I made Enrique look at one of those pictures on the internet. One of those innocent looking pictures you stare at and stare at and then a screaming monster appears, making you shit in your pants. Paula had got me with it last week but it hadn’t been funny then. “Nice one, you fucking idiot,” I’d told her when my heart had regained a steady although still elevated beat. I nearly punched her. Some people like being scared, not me so I hadn’t spoken to her for the rest of that day but when I did it to Enrique it was funny, you know, funny because Enrique.
“Just look,” I said when he grew bored and was ready to give up looking. He suggested we look at a great pornography site he’d found and I was concerned the computer had crashed. “Look!” And he looked harder and I squinted so I wouldn’t see it and my face was laughing and then the monster screamed and Enrique screamed and I laughed and Enrique pushed the monitor off the table and scrambled backwards and I laughed even more. Proper ho-hos. And then Enrique was asking me if I’d seen it and I couldn’t talk because I was laughing so much and the monitor was smashed but Enrique still looked at it with distrust.
“Chu see dat?” Asked Enrique turning to me and grasping my clothes. He got up and went around his desk and kicked at the monitor. The monitor was fucked, completely fucked. “M.. monster in de pooter!” He warned me and then bravely, perhaps to save me, he punched the keyboard that remained on his desk. He punched it three times, heavy downward blows, but didn’t damage it. You can’t damage a keyboard.
I literally couldn’t talk and had to leave his office. He’d followed me out and wouldn’t go back in and I laughed and laughed and laughed. But of course it soon became apparent Enrique had lost the confidence to look at anything ever again.
I didn’t notice at first but for a couple of days after that Enrique wouldn’t look at anything for more than a few seconds at a time. I just thought he was twitchy because of his heroin addiction and then he brought a priest in. I’d told him it was a joke but he wasn’t having it and so I just let it happen. I wasn’t too bothered because the laughter I’d laughed with Enrique had been incredible. It was like, and this is a guess, you know when somebody dies and you don’t feel better until you have a good cry? Well, my laughter, with its duration and intensity, had been as cleansing as a good old cry. Or like how it’s nice after a big storm.
Actually that’s more like it because the last few days have been stormy as fuck, gale force winds and horizontal rain but today it’s sunny, calm and bright. Somehow brighter than the bright weather had been before the shit weather. It’s just sharper and that’s how I’d felt for a few days after I’d broken Enrique.
That unburdened feeling had lessened and today it was completely driven away by, ironically, Paula’s laughter. I hate Paula’s laughter. It just goes right through me and she was laughing a lot. Enrique was with her and laughing too which doubled the pain. As I stood behind my counter I could tell they were projecting their laughter towards me at the front of the shop. They wanted me to go and check out what was so hilarious but I don’t respond well to such blatant signals and so I gazed out of the window and shuddered.
Although it was bright and dry it’s gone cold. I hate that. Going to have to run in long-sleeve tops from now on. I hate the cold. I closed my eyes and slowly turned my head so it was facing down the aisle towards the hot-food counter and the bursts of shrieking idiocy. I opened my eyes. I honestly hadn’t even considered what might be entertaining them so. It could have been anything. The cartoons in The Daily Mirror. An injured duck. A funny shaped bread roll. You know, because they’re idiots, and so I was surprised when I saw they were laughing at something printed on A4 sheets of paper. I’d printed out my sitcom on A4 sheets of paper. I’d printed off loads of copies, nine pages per copy, to save ink at home, luckily before Enrique smashed the computer. I’d tried to get Paula to read it but she hadn’t. That fucked me off but it seemed she’d had a change of heart and so smiling I walked down towards them.
“What’s that?” I asked and Paula turned a sheet of paper to me confirming it was indeed my situation comedy, The Shop, she then bent over laughing, her hair unhygienically sweeping the metal top of the hot food counter.
“It’s not that funny,” I said and that wasn’t a lie as I had actually tried for more of a, ‘oh yes I get it!’ type reaction rather than full-on moronic belly laughter. “What bit are you up to?” I asked. Paula stood up and wiped her eyes, she scrunched the paper slightly as she did which struck me as disrespectful to my art.
“Are you Steve…” Paula pursed her lips. “Steve McArmstrong?” She blurted.
“No,” I sighed. “He’s made up.”
“It’s based on you?” Her eyebrows were raised to a point in the middle of her forehead. Her mouth was puckered.
“Well, a bit. Just…” I stared at her. My smile gone. I couldn’t even be bothered explaining how comedy worked. Enrique was holding a sheet of paper and looking at it and nodding.
“I like it!” He said nodding. His eyes were moving all over the page. Fucker can’t read. I flicked the back of the paper he was holding which made a loud snap. Enrique screamed, stumbled backwards and pretty much fell over. I laughed a bit at that and then I gathered up all the sheets of my script that were lying around while muttering. Enrique was back on his feet looking startled.
“I’d like to see you clowns write a TV show,” I said.
“I’d put a miserable twat in mine,” said Paula rather too quickly.
“Oh yeah, they’ll make that!” I scoffed. “You don’t even know that you don’t have loads of locations, just one main one.” Paula watched me. I knew that. Just one main location, to keep costs down. When I was sure I’d got all the paper I straightened them by banging the bottom edge on the hot food counter I walked back to my counter. I flicked one of Paula’s hairs that was clinging onto the paper. I read my script and chuckled briefly. The closing date for the competition had passed and I hadn’t got an email telling me I could quit my job, but then I hadn’t checked my spam folder.