Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/862727-Hold-the-Pickle
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Comedy · #862727
Ever eaten at a K-Mart deli?
"Touch it," said Mary.

Kyle leaned over and peered through the domed lid of the large, glass jar that rested at eye level on top of the cooler. He tapped it and watched the fuzzy thing floating within jiggle slightly.

"No way," he said. "That thing's gross."

"Give ya five bucks." Mary flashed him her best cheerleader smile.

Kyle felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to find Jack Kinsworthy, the Kmart deli manager, staring at him through bloodshot eyes. The reflection of florescent lights glared from his polished, bald head.

"What are you doing?" asked Kinsworthy.

"Looking at this pickle," Kyle replied.

He pointed at the hairy tube nestled comfortably in the jar of green brine.

"Get back to work," stated Kinsworthy, not even looking at the jar.

After a moment's hesitation, Kyle brushed past him and assumed his position at the cash register.

"And you," said Kinsworthy, flicking his hand at Mary. "Sweep something." He turned and marched into the office, allowing the door to not quite close behind him.

Kyle stared out into the open space between the deli counter and the women's casual tops. Various K-mart shoppers skirted through his field of vision. Unless one actually faced him and began to speak, he would continue standing like a statue until his watch beeped eight o'clock. Then he would begin to break down the sandwich bar and help Mary clean up.

This had been his routine for almost eight months and he had been promoted to "floor manager," a position that seemed to have no solid definition. One minute he would be slapping together a sandwich, the next he would find himself counting money in Kinsworthy's office. Kinsworthy usually counted the money again, but Kyle didn't really care; his mom was proud of him and he made enough money to pay for the dent he'd accidentally put in the fender of her car.

"Five bucks," hissed Mary, swishing the broom across the perfectly clean floor. A lock of curly, blonde hair dangled over one eye. "Five bucks if you touch it."

"I'll give you ten," Kyle stated, his gaze remaining fixed on the spot four feet in front of his nose.

"Ten?" Mary stopped sweeping. "You'd give me ten bucks?"

"Ten. But, you gotta hold it."

"I'm not holdin' that thing!" she said. She propped the broom against the soda machine and turned toward the jar. "Ten bucks?"

"Yeah," he said. "But, you have to hold it. Both hands."

Mary stared into the jar. The pickle reminded her of some documentary that she'd seen about kelp beds... Except seals darted and played throughout those. Nothing swam among the hair on the pickle.

"I think it looks kinda like a dick," she said, tapping the jar.

"What?!" Kyle turned to her, shocked. "How do you know? When have you ever seen one?"

"Lots'a times," said Mary. She lifted the jar from the top of the cooler and gently lowered it down to the counter.

"Dicks don't look like that," Kyle said, walking over to her. "Dicks aren't all hairy like that! And they're not green!"

Mary carefully opened the jar then looked up at Kyle. "Just how many dicks have you seen?" she asked, winking.

"A few," he said before he could stop himself.

"What?!" Mary turned to him, her eyes narrowing.

"After gym. You know, we gotta take showers." He felt his face burning and knew he was as red as a stop sign.

"You look at other guys in the shower?"

"No! It's just-"

"Maybe you should hold the pickle." She stepped away from the jar.

Kyle walked back to the register and turned to face her. "How much of me can you see?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" Her eyes flashed to his crotch then back to his face.

"You can see my whole body, right?"

"Well, duh."

"And I can see all of yours. You see what I'm saying?"


Kyle sighed and scratched his head.

"Okay," he said. "What if I was naked?"


"Yeah. Then how much of me would you see?"

Mary stared at him for a moment, then her eyes widened. "Oh!" she said. She pointed toward the pickle. "So they aren't all hairy like that?"

"No," said Kyle. "I thought you said you'd seen lots of-"

"Look, Kyle. I might be a cheerleader, but I'm not a slut."

"So, you've never-"

"No. Never." She picked up the broom and began to sweep invisible crumbs across the floor. After a moment she paused. "What about you?"

"Get back to work out there!"

Kinsworthy's voice boomed from the office. Kyle turned to see the bald manager peering at them through the tiny gap of the not quite closed door.

Kyle moved back to the register and stared into the open space between the counter and women's casual top's. He could feel Mary's eyes on the back of his head.

"No," he said, without turning around.

Mary whisked the broom back and forth and edged closer to him.

"Ten bucks, huh?" she said.


"You're on." After propping the broom against the register, Mary walked back over to the jar. Kyle followed, quickly glancing toward the office door to make sure Kinsworthy wasn't watching.

Slowly, Mary dipped her hands into the green liquid surrounding the hairy pickle.

"Yuck," she said, her face screwed into a grimace.

Kyle watched in fascination as she gently wrapped her fingers around the pickle and lifted it out of the brine.

"It feels like. . . I don't know," she said. "I've never felt anything this gross before."

"Is it squishy?" asked Kyle. He leaned forward to get a better look.

"No. Not really. Just kind of slimey."

Suddenly, the pickle squirted out of her hands, shot to the floor, and slid with lightening speed into Kinsworthy's office. A moist "thunk" sounded as the pickle hit a wall, followed by a shout of fear. Kinsworthy bounded out of the office.

"Oh, shit." said Kyle.

Mary stared at her hands, not quite registering what had just happened.

"What the hell was that?" asked Kinsworthy, backing quickly away from the office door.

Mary quickly wiped her hands on her pants.

Kyle rushed over to the broom and picked it up, along with a dustpan.

"I think it was a roach, sir," he said. "I'll get it." He scrambled into the office and shut the door behind him.

"Biggest fuckin' roach I've ever seen," said Kinsworthy. "It looked like it had a million legs!"

"I think I saw it out of the corner of my eye," said Mary, her face bone white.

Several bangs and clatters erupted from the office.

"Got'cha!" Kyle exclaimed from behind the door. A moment later he emerged, the broom propped inside the dustpan. He walked toward Kinsworthy.

"You got it?" asked the manager.

"Yeah," replied Kyle. "Big sucker."

"Let me see." Kinsworthy bent toward the dustpan.

"You might not want to look in there," Kyle said. "You know how roaches are. It's probably still twitching around."

Kinsworthy straightened up and looked Kyle dead in the eye.

"You're sure you got it?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Good work, Kyle." Kinsworthy placed his hand on Kyle's shoulder. "I knew I made you floor manager for a reason."

"Yes, sir."

Kinsworthy turned and walked back into the office, not quite closing the door behind him.

Kyle sighed and looked at Mary.

"You owe me ten dollars," she said.

Kyle's watch beeped; it was eight o'clock.
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