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by Brammy
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Young Adult · #2128395
Robbie Part 6
         Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving was an unseasonably warm seventy degrees. All fifteen registers at The Marketplace Supermarket are open and have lines. It's a quarter to three and Robbie is at register seven ringing out customers. The sleeves on his light blue work T-Shirt are rolled up, showing off his muscular arms. He had lost twenty-five pounds. As was normal his bleached blonde hair was spiked and he had a diamond stud earring in each ear. Roland, who had been promoted to Assistant Customer Service Manager after Lisa Loveland decided not to return from maternity leave was bagging for Robbie. He too had spiked bleached blonde hair. He had a gold hoop earring in each of his ears and glasses with black frames. The customer, who appeared to be in her mid-thirties finished unloading her groceries onto the conveyor belt and pushed her cart down to Roland.

"How are you today? Did you find everything you were looking for?" asks Robbie, as he continues scanning the customer's groceries.
"I was surprised I did, considering it's the day before Thanksgiving. I normally don't do things last minute, but something came up and I found out last night I had hosting duty for Thanksgiving Dinner."
"Oh wow." Robbie rang up the last item - a twenty-two pound turkey, which he double bagged. "Your total comes to two-hundred-fourteen seventy-nine."

         The customer took her wallet out of her purse and counts out eleven twenties. She hands them to Robbie, who quickly double counted the money.

"Out of two-hundred twenty?"
"Yes."

         Robbie types in the amount. The cash drawer opens and he puts the money into the slot. He takes out a five, two dimes, and a penny. He closes the drawer and gives the change and receipt to the customer.

"Five twenty-one is your change. Thanks for shopping with us and have a nice Thanksgiving."
"You too."

         Roland finishes bagging the customer's groceries, while Robbie takes a sip of water from his New York Giants tumbler. The customer leaves. Robbie switches off his light, grabs his tumbler and walks into his office. Roland follows him.

"What time does the big party at Club Cosmic start?" asked Roland.
"Eight o'clock. It's going to be epic, bro."
"Ryan is driving me. Are we meeting you at your house or at the club?"
"We'll leave from my house around 5:30."

         Robbie takes off his name tag, tosses it on his desk, and leaves the office. He clocks out at the time clock and takes off his work shirt, revealing a white wife beater. Walking towards the exit Ryan passes him. They fist bump.

"We're leaving from my house around 5:30."
"I'll see you then."

         Robbie continues walking out of the store and crosses over to the Dunkin' Donuts. He gets into his SUV and fastens his seat belt. He starts the SUV, makes a right onto Stanwood Drive. At the traffic light he makes a right onto West Main Street and puts on his sunglasses with blue tinted lenses. He was making good time until he got to the intersection of Route 10 and Townline Road. It took him another thirty-five minutes to get home.
         Inside his house, Robbie decides to take advantage of the nice weather. He takes off his boots, socks, wife beater, grabs a bottle of Mountain Dew out of the fridge, and sits on a chair on his deck. He opens the bottle and takes a few gulps. The sun was just beginning to set. He puts the bottle down. His neighbor Tiffany Caputo walked around his pool, and up the stairs to the deck. She's attractive with long black hair.

"Hi, Robbie."
"What's up, Tiffany?"
"Joe and I want to invite you and your friends to Thanksgiving tomorrow."
"What time?"
"Joe has to work til two, so we're having dinner around five."
"I'll send Joe a text later and let him know."
"All right Robbie."

         She walks down the stairs. Robbie takes a few more gulps of soda and goes inside to his bedroom. He shuts the door and ponders his reflection in the mirror on the back of the door. He was pleased that his arms were starting to look muscular, but he still had a noticeable beer belly. He jiggles it a few times. He grabs some clothes out of the closet and dresser. He goes down the hall to the bathroom.
         Twenty minutes later Robbie comes out of the bathroom wearing a purple Club Cosmic T-Shirt, blue denim shorts, and white socks. He walks to the family room, where he finds Roland and Ryan seated on the couch.

"Hey guys. How was traffic?"
"Awful," said Ryan. "It took us forty-five minutes to get here."
"Same here."

