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by Brammy
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Young Adult · #2104127
Introducing Robbie Mullens - a 24 year old supermarket employee.
         Memorial Day was hot and humid. The temperature was ninety and it was only 1:00PM. Twenty-four year old Robbie Mullens was standing on his back deck. He was 6 feet tall with short brown hair and blue eyes. He was a muscular 185 pounds. On a table was his laptop with two speakers connected to it. Spanish hip-hop music blasted through the speakers. He was wearing blue swim trunks with red stripes, a New York Yankees hat, and sunglasses with blue lenses.He had a diamond stud earring in each ear. Below the deck was a large in-ground pool that had several friends and co-workers in it. Several more people lounged in chairs that surround the pool. His best friend from high school and former coworker Greg Peterson, who was back in Connecticut to visit Robbie was manning the grill - checking on the hamburgers and hotdogs.
         Greg was the same height as Robbie, but had a different build. He wasn't thin, but he wasn't fat either. He wore blue jeans, white sneakers, and a white apron with the words Kiss the Cook printed on the front of it. His hair was shaved off.

"Greg, are the burgers ready?" Robbie called down.
"About five more minutes."
"Five minutes? Bitch, if they come out like hockey pucks, I'm going to come down there and shove you into the pool."
"Bring it on Robbie."

         Never one to back down from a challenge - especially one from his best friend, Robbie ran down the stairs to where Greg was standing. They begin pushing and shoving each other and Robbie landed in the pool with a splash.

"Who's the bitch now Robbie?"

         Robbie made his way over to the ladder and climbed out of the pool. He walked dripping wet back up the stairs to the deck. The music had stopped playing. Robbie reached down beneath the table and grabbed a towel. He dried himself off and kept the towel draped over his shoulders.

"Burgers are done now, Robbie," called Greg.
"Fuck you, Greg." He flipped him the bird.

         Robbie went over to the laptop and got the music going again. A disco song began playing. Everyone lined up at the grill holding a paper plate.

"Look at all the fucking freeloaders," Robbie thought to himself. "I told everyone to bring food to share and no one did."

         Robbie went inside. He took a bowl, bag of weed, and a lighter out of a drawer near the sliding glass door. Back outside he sat on a chair and poured the weed into the bowl and lit it. He takes a hit and coughs a couple times. He takes a second hit and coughs again.
         Kayla Reynolds climbs the stairs. She was 5ft 6, 115 pounds, and had black hair. She wore a teal colored two piece bathing suit. She carried a paper plate with a half eaten cheeseburger and a hotdog on it. She sat down next to Robbie.

"Hey handsome. I brought you a hotdog." She picked up her burger and handed the paper plate with the hotdog to Robbie.
"Thanks, babe, " said Robbie. He put the bowl on the table next to the laptop and takes a bite of hotdog.
"What's with you and Greg?"
"He gave me bad news last night."
"What's that babe?"
"Corporate is shutting down our store in July. Greg and I already decided not to take a transfer. We did eight years with the company and neither of us think there's a future with the company." He takes another bite of hotdog.
"What about me?"
"It's totally up to you, sexy. Sure it will suck not working together anymore, but we'll make it work."
"I hope so. You're my special guy. When are they planning on telling us?"
"They'll let the Connecticut stores know on Tuesday. Greg found out about his store - Bedford, New Hampshire yesterday. Providence and Pawcatuck, Rhode Island are getting axed along with Bristol and Shelton, Connecticut. That's in addition to the numerous locations they closed over the past few years. Five others in Connecticut and several others in Mass."
"I forgot about those closings. Now I understand why you and Greg see no future with the company."

         Robbie finishes his hotdog. He wipes his hands on his swim trunks. He begins rubbing Kayla's shoulders.

"Oh Robbie, that feels wonderful."

