Karine would need to remember to bring her winter coat to work for days like this. It seemed she’d told herself as much last time she’d helped with inventory, but here she was again, freezing her ass off in the giant freezer at the back of the store, checking flavours off on an ipad while Jeremy called out numbers.
Finally she couldn’t take it anymore and asked to take a quick break just to warm up for a second. Jeremy happily agreed and followed her outside, where she lit up a cigarette. She knew he didn’t smoke but offered it to him anyway, because it was awkward to be standing there with him and not acknowledge his presence.
“No thanks,” he smiled. “Listen, Karine, I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh?” she asked, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t ask her out or something.
“I was thinking of hiring an assistant manager.”
“I want to hire in house.”
“If you want the job, it’s yours.”
“Even though Janice has been here longer than me?”
“Janice doesn’t have your work ethic,” he said with a roll of his eyes.
“Yeah but, Jeremy, I only work here three months out of the year. I’m going back to school in September. At Concordia. So like, downtown. Doesn’t it make more sense to hire someone who’d be more permanent?”
“Well it’s an ice-cream shop,” he shrugged. “We’re only open half the year anyway and it’s something that can be done on a part-time basis even during peak season. It really just means more paperwork and less actual scooping of ice-cream.”
Karine regarded her manager and wondered if this was some sort of strategy to get into her pants. Did he just want her to be in the office with him more often or was this a legitimate offer?
“I don’t know if you know this, Karine, but this isn’t the only place I work. In the winter I sell hot-chocolate at some outdoor rinks and I manage a Dairy Queen as well, and that’s a full year gig. What I really need is an assistant to help me keep track of all these ventures.”
“Well, so then…” Karine stammered, not sure what he was getting at. “Is it a job to be your assistant, like in general or just for like, the Bonne Glace?”
“Well I suppose it depends on your interest,” he admitted. “At the very least I need someone to help me with paperwork here. Why don’t we start with that and if it goes well then you could be promoted to my personal assistant, and you’d help out at all my sites.”
Personal assistant? Karine stamped out her cigarette and looked at Jeremy. He wasn’t much older than her, late-twenties probably. He still had acne and greasy hair. If he was trying to get into her pants, he certainly wouldn’t have the confidence to be direct about it so this job offer might be the way he’d do it. But then again, if he really did manage a Dairy Queen, well that was a real job. Fuck it. Karine decided to simply ask what was on her mind.
“Jeremy, are you just offering me this job because you have a thing for me?”
He blinked, stunned. “Excuse me?”
“Well, I know you have a crush on me. Everyone knows. I mean, I guess I’m a good worker, but am I really better than Janice, or Sarah? Why are you offering me this if not to like, keep me around, for non-work reasons? I mean you know that I’m going to school downtown next year. Why offer me a permanent job in the West Island?”
She expected him to blush and apologize or something but instead he chuckled and looked at her with what seemed to be pity. “Karine, you’re going to drama school. I mean, that’s fantastic. I fully support you in following your dream. But, I mean, no offense, no one makes it as an actress in the real world. One in a million maybe. I’m offering you stability. And yes, you are a better employee than Janice, and even Sarah. Janice is a flake and Sarah has plans to be a scientist. But you’re an actress, which means you’ll always need a real job, and that’s what I’m offering. If you don’t want the job, that’s fine, but no, I’m not offering it to you because of some crush. You’re a lovely girl, Karine, but I’m your boss, not your suitor.”
Heat rose up in Karine’s belly as she felt the wave of humiliation wash over her. She steadied herself and laughed, forcing herself to act like she wasn’t offended. Like it was no big deal. “Ok, fair enough,” she said. “I guess I’ll take the job. For like, the Bonne Glace to start.”