         Roland walks down the hall. Robbie sits on the couch next to Ryan and puts on his work boots.

"Tiffany and Joe invited us to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. Are you interested in going?"
"Maybe. Kyle and I are still waiting to find out what Charlene has planned."
"How the hell did she manage to get Thanksgiving off?"
"She's starting a new job at St. Mary's Hospital on Monday."
"Really?"
"Yeah. It pays better and the hours are better too. No more working overnights and sixty hour weeks."
"Nice."

         Roland walks to the family room. He wears blue jeans and is shirtless.

"Robbie, have you seen my Club Cosmic shirt?"
"It's not with your stuff?"
"It's not here. I also looked all over my house this morning and couldn't find it."
"Get another one when we get up there."

         Roland goes back down the hall to the guest bathroom.

         Ryan goes down the hall to the guest bedroom. Roland comes back out to the family room. He has put on a New York Giants T-Shirt and a pair of moccasins. His bleached blonde hair is now spiked.

"Robbie, I got a text from Larry Sweeney."
"How is he? I haven't seen him at the club in a while."
"He's okay, but five of his coworkers got fired because of an overdose death."
"Yikes!"
"Whatever they were doing involved an employee of The Liquor Emporium. When he fell unconscious they just left him there to die."
"They left him there to die? That's completely fucked up. Who found the body?"
"The owner of the liquor store found the body when she went to the store at 5AM to do inventory. She checked the surveillance cameras. Anyway Larry will be up to the club around 8:30 since he's working til 7."
         Ryan comes back to the family room. He has changed into a Yankees T-Shirt. Robbie puts a Giants hat on. The three friends walk outside and get into the SUV. It was just after six when they arrived at Club Cosmic. Robbie parks next to a white Jeep Patriot. From the center console Robbie takes out a plastic bag containing three blunts. He takes one and gives the bag to Ryan. He takes one and gives the bag to Roland, who shrugs it off. Robbie puts the extra blunt behind his ear. He takes a lighter and lights his blunt and takes a hit. He coughs and passes the lighter to Ryan, who lit his blunt. He takes a hit and coughs.

"I'll see you guys inside," said Roland as he gets out of the SUV. He walks up the stairs and into the club.

         Robbie takes a second hit coughs and said "Did you hear about the overdose death that resulted in five Stop and Shop employees getting fired?"
"Yeah, I saw that on Facebook." He takes a second hit and coughs.
"I just can't believe they left the poor guy there to die. He probably could've been saved if they had called 911."

         When they had finished smoking their blunts they walked into the club where Wendy stands behind the bar.

"Hey Robbie. Hey Ryan."
"Hey Ms. Swanson. Where's Roland?"
"I put him to work in the kitchen tonight."
"Cool. Can you send a triple bacon cheese burger, large order of onion rings, and a pitcher of Mountain Dew up to the DJ booth?"
"Sure Anything else?"
"That's it for now."

         Robbie and Ryan walk up to the DJ booth. Robbie takes a can of body spray out of a drawer and sprays himself with it. He gives the can to Ryan who does the same. While Robbie flipped some switches to turn on the equipment, Ryan sat on a stool in the corner of the DJ booth. Robbie logs onto the laptop that contains the music library. He opens up the DJ program, clicks on a folder labeled Sixties Music. He clicks play and A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles began playing.

"Kyle texted me. We're going out for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with Charlene."
"Where you guys going?"
"He didn't say."

         Robbie sits in a chair and moves it away from the laptop. Roland comes up to the DJ Booth carrying a tray with Robbie's food and pitcher of soda. He sets it on the counter next to the laptop.

"Thanks, Roland."
"No problem, Robbie." He leaves the DJ booth.

         Robbie opens a cabinet and takes out a red solo cup. He pours some soda into the cup and takes a sip. He cuts the burger into four pieces. He picks up a piece and takes a bite.

"That is so good. Help yourself to a piece."

         Ryan takes a piece of burger and takes a bite. "Thanks Robbie. I was going to get my own food later."