         Two and a half months pass. Robbie and Greg sit on a leather couch in Robbie's man cave. Robbie drinks from a 22 ounce bottle of Heineken beer. He wears a Yankees hat and blue jeans. Greg drinks from a bottle of Coke. He wears khaki shorts, a Yankees T-shirt, and flip-flops.

"I can't believe she's gone. It's my fault," said Robbie, tearfully.
"It's not your fault. You couldn't have possibly known that was going to happen."
"She asked me to come with her. I said Sorry, babe. Greg and I are going to the amusement park. Next time I'll go with you."
"You've got to stop beating yourself up over this. It wasn't your fault."

         Kayla and her younger sister had been driving to Yankee Candle in Deerfield Mass, when a tractor trailer hit her car and sent it into a concrete barrier killing both Kayla and her sister.

"She was pregnant," said Robbie in a whisper.
"What?"
"She was three months pregnant with our baby. A son. Robbie Junior." He began crying again.
"Oh man Robbie! I am so sorry! I didn't know!" Greg patted Robbie on his head.
"No one knew," said Robbie in-between tears. "We were going to tell her parents tonight and our friends tomorrow." He was still crying.
"It's going to be okay. I promise you. We've been best friends since ninth grade. I'm there for you."
"Thanks Greg."

         Robbie stops crying and gets up. He takes his shirt off the recliner and blows his nose and wiped his tears. He then tosses it into the laundry basket.

"I thought at twenty-four my life was perfect. A new job starting next month thanks to you. A beautiful girlfriend and a son on the way."

         Greg just nodded. He had a sad expression on his face. He felt really bad for his long time friend.

          A month later Robbie is at his new job. He's the Head Customer Service Manager at The Marketplace Supermarket - a new store that had opened in New Britain. The store had been open for three days. Robbie stood in the main aisle and was dressed in jeans, a light blue T-Shirt with the store's name printed on it, his name tag, and work boots. He had a diamond stud earring in each ear. Ryan Burton, one of the Assistant Customer Service Managers stood near Robbie. It was the first day they had worked together. Ryan was 5 foot 9 and 160 pounds. In addition to his work shirt Ryan was dressed in Khaki pants and blue sneakers.Robbie introduces himself.

"I'm Robbie Mullens," said Robbie as he held out his hand.
"I'm Ryan Burton." He shook hands with Robbie.
"Nice to meet you, Ryan. I worked at Shaw's in Bristol for eight years."
"I did five years at Shaw's. Three were in this building. After they closed this store I got transferred to the Berlin Turnpike store."
"What made you leave Shaw's?"
"I don't think the company will be around much longer."
"I thought the same thing. As did Greg the store manager. We've been friends since high school. He became the Assistant Manager in Southington for nine months before they closed and wound up in Bedford, New Hampshire. Corporate wanted me to take the Management training classes too, but I don't want to be in Upper Management."
"Neither do I."
"You like sports?"
"Yankees baseball and Giants football."
"Cool. Maybe we can catch a game on TV sometime."
"Sounds good."

         Robbie walks over to the podium and picks up the clipboard that has the schedule on it and walks back to where Ryan is standing.

"Who's Kyle Burton?"
"My twin brother."
"That's cool. I'm an only child. I'm going to take my fifteen minute break right now."

         Robbie hands the clipboard to Ryan and walks out of the store to the parking lot. He walks to his SUV - a black Chevy Trailblazer, gets in, opens the windows, and turns the stereo to the Hip-hop station. He takes a bowl, bag of weed, and lighter out of the center console. He pours the weed into the bowl, lights it, and takes a hit. He coughs. He repeats this three more times for a total of four hits. Then he puts the bowl back in the center console. He turns off the stereo, closes the windows, and gets out of the SUV. As he walks back to the store he puts a couple drops of Visine in each of his eyes.

         Back inside the store it is crowded. Ten of the fifteen registers are open. (Two of them being Express Registers). All of them had long lines. Ryan was trying to direct customers to the shortest lines. Robbie walked over to Ryan.

