Change

“It’s a till, we’ve got loads of change, your change won’t help,” I said and before I could stop it my fist flew out delivering a straight jab to the woman’s face. Just a little sharp one. It felt good, I admit. Nah, I didn’t punch her but it was close though, I had to keep that shit in check. I glanced up at Paula. She was nearly done. I growled and the woman before me looked up and smiled at my smile that I’d done to hide the growl.

Shouldn’t be growling at customers, that’s poor form.

Anyway, she’d lost count. It was obvious. It was all over and an air of resignation swept over me. I pursed my lips and waited for the fucking woman.

Forty Seconds Earlier

“Who wanna help me do computing?” Asked Enrique looking from me to Paula about, I dunno, six times. It fucks me off that he even asks to be honest. He lives in my garage and watches my Sky TV via a coaxial cable from the rf2 output. Means he can only watch what I watch, but come on. It was a stupid question anyway, we both wanted to help Enrique with computing because it meant sitting in the office all afternoon looking at the internet. Drinking coffee. It’s a dream scenario. So while Enrique’s looking at us, both Paula and I are trying to resist blurting out “me! me! me!” We’re playing it cool. Until Enrique’s piggy eyes hit her for the fifth time. She cracks. “Me!” She shouts.

“Actually, I’ll do it!” I say to Enrique over the top of the woman’s head. I looked at Paula. She had some disgusting person in front of her buying short sausage rolls. That was okay. I just had a woman who didn’t even have anything. Any shopping. She probably wanted fags. I’d win. “Yes?” I asked the woman,

“Do you sell paycards?”

“Yeah,” I said reaching for the paycards.

“Can I have two one hour paycards?”

“Of course,” I said ripping them off. why didn’t you just fucking ask for two paycards? Then, If we didn’t have them I’d just have said we don’t have them you and didn’t need to fuck around with your first redundant fucking question! “One pounds forthy six pence, please.” I told her.

“Forthy?”

“Forty.” Fucked that up trying to speak too quickly.

Actually,” the wretched woman said and my heart shit. I was done for. Actually, that word is the start of an oft-unfinished sentence that goes ‘actually I might have the change.’ But people only say the actually. I nodded at the woman and took a deep breath. Only some muscles in my face could be bothered working. My cheek muscles. The cheeks of my face were tense but the rest of my face was relaxed. I could see from the woman’s counting, her tilting of her purse and shaking it, that she’d fucked it. She didn’t have enough change. She’d completely fucked it but because she was a woman she felt she had to see this through to its fucking dragged-out and bitter conclusion Instead of accepting she didn’t have the change. Even though a cursory glance made that obvious, she was going to count all her change. I looked up at Paula. She still had the guy with her. There was some hope but the woman was so slow. She clearly felt my impatience and it was messing with her motor-control skills and this made me mad.

“We’ve got loads of change, it’s a till,” I said and before I could stop it my fist flew out, delivering a straight jab to the woman’s face. Just a little sharp one. It felt good, I admit. Nah, it was close though, I had to keep that shit in check. I glanced up at Paula. She was nearly done. I growled and the woman before me looked up and smiled at my smile that I’d done to hide the growl. Shouldn’t be growling at customers, that’s poor form. Anyway, she’d lost count. It was obvious. It was all over and an air of resignation swept over me. I pursed my lips and waited for the fucking woman. “Seriously, you giving me change isn’t any help to me,” I said but it was like the woman was deaf.

“No,” she said. The woman said. She then opened another part of her purse. Fuck. But I was still closer to the door. This could still…

The woman produced two pound notes, which I’m ashamed to say I snatched from her claws but my optimism was short-lived. I noticed something scuttling in my peripheral vision. It was Paula. I didn’t need to look. She was scuttling to Enrique’s office door. I knew what face she’d have. She’d be wearing the face that you don’t wear if you’d won something. You shouldn’t be smug. Don’t rub it in. I rang in the woman’s purchase and handed her her change. I watched with disgust as she put the change carefully in her purse. “Thanks,” said the woman. I just looked at her. No emotion. Just looked. Then the guy wanted to pay for his hot food.

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