         Through the window of the DJ booth Robbie notices Adam Dutkiewicz walking across the dance floor towards the DJ booth. He wears white shorts, a light blue T-Shirt, a New York Giants hat, and grey sneakers. He enters the DJ booth.

"DJ Robbie," says Adam.
"Adam Dutkiewicz, what's poppin' bro?"
"I was coming back to town to visit my family for Thanksgiving and I saw on Facebook that you were DJing here tonight and I had to see you in person. I also got a call from my manager and I'm going to be the new full-time CDH at the Pine Street Stop and Shop!"
"That's terrific!"
"Yeah. I'm excited."
"Good luck with your new venture, bro. We'll get together soon."
"Either of you guys want a beer?"
"Not right now."
"I'll pass," said Ryan.

         Adam leaves the DJ booth and sees Kandi the bartender setting up a table for the raffle prizes.
"Hey beautiful."
"Hey yourself."
"It's my first time here, but I've known DJ Robbie for years. Can I buy him a beer even though he doesn't want one right now?"
"There sure is. Come with me handsome."

         Back in the DJ booth Robbie sips his soda and eats his food. He sets the basket of onion rings aside and says "Ryan, you can finish these. I'm not as hungry as I thought I was." Adam comes back to the DJ booth. He gives Robbie a poker chip.

"The bartender said to give to you so you can get your beer later."
"Thanks, Adam."
"When does the party start?"
"Eight."

         Robbie finishes his burger and takes a couple sips of soda. He glances at his watch. It was a quarter after seven. A small crowd entered the club. He wipes his hands on a damp towel, and brings up the song list on the laptop. He clicks play and The Fox by Ylvis begins playing.

"Robbie, I love this song. It's so hilarious," said Adam.
"I know, right?"

         The song begins to wind down. Robbie grabs the microphone and turns it on.

"It's DJ Robbie! Welcome to The Club Cosmic Thanksgiving Eve Party. Make sure you buy a raffle ticket for your chance to win some epic prizes. Two tickets for two dollars or ten for eight dollars. We've got awesome food and drink specials and off the hook music til Midnight. If there is a song you want to hear come up to the DJ booth and let me or Ryan know. Now enjoy The Black Eyed Peas."

         Robbie clicks play on the laptop and The time begins playing.

         Four hours pass. It has been an incredibly busy evening. Adam left at a quarter to eleven. Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch begins winding down. Robbie turns on the mic.

"Wasn't that some kickin' throwback hip-hop? It's the Club Cosmic Thanksgiving Eve Party. I've got one final raffle prize to give away." He reaches into a can and takes out a ticket. "And the winner of two tickets to next week's Giants-Cowboys game at Metlife Stadium is Eddie Lopez." The crowed cheers loudly. "Eddie, go see Wendy at the bar to claim your prize. We've got about thirty minutes left tonight and it's going to be straight fire! Oh yeah!"

         Robbie clicks play on the laptop and Diamond Girl by Nice and Wild begins playing. The crowd cheers and he switches off the mic.

"Ryan, we're doing a freestyle mix now, so when this song ends play another from the freestyle category. I'll be back in a few."

         Robbie leaves the DJ booth and makes his way through the crowded dance floor. He reaches the bar, where Greg Peterson was standing. He wears jeans, a New York Giants jersey and hat, and sneakers. They fist bump.

"Sup Greg? Having a good time?"
"Yeah for now. I'll tell you more in a little bit."
"I'm going out for a smoke. You wanna come with?:
"I'm down with that."

         The two friends walk outside and get into Robbie's GMC Terrain. Robbie takes the blunt from behind his ear. He lights it, takes a hit, coughs, and passes it to Greg. He takes a hit coughs, and passes it back to Robbie.

"Lana and I are getting divorced," said Greg.
"Really?"
"She says we don't spend enough time together and she doesn't like me smoking weed."
Robbie takes another hit coughs and says "She's known you since high school. How is it a surprise that you smoke weed?"

He pass the blunt back to Greg.

