In The BagOctober 23, 2018
It’s the third time this month Andrew has stopped me. “Anastasia.” He puffs my name out with with a volcanic sigh. I keep walking. I’m not having it tonight. I need to get home to my boys. Andrew calls out my name again in a tone which foghorns the trouble he supposes I’m in. I halt, watching his reflection in the automatic door, and turn before he can touch me.
I offer him a smile which hurts my face. His face, which must ache him, stays neutral. “What’s in the bag, Ana?”
Don’t use “Ana” with me. “What do you want?”
He builds a sigh in that cavernous chest, but decides against a release. Thank God, his halitosis would bowl me over and roll me out the doors.
“You know …” I check his name badge as if I can’t recall his name. “Andrew … I’m absolutely sick of this. How many times are you going to check my bag this month?”
“It’s just procedure. That’s all. Stock checks have shown things going missing.”
“And you think it’s me? Have you checked anyone else?”
His face moves into first gear because he hasn’t.
“I need to get home to my boys and the babysitter. It’s late and I never see them as it is.”
“I know it’s tough on the graveyard shift, Mr Reniard understands how tough –”
“Let’s go to his office, shall we? I’m done with this harassment. I work my ass off for that man and this is all the thanks I get.”
“Anastasia … just show me what’s in the bag, and you can go. It’s simple.”
“No, let’s go to the office.”
Andrew shakes his head but shrugs his shoulders. Ass. He’s going through with this. I demand he takes the stairs first. Don’t want him looking up my skirt. I hug the bag tight, so he doesn’t get any ideas about planting his big hairy paws on it.
Mr Reinard, a great big bean bag of a man, is squeezed beneath the armrests of his leather chair. It’s like I’m trapped in a bus depot between these two. There’s a sheen on his forehead. The exercise from his fidgeting must have busted open his pores. Or he hates confrontation. His eyes flitter here and there. I zone in on those eyes, ready to lock.
“Anastasia, it’s just a procedure –”
“My ass. This is the third time, and big boy over here has just admitted he never checks out anyone else.”
“I never said such a thing –”
Bean Bag pats the air to calm his man down. “Look, I know times are hard for you right now, what with two strapping boys and paying babysitters.”
“I get family members to babysit. I spend my day phoning sisters, brothers, cousins, ma, and pa, to persuade and cajole them to come and help me out. It takes it out of me, it really does. What would help, is if you gave me the day shifts, which you don’t want me to have. Which is making me wonder – why don’t you want to do that? And why do you work so damn late?”
“Please, language. Nobody is accusing you – you just need to open your bag, and we’re on our way.”
The bag weighs heavy on my shoulder and cold against my belly. I’m hungry and could do with a cigarette. The strip light buzzes and lazers wrinkles round the edges of my eyes from how it makes me squint.
And then I notice, in the glass cabinet behind Bean Bag, his monitor reflect my frame – frozen in the act of shoving a massive pork joint into the very bag which weighs me down now. I always threatened to head for Bean Bag’s office, because I’d never stolen a damn thing. They relented because they had no proof. This time, I thought why not? The bastards throw accusations like confetti and always back down at my anger. All I wanted was a little respect. They never offered any, so fuck them. Me and my boys could profit this once off their attitude.
Bean Bag notices the direction of my glare. Checks his shoulder and raises an eyebrow. I know the connotations in that arch. I hear the door click behind me and tense right up that these guys are about to chain me in a golden bikini.
“Ana,” says Bean Bag, with a tongue right on the cusp of a lip. “We can make this work out.”
I unzip the bag and pull down the edges of the bag like he would imagine I pull down the pants over his ass. The pork joint glistens in the room’s heat in competition with the boss’ forehead. Jabba shuffles right behind me. The acid tang in his breath makes me work hard to control that heave.
“We can do it here, easy.” He nods at the pork. “Forget this ever happened.”
My face melts into relief. I bend forwards, my ass touching the big man’s leg behind me, and hold the end of the joint as if I’m jerking it off. As both glare, mesmerized, I raise it high, swing, and cave in the Security Guard’s left cheek. He staggers and folds into the wall. I smash the bridge of his nose to make sure he stays down and turn to Bean Bag. His face has melted at the chaos he’s caused. His hands are spread-eagled on his desk. I play whackamole with both, rip the tape from the old security camera, grab another joint from the freezer section, and head home to my boys with my self-respect intact and his howls music to my ears. We’ll eat well this weekend.by