Winston was late again. The whole store could feel it, once good employee turning into crap. Drugs and bad influences.
No, one couldn't really blame either. For one thing, Winston had chosen his own drugs. They didn't ambush him and leap into his mouth while he staggered around Deep Ellum. He also hadn't opted for reefer, but popped speed to help him cope with two jobs, and his dreams of filming videos. The amphetamine diet was difficult to purge. I knew from experience. I used to drive from Appalachia to Los Angeles. Nonstop, less than two days fueled by a handful of dexies. Better than coffee, yet longer lasting.
Winston had downgraded from speed to meth. Addiction of choice for buddies at his other job.
That was the second thing. Buddies were straight out of Trailer Hell VI. Filthy clothes, greasy baseball caps, guys who hadn't bathed since 6th grade. Sonya once told me it was a blessing I couldn't smell because every sweaty activity, every beverage accident, every upchucked meal, wafted wherever they went. Winston's new friends. Every two weeks, when he entered for his paycheck, a chum accompanied him.
One could make quality friends, one could cultivate shitty friends. Same amount of effort. Individuals could enhance your world, other souls would drain the life out of you. When you were younger, mistakes were common. Winston wasn't a teenager.
The Boss had twice cut his hours. Everyone still liked him, but he'd lost our trust. Mandy, Pat, Sarah, Joe, and a few others prayed Winston could climb out from his gutter. The more seasoned crew watched warily.
Anyway, he was late ... again ... for his only workday of the week. His phone was long disconnected. An hour late, he wasn't going to show. I wanted to rearrange the schedule. Bounce the idea off Pat or Stacey. Only they weren't around.
Crews today were primarily Chick Shift. Mandy, Sonya, Sharon, Pat and Stacey. Everyone was here, except Winston. A guy earlier had asked me about a right wing, flag waving country artist I hated. Looked around for Sharon or Pat ... no. Another customer inquired about a neo-Goth outfit. Stacey, Mandy? Nope, absent.
Ten browsers wandered the premises, with no staff anywhere. What?
What? What? What?
They had to be in the office.
I gauged the floor. Clients were in Rock. No one up front, in Classical or DVD's. I could get to the back in fifteen seconds. Of course, I could have buzzed the office, but brainless here didn't think of that. I simply took off.
Opened the office door. All the girls were inside. They jumped, then one of them said, "Oh, it's only Worthy."
Sharon was sitting down with her white pants pulled down. The other females formed a semi circle around her. Studying - - examining - - absolutely no idea. They were oblivious to my presence. I was 5% intrigued, 95% weirded out. I wanted to get the hell out of there. I darted to the racks facing the water cooler, grabbed something, anything, and trotted away immediately.
I could run the store on my own, damnit! The ladies could do whatever they were doing. OK by me.
Four customers waited in line. Typical, any time you left the register, stampede to the front.
I processed the shoppers quickly. Then I recalled something ...
"Oh, it's only Worthy."
What'd they mean by that?
What was I?