“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 8 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 8

Chapter Four

1.

Jimmy had stuffed yesterday’s “incident’ in the back of his mind the best he could. For all he knew, it could have been nothing except confusion on his part. Maybe he had, in fact, said something to the trucker without realizing it. After Dalton’s betrayal, he was angry and frustrated, and it made sense that he might try to instigate a physical confrontation as a result.

For the most part, it was another day at the office, and, by office, he, of course, meant the entire supermarket. The freight to run was light and doable, and they had enough crew members on their shift that they would not run into too much conflict. This was a stark departure from the usual skeleton crew they had become accustomed to.

Jimmy started his day off by running several pallets of housewares. Most of them went up fast; ones comprises mostly of plastic totes or microwaves were straightforward and easy enough. Others were more time consuming. The pallets of nothing but candles and lamps that had been mummified with plastic wrap before delivery by the vendors made for a longer, more extensive commitment. The worst was when you found a box that had already been opened prior, only to discover a shattered jar of “lavender medley” that a prior shift had left as a little surprise for them.

That stood no match against him tonight though, and they, like the rest, were dealt away with, leaving him with nothing to do except wander the store in search of his next task.

This was one of the more peaceful moments on his shift, one of the moments that did not happen very often. All the nights when time was of the essence, and, here he was able, able to walk around one side of the store to the next, then, once that was accomplished, if he wanted to, he was free to do it again.

No doubt, if he looked hard enough, he would be able to find one thing or another to do, but his tasks had been completed and he was, thereby, in no one’s debt. “Hey, Jim, want to help me spruce up cereal?”

Unfortunately, his manager Joe believed otherwise.

Sure,” Jimmy replied, joining him in the aisle with a feigned smile in spite of his own misfortune.

I tell you what, Mr. Jim, we don’t get many days like this, I tell you that much,” Joe explained to him.

Joe was a nice guy. He was an older gentleman, but not yet too far over the hill, with a bald head and the quirk of calling Jimmy ‘Mr. Jim’.

It is a nice change of pace,” Jimmy agreed, not really knowing what else to say about it. “Did you that White Fox match Tuesday?”

Yeah, I did. It was not a bad match. I don’t like the White Foxes though, no, not one bit, a bunch of whiny types, and I mean, come on, it’s soccer, man up, you know?” Joe explained.

The one shortcoming Joe may have had was that he tended to participate in full body conversation. As in, when he talked, he did nothing productive while he talked.

Jimmy smiled and nodded in response to him. In truth, he, himself, had not seen the White Foxes match nor had he seen any match in the last five years, for that matter. But he knew Joe was a sports fan and took the ball and ran with it.

You know, that Greg Palmer, that is a strong guy, you know about Greg Palmer? The man broke his ankle in three different places and still made it in the very next season. I tell you what, in a game where footwork is as important as it is in soccer, they should double his points for every score the man is able to land,” Joe said, and, as he spoke, Jimmy could not help but notice he was once more refraining from the task he was supposed to be ‘helping him with’.

Jimmy let it be and turned his back to Joe as he continued organizing the cereal boxes on the shelves.

Maybe you should stop talking and get your ass back to work!” A voice commanded.

Jimmy rested his head down against a box of corn flakes, knowing he had not said it, but also feeling the warmth in his throat.

Sir, I am so sorry about that,” Jimmy replied shortly after, looking over to Joe, expecting the worst.

Joe looked at him with an awestruck expression, but it was not entirely clear to Jimmy where that expression landed. Then, Joe became serious for a second, speaking with a somber cadence in his inflection, “Is it because of what I said about the White Foxes?”

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