You Deserve a Break Today
by Rick Jankowski
“Hey, Jimmy! Check out monitor two.”
Head down, Jimmy raised a pudgy index finger. “Gimme a minute,” he said, running his hand through greasy black hair. “I’m counting tonight’s haul.” His thin lips moved as he thumbed through the greenbacks stacked in front of him.
“Count fast or you’re gonna miss it,” said Andy, a freckle-faced boy in a grease-stained shirt and cap. “Double vanilla shake shake shake!”
Jimmy’s head snapped upward and swiveled toward the monitor. Outside, a woman leaned toward a speaker. Above her, a security camera peeped into her driver’s side window. Inside the restaurant, monitor two displayed a low-cut black blouse that exposed the top half of two creamy mounds. A high voice with a hint of the South said, “A small fry, double cheeseburger and a diet coke, please.” As she spoke, the mounds undulated, briefly exposing large dark half circles.
“Whoa, baby,” said Jimmy, his eyes opening wide. “Double D vanilla shake! Ask her to repeat her order!” Eyes focused on the monitor, Jimmy mechanically scooped up the greenbacks and plopped them into a paper bag with yellow arches on it.
The woman spoke again, the mounds danced, and the dark circles slid into and out of view.
Jimmy licked his lips, then creased the top of the bag and folded it over. “Gimme that order,” he shouted. Bag tucked under his arm, he bolted toward the pick-up window, where a slim boy with long brown wavy hair was placing a burger and fries into a paper sack.
“That’s mine, Ricky me boy,” shouted Jimmy, his barrel chest quivering. “This order needs special handling!”
Ricky shrugged muscular shoulders. “You’re the boss,” he said, handing him the bag.
Bag and diet coke in hand, Jimmy sidled to the pick-up window. A red Ford Mustang slowly rolled forward until it was across from him. From his vantage point slightly above the car, Jimmy could see long blonde hair framing a heart-shaped face and a long, ivory neck. The bottom of the golden tresses swayed, gently caressing the tops of two freckled breasts
Jimmy licked his lips, leaned forward and peered into the car. “You’re the hundredth customer,” he said, “and, with our special promotion going on, that means your order is free!”
“This must be my lucky day,” said the blonde. She giggled, and her breasts jiggled independently.
“We need your name and cell number,” said Jimmy, handing her order though the open window. “C’mon in. We’ll click your pic to display in the lobby.”
“Well, isn’t that special?” said the blonde peering into one bag and then another. Her breath caught in her throat, and the fair skin on her neck reddened. “This truly is my lucky, lucky day,” she said, her voice turning husky. She placed the coke in a cup holder. “I’ll just park and be right in.” Her window hummed as it slowly rose, and then her car pulled away.
“Yes!” said Jimmy. He raised his fists above his head, pressed his lips tightly together and, stomach jiggling, wiggled his hips. Then he stopped, looked at Ricky and said, “Master at work.” He tapped Ricky’s chest with an index finger. “Gotta make it look official. Get me that Polaroid Snap digital camera. The one corporate gave us to take pics of Ronald Freakin’ McDonald when he was here last week. We got a wayyyy better use for it today!”
Andy glanced out the window as Ricky scurried away. “Um, Jimmy,” he said, “I don’t think you need that camera.”
“Whaddaya mean? Of course I need that camera. And I’m gonna get her to bend over somehow so we can take a picture of her—”
“I mean,” said Andy, “you don’t need the camera, ’cuz she just pulled outta the parking lot and drove south down Harlem Avenue.”
“Dammit,” said Jimmy stomping a foot. Then a smile slowly spread across his face.
“Hey, Ricky,” he shouted. “Forget the camera. Instead, replay the last couple of minutes on monitor two.”
Jimmy watched overhead as the digital footage began to rewind and play backwards in high speed. “Ricky,” he said, rubbing his hands slowly together, “slow it down and then play it forward so I can see that vanilla shake shake shake again.”
The smile on Jimmy’s face turned into a straight red gash as the grainy images rolled across the monitor. “Oh no,” he said. He stepped closer to the monitor. “No, no, no! I couldn’t have.”
He ran to his desk and rifled through the papers on it. “It’s not here!” he screamed. “Maybe it fell on the floor!”
Getting down on hands and knees, he circled the desk and then crawled under it, large bottom protruding. His next scream was muffled. “It’s not freakin’ here!”
Bottom first, he squirmed out from under the desk, cracking the back of his head loudly on the metal underside.
“Damn it!” he screamed. One hand cradling the back of his head he rolled onto his back, kicking his feet and flailing his arms in pain.
“Your Peter Griffin, Family Guy, impersonation gets better by the second,” Ricky said, proffering a hand. “Maybe you should go on The Tonight Show?”
