If I could do that I would be so happy, I thought as I watched Paula load the shotgun and then fire it at the people crossing the car park. The click she does is perfect, as is the recoil. I can do an excellent duck impression. Really excellent. The key is to go for more or an ‘ack’ than a quack. I can’t do impressions of people or people firing guns. Sometimes I can do voices if I don’t think about it. I’ll come out with a cracker of a voice probably three or four times a year but I can never repeat the feat. I over-think it. It’s always a one time deal with me.
I liked it when Paula pretended to explode candidate after candidate. It had become a thing.
“Incoming!” I’d shout as I spotted one and to a trained eye such as mine they were easy to spot. There was just something about the unnatural speed they approached that separated them from genuine customers. People buying things just walked. People coming for an interview tried to look like they were just walking but moved either too fast or too slow. When I shouted at Paula she’d rush to the window and do her firing a gun impression. She’d hold the gun at her waist, like a pro. “Missed!” I’d shout, or something like that, and the interviewee would get to the door and Paula would pretend to throw herself behind her counter. She’d pretend to be diving with her arms outstretched and then crouch behind the counter for a few seconds before standing straight, pulling down her top because it rode up when she jumped, and chewing gum. I think she was getting bored of it but I wasn’t.
Paula can also whistle with her fingers in her mouth. I wish I could do that too.
When the people actually got in the shop the mood would change.
“Hi,” they would say brightly like I was their friend or something. Like I needed more friends. Fuck that. “I’m here for-“
“There!” I’d say pointing at Enrique’s door and then I’d pretend to be busy. Not stopping until I heard the door open and close.
I don’t love Paula or anything but she can be pretty cool sometimes and that’s why coming out of the toilet and seeing her wrestle with Carol near the front doors made my blood run cold. Bit of a cliché, that, blood run cold. Should really try and step away from shit like that if I want to be considered a real life Samuel Pepys but what can I say? It was like my blood suddenly became colder.
Fuck you, critics.
I considered how this could have happened. It wasn’t part of the plan. I knew Carol was mental but… I was only in the toilet for 20 minutes. And… “Stop it!” I screamed, sounding just like my most sensitive child does when there’s mild peril on TV. The fight ceased immediately and Paula turned to me.
“What?” She asked. She was holding a full size witch. It wasn’t Carol at all.
“I’ll do that,” I told her but she was still staring at me like I was mad. What I had to do now was just carry on like I hadn’t screamed. Move about, do stuff, deflect, until Paula forgot about it. I went to take the witch from her.
“I want to do it,” she said. She was holding the witch by the armpits.
“Alright, take it easy,” I told her. She positioned the witch to greet customers while I looked through the bunch of Halloween tat and bunting that had also been delivered. Now I had something to do today anyway. I’d make sure it took all day though.
“When’s Halloween?” I asked.
“End of October.” She moved the witch’s arm, stood back, pondered and then returned the witch’s arm to its original position.
“That’s ages,” I told her.
“Couple of weeks.”
“No!” I said picking up a paper. Fucking hell, numb-nuts was right. We were more than half way through October, how did that happen? “Wellington okay?”
“Yup.” She was now rooting through the box.
“Be Christmas soon,” I said. “Wonder where the party will be.”
“Ha! You’ll be with the new dicks.”
“I probably won’t go,” I told her. And you’re not going, I thought. I meant to England.
“We’ll have to have a leaving party,” I told her.
“Yeah,” she agreed but she didn’t seem very excited. She pulled out a mask. Frankenstein.
“Sweet!” I exclaimed and then had a look. The masks were at the bottom. It was going to be a lucky dip. “The fuck is this?” I asked showing Paula the mask I’d snagged. I didn’t recognise the monster.
“That guy on the news?”
“Maybe,” I said looking at it before putting it on. It squashed my big nose. Paula put Frankenstein on and I laughed.
“Brains!” Said Paula holding her arms up and letting her hands hang limply.
“Erm,” I said. I didn’t know that man on the news’ catchphrase.
Enrique’s door opened and we turned. Enrique was ushering out a guy I hadn’t seen go in. They were laughing like a pair of fucking twats.
“I impressed!” Said Enrique to the guy and then to my horror Enrique gave him a tour of the shop. He hadn’t done that yet. They laughed their way around until they were at the door. The guy shook Enrique’s hand and before leaving he waved at me and Paula. We didn’t move. We hadn’t moved anything but our heads since they came out.
“He good!” Said Enrique watching the dick cross the car park. The dick had a goatie beard and sideburns. What a dick. “I like his beard,” said Enrique turning to us and stroking his chin. We didn’t move and so he turned back to the window, stood for a few moments then nodded. He then turned back to us. “Paula, tell Jaime to come see me,” he said, looking at Paula. “Good morning,” he said looking at me and then he goose-stepped to his office. We watched him go.