"Do we have any more cashiers?"
"No. We're short staffed."
"All right. We're both going to have to ring. Go on Register twelve. I'm going to page Greg to watch the front. Evelyn go mainline!"

         Ryan goes to register twelve. Robbie went to the phone and pressed the page button.

"Greg Peterson to the Front End please. Greg Peterson to the Front End."

         Robbie hung up the phone and Evelyn's Fifteen Item or Less light went off. Greg came to the front.

"Greg, I need you to watch the Front End. Ryan and I both have to ring."
"Sure, Robbie."

         Robbie walked to Register ten. He turned on the light.

"Register Ten is open, no waiting!" he calls loudly.

         After waiting on customers for twenty-five minutes, it slowed down enough where Robbie was able to get off the register. He walks over to Greg.

"Thanks, Greg. I'm good now. I'll keep Ryan on register for now."
"Okay Robbie. Page me again if you need me."

         At 2:30 Lisa Loveland arrived. She was another Assistant Customer Service Manager. She was in her mid thirties and had long curly brown hair.

"Lisa, we are short staffed and busy. I'm here for another hour and Ryan is here til Five. I've had him on register but he needs his lunch break."
"Okay, Robbie. Ryan, shut your light off and take your lunch."

          Ryan's light went off. Lisa stood in the main aisle. Robbie remained at the podium. Soon Ryan clocked out at the time clock.

"Wanna go outside Ryan?"
"I guess."

         Ryan followed Robbie out to the parking lot. They get into Robbie's SUV. He opens the windows and turns up the stereo.

"What's going on Robbie?"
"Do you want to chill tonight?"
"Yeah. I've got nothing going on. My brother is working."

         Robbie takes his bowl, a bag of weed, and a lighter out of the center console. He pours the weed into the bowl and lit it. He takes a hit and then coughs.

"Great."
"I just gotta text Kyle and let him know I won't be coming home."
"Take care of business, man."

         Robbie takes a second hit and coughs again. He takes a third and coughs, while Ryan takes out his cellphone and texts Kyle.

"You want a hit, Ryan?"
"Thanks, man."

         Robbie passes Ryan the bowl and he takes a hit and coughs. He takes a second hit and coughs again. He passes it back to Robbie, who takes a fourth hit. He coughs.

"Do you like working here?" asks Robbie. He takes a fifth hit, coughs, and puts the bowl back in the center console.
"It's been three days, but so far I like it. Everyone seems friendly and nice."
"I agree and it takes my mind off things."
"What things?"
"Never mind. I shouldn't have brought it up."
"Come on Robbie. You can tell me. I won't judge you."
"Alright. Last month my girlfriend was killed in a car crash."
"Oh wow. I'm sorry to hear that."

         Robbie closes the windows and turns the stereo off. The two coworkers get out of the SUV and begin to walk across the parking lot to the store. Robbie put a couple drops of Visine in each of his eyes.

"Do you want any Visine?"
"Nah. I'm good."

         Back inside the store Ryan clocks back in. Robbie goes in his office and sits down in front of the computer. Ryan walks over to Lisa.

"Where do you want me?"
"Back on register twelve."

         Soon it was 3:30 and Robbie came out of his office. He clocked out at the time clock and took off his T-shirt, revealing a wife beater and muscular arms. He walked by register twelve.

"Ryan, I'll be back to pick you up at five."
"See you then, man."

         Robbie walked outside and puts his work shirt into his SUV. He takes out his Yankees hat and puts it on at a slight angle. He then walks over to the Dunkin' Donuts and goes inside.

"Hey Robbie!" says the attractive blonde behind the counter. She's five foot, four with blonde hair and a slender figure.
"Helena Kasperian! How are you?"
"I'm good Robbie. Sorry to hear about Kayla and missing the wake and funeral. Jackson and I were on a Caribbean Cruise."
"It's alright."
"What brings you to this neighborhood?"
"I work at the new supermarket. Are you still with Shaw's?"
"Yeah. I'm at the Berlin Turnpike store now. This however is my full time gig."
"That's great. Let me have a large Strawberry Coolota - no whipped cream."
"Sure Robbie. This is on me being that we're former coworkers."
"Thanks, Helena."

