“You alright, Stan?” I’d asked and he’d paused from looking though his rucksack and slowly looked up at me.
“Am I alright?” He asked.
“Are you alright, you should be asking.” Stan had a massive spot on his face, just under his nostril and his hair was either London cool or fucked, I couldn’t tell. I tried not to look at his spot.
“Am I alright?” I asked I don’t even know who. Me? Him?
“No, you’re not alright. You work in a shop,” He said. His eyes were like a dying guinea pigs. “I’ve developed an app for the fucking iPhone. The Apple iPhone. I’m on it. I’m alright.”
“Yeah,” I said and then after a moment Stan chuckled and went back to rooting through his bag. He brought out… how many. Me, Enrique, Wellington, Paula… 4 white boxes.
“iPhone 5s for you. Bam!” He coughed when he bammed.
“Sweet.” I picked up a box and turned it over. Class packaging.
“Wouldn’t be able to do that if I’d fucked up my life, would I?”
“I guess not.”
“So,” said Stan. “I want you lot to go on a road trip. Across France.”
“You lot go to France, I’m paying for everything, get to Cannes coz that little… Marcel he’s showing his film.”
“You want us to document the trip for your app?”
“No, I want you to fucking phone each other. Here’s a credit card.” With a click he placed a credit card on the counter next to the small pile of white boxes. I picked it up. The name on it was a woman’s and double-barrelled. Stan saw me reading it. “Don’t worry, it’s my girlfriend’s.”
“Do this for me, yeah?” Said Stan but he seemed distracted now. He was looking around the shop. “Just going to take some stuff.”
“Go for it,” I urged. Stan nodded and walked down the aisles stuffing handfuls of things into his rucksack and then then just went out. He stopped in the car park and looked around and then just walked off.
This was yesterday. Last night I dug out my big rucksack and packed it with socks and underpants and my favourite T-shirts and a spare pair of jeans and a spare pair of trainers and a towel.
We met in the crisp and clear car park. I was wearing my trucker’s cap. It had been decided we were going in Wellington’s double-cab pick-up and they were all standing around it. The back was full of camping gear Wellington had because he’s an action and adventure kinda guy. He can probably abseil. “Shotgun!” I shouted as soon as I was close enough that they could hear me. It was cold enough that I could see my breath. I then walked the remaining forty metres until I got to them. “I’m sitting in the front,” I added dropping my rucksack and stretching and then as I stretched I said it. I’d planned to say it, gone over the pros and cons and felt it was okay to say and I said it.
“Wassup, my nigga?” I asked Wellington and immediately knew it was a massive mistake. It sounded horrible. In my head as I’d walked to walk it had sounded okay. But it didn’t sound okay at all. It was supposed to be proof of how racist I wasn’t. A racist wouldn’t say that. It was friendly. Oh God.
“Ha!” Said Wellington, shaking his, he continued doing what he was doing. Paula was staring at me. I shook my head at her.
“Sorry,” I said.
“I’m sitting in the front,” said Paula.
“You’re too fat!” I said and laughed and then remembered she was Wellington’s girlfriend and he probably liked her. “I know France,” I added.
“I’ve got sat-nav,” said Wellington. I stared at him. Really? You playin’ me like that? Yup, he didn’t want me to sit in the front. Fine. I’d sit in the back with Enrique. We’d take turns.
“You got boiled egg sandwiches?” I asked Enrique.
“No!” But his eyes went untrustworthy.
“Bin ’em,” I said. Wellington picked my rucksack up and went to put it in the back of his truck. “Hold your horses!” I said and then while I was trying to work out if that phrase had any racist connotations I removed the CD I’d made from the big side pocket of my parka. “Tunes!” I said and then handed Wellington the bag.
“What’s that?” Asked Paula.
“Road trip music!” I handed her the square box. I’d made it with my computer. I was sure my taste in music would impress Wellington. I didn’t know much about music but I knew the classics. China Crisis, Seal, Bjork and OMD.
“There’s no CD player,” she said, handing it back.
“Of course there is, you silly cu…” I laughed. Enrique barked a laugh but Wellington didn’t. Neither did Paula. This was going to be fun, I thought.
“MP3s only,” said Wellington.
“This is going to be fun… hey, we all got out iPhones?” I was the project manager. They all nodded.
Wellington checked the cargo was secure and then climbed in. Paula went around and got in my seat.
“Let me see your sandwiches,” I said to Enrique, clicking my finger near him.
“No way, man!” He said and went to get in the rear door. I grabbed his shoulder.
“I’m not getting in the back with you if you’re eating egg sandwiches.”
“Well, let me see them then?”
I went to grab his hat, he tried to duck and weave but I’m taller and got it and took out the greaseproof paper wrapped square that was located inside. I sniffed the paper. Enrique was standing with his hands on his hips.
“They’re fucking egg!” I said.
“Tuna?” I said with my eyebrows raised and started to open it. Enrique licked his lips. I’d half unwrapped it when Enrique grabbed his hat and admitted his crime. He climbed in and I went over to the bin, shaking my head. At the bin I looked into the darkened shop and smiled. I could see the top of the Slush Puppie machine. See you in Hell, I thought and then jogged over to the waiting truck.
The truck lurched forward just as I was about grab the chrome door handle. Wellington’s window was open, his elbow was sticking out and I laughed. “Good one, dickheads!” I said good naturedly but I stood there for a moment, smiling, and then I walked nonchalantly to the door which again lurched away from me just before I made contact. “Ah! That’s so funny!” I shouted and judging by the laughter coming from the truck, they agreed. I marched to the door which accelerated away from me. I sighed and went for the door. The door moved away from me with one small screech and stopped further away from me with another. I just shook my head.
“It’s not funny anymore!” I shouted but I was still trying to smile. I felt sorry for them, to have such a retarded sense of humour must be terrible. I stood there.
“Come on, get in,” Said Wellington leaning out of the window. I began to walk to the door and it sped off but I started jogging after it to get it when it stopped but it started going faster and so I ran faster trying to lean for the door handle. I was sprinting and leaning and then I stopped. The truck stopped.
“Fuck yourselves, I’m not going, give me my bag!” I shouted at the truck which had stopped ten metres ahead of me. Wellington was leant out of the window. He had his both arms folded on the sill so I started sprinting again but the fucker managed to pull away using just his the clutch and accelerator, without even looking where he was going. Motherfucker. I stopped. “Seriously! Just give me my bag!” I shouted. That was met with more laughter from inside the truck. “Give me my fucking bag!” I screamed. I was out of breath. I stood there looking at the idling truck. I looked around. We were already about two miles from the shop.
“Come on, get in!” Said Wellington. I was breathing hard through my nose.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” I asked. I looked around again and then I ran off and hid in some bushes. I saw the truck pass about three times. Fucking idiots, I thought. Serves them right. I waited in the bushes until an hour after the boat had departed and then walked back to the shop warmed by the weak sun and how guilty they’d feel. They were probably so guilty they hadn’t gone. They were probably in the car park outside the shop.
They weren’t in the car park outside the shop. A few grumbling customers were.
“The fuck’s this?” I was asked.
“Alright mate,” I replied, opening the doors and letting them in. I walked around the shop, turning on the fluorescents and people did their shopping. The last thing I turned on was the Slush Puppie machine. It’s beaters starting beating, snidely, and I stared into its large eyes of blue and red. I tapped it on the head and then went behind my counter.
That afternoon they all came back. Stan’s girlfriend’s card had been refused so they’d gone out for lunch instead. Enrique had lost his phone.