He smiled and shook her hand and they went back to the freezer to finish the inventory. Her hands shook as she picked up the ipad. Fucking hell! She couldn’t believe this little pip-squeak had just served her so hardcore. How could she keep working here now? But he was acting like everything was fine, like he hadn’t just informed her that she was sure to be a failure at life and that the best she’d ever do was to be an assistant manager to some douchey kid with patchy stubble.
They finished the inventory and catalogued all their stupid ice-cream flavours and cones and sprinkles and napkins and straws and sugar packets and coffee and all the rest of the stupid bullshit they sold at this stupid fucking store. She followed Jeremy into his tiny office and sat down as he drew out some paperwork, happily announcing that she’d get a raise, and explaining that she’d need to learn this excel sheet he’d devised, which they could go over the next day.
She wasn’t crazy, was she? He was into her. Wasn’t he? Everyone said so. Or maybe everyone was just Janice. And Janice thought everyone wanted to fuck everyone. But Jeremy had totally checked her out before. He often got tongue-tied around her, especially when she wore sexy outfits. She knew he was into her, she just knew it.
They rose from the desk and shook hands again, and Karine held on to his palm, even though it was kind of sweaty. She stepped closer to him and looked into his eyes. He looked back and swallowed, eyes unblinking. Yeah, he was into her. For sure.
“Thanks for this opportunity, Jeremy,” she smiled.
“Yes, um,” he cleared his throat. “Of course. You deserve it.”
She leaned in towards him and parted her lips, as though she was about to kiss him. Sure enough, he leaned in towards her and parted his lips, drawing in a breath and closing his eyes.
“Ok bye!” she said, letting go of his hand and turning around, getting out of his office in one step. “See ya tomorrow!”
“Uhh, yes,” he coughed, patting down his tie and looking down at his desk, adjusting the stapler. He looked up at her, embarrassed. “See you tomorrow.”
She winked at him and sauntered off, not sure what she’d just accomplished, but feeling better than she had half an hour ago.
It was a secret mission, James Bond style. Jay hid behind a bush on his front lawn while Karl stood behind a tree and Vani flattened himself against the side of the house. The target appeared, incognito in sunglasses and a fedora, though still unmistakably Willy due to his girth and unavoidable sweat stains covering his shirt. He sauntered past the house, whistling, passing by and then turning around, rushing up to the front door. Jay and the guys pounced, descending upon him in a rush, pushing him into Jay’s house as quickly as possible.
“I don’t think I was spotted!” said Willy as he panted.
“Cerise might have been watching!” warned Jay.
“Cerise is at work,” Willy replied.
“So now you’re stalking her? Man, that girl just can’t get a break,” snickered Karl.
“Hoohoo!” sang Vani. “This is so awesome. So fun to have to be all clandestine and shit. Like a mission in the game except real.”
“Whoa, I think Vani just admitted that his one true love is larping,” laughed Jay.
“Don’t act like you’re not enjoying it,” scoffed Vani.
“Vani’s a larper, Vani’s a larper,” chanted Jay.
“Larper, larper, Vani’s a larper,” Willy and Karl joined in.
Vani danced a jig as they sang. “I am the larping king!”
Karine felt weird about going to work the next day, not sure if things would be completely awkward with Jeremy, but he acted like nothing had ever happened. He didn’t even mention her supposed new position as assistant manager. She just scooped ice-cream like any other day and waited for him to approach her, which he finally did in the late afternoon, even though this was their busy time. He told her to come to his office and Janice snickered as Karine went.
“Sorry it’s so crowded in here,” he said, turning his laptop so Karine could see the screen. He delved right into his excel sheet, which wasn’t nearly as complicated as he’d made it out to be. Karine took notes anyway, to make it seem like she gave a shit. In truth she was thinking about her party that night and for a split second she considered inviting Jeremy, just as a goof, but she regained her senses as he droned on about various ice-cream suppliers and how there was like, this war between these two suppliers and it was good ‘cause competition was always healthy in a free market or whatever. Oh god, was she totally gonna become like an expert on ice-cream now, without even trying? Once the summer was over, she’d never work here again. She couldn’t let herself get sucked into retail. She had to stay focused on her real goals. Even though Jeremy had shit all over her, she knew she could make it as an actress. If not her, then who? Besides, what did he know? He was just the manager of a fucking Dairy Queen. Who cared what he thought?