Greg takes another hit coughs and says "She has the nerve to tell me we don't spend time together when she spends upwards of fourteen hours a day at that damn cupcake shop! Corrina should've closed the cupcake shop instead of turning it over to her sister Lana. I'm at work forty-five hours a week and make eighty Gs a year. That's damn good for a twenty-eight year old without a college education." He takes another hit, coughs, and passes it back to Robbie.
Robbie takes another hit coughs and says "At least you didn't wind up married to Annabelle. She has been married and divorced twice. He takes a final hit and coughs. The blunt is finished.
"That's true. Seems like I dodged a bullet there."
"Did you see Adam Dutkiewicz earlier?"
"No, I missed him. How's he's doing?"
"He's the new Full-time CDH at the Pine Street Stop and Shop."
"That's cool."
"You, Ryan, and Roland want to join me at Denny's after this?"
"I'm down."

         They get out of the SUV and walk back into the club. Maria by TKA is playing. Greg sits at the bar. Robbie goes back to the DJ booth. Ryan stands in front of the laptop.

"We're going to Denny's with Greg after this."
"Cool."

         Thanksgiving Day was 40 degrees, much cooler than the day before. Robbie and Greg stand on Robbie's back deck overlooking the pool at 4PM. Robbie wears jeans, a wife beater, and his work boots. Greg wears khaki pants, a green polo shirt, and sneakers. They're going to Tiffany and Joe's house for Thanksgiving Dinner.
          When Greg got home at 2AM after going to Denny's he found that his soon-to-be ex wife Lana kicked him out of the house and changed the locks even though the house was in his name only. He spent the night at Robbie's house.

"Thanks again for letting me stay with you," said Greg.
"It's not a problem. My friends are always welcome to spend the night or a few days at my house. I have this big house and I live by myself."

         Robbie and Greg walked home from Tiffany and Joe's house at 8PM. Robbie had put a blue button down plaid shirt with the top 3 buttons undone on over his wife beater. As usual his bleached blonde hair was spiked. They see Ryan's Honda Civic is parked in the driveway.
          Inside Ryan is asleep on the couch and the TV is tuned to the 2 Broke Girls binge-a-thon. on TBS He's barefoot and wears black basketball shorts and a New York Giants T-Shirt. Robbie and Greg sit on the 2 recliners and take off their footwear.

"Hey Robbie. Hey, Greg."
"What's up bro?"
"I need to ask you something."
"What's on your mind?"
"Charlene kicked Kyle and me out this afternoon after Thanksgiving dinner. I was wondering if I can crash here for a while. Kyle is staying with Larry Sweeney, who caused this problem."
"Stay here as long as you need to. That's what friends are for. What did Larry do?"
"Larry came over for Thanksgiving dinner. Charlene asked him not to smoke weed in the house and he blatantly disobeyed her. She threw Kyle and me out because we invited him over for dinner."
"He's a brat. That's the same rule I have here."
"I know."
"Stay as long as you want, bro as long as you don't mind sharing the guest bathroom with Greg. His soon-to-be ex-wife threw him out of his own house."

"Soon to be ex-wife?" Ryan repeated.
"Yeah, Lana had me served with Divorced Papers at work after you both left last night."
"Don't you own that house? How the hell do you get thrown out of a house you own?"
"I gotta call a lawyer or something. She went as far as to change the locks."
"Damn, bro. That sucks.
.
         Three months pass. Greg and Lana's divorce case was resolved very quickly with Lana getting absolutely nothing. Her claims about Greg smoking weed too much were proven false when both Robbie and Adam testifying that Greg and Lana had a brief relationship in high school and knew that he smoked weed. Her claims about Greg not spending enough time together were also proven false with Robbie, Ryan, and Roland all testifying that Greg only works forty-five hours a week as the manager of The Marketplace and that all three had gone into Lana's cupcake shop at different times of the day and she was working there. Finally the judge ruled Lana was entitled to no money because she tried to hijack Greg's house, which he owned and the deed was in his name. Greg immediately sold his house and bought a brand new manufactured home in the Dunham Mobile Home Park in Southington.

