I was behind my counter and Enrique was on the other side of it. Enrique was on the side the customers stand. I can’t stand the customers but I fucking hate Enrique.
“Give me that a second,” I said holding my palm out. Enrique placed the Rubik’s Cube in it. It hadn’t left his hands for three days. I’d done a side for him but he’d messed that up and now there was a blue corner square where a red should be. “Yeah, I got it!” I said twisting the cube but making sure it was hidden just below the counter. I stuck my tongue out of the corner of my mouth to make it look like I was concentrating. I was actually. “Yep, this is it!” I told Enrique and he got up on his tip-toes, trying to witness it, but I held it lower behind the counter. I took a sharp intake of breath. “I’ve done it! It has actually opened!” I said staring down. “Enrique!” I said. “You were right all along!” I looked up at him, my mouth hanging open.
“Lemme see!” Said Enrique.
I looked down. “It’s a message from your dead dad, Enrique!”
“How should I know? Is he?”
“Anyway, he’s not dead but yes, it’s in Colombian but I think I can make it out… it says, Dear Enrique. You’re a massive fucking disappointment.” I tossed him back the cube. I’d completely randomised the whole thing. Enrique looked over each side of the cube while pouting and nodding. I raised my eyebrows. Bring it on, motherfucker, my eyebrows said.
Enrique had been a dick ever since I’d told him that Rubik’s Cubes don’t open. Like I was Mr Rubik’s! Like I’d invented to impossible thing! Fuck it. You know? What can I do? I hate people.
He’d made me pick out my cigarette butts from the planters out back like I was a child. I’d withdrawn driving lessons from him. Real tit for tat stuff and to top it all off my X-ray looked fine. Great news! Except my leg hurt like fuck. Ever since the X-ray had come back all clear my leg had started to hurt again.
Enrique was still nodding and looking over the cube. His nods weren’t directly up and down because he was tilting his head both ways. He was formulating. I stared into his face. Eventually Enrique looked at my face, he was still nodding.
“Bueno,” said Enrique nodding. “Chu Mista Perfik, huh?”
“That’s right, I’m Mr Perfect.” My eyes were fixed fixedly on his. He was still nodding, though only slightly. Ha! Fucker couldn’t think of anything because I am perfect. I held his stare. He held mine but he’d crack first. I put my palms on the counter so my head would be closer to his. He was going to look away.
Enrique’s eyes flicked sideways.
Wanker, I thought and smiled. I also thought, pathetic. But something was weird. Enrique wasn’t looking like a battered dog. I narrowed my eyes at his. His flicked sideways again and stayed sideways for two seconds before returning to me and this time when his eyes came back they were set into the face of a smug foreign dick. He was smiling. Even though he’d lost the staring contest. I narrowed my eyes further and Enrique started nodding again and his moustache went up on one side. I started pouting and exhaled. Enrique was really nodding, his head coming a few inches forward with each nod. I exhaled again.
“H’okay!” Said Enrique, smiling and nodding and then he turned on his heels and headed for his office. I was puzzled for a moment and then I looked to where his eyes had flicked and I closed mine and exhaled. I’d also been inhaling but I didn’t mention that because it’s not dramatic.
“Enrique!” I shouted. He turned and smiled, pleasantly enough.
“That’s not fair mate, that’s out of order.”
“Hey, dun worry, chor Meesta Perfik!” He said and then turned and smugly entered his office. He closed the door smugly. I looked back at the Slush Puppie machine. Its two stupid beaters spinning inanely through a tub of blue and a tub of red frozen water and chemicals. Slush, if you will.
I’d been banging on about getting a Slush Puppie machine for, well, since the day I started probably. They had one in a Spar in town. I’d gone on about getting one whenever possible. If the till was ever short I’d suggest a Slush Puppie machine would solve it. When the papers didn’t arrive due to fog I’d explain how if we had a Slush Puppie machine nobody would care about the papers. I’d gone on about one for so long I’d long lost any actual hope of one arriving. It was more like a running joke. So when Graham the delivery guy wheeled one in I did what I always do when something good happens. I checked for hidden cameras.
I found three in the toilet. I looked into each one. I found one directly over my my counter. I stared into that one. I didn’t want to look too happy in case a TV joker burst out making me looking like a chump for being happy.
Instead of a clown, Enrique had burst out of his office with his arms out and I ran and hugged him. “Thanks Enrique!” I’d managed and hugged him again, my cheek pressed on his shoulder.
“Like? It’s…” I swallowed hard and sniffed. Enrique patted me on the shoulder. I flashed him a brief smile and then we stood, an arm around each others shoulder, and watched as Graham, the dour man, installed it. I even thanked Graham when he left, first time ever, and then I ran to it. “Do you want one? I’ll make you one and Paula you want one? Of course you want one. I’ll make one. Wait there.” I didn’t wait for answers, they were getting one. It hadn’t frozen yet but the flavour would be the same. They’d get the gist. I poured myself one and Paula one and Enrique one.
We stood in a semi circle and after I’d looked at the great dog cartoon on the front of the paper cup I made a toast. “To Slush Puppies!” We drank. “Probably taste better when it’s frozen,” I told them. Enrique was clicking out of the side of his mouth.
“I thought you said it’s best to mix it with the straw until it melts?” Said Paula mixing the liquid with her straw.
“Yeah, but melting’s different than never being frozen.”
“Yeah, you wait.”
That afternoon we all had purple mouths but since that day nobody had touched the machine. It just stood in the corner by the door. Spinning it’s fucking paddles. Like a fucking double-washing-machine contraption wearing old-fashioned 3D glasses. Like my father. It stood there. Staring. Judging. Tutting.