“Happy birthday, babe,” said Terry, wrapping his arms around Karine.
It was hilarious that she was late to her own birthday party but apparently she’d gotten some kind of promotion at work so she’d had to stay a bit late to do paperwork or whatever. She’d lent her keys to Terry and he and Vani had gone to her place to set things up before the party got started. Karine still showed up way before anyone else, but still, it was kind of funny.
The others poured in a few hours later and by 10 it was like any other party at Karine’s house; full of friends and even more packed with a bunch of randos. Terry must be getting old because he was finding this collection of misfits more stressful than usual. He kept thinking about all the work it would take to clean up the next day.
He sauntered into the living room, where Vani was drinking, dancing and singing along to a song Terry had never even heard before. Everyone was laughing and clapping and chanting his name. Jesus fuck, when had Vani Ameeriar become cooler than Terry? This was fucking insane. He really needed to get his shit together. He took another swig of beer and joined Vani on the dance floor, mimicking his ridiculous moves. Soon everyone was doing this weird robot, chicken dance thing.
“Man, I’m so awesome. Did you guys see me out there? I was rocking it. People love me!”
Jay wanted to vomit. Vani was always so proud of himself whenever he interacted with regular people. Like he thought they were actually laughing with him and not at him. Like Terry Trebimockingsky had mimicked his dance ‘cause he thought it was cool and not because he thought it was the most retarded thing ever.
“So has Operation Rooster Crow commenced?” Vani went on.
“We never agreed to call it Operation Rooster Crow,” objected Jay.
“Yeah, I thought we’d agreed on Operation Problem Ownage, or OPO for short,” nodded Karl.
“Yeah, ‘cause it’s fun to say OPO,” agreed Jay.
“Right, right,” nodded Vani. “Althought ORC is pretty fun to say too. Plus you know, orcs are cool.”
“Right but we didn’t want to associate the Williamsburg bridge with an orc, ‘cause you know, even though they’re both villains, the Williamsburg bridge is you know, a piece of shit and the orcs were the only thing worth seeing in the Hobbit, part one of four billion,” stated Karl.
“Mmmm, mmm, mmm, correct, correct. Right you are,” agreed Vani. “So you saw me shaking my groove thang, right? Pretty awesome, right?”
“Yes Vani,” sighed Karl with a smirk. “Your dancing abilities have no equal on this Earth.”
Cerise followed Cassie and Sarah to the kitchen, where they got beers and she made herself a Shirley Temple with the gingerale and massive bottle of grenadine she found in the fridge. Then they made their way to the living room and joined Terry and Karine in mid-conversation.
“He’s coming later,” said Terry. “With that Jordan guy.”
“Ooooh!” sang Karine. She turned to face the girls. “We’re talking about Nick. He’s bringing that Jordan guy.”
“I thought he wasn’t that into him,” mused Sarah.
“Better than nothing I guess,” shrugged Karine.
“Speaking of worse than nothing,” snickered Cassie. “I don’t see Janice here tonight. Is she coming?”
“I doubt it,” shrugged Karine. “We had words.”
“Why, what’s wrong?” asked Cerise.
“Hello? She was all macking on Terry and shit,” explained Karine.
Terry chuckled. “So? You’re still hanging out with me.”
“Whatever, you’re not in this conversation,” said Karine, pushing her hand into Terry’s face. He chuckled and shrugged, then sipped on his beer and kept listening.
“Well usually Janice has pot. Does anyone else have any?” asked Cassie.
“Since when are you such a massive pot-head?” asked Cerise.
“I’m not, I dunno,” she shrugged. “Just in the mood tonight.”