         It's the third Wednesday in February. It's 4:35PM. Robbie sits in his SUV smoking a joint in the parking lot of the Stop and Shop on Pine Street in Bristol. He wears an unbuttoned Yankees jersey over his wife beater, khaki pants, work boots, and a Yankees hat at a slight angle. He's waiting for his friend Adam Dutkiewicz to get out of work. It takes him three more minutes to finish his joint, but there still was no sign of Adam. Robbie gets out of the SUV and walks into the store.
         Inside the store Robbie immediately recognizes the self checkout clerk as Alex Taylor, who like Adam was one of his friends in high school. He's 5 foot 10, around 200 pounds with natural blonde hair. He wears blue jeans, sneakers, and a Purple button down Stop and Shop shirt with the first 3 buttons unbuttoned.

"Hey, Alex Taylor! Long time no see!" exclaims Robbie.
"Robbie Mullens! Wow dude! How the hell are you?"

         The two old friends shake hands.

"I'm okay, Alex. How are you? I haven't seen you since graduation!"
"I go by Zander, now, Robbie and I've been working at Stop and Shop since then. I was working at the store in Unionville as a Part-time Assistant CDH until last week. Here I'm Full-time Assistant CDH."
"Full-time Assistant CDH? That means Adam Dutkiewicz is your boss?"
"Yeah. That's one of the cool things about this job, working with one of my best friends from high school."
"I work at The Marketplace Supermarket in New Britain with Greg Peterson, so I too work with one of my best friends form high school."
"That's cool. So, Robbie, you bleach your hair blonde now?"
"Yeah since last summer. I decided to change my look and I like it. Anyway, Zander. Where is Adam now? He texted me he was getting out of work at 4:30 and needed a ride."
"He must still be upstairs. I'll go up and look for him. Our intercom has been broken since I started working here."

         Zander walks down to a door with an Employees Only sign on it. He opens the door and heads upstairs. Robbie sits on a bench next to the door.
         Upstairs Zander walks into the break room where he finds Adam asleep on an orange couch that looks like it was salvaged from a 1970's porno film. Adam is still dressed in his work clothes.

"Adam, wake your fat ass up!"
"What do you want Zander? I'm off the clock," Adam replied groggily.
"Robbie is downstairs waiting for you. He told me you asked him for a ride home at 4:30. It's almost 4:45 now!"
"Oh yeah. I lay down on the couch for a minute and next thing I know I'm asleep."

         Adam gets off the couch. He stretches and his shirt rides up, exposing his belly. He and Zander ride down in the elevator. Zander goes back to the self checkout. Adam walks over to where Robbie was sitting.

"Sorry, Robbie. I had something to discuss with the manager and it took longer than I thought it would."
"It's okay, bro."

         The two friends walk outside and get in Robbie's SUV. Adam takes off his Purple work shirt, revealing a tight New York Giants t-shirt. Robbie starts the SUV and drives towards the exit of the Pine Street exit of the shopping center. He turns right onto Pine Street.

"Your brother stole you car?" asked Robbie.
"Yeah. He texted me that he took it."
"How'd he get from your house to your work?"
"One of his idiot friends took him."
"I'm glad I'm an only child."
"He's such a brat. He's 23 and has never had a job. All day long he sits on the couch playing video games and smoking weed. My parents let him get away with it. Yeah I smoke weed and play video games too, but I work 46 fucking hours a week and make 35 grand a year. I think I'm entitled to smoke weed and play video games, don't you?"
"Yeah, sure. Do you contribute to the household?"
"Of course. I'm not a fucking freeloader, like Kevin is. I give my parents $300 a month. They don't ask for it, but feel like it's my obligation to them for putting a roof over my head. I also help out around the house. I do everyone's laundry, keep my room clean, and shoveled by myself during the last two snow storms."
"That's rough, bro."
"That's not all."
"What else?"
"That little shit convinced my parents to take out a car loan and buy him a brand new Honda Civic! They also pay for his gas and insurance. That's another reason I'm so pissed off that he took my car. Yeah, my parents took out a loan for my first two cars, but I've been working since I was 16 and I gave them the money to make the car payments and I paid for my own gas and insurance. The Nissan Rogue I have now? I saved up for the down payment and got a nice chunk of change when I traded in the Velociter, which I used towards my down payment."
"You should talk to your parents."
"You know me, Robbie. I'm not the confrontational type."

