by Brandon James Anderson
(Note: The following is a non-qualifying example entry for our Third Annual Dickens Christmas Contest by one of our Senior Editors. View the guidelines and enter by Friday, December 18, and you could win a handsome Christmas present from Michiganders Post.)
“Hold your noise!” cried Reginald, as a man started up from among the depths of the decaying bushes at the side of the drive-thru window.
Hold your noise? Reginald thought, instantly questioning why and how such words came out of his mouth at the sight of a teenager in a Robin costume grabbing the brown paper bag filled with various low-end food items he was attempting to hand to the driver of a late 90’s Chevy Monte Carlo. What should have been a face of anger gave way to one of surprise and embarrassment as Reginald saw the driver of the car laughing. The passenger, also a teenager, appeared to be filming him.
It was that, the sight of the mop-headed passenger smirking as he held an iPhone, that made Reginald realize what this was. A prank, styled after numerous other pranks of people running by, seemingly out of nowhere, and snatching the bag being transferred between fast food employee and patron. This one too, no doubt, would find its way on YouTube, likely in a matter of minutes.
“Go!” Reginald shouted, fuming at the thought of being made the butt of this joke. The sound of further laughter and cackling could be heard as the Monte Carlo drove away. Reginald shook his head, more at the thought of having yelled something so absurd and arbitrary than at the incident itself.
“Wow,” uttered Bridgett, Reginald’s assistant manager. Reginald turned around to see her staring at the drive thru window. Bridgett had ascended the ranks of this Arby’s location, the second of two in town—this one being the one located just off the freeway—in little less than two years. A college student, she had begun working at the restaurant in high school, working part-time three days a week. It was far from a job she wanted, but it was one she kept to appease her parents and to make the needed money for her car payment. More importantly, she was damn good at the job.
In these respects, she reminded Reginald of himself and his own journey into management. Now, at 29 years of age, he has more and more thought of himself as stuck. He had climbed a ladder, yes, but from its summit, it had become clear it was not all that tall to begin with.
“What was that?” Bridgett asked out loud, to no one in particular, though it was only she and Reginald working the front counter.
Uninterested in conversation, Reginald shrugged. “It happens.”
There was less than an hour until the store closed and Reginald resigned himself to spend that time in the manager’s office. He allowed Bridgett to begin shutting things down early and then stayed a few minutes after she and the lone kitchen employee left at 11:00.
Low on fuel and the requisite Coors Light needed for his nightcap, Reginald stopped on his way home at the gas station across the road from his apartment complex. It was there that he saw a Monte Carlo, the Monte Carlo, parked to the left of a fuel pump #4. As he approached, he saw three heads inside the car. But it was the one pumping gas—the one in green tights and red shirt—that caught his attention.
Slowing his pace, Reginald watched as the Boy Wonder, his back turned, tapped his foot, presumably to the music being played from the car. Without much thought, or any hesitation, Reginald’s shoulders arched as his palms faced outward and, with fairly little might, pushed forward, striking the teenager’s back, causing his legs to trip over the rubber hosing of the gas pump.