         Helena made Robbie's drink. She hands it to him with a straw. He puts the straw into the drink. He waves and walks out the door. He takes a sip and felt the sugar hit his bloodstream. He walked over to his SUV. He gets in and drives to Big Sky Fitness.
         An hour later Robbie is back at The Marketplace. He's parked in the fire lane. He had a good workout walking on the treadmill and lifting free weights. A minute later Ryan and another coworker come out of the store and approach the SUV.

"Robbie, this is Larry Sweeney. I hope you don't mind that I invited him over."
"Sup Robbie?" said Larry. He was a large guy - about six foot two and three hundred twenty-five pounds. His hair was shaved off.

         They get into the SUV and fasten their seat belts. Robbie pulls out of the parking lot and makes a left onto North Mountain Road and then a right onto West Main. He turns on the stereo.

"Larry, how come I haven't met you?" asked Robbie.
"Today was my first day and the Manager Greg had me cashier in the Food Court."
"I can't believe he didn't tell me. I guess that's why we were short cashiers today. Did you know about this Ryan?"
"Yeah. Larry told me when he came in this morning. You were on your break."
"Thanks for telling me about it," said Robbie with sarcasm in his voice
"Sorry Robbie."

         With the heavy traffic it took forty-five minute to reach Robbie's house in Southington. He left the SUV parked in the driveway. Everyone gets out and goes inside the house. Ryan and Larry follow Robbie into the kitchen

"We can hang out on the back deck The bathroom is down the hall to the left if you need it. I'm going to put on a pair of shorts. Help yourself to the beer and soda in the fridge."
"Thanks Robbie," said Ryan.

         Larry and Ryan went out the sliding glass door to the deck. Robbie walked down the hall to his bedroom.

"Ryan, take a look at this huge pool!" exclaimed Larry.
"That's cool."

         They sit on the deck chairs. A couple minutes later Robbie came out. He had a pair of white shorts and was barefoot.

"Hey guys. I'll bring out some food in a few minutes."
"Take your time," said Ryan.

         Robbie went back inside for a minute. He came back out carrying his bowl and bag of weed. He sat on a chair and poured the weed into the bowl. He took a lighter out of his pocket and lot it. He took a hit and coughed a couple times.

"Larry, tell me about yourself," said Robbie.
"I''m twenty-one and graduated Plainville High with Ryan and Kyle."

         Robbie takes a second hit and coughed.

"The three of us started at the New Britain Shaw's after graduation. When they shut down Ryan and Kyle transferred to the Berlin Turnpike store, but I didn't take a transfer. I've spent the past couple years working at Cumberland Farms in Plainville."

Robbie takes a third hit and coughs again.

"Either of you want a hit?"
"I'm good Robbie," said Ryan.
"No thanks," said Larry.
"I'll be back in a few minutes," said Robbie. "I'm going to make some food."
"We'll come with you," said Larry.

         The three friends go inside. Ryan and Larry sit at the kitchen table. Robbie washes his hands and take a package of bacon out of the fridge. He takes a plate from the cabinet and begins to layer paper towels and bacon on it. He puts it in the microwave.

"I still live in Plainville," said Larry. "But Ryan and Kyle moved in with their older sister. She's a nurse at New Britain General Hospital."
"My parents moved to Baltimore," said Ryan. "Both work at John Hopkins Medical Center," said Ryan.
"My parents moved to California. My dad works for a computer company," said Robbie. "This is their house, which I hope to buyfrom them some day."

         Robbie takes a bag of French fries out of the freezer, opens it and puts them into the deep fryer that sits on the counter. He then takes the bacon out of the microwave. He grabs a big thirteen by nine casserole pan out of the cabinet next to the oven. Then he takes a bag of cheese out of the fridge.