         There was nothing for Robbie to say in response to that. So they rode in silence for a few minutes.

"You're not going to say anything about my weight gain, Robbie?"
"Why would I? I don't make fun of my friends. You know that."
"Ever since moving back to Connecticut I have no energy and I'm always tired. I'm always hungry and now look at me - I gained fifty pounds in three months."
"What has changed?"
"The biggest change is I don't give a shit about what I eat and I don't exercise. I never joined a gym when I moved back here, but it's not like I have the energy to do that anyway. All I do is work, eat, sleep, and every Sunday I do my chores - the laundry and cleaning my room."

         Robbie parks his SUV on the street in front of Adam's house. There's a Red Honda Civic parked in the driveway. They get out of the SUV and walk inside the house.

"Mom, I'm home!" Adam calls up the stairs.
"How are you, Adam?"
"I'm all right. Robbie gave me a ride home."
"Isn't it nice you boys are still friends after all these years?"
"Hi, Mrs. Dutkiewicz! How are you?" Robbie calls.
"Just fine, Robbie."
"Mom, Robbie and I are going out in a little while and we're taking The Civic."
"Have fun."

         Adam and Robbie walk down the stairs, where the rec room had been converted to Adam's bedroom. Robbie sits on Adam's bed. Adam takes off his T-shirt.

"Wow! That's a big belly, Adam."
"I told you that I gained fifty pounds."
"I know, but you telling me that and then seeing it are two totally different things. I still remember how you were in high school - with abs and muscular arms - one of the best players on the baseball team"
"Well those days are long gone, Robbie."

         Adam walks over to his closet and puts both the T-Shirt and his work shirt in the hamper. He takes a red polo shirt off the hanger and puts it on. It fits him much better than the Giants T-shirt. He walks to his dresser, takes a key ring out of his pocket and unlocks a small lock box that's atop his dresser. He opens the box.

"That fucking brat!"
"What's wrong Adam?"
"Kevin stole $1000 cash, my stash of weed, and an Apple Watch I bought for our Dad's birthday next month."
"Damn."
"I have more money in the bank - a lot more in fact, but the bottom line is this is my money that I earned by working. Don't get me started on what I paid for that Apple Watch."
"How did he get a key to you lockbox?"
"He must've did it when I left my keys on top of my dresser when I was doing laundry."

         Robbie and Adam walk up the stairs to the landing.

"Mom! Robbie and I are leaving now! We're taking the Civic! When your other son gets home you tell him to stay the fuck out of my room! He stole $1000 from me!"
"Bye, Adam. Bye Robbie."

         The two friends go outside and get into the Honda Civic. They fasten their seat belts. Adam starts the car, backs out of the driveway and takes off down Illinois Avenue.

"We have a new Assistant Manager at The Marketplace. His name is AJ Mancini and he told me he lives across the street from you."
"He moved into his Grandmother's house before Christmas. She passed away last spring and AJ's father spent the summer fixing it up for his son."
"I wonder if he's related to Eli Mancini. He graduated with us, remember?"
"I remember and no one has seen Eli since graduation. He got a job at a bakery in Waterbury."
"I saw that Zander Taylor is working with you now. I was surprised to see him when I picked you up."
"My Manager told me we were getting a new Full-time Assistant CDH by the name of Zander Taylor, but until I saw him on Monday I didn't know it was Alex. He looks pretty much the same as he did in high school. I think he was surprised by my appearance because I'm like sixty-five pounds heavier than I was at graduation and my man bun. I had short hair in high school."

          Adam turned left into the parking lot of a shopping center where there was a Wendy's along with a Hobby Lobby and Big Lots. He parked near Wendy's.

"Robbie, got any weed?"
"In the Terrain at your house."
"Damn it."

