Dedicated to Alexandrine Ribas
Words: Love, Truth, Afraid, Strong, Overcome
Beer bottles were strewn across the living room floor, small spots of alcohol dripping from the bottles and staining the carpet. Jamie held back bile from the strong stench. His father was snoring on the couch. Jamie walked past him and into his room. He was 18 and still lived with his alcoholic father. It was hard to get any jobs and even though he was looking he knew his father didn’t believe him. Sighing he sat down on the edge of his bed wondering what to do next.
Jamie had overcome many hurdles in his life, but truth be told, he was afraid. Afraid of his father getting kicked out, afraid of not having a roof over his head, and afraid he would stay unemployed.
“Jamie!” his father growled.
Jamie sighed thinking he must not have been as quiet as he thought. He walked into the living room where his father, beer gut hanging out from under his shirt, swigged from yet another bottle of alcohol.
“You need a job,” he stated.
“I know,” Jamie replied.
“Stop pussyfooting around and get one already.”
“Dad, I’m looking.”
“No, you’re not. You’re pussyfooting around otherwise you would have one already.”
“That’s not true.”
“You’re such a waste,” his father said and took another swig.
Jamie suppressed a sigh. No matter how many times he filled out applications he just couldn’t get a lucky break. His father not believing him hurt but he kept the feelings to himself. It wouldn’t do well to show weakness of any sort.
“If you don’t get a job soon, I’m kicking you out!”
Jamie looked at his father. This development shocked him. He was looking for a job, couldn’t his father see that? Still, with no results he couldn’t prove him wrong.
“Dad, I’ve been looking.”
“You’re still here.”
“It’s 5pm. Most places are closed now.”
“You’re such a waste. Your brother was able to get a job like that,” he said and snapped his fingers.
The words stung. Jamie hated being compared to his older brother, but his father had no qualms doing it. Even after Jamie said his true feelings about being compared, his father still did it. It wasn’t right.
“I’ll continue my search tomorrow,” Jamie answered and walked back to his room.
“You better…” Jamie heard his father slur as he shut his bedroom door.
Jamie laid down on his bed, his hands behind his head, and stared up at the ceiling. How could he prove to his father that he was looking for work? He had no place to go and he needed his dad. Sighing, he cried himself to sleep.
The next day he woke up early and set out to look for work. Many places didn’t even give him the time of day. Jamie was running out of options.
He strolled to a restaurant called “The Place,” and hoping against hope, he went in.
“Are you hiring?” he asked the host
“We are,” the man said and went to go get him an application.
Jamie smiled to himself. Maybe his luck would change after all. The host came back with a paper application.
“Do you have any experience?” he asked.
“No but I’m a fast learner.” Jamie replied quickly, a knot beginning to form in his stomach.
“No matter, we need all the people we can get,” the host said quickly and moved on to greeting a couple that just walked in.
Holding the application, Jamie scrawled all his information on it quickly as possible, glad he brought a pen this time. After he was finished, he asked the host for the manager.
The manager came up to him.
“None sir, but I’m a fast learner.”
“Can you cook?”
“I like to think I can.”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“It’s a yes,”
“Great. Welcome aboard. You start tomorrow.”
“Thank you, sir!”
Jamie was hired as a line cook. He was trained and after a few weeks could cook as well as the best cooks in the place. Trevor a fellow cook, whom always looked troubled went up to him one day.
“Take a bite. You’re gonna love this,” Trevor said.
“Isn’t that against protocol?” Jamie asked not wanting to get fired from his first job.
“Oh this doesn’t go to the regular customers.” Trevor said conspiratorially.
“I’ll pass,” Jamie said and went back to cooking.
“Your loss, but I’ll save you some anyway.”
Later that evening, Jamie ordered dinner for himself and for his dad. He didn’t know Trevor was the one who cooked it. He took the bag of food and went home where he and his dad ate in silence.
As he was chewing, there was a tangy and yet gamey taste to the meat he ordered. It was a normal cheeseburger deluxe, but it tasted much different. Much better one might say if they were a food critic. He made a mental note to himself to see who cooked his food next time. He would request that chef for now on.
At his next shift, Trevor was nowhere to be found. Jamie found this rather odd and alarming until he realized it was probably Trevor’s day off. That made sense. He continued to cook meals and found he enjoyed the fast pace of being line cook. It was a job he enjoyed which was a bonus and his dad didn’t threaten to kick him out again.
“Hey, I need you to get fresh meat from the refrigerator but before you do I need you to sign this non-disclosure agreement.” The top chef told him. “It’s from the boss.”
“Okay,” Jamie agreed finding that rather odd.
He signed the agreement and went to the back freezer. The one he was not allowed to go in for several weeks. He often wondered why, truth be told, but it didn’t matter. He had a job to do. Opening the freezer door, his body shook. His eyes widened with terror. On a meat hook was Trevor and below him were patties where his legs should have been. He let out a piercing scream as the top chef stabbed him in the back and all went dark.