Celebrate Valentine’s differently with your loved ones and maybe watch the Australian Open, a little classic tennis on mute whilst listening to the radio or reading. Sometimes, it doesn’t turn out nice. But I believe in Valentine’s Day and that people really can change. It’s true. I’m a pro Valentine believer.
Thinking back, Ottis was beyond rude. Some criminals had their own place in the kitchen.
There were no Russian T-34 tanks in Burlington or Brewington for O’Toole. Russians were late to intervene, begging them with phone calls, Skype calls, Facetime chats and mentioned them in tweets, but the Poutine remained silent. Ottis O’Toole was hired to wash dishes at The Rude Native after Lionheart changed its company name again. The job paid easy money. He would work in the kitchen going nowhere fast. He had lots of odd jobs.
“Do you have a sec?” Carol asked almost like she wasn’t asking a question. A floral print shirt over khaki pants couldn’t hide the rolls of fat, but God her dainty heart-shaped lips.
“Sure.” He walked down the hall with her fast, barely fitting through a narrow corridor. Carol King was a pig, but she knew how to hire a low-life, and she talked real sweet.
At the narrow door into the kitchen, “Straight up,” she said, “I need you to wash dishes. I mean now.” She pointed inside a modest kitchen space and then howled.
“Sure,” he said, then boom, she bopped away. The back-to-back-to-back Pink Floyd annoying at first, but he got into a rhythm. Palmolive was soft on hands.
The radio station played Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-7). The TV on the wall in the kitchen’s corner was stuck on the Australian Open reruns on a sports network, rudely flipped over to APTN and the channel played The Beachcombers before it switched programs and turned to college basketball. Oddly, he was watching a game with the Oregon State Beavers taking on the Washington Huskies. The work came easy until he looked up and saw her. He didn’t see a flower.
Rose was standing over top of him, and she was pissed. Why did she want to interrupt him, the dishes, and the Oregon State Beavers?
“Rose, it’s nice to see you,” Ottis said. Rose was quick, strong, and spirited. (He later knew her as the bawdy wench barmaid of Weber’s Warehouse). He remembered her birthday and going home with her on multiple occasions. He comforted her about everything that happened and he told her Tuesday would be missed. But he only wanted to fuck her screaming-eagle style, the same way he did it to Danielle on air.
The kitchen was hot. There were a lot of dishes to put away, and there was a lot more college basketball to watch. And he had to finish the shift, but maybe she was hired to help. He was staring at her, but the factory sound was horrible and ambient noise from the TV and sound system was garbled. “Did you come to help?” He stared at her and there was an ugly cold sore on her bottom lip. It startled him, but he’d seen worse.
“How is this fair? I’m just a girl with herpes,” Rose ranted. “You fucked up any chances of me having a normal life. I’ve been hired as a fucking waitress because I don’t have enough money to go to college and get an actual job. People are spreading vicious rumours. I have to wear a mask again. People truly believe that I had something to do with Tuesday’s death. I just can’t get over any of this,” she said, breaking down, violently starting to sob. “And you? You’re the native big-boy and what do you have to say for yourself? What do you know about any of this dog-shit?”
“Nothing,” Ottis said. “I’m really sorry.” He legitimately thought Danielle had something to do with Tuesday, but Mike might’ve had a hand in the laundry.
“Tuesday’s gone,” she sobbed. “Maybe it was a hit, or he took his life.”
“I don’t know,” he said and sighed then lowered his head into dishes.
“You, son-of-a-bitch, cock-sucker,” she snapped. “You don’t care. You don’t give a shit. I’m blaming you, Ottis. I blame you or Daniel Blowden or Mario Valez or Alex Zappotta, or whoever the fuck you are for royally fucking up my life.” She lunged, spitting in his blank, pale, emotionless face. “Fucker.”
“It’s not my fault.” Ottis didn’t know what else to say. He knew she wanted him to call after sex on her birthday. He thought about it. He thought about it long and hard, but she was nineteen and getting older. He wanted to leave her and Tuesday behind.
“Screw you,” she shouted. Her eye makeup smeared. She was bitter, but she didn’t contract herpes from him. It was Tuesday Alvarez. But Tuesday was history, haunting him every goddamn day. It hurt bad, but he wanted to leave it in the past. Move on.
“Really, Rose, I’m sorry about everything.”
“You’re not sorry. You can go to hell.” She stormed out of the kitchen with tears in her eyes, only stopping, staring, giving him the middle finger before leaving. Carol bounced around the corner and let out a laugh. She had a big bucket of popcorn.
“Get back to work,” the manager said.
“Yes ma’am,” Ottis answered.
He spent the rest of his shift replaying it over in his head. It’s like he had seen it all before on YouTube. Ripped episodes of The Geraldo Rivera Show had all the same horseshit. Who could stand the drama?