         Adam and Robbie go inside Wendy's and get in line. There are 2 people ahead of them. Within five minutes they had their food and were sitting in the dining area. They begin eating. A moment later a short guy wearing blue jeans, a wife beater, a New York Giants hat, and sneakers approaches their table. He has muscular arms and a diamond stud earring in each ear.

"Hey, Robbie. Hey, Adam. Mind if I sit with you guys?"
"Whoa. AJ. I didn't recognize you in street clothes. Of course you can sit with us."

         AJ sits down next to Robbie. He begins to eat.

"What are you guys up to?" asked AJ.
"Just having food with my old friend Adam. Haven't had a chance to hang out with much since he moved back here from the Lehigh Valley."
"It's awesome you're still friends after all these years."
"AJ, I didn't know you have your ears pierced. You never wear earrings at work."
"I'm a manager, so I didn't think it was professional. That's also why I wear a button down shirt and a tie."
"Our dress code really isn't too strict, AJ. I'm a manager too and I wear earrings."
"You don't have the same problem I do, Robbie."
"What's that?"
"I'm 25 years old and I'm only 5 foot 7, so I look around 18. I want to look professional despite my height and how young I look. It was different when I used to work at Price Chopper in Middletown. I was the Third Shift Grocery Manager, so I really didn't have to worry about what customers thought of me, so I used to wear earrings when I worked there."
"Can I ask you a personal question, AJ?"
"What's that, Robbie?"
"Adam and I and of course Greg graduated with a guy named Eli Mancini. Are you related to him?"
"Yeah. He's my older brother."
"Oh my goodness! You're little Tony Mancini! I remember you from when we used to hang out with Eli. Wow! You lost a lot of weight! So where does the name AJ come from?"
"My full name is Anthony James Mancini, so AJ comes from my first name and middle name. I hit 5 foot 7 when I was in eighth grade, but I didn't realize at age thirteen I would be fully grown. Look at my Dad and my brother. Dad is 6 ft 1 and Eli is 6ft 3. I'm an inch taller than my mother. Sophomore year in high school I started eating better and working out."
"I got a question," said Adam. "What happened to Eli? No one has heard from him since graduation and he doesn't have social media. All any of us know is a week after graduation he landed a job at Tony Driscoll's Bakery in Waterbury."
"That's where he worked until July when the bakery burned down. Stupid electrical fire. He doesn't have any social media and generally keeps to himself."
"Where does he live?" asked Adam.
"He lives with me in the house across the street from you."
"He never goes out?"
"Nope. Like I said he keeps to himself."
"Can we visit him?"
"Yeah. If you're not doing anything after this, I'll bring you guys over."

          Everyone finished eating. They get up, throw their trash away, and leave the restaurant. Robbie and Adam get into the Civic. AJ gets into a Copper colored Chevy Equinox that's parked three spaces from the Civic. It takes them about twenty minutes to get back to Adam's house on Illinois Avenue. Adam's Nissan Rogue is parked in the driveway. Knowing that his father wouldn't be getting home from work until 8PM, Adam parks the Civic next to the Rogue blocking access to their father's parking space in the garage. Since the Civic is Kevin's car he'll get yelled at for blocking the garage. A case of sweet revenge on Adam's part to teach Kevin a lesson about stealing his car.
         Robbie and Adam cross the street. AJ is getting out of his SUV. They follow him up the stairs to his front door. AJ opens the front door and they are immediately greeted by the smell of weed smoke. AJ begins climbing the stairs.

"Eli, how many times do I have to tell you to stop smoking weed in the house?"
:"Fuck you, AJ. You sound like Mom."
"Two of you friends from high school are here to see you."
"Who's here?"
"Robbie Mullens and Adam Dutkiewicz."

         Robbie and Adam climb the stairs. They are completely shocked by what they see - an enormously huge fat guy with his hair shaved off sitting in a reclined position in a recliner wearing only a pair of boxer shorts with smiley faces all over it. A bowl from a 5 quart Kitchen Aid Stand mixer filled with popcorn sits on Eli's massive stomach. A half empty 3 liter bottle of pineapple soda sits on the table next to the recliner. He put the bowl of popcorn on the table. He closes the recliner and struggles to get out of the chair. He finally waddles over to Robbie and Adam. He's breathing heavily.