"Wait til you taste these. You will think you have died and gone to heaven. Of course with the amount of fat and calories in them you probably will," said Robbie. He chuckles.

         Robbie takes the fries out of the deep fryer. He pours them into the thirteen by nine pan. He then rips the bacon into pieces and puts it on top of the fries. He pours the cheese on top and puts the pan in the oven, which he turns to 350.

"That looks so good, Robbie," said Larry.
"It is. Trust me. Soda to drink?"
"Sure," they both said.

         Robbie took two bottles of Mountain Dew out of the fridge. He gives them to Ryan and Larry.
Then he takes the pan out of the oven. He uses a spatula to divide the snack between three plates. Everyone grabs a plate and carries it along with their bottle of soda outside. They sit on the chairs.

"These are my bacon cheese fries - an appetizer I came up with my senior year in high school. The assignment was to come up with an appetizer for a Super Bowl party."

Ryan took a bite and said "These are good."
"They sure are," said Larry. "They'll wreck my diet, but sometimes you've got to cheat. I've lost one-hundred-twenty-five pounds in the past two years."
"That's great about your weight loss," said Robbie.
"You're lucky, Robbie. You can eat this and not gain weight. Me, I just look at these and I gain ten pounds."
"It's not luck. I only eat these two or three times a year and then the next day I put more time in at the gym."

The friends continue eating.

"Alright guys. Here's to friendship and a great pace to work for a long time to come," said Robbie. He raises his bottle of soda in the air.
"Absolutely. Here's to friendship and The Marketplace Supermarket," said Ryan. He and Larry raise their bottles of soda."

         Nine months pass. Robbie sits at his desk in his office at the supermarket. He is dressed in his usual work attired. He has a stern look on his face. Larry sits in the chair at the other desk. He has on shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers. He also lost another fifty pounds.

"What the hell is wrong with you Larry?"
"Robbie, it wasn't my fault."
"Not your fault? Larry you were driving! You know I'd expect something like this from a sixteen year old, but you're twenty-one! You need to grow the fuck up!"
"That's a little harsh Robbie! I thought we were friends!"
"I am your friend, but I'm also your boss! There are times when I have to be your boss and not your friend! This is one of those times! It's not my fault you're not mature enough to know the difference!"

         There's a knock at the door. Robbie gets up to let Greg Peterson in. He's dressed in black jeans, a light blue short sleeved button down shirt with the top two buttons unbuttoned, and sneakers.

"Larry, Robbie told me what happened and security showed me footage of what happened. I have no choice, but to fire you. There's no excuse for the crazy and stupid thing you did. The police are on their way."

Robbie leaves his office and clocks out at the time clock.

"What happened with Larry?" asks Ryan.
"Greg just fired him. He was doing donuts in the parking lot and hit a light pole. It fell and crushed a customer's car."
"Damn. He deserved to get fired. He needs to grow up."
"I told him the same thing. He told me I was being harsh and then played the friendship card.
"He did the same thing when I wrote him up last week."
"You wrote him up last week?"
"Yeah. I worked the closing shift on Wednesday. I called him in because I needed a cart pusher. It's getting to be eight and time for me to take my thirty minute break and I notice there aren't many carriages. I think to myself that it's strange because it hasn't been very busy. I go outside and can't find him anywhere. I go to Dunkin' to get something to eat and there's Larry talking to Mitzi the girl behind the counter. He gives me a big grin and says to me Hey Ryan. What's up? I never wanted to hurt someone so badly in my life."

Ryan exhales loudly. Two cops come to the Front End,

"Where's the manager?" asks one of the cops.
"In my office," said Robbie, pointing the way.

The cops knock on the door and Greg lets them in.