Jimmy slapped the hand away, turned over and scrambled to his feet. His face was purple.
“What the heck is wrong?” said Ricky.
“Two freakin’ bags,” said Jimmy, rubbing the back of his head. “I gave her two freakin’ bags.”
Ricky glanced at Andy, who shrugged his shoulders. “So you gave her more than she ordered,” said Ricky. “You always do that with babes on point.”
“You idiot!” screamed Jimmy. “I gave her the bag with the night deposit.”
“The night deposit? You mean all the night’s money?”
“Most of it. There’s still some in the registers, but if I don’t get it back, we’re all gonna be in trouble.”
“All of us? Why? You gave the money away, not us.”
Jimmy aimed an index finger at Andy. “He’s in trouble, ’cuz he talked me into putting the night deposit into a food bag. And you’re in trouble ’cuz you’re a freakin’ smart mouth.”
Andy rubbed his face with a hand. “I only suggested it ’cuz we always did that when I worked at Burger King. When you hired me a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was safer than the way you were doing it. I never thought this would happen.”
“It was a stupid idea. I never shoulda listened to you.”
“Hey,” said Andy, “here’s another idea. She only has a couple minutes’ head start. Maybe you can chase her down and get the money back.”
Jimmy ran his fingers through his hair. “Okay, that one might not be so stupid,” he said. He glanced from Andy to Ricky and back again. “Here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m off in a couple minutes anyway. Andy, you watch the registers until the third shift manager comes in. She’s always late. Ricky, you got the fastest car. You’re driving. Let’s track vanilla shake down.” Jimmy raised an eyebrow. “And, if we’re lucky, we’ll find her, and I’ll get to frisk her for the money.”
* * *
“Told ya,” said Jimmy pointing at the trunk of a red Mustang angled into a parking space near a long, one-story frame building off Harlem Ave. A sign in a grimy window proclaimed: Tuesday/Ladies Night. Half off craft beers and Margaritas
Scribbling on a chalkboard near the front door to the bar said, Gave up Drinking Smoking and Sex. It was the worst five minutes of my life!
Jimmy rubbed his hands together gleefully. “Where’s the first place you’d go if you’d just scored five gee’s?”
“To the bank?” said Ricky.
“When did you get so stupid?” said Jimmy, narrowing his eyes. “You’d go to celebrate. C’mon, park this beast, and let’s check out that car.”
Ricky eased his car into a parking space around the corner and followed Jimmy into the night. A light rain was falling, and steam rose from the glistening blacktop. The sound of country music seeped out of the bar as the front door opened, and a couple scurried for their car. The smell of beer, cigarette smoke, and a sweeter vapor wafted past.
Ricky pulled the collar of his shirt up and slid his hands into his pockets. Jimmy’s rubber-soled shoes squeaked as he made his way to the car. Once there, he pressed his face against the driver’s side window, used a shirt sleeve to clear the rain, and stared inside.
“Look,” he said. “In the back seat, a paper bag that looks like one of ours. This was too easy.”
He grasped the door handle. Ricky leaned close and put a hand on Jimmy’s arm. “What are ya doin’?” he said. “You can’t break into someone’s car. This might not even be hers.”
“Of course it’s hers,” said Jimmy. “Red Mustang. Bag in the back. Ten minutes from work. And, we’re not breaking in. We’re just getting our money back. You’re such an old lady.” He yanked at the door. “Damn, it’s locked.”
“Good,” said Ricky. “I don’t like—”
“But this one isn’t,” said Jimmy. He tugged a back door handle, the door opened, and he slid inside the car. “Get in,” he hissed. “You’re too conspicuous standing out there in the rain.”
Ricky looked around, pressed his teeth into his lower lip and then joined Jimmy in the back seat.
He wrinkled his nose. “What’s that smell?” he said. “Like hair spray and, I don’t know, it smells like my grandma’s place.”
“You must have some kinda hot grandma then,” said Jimmy. “This is definitely vanilla shake shake’s car.”
Jimmy snatched the paper bag on the back seat and looked inside.
“That the money?” asked Ricky.
Jimmy reached into the bag and pulled out a plastic tube. He held it close to his eyes. Moonlight filtered through the back window of the car, casting half of his face in light and half in shadow.
“What the...” he said. “It’s hemorrhoid cream. This ain’t our bag.” He reached into the sack again and retrieved two more items. Palm open, he held them toward Ricky.
“Blue hair rinse and denture cream?”
Ricky rolled his eyes. “Jimmy,” he said. “this ain’t the right car.”
“Wait,” said Jimmy, “there’s one more thing in here.” He removed a small square box.
“Okay,” said Ricky, “now it’s getting scary. Let’s get out of here.”
Copyright © 2016 by Rick Jankowski