A Post By Jonathan
Hi Ya'll! We kind of retired our reoccurring EEK! PUT SOME PAGES UP FOR CRITEEK! post, but I wanted to bring it back just this once so that I could get your thoughts on this piece I've been working on for a while. It's about a middle-aged guy down on his luck whose about to go gas station postal.
Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think!
Phil ‘Er Up
The Go-Mart down on Route 13 is the only gas station in town. You can’t miss it. It’s right across from the only stoplight.
Phil’s been workin’ there since ’83, after he barely graduated from Millbrook High—Home of the Millworkers. A lot of the men still work at the mill, but not Phil. He has an even worse job. Pumpin’ gas. There are a lot of shitty things about workin’ at the Go-Mart (the smell being only one of them), but they get even shittier when your name is Phil.
“Fill ‘er up Phil,” the customers are always sayin’.
“Go Phuck yourselves,” Phil wanted to say.
But the boss wouldn’t like that— same boss that made him wear an f’in’ nametag every day. That didn’t stop Phil from saying it under his breath a couple hundred times, especially when those preppy ass college kids came passin’ through. They were the worst, with their “this university” and “that college” stickers all over the fancy cars their mommies and daddies buy them. Spoiled brats. They never worked a day in their lives, none of ‘em.
Pretty soon they’ll start comin’ through Millbrook again. After the big winter break they’re always talkin’ about. Must be nice. Phil never got a break.
He didn’t mind spring break so much. The girls, the good looking ones at least, were always friendlier that time a year. Their blond hair flowing this way and that, their tan skin, their perfect, white teeth. Maybe if Phil cut it down to a pack a day he could get white teeth and land one of them college girls for himself. The thought made him laugh a raspy laugh.
He started to think about it a little more when the damn bell rang, which meant he had a customer. Phil was holed up in the store like always. It was just big enough for him, the smokes, the beer, and about one other person. He looked out at the pump through grease-covered windows and recognized the car immediately. It was Daryl Sands in his big ass pickup truck.
Phil sighed. “Shit.”
Like most people in Millbrook, Daryl Sands was an asshole. Phil went to school with his brother Billy, who, believe it or not, was an even bigger asshole. Billy was on disability now, so Phil didn’t see him much. But Daryl was always out and about.
Phil lumbered off his stool, slow as he could. One of the biggest parts of his job Phil hated was having to pump everyone’s gas.
A few years ago, a bunch a people kept stealing petrol and so the boss had come up with a new “full serve” policy to keep people from running. Phil had tried to tell him that there were pumps out there that took credit cards, helping stations deal with things like that. But the boss wouldn’t listen. Even though people stopped stealing gas, the policy never ended. So now, even though it’s below freezing outside, Phil still has to go out there and serve the customer. Bullshit.
Daryl honked his horn and Phil started yelling. Too bad Daryl’s stereo was blaring so loud he never heard him. Phil’s neck hurt just looking at the truck. It was jacked up so high that Phil swore every time Daryl came into get gas he was going to take the roof off the whole damn station.
The tinted window came down to reveal Daryl smiling his crocked, cocky smile. Smoke rolled out of the window and there was a woman’s laughter inside. Judging by the smell, someone was smokin’ a joint.
“Fill ‘er up Phil,” said Daryl. “Eighty-seven.”
Before Phil could tell him to go to hell, Daryl rolls his window up. Phil has to actually reach up to pop the gas cap. The pump is freezing, even through his gloves. After a few gallons, Phil hears the passenger side door open up and sees someone get out. It’s Toni Baker, wearing high heels and an even higher skirt.
When did Toni and Daryl start runnin’ together? Phil wondered.
He watched her all the way to the bathroom. She was obviously drunk by the way she was walkin’. Damn. Phil had been wanting to make it with her since middle school, but even back then she never gave him the time of day. Sometimes you get loser stink on you and you can never wash it off. Daryl wasn’t much better. He’d won some money in an asbestos settlement, and the last Phil had heard he’d nearly spent it all. Half of it probably went to his damn truck, and the other half to the tires.
The pump clicked off. Finally. Phil walked over to the window and gave Daryl the roll-it-down sign. When nothing happened, Phil reached up and tapped on the window. Daryl finally rolled it down. The music was still blaring.
“That’ll be $75.23,” said Phil.
Daryl handed him a wad of cash. “Here’s $80.00. I need a pack a Marlboro Lights too.”
“Well you’ll have to get ‘em yourself. I only pump the gas.”
“What was that?” said Daryl, turning down the music. “I didn’t hear ya.”
“I said I only pump the gas,” said Phil.
“The sign says full service,” said Daryl. “Serve me.”
Phil was about to go off on Daryl when Toni came back, fussing with her leather jacket.
“Hey Phil,” she said with a wave.
Phil looked to Daryl, then back to Toni. “Hey Toni…”
Toni was too busy climbing back up into the truck to respond.
“Phil was just getting those smokes you wanted,” said Daryl, when Toni finally made it in the cab. “Weren’t ya Phil?”
There was a long pause, then Phil nodded. “Yep. Yep I was.”
“Aww thanks Phil,” said Toni, leaning over Daryl so that her tits nearly fell out of her top. “You’re so sweet. Could you get me a bag of Fritos too? I’m hungry...”
“Yeah Phil,” said Daryl. “Throw some Fritos on there too.”
Phil knew Daryl didn’t have enough for the smokes, the Fritos and the gas, just as much as Daryl did, but what could he do?
Back in the store, Phil grabbed the Fritos, rang up the gas, and snagged a pack of Marlboro Lights off the rack behind the checkout counter. Daryl was at least two dollars short, but Phil wasn’t about to ask him for more. Instead, he opened the cigarettes, took three out for himself, closed the pack and put the plastic wrapper back on.
“Shipping and handling,” Phil muttered to himself. Daryl will never know the difference.
When Phil got back outside, Daryl and Toni were all over each other. Phil had to cough to get them to split up.
“What?” said Daryl.
Phil handed him the cigs and Fritos. “Here ya go.”
“Oh, thanks,” said Daryl, like he’d forgotten he’d order ‘em.
Phil turned, but then he heard Daryl say, “Hey wait a second!”
Shit, thought Phil. “What is it?”
“Where’s my change?”
Phil turned back around slowly. “Your change?”
He was tempted to give it to him, in the form of buckshot all over his pretty little truck. It was full up too. One shot at the gas tank, and Daryl, Toni and the Chevy would go up like the Fourth of July.
Instead, he said, “You didn’t have none.”
“What do you mean?” said Daryl, lookin’ around the cab. “I gave you at least a hundred bucks.”
“You never did learn how to count, did ya Daryl?” said Phil.
“What did you say?” said Daryl, looking pissed.
It could’ve gotten ugly then, but another car pulled into the gas station. It was black and white and had sirens on the roof. Daryl gave it a once over in the rearview mirror, then started to roll up his window. He stopped long enough to say, “You better have my change when I come back,” then he barreled out of the Go-Mart, gray snow hitting his mud flaps as he went.