"So you're at Dunkin' and find Larry goofing off. Then what?"
"I tell him he's in a lot a trouble and he needs to come back to the store with me. He replied that I needed to chill and stop messing with his macking game. I tell him to come back or else he'd be fired. He blows Mitzi a kiss and follows me back to the store. We walk back in silence. Inside the office however, I read him the riot act. Then he played the friendship card. I told him exactly what you told him today."
"It blows my mind that he would do that. Anyway I'm heading home. Text me or call me if you and Kyle want to stop by tonight."
"Sure thing."

         Robbie leaves the store. It was a twenty minute drive home. Once home he changed out of his work clothes. He had on a pair of shorts and flip-flops. He grabs his sunglasses and can of sunscreen off the kitchen counter and went out to the back deck. He puts on his sunglasses and sprays himself with sunscreen. He sits down on one of the chairs. Soon he falls asleep. The sound of his cell phone ringing wakes him up two hours later. He looks at the caller ID and answers it

"What's up Ryan?"
"Kyle and I will be over between six thirty and seven if it's still alright with you."
"Yeah it's fine. I'll see you guys then."

         Robbie hangs up and goes inside. Twenty minutes pass by time he got out of the shower. He had on blue jeans. He notices that it has gotten dark in the house. He walks over to the window. The sky had grown very dark and looked like it was going to storm any minute.

"Hopefully the storm will kill the humidity," Robbie thought to himself.

         He sits down on his recliner and turns on the TV. Channel Three tells him there is a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 7:45PM. As he puts on his socks and work boots the door bell rings. He gets up and opens the door. Ryan and Kyle come inside just as it starts to pour.

"I think we should wait until the rain lets up before we go out," said Robbie.
"I agree," said Ryan. "Radio said these storms can have wind gusts up to sixty miles per hour."

         Everyone sat down in the living room. Robbie mutes the TV.

"Who's getting Larry's hours tomorrow?" asked Kyle.
"Ryan is. Greg and I will be going through applications and hopefully will start doing interviews after that."

         Lightning flashed several times in quick succession. Then there was a loud rumble of thunder. The guys were quiet for a moment. Robbie turns the sound back up on the TV. It showed the storm would soon be moving out of the area, but another line was just entering the state. There was a possibility that another storm would hit within an hour or so. The rain slowed to a slight drizzle. Robbie turns off the TV.

"We might as well go now while the rain is stopped."

         Robbie grabbed a clean white wife beater and put it and a blue button down Yankees shirt on. He buttons the three bottom buttons. He put his Yankees hat on at a slight angle and went outside. Ryan and Kyle were right behind him. They get into the SUV and Robbie starts it. The hip-hop station is off the air as was the AM Oldies station.

"Damn. Doesn't anything work?" muttered Robbie.

         He backs the SUV out of the driveway and takes off down Pleasant Street. He pushed the seek button on the stereo and it stopped on a station playing an eighty's song. Reception was very fuzzy. He looks at the display on the radio

"What the hell station is 94.7?" he asks as he makes a left onto Loper Street.
"It's out of Springfield," said Ryan. "If I can pick it up, it's my go-to station for eighty's music."

         It's a short drive to Denny's. The parking lot is not too crowded and Robbie backs the SUV into a parking space. Everyone gets out and goes inside, where they are seated right away. The waitress approaches and notices Robbie.

"Robbie! Long time no see! How are you?"
"I'm fine, Annabelle. How are you you?"
"Great. I'm the Second Shift manager here, filling in as a waitress since we are short handed tonight."
"These are my friends Ryan and Kyle. They work with me at The Marketplace Supermarket in New Britain. I'm the head Customer Service Manager there."
"That's great Robbie. What can I get you guys to drink?"
"Chocolate milk," said Robbie.
"Sprite," replied the twins

         Annabelle leaves the table and the guys begin studying the menu. She returns shortly with the beverages.

"What can I get you guys?"
"Ham and cheese omelette with White Toast," said Robbie.
"Hash browns and sausage," said Ryan.
"English muffin and bacon," said Kyle.
"Okay. Let me put that in for you."

