Joe played a very dangerous game.
Swaggered the store and the club, bold and reckless.
All while Angela and he were drifting into "item" status.
Joe wasn't living ... exclusive.
Erika had a steady guy. Sometimes. If not, she phoned Joe. He was usually available. The word No was never accepted by her.
Buffy worked the store. Nights. She was dead pretty, and she flirted. Joking and pushing had a tendency to exceed limits.
Angela warned him.
"I catch you messing, I'm going to cut you."
Me? I'd listen. Angela had a wicked temper. When she was fired up, she couldn't think straight. Camp Bowie had a scarlet history of violent females. They didn't beat up other girls, either. They kicked the men, punched them, smacked them with metal rods, hurled objects. And they didn't miss.
"You listen to me," I advised him, "I know from sad experience. Women know this shit. They got fucking radar, Dude."
"Worth-Dogg, they don't know nothing. I graduated Smooth."
"Slick, be more like it," JD dropped in. "'N when it's slick, you gonna slip."
"Shoo," Joe waved us off. "I keep all of 'em in separate piles. What they don't know ... they don't know."
"You gone crazy," J said.
"Hey, I go home, my wife knows if I've been working with Mandy or Pat or Stacey from their perfume, that ends up on me."
"Stacey wears cologne."
"Yeah, Zelda knows that. She knows what each girl wears. Angela is going to -- "
"Chill, homies. I'm in control. I hold the remote. Besides, I told her I don't see Erika. Buffy, she don't know. What they don't know -- "
"She find out ... whoooo ... she string you up like a rooster."
"They always know. They don't know, they find out."
"You forget to mention Anna Marie?"
"Shee-it. I got a date tonight. Better make some calls, put some skirts on hold," Joe began punching the speed dial.
I had forgotten Anna Marie, as well. Angela, Erika, Buffy, Anna Marie. Joe was juggling four girls. They rang him, they showed up at the store without warning.
"Late news bulletin. Joe sliced up, buried in extra small coffin," J laughed.
Joe walked off. JD and I were idiots, not worth listening to. He was the playa, the game master.
Tracey was blonde, easy on the eyes, lazier than a river slug. She was petite, maybe five foot, but fronted a rack of pure Olympic gold. She was living proof God enjoyed those dark jokes, bestowing Biblical abundance along side a dim brain and feeble spirit. The effect on males was devastating. Full frontal lobotomies. Guys stumbled about her presence like witless chimps. The Professor desperately wanted to pay for a dance. Instead, he knocked himself out to render aid, any aid. And assistance, Tracey profoundly needed. Menfolk had been good deeding her since junior high. She had been coasting ever since.
As an actual retail worker, she was hopeless.
There was no explanation why The Boss had hired her. No matter how dazzling the application, how high she scored on the psych test, there would have been an actual interview. He would have realized her main answer to any question was a prolonged, "Uhhhhhhhh ... " while she gently eased forward, or shifted her shoulders from side to side. The lobotomy maneuver. She was a daily example of gravity.
Tracey couldn't figure out how to stock product. CD's wound up everywhere. She couldn't comprehend security keepers. "These things don't like me." The cash register had too many buttons, and confused her. The Listening Center, wasn't that a place to make phone calls and new friends? She only excelled at two things. Lunch break, and throwing Joe off his game.
Not only Angela, but the other girls sniffed out Tracey as well. Impromptu visits increased. Girlfriends began bumping into each other, and realized they were Joe's glorified harem bunnies. Anna Marie slapped him around and drove into the sunset. Explaining to Buffy, Joe over compensated and catapaulted the comment from joke to prank to fiasco. When he wrote across her forehead, he used one of the giant felt tips. Permanent black ink. She quit, wailed to her boyfriend, and he began hunting for Joe.
The juggling collapsed one evening when Erika summoned him to dine at her favorite restaurant. Also Angela's favorite restaurant. The chance of discovery was minimal. Still, he improved his odds by reserving a table one hour before closing.
Who goes to a chain restaurant so late at night?
Angela, her sister, and brother-in-law, waltzed in ten minutes later.
Angela had phoned the store. Tracey didn't know, and she just ... sorta ...
There was no dessert that night.
Stacey, the firing manager, terminated Tracey, for being useless.
Took Stacey a half hour to explain that "being fired" meant Tracey wouldn't have to work the next day.
The released employee was excited and happy. She had wanted the day off, but was afraid to ask.
Then she was upset - angry - confused.
"But, I'm so popular here."
All rivals trampled, Angela seized the remote in the relationship. The playa, the club kid, the gza, was collared on a short leash.
Joe started thinking of ways to get even with J.