugh

    Like

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