She leaves the table.

"Is it just me, or is she into you, Robbie?" asked Kyle.
"It's possible, but I'm not interested."
"Why not?"
"She and Greg dated in high school and went to prom together. Then for some reason they broke up after graduation. Rule number one of the Bro Code is you don't date your best friend's ex."
"So what? It's been nine years."
"Doesn't matter. Also. She's been married and divorced twice. I don't want to be number three."
"Sounds like a girl with more baggage than the baggage claim at the airport."
"Kyle, your puns are lame and not funny."

         Annabelle returns, carrying a tray with full of food. She places it on an empty table. She gives the guys their food and leaves the check on the table.

"Let me know if you need anything else."

         She leaves the table. The thunder rumbles and outside it starts to pour again. The guys begin eating. Twenty minutes later it's still raining when the guys finished their food. Robbie pays the check. They go outside and run through the pouring rain to the SUV. They get in and Robbie starts it. He makes a right onto Queen Street. Traffic is moving slowly because of the rain. He makes a left into the parking lot of the nearly deserted shopping center. He parks in the middle of the lot in front of the old Shaw's.
         Robbie opens his window a few inches. He take his bowl, lighter, and a bag of weed out of the center console.

"What else do you have planned for tonight?" asked Ryan as Robbie poured the weed into the bowl.
"Go to Walmart. Then chill up at the house," said Robbie. He lights it and takes a hit and coughs.

         The rain stopped and Robbie takes a second hit. He coughs again. Then he takes a third hit. He coughs again. He passes the bowl to Ryan, who shrugs it off. Robbie takes a fourth hit, coughs, and puts the bowl back in the center console. He pushes a button on the stereo and the hip-hop station comes on.He turns off the AC and opens both windows.The rain cooled it down and got rid of the humidity. He makes a right out of the shopping center onto Queen Street From there it takes them about a half hour to get to the twenty-four hour Walmart in Wallingford. They go inside.
         Robbie grabs a cart and heads towards the grocery section. Ryan and Kyle end up in the Sporting Goods section. Ryan grabs a football and tosses it Kyle. They toss it back and forth a couple of times. Then Kyle throws a high pass and it hits the Sporting Goods sign hanging from the ceiling. He and Ryan begin laughing and then run off. They find Robbie. His shopping cart has a few bottles of soda in it along with bags of chips. They get in line to pay.

"Not getting anything?" he asks.
"Nope," replies Ryan.

         After paying the guys go outside. They put everything into the SUV. Everyone gets inside and they begin the drive back to Robbie's house. It's about 11:45 when they pull into his driveway. Everyone gets out.

"Thanks for everything Robbie. We'll see you at work tomorrow."
"You guys are leaving?" There is surprise is Robbie's voice.
"Yeah."

         The next day at work it's quarter to twelve. It's not too busy. There are four mainline register open and one express lane. Robbie walks over to Ryan's register and shut off his light.

"I've got an interview coming in and noon. Right now I'm going out for a smoke. I need you watch the Front for a while."
"Sure Robbie."

         Robbie goes outside. When he comes back in fifteen minutes later he is carrying a strawberry Coolota. He stops by the Customer Service Desk.

"Renee, is my 12PM interview here?"
"Yes. He's sitting on the bench by your office."

         Robbie walks towards his office. Seated on the bench was an overweight young man with bleached blonde hair and a gold hoop earring in each ear. He was dressed in khaki pants and a short sleeve green polo shirt. He stands up.

"Roland?" asked Robbie.
"That's me."
"Robbie Mullens. Nice to meet you. They shake hands. "Come into my office."

         They both went into the office. Robbie takes a sip from his Coolota. He places it on his desk. Roland sits in the chair at the other desk.

"Pull up closer, Roland. I'll be right with you."