"Robbie, Adam. It's so nice to see you!"
"You too, Eli," said Robbie. He's noticeably uncomfortable.
"How are you?"
"Life sucks. I can barely walk and It's hard for me to breathe. I've been out of work since July."
'Sorry to hear that," said Adam.
"Yeah. I've gained 200 pounds since graduating high school. I'm 375 pounds now."

         Adam's jaw dropped. He was having a hard time comprehending what Eli had just said. He was trying to figure out how the hell someone could gain 200 pounds. Robbie couldn't believe it either. He was trying to picture the enormously fat 28 year old that was currently in front of him as the 18 year old muscular star hitter on the EC Goodwin baseball team. Eli waddles back to his chair and sits down.

"Robbie, AJ says you work with Greg Peterson."
"Yeah we've worked together at The Marketplace Supermarket since it opened."
"Do you think you can get me a job there?"
"Probably. I'll have to ask Greg what openings we have. I'm almost positive that there aren't any openings in the Bakery Department though.
"That's fine. "
"Where's Tony Driscoll these days since the bakery burned down?"
"About a month after the fire he got a job as a Cake Decorator at ShopRite in Southbury."

"What have you been up to since high school, Adam?"
"You know when we were in high school I was working at Shaw's in Bristol as a Cart Pusher. Then I became a Cashier and ended up as Customer Service Manager at Shaw's in Glastonbury until they closed. Transferred to an ACME store in the Philly area. Same position. The parent company of Shaw's owns ACME. They closed my store and I left the company. I went to Genuardi's as an Assistant Customer Service Manager. Their parent company Safeway closed all those stores. Some including mine were sold to Giant Foods, which is part of Stop and Shop and I worked for Giant Food first in King of Prussia, the location they bought from Genuardi's and then at one of their locations in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I got a transfer to Stop and Shop on Pine Street in Bristol right after Thanksgiving where I am head CDH. As of last week Alex Taylor works with me, but he now goes by the name Zander."
"That's cool."

"Robbie, I will let you know if Eli wants to work at The Marketplace with us. I think he's going to have to lose some weight first," said AJ.
"Whatever works, AJ. Whenever he's ready he still has to come down, fill out an application and have an interview, otherwise it's going to look like he got the job just because he's friends with the Store Manager and Customer Service Manager and because the Assistant Store Manager is his brother."
"Right. Gotta keep things straight."
"Adam and I are going to head out. You guys have a good night."
"You too, Robbie."

          Robbie and Adam walk down the stairs and out the front door. They cross the street and get into Robbie's SUV. He lowers the windows and opens the center console and takes out a bag with two joints in it. He takes one out and gives it to Adam. Adam takes out a light and lights it. Robbie takes the other one and lights it. They each take a hit and cough.

"Well, now we know what happened with Eli," said Adam.
"Yeah," Robbie said. He sounded kind of glum.
"What's wrong?"
"I don't have a problem with Eli being fat like that. It happens. I'm just not comfortable seeing another guy in his boxers."
"It's because you're an only child. I've probably seen Kevin in his underwear thousands of times."
"Even now when he's 23 and your almost 29?"
"In the summer he often sleeps in his boxers."

         They both take hits off their joints.

"Robbie, would it be all right if I stay with you?"
"Sure. Let me just let you know the ground rules. No smoking weed in the house and you pay for your own food. Deal?"
"Deal. What about rent?"
"Don't worry about it."

         They finish smoking their joints. Adam goes into his house. He comes out 5 minutes later carrying a shopping bag. He puts it in the passenger seat of his Nissan Rogue. He walks over to Robbie's SUV.

"I just told my parents I'm spending the next couple days with you. I'll get the rest of my stuff later. Thanks for everything."
"No problem, Adam."

         Adam gets into his SUV and starts it. Robbie starts his and takes off. Adam follows him.

Read Part 7: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2045863-Robbie-Part-7
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