“I’m sure someone has some,” said Karine. “Just go outside, I’m sure someone out there is smoking up. Hey, remember David Pyeng? He was hilarious.”
“I hooked up with him once,” giggled Sarah. “I mean, just a bj, nothing serious.”
Cerise chose not to voice her reaction to that off-handed comment. Since when was something like oral sex nothing serious? She really did feel like a prude compared to all her friends. No wonder Terry didn’t want her anymore.
He announced he was getting another beer and asked if any of them wanted one. They all said yes, except Cerise so he nodded and walked off.
With the buzz on their phones indicating the time was nigh, Jay and the guys abruptly ended their conversation, which was good timing since Terry Trebiproblygonnaruinitallsky walked by at just that moment, going to the kitchen to no doubt eat all the food of the universe since he was constantly trying to make himself the bulkiest of all the Neanderthals in the land. Vani saluted him as he went and Terry Trebisarcasticsky saluted back in jest, then glared at Jay for no discernible reason. What a tool.
“Onwards,” commanded Karl, casually opening the front door.
They all slipped outside as nonchalantly as possible.
“Ah, what a fine evening,” said Vani loudly. “Perchance we should partake of the mary-jane, as its fragrance is in full bloom tonight.”
“Stay on target, Vanier college,” instructed Karl, or Karla Homolka, as was his completely uncrackable code name.
“Indeed, target locked,” said Jay Peak resort, dropping to the ground and doing a somersault into a nearby bush.
Karl and Vani followed suit and soon they were all crouched around the bush, looking around suspiciously, making sure no one was on to them.
“Uh, hey guys,” said Nick as he walked by with the gayest guy who’d ever lived, decked out in rainbow suspenders covering a pink t-shirt with a unicorn on it, cuffed acid washed jeans and penny loafers with actual pennies in them.
“Holy shit, I wish I’d thought of that outfit,” cooed Vani, staring up at the guy in awe.
“Why thank you good sir,” smiled the guy, bowing and tipping an invisible top hat. The outfit could only be better if he had an actual top hat.
“Yeah, that outfit could only be better if you had an actual top hat,” Jay decided to say out loud as Vani leaned down over the guy’s shoe and inspected the pennies within.
“1985!” he announced. “Authentic!”
“I do my best,” giggled the guy, smiling at Nick, who seemed a tad embarrassed by that exchange.
“Is that Willy?” asked Nick, leaning over to peer into the bush.
“No!” hollered Vani, Karl and Jay at the same time, still crouched down by the bush. They all shifted slightly to obscure Nick and unicorn guy’s view.
“Why would Willy be here?” asked Karl, standing up.
“Yeah, I mean, try to keep up, Nick, Willy’s been expulsed,” nodded Vani, leaning into the bush, which caused it to yelp slightly.
Jay nudged it violently and smiled up at Nick and his beau. “Yeah, Willy’s a fucking ‘tard and everyone hates him so he’s not here.”
“Fuck you, asshole,” said the bush.
Nick chuckled and shook his head. “Right, well, I’d introduce you guys but there’s no point.”
“Well, nice not meeting you,” said the unicorn, waving his fingers as he followed Nick into the house.
“Holy fucking fuck,” said Willy, popping up from within the bush. “That guy could not be gayer if he had like, a thousand dicks in his mouth!”
“Still less gay than you, sperm-breath,” scowled Karl. “I can’t believe you were so fucking indiscreet.”
“Seriously, what if Nick tells Terry you’re here?” asked Vani. “You might’ve just blown it!”
“Of course he blew it!” said Karl.
“I’ll blow you!” Willy countered. “No wait…”
They all burst into laughter. “See, you’re even gayer than the unicorn kid,” said Jay as he tried to catch his breath.
“I mean you’ll blow me! You can blow me!” sputtered Willy.
“Sometimes you just make it so easy,” laughed Karl. “Fuck, I guess that’s why we keep you around.”