         Robbie takes a bottle of Visine out of his pocket and puts a couple drops in each eye. He sits down at his desk and took Roland's application out of a manila folder.

"Tell me a little about yourself, Roland."
"I'm Roland Allen. I left my Cashier job at KMART eight months ago. I was there for six years - first in Plainville and transferred to Waterbury after they closed."
"Your application says you left to pursue other interests?"
"Can I be straight with you?"
"Yes."
"They're a horrible company. They left me no choice, but to quit. I didn't want to. I think if you hear my story you'll agree with me."
"Start at the beginning."
"I fell in love with a girl in the Jewelry Department. We dated a couple of years. Last February on my twenty first birthday we got engaged and scheduled our wedding for the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Then something horrible happened at the beginning of October. "
"Oh no," said Robbie, mentally preparing himself for what Roland was going to say next.
"I had to work late one night, so her uncle who was in town visiting picked her up on his motorcycle. They were riding up Wolcott Road in Wolcott. A big Chevy Suburban cuts them off. Her uncle couldn't stop and the motorcycle hit the Suburban and they were both killed. Next day I call work and tell them I'm taking a few bereavement days. They told me I couldn't. Told me bereavement days were for family only and she wasn't my family. Not my family. Can you believe that? She was my fiance and we were six or seven weeks from getting married. So I said to them eff you, I quit."
"That's really rotten what the did to you. I'm sorry about your fiance. My girlfriend died in a traffic accident last year too."
"Then I had a mental breakdown. I don't want you to think I'm a psychopath. I'm not. This was the first time that happened. No one close to me died before. My mom's parents both died while she was still a teenager. My other grandparents and my father died while my Mom was still pregnant with me. I moved out of my apartment and back in with my mom. I did nothing for the next eight months, but watch TV and stuff myself stupid with junk food. I gained something like seventy-five pounds. I really didn't care. Then last week I felt better and decided to make myself a productive member of society again. I bought myself new clothes, got contacts, bleached my hair blonde, and started applying for jobs. Once I start working I've gotta try and lose weight."
"As far as I'm concerned, Roland, you're hired. You start tomorrow at 8:30. Let me get you some shirts to wear."

Robbie gets up and walks over to the locker in his office.

"What size Roland?"
"4XL."

Robbie takes out three shirts and give them to Roland.

"Dress code is simple, Roland. A company T-Shirt like the one I'm wearing and your name tag are the only mandatory requirements. I'll get you a name tag tomorrow. Footwear - sneakers or work boots. - No flip-flops or sandals. As you can see I prefer work boots myself. For pants - blue or black jeans. No holes. Black or khaki pants are acceptable too."
"Thank-you, Robbie."
"Anymore questions?"
"I don't think so. I'll see you at 8:30 tomorrow morning."
"Yes."

         They both get up and shake hands. Roland leaves the office. Robbie sits back down and jots a couple notes down on Roland's application. He will bring it up to Greg's office later. He walks out of the office. Ryan is standing at the podium staring at the schedule.

"Take your break, Ryan."
"I saw that guy carrying a few T-Shirts. You hired him?"
"Yeah. His name is Roland and he starts tomorrow."
"What do you think of him?"
"He seems nice. Left his job at KMART because they wouldn't give him bereavement time after his fiance's death last year."
"Do you believe him? It sounds kind of odd."
"I'm pretty good at reading people, Ryan. I don't have a perfect record reading people. No one does, but I can tell you the story about his fiance's death - I remember hearing on the news last year. His fiance was killed when the motorcycle she was a passenger on crashed into an SUV in Wolcott."
"I remember hearing about that. I remember thinking how sad it was because the girl was only twenty-one."
"Unfortunately accidents happen. When it's your time, it's your time. Don't forget my girlfriend was twenty-four and her little sister was twenty when they died last year."
"True. Okay, Robbie. I'll be back in fifteen."
"I'll be here."

Read Part 2 -https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2118721-Robbie-Part-2
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