Borderline in the Workers' Paradise

Reads: 448  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A mentally ill woman working in a department store fantasizes about revenge against her abusive supervisor.

Submitted: May 10, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 10, 2016

A A A

A A A


In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality. ~Karl Marx 

 

 “Wake me up when I’m a size 6,” Peyton mumbled. It seemed like she hadn’t been asleep any time at all before the alarm clock began blaring its shrill beeps. Just a few more minutes, she said to herself pressing the snooze button. She resisted getting up three more times. Finally, catching a glimpse of the alarm clock, she was jarred back to reality. It was 9:15 and she had to be at Blanchard’s by 9:45! “Where the hell is my seppuku knife?”she exclaimed as she flew out of bed and foraged for something to wear. 

Pulling on her trousers she found, to her horror, she had gained weight since the last time she wore them. Everything else was dirty and crumpled. The clock was ticking fast! Deciding to go ahead and wear the snug pants she rummaged around for the pliers. Lying on the bed she began a protracted northerly battle with the zipper. 

Finally, she managed to find a clean blouse. It was a drab gray tunic style. Quickly she threw it over her head. She prayed it would provide adequate coverage of her hips and rear end. She hoped business would be slow so she could spend most of the day hidden behind the counter. 

Bracing herself for another day at Blanchard’s Peyton sardonically repeated the daily affirmations given to her by her therapist. She gulped down her daily dose of Flozac and Enabilize with a Mexican Coke and dashed out the door to her car.

 Stuck in traffic, the rain pitter-pattered against her windshield. She could tell the sun was trying hard to break free. Each time it peeked out shyly it was overtaken by the gloomy rain clouds. Through the mist she made out the bumper stickers on the pickup truck in front of her: “SSDD” and “Any day above ground is a good one!” She thought of the play, Our Town. Instead of paradise the postmortem characters face an eternity of brutal boredom. Hah, according to theologians you put up with crap here on earth so you can attain paradise after death, she scoffed. It doesn’t really get any better! Thornton Wilder merely exposed their con. 

Sharply she turned the corner and pulled into the Gluckman Mall. Her tires rolled off the edge of the curb with a slight screech. Jolted hard by a speed bump, she careened into the employee parking lot. She jumped out and made the 100-yard dash for the service entrance. 

Peyton raced down the narrow corridor to the dingy gray employee break room. Above the time clock she could see the poster of Blanchard’s CEO looming large. The dear leader’s beady eyes were nearly offset by his tepid smile. She could feel him following her every move.

As she swiped her timecard she saw she had accidentally left a box of Flozac in  her regulation clear plastic handbag. Exposed for all to see was the trademark bright yellow-orange sun. Mortified, she grappled with her messy overstuffed handbag. She managed to cram her copy of Orwell’s 1984 in front of the box. Now the book cover with its sinister omniscient eyeball was focused outward like an amulet. 

She noticed that she had two minutes to spare! Out of breath, but relieved, she adjusted her pace and made her way to the women’s wear department.

“Peyton I need to talk to you” Shawna said as she approached the women’s wear  counter. Her blue eyes twinkled maliciously as she made a feeble attempt to conceal her smirk. Peyton felt herself cringe instinctively. “Is something wrong?” she asked meekly like someone who knew full well she was guilty of something, although she didn’t know what exactly. “Let’s go in the back.” Peyton followed three paces behind Shawna to the office.

“Peyton, I’ve had some complaints about your outfit. Your pants are too tight and you’re showing panty lines. People have been laughing at you and talking about the fat on your thighs. You’re in violation of Blanchard’s dress code.” Her low-class southern accent bleed through her snooty French pronunciation of Blanchard’s. “You’re making us look bad. I’m going to have to write you up for wearing inappropriate attire in the workplace.” 

Devastated, Peyton seethed with anger. What the hell right did Shawna have to complain about anyone else’s “inappropriate attire” or “fat thighs?” The other day Peyton had seen Shawna’s hippo hips poured into a pair of pants that could have been sprayed on. 

Shawna had managed to marry above her station in life, Peyton smugly consoled herself. She had snagged herself a med student and the promise of a bright future as a rich housewife in a few years. So now she tried to put on airs.

Peyton knew her job was now hanging by a thread. Her salary had already been cut 10% for not meeting her sales quota. This was her second write up at Blanchard’s and herthird job in six months. Livid, she said nothing. She signed the write up and slunk from the office back to the sales floor. 

Sales were slow and the minutes ticked by as Peyton ruminated. She fantasized about telling Shawna off. She would let Shawna know that the jig was up: Everyone knew that she got pregnant so she could marry up. Behind that veneer of a respectable husband she would always be white trash. Picturing Shawna’s reaction made her snicker. Peyton, at least, came from a good family. 

With Shawna at lunch it was Peyton’s job to watch the juniors in addition to the women’s wear department. It was normally a slow time of the day and with Shawna gone she looked forward to having 45 tension-free minutes.  

“Uh honey do you have these in my size?” The mature corpulent lady held up a pair of jeans meant for a skinny teenager. Peyton thought of a number of smart-alecky responses. Instead, she tactfully tilted her head towards the women’s wear department and sweetly suggested, “Uh ma’am, we have more sizes over there.” “Those are plus sizes and I don’t wear plus sizes! Are you calling me fat?” She bellowed imperiously. Without waiting for an answer she slammed the pair of jeans on the counter. The plastic hanger made a grating sound as the woman stomped off in a loathsome huff. 

Geez! I’m glad I don’t have to do this all day. At least I’m already in the plus department. I don’t have the full-time job of trying to gently shuffle sensitive fatsos over there, Peyton thought to herself.

She looked up just in time to see a woman come running in from the mall and duck behind one of the clothing stands. “May I help you?” Peyton walked over and asked with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. As the woman stepped out from behind the clothing rack Peyton was able to get a better look at her. Wow! I’m no slave to fashion, but damn, this dame is living in some kind of tragic time warp, she mused.

The woman appeared to be in her early 50s. She had on big tinted glasses that had gold initials on the lower part of one of the lenses. Her long stringy bleached hair with black roots an inch long was feathered back. She was wearing an old biker jacket and a tight pair of old Jordania jeans with baroque stitching on the rear end pockets. Peyton could make out what appeared to be an old sprawling black rose tattooed above her right breast surrounded by the words “A Touch of Class” spilling out of her black stretchy tank top. 

“Nah honey, I’m followin’ my husband” the woman replied. She flitted behind a more strategically located clothing stand to peer out into the mall. “He’s meetin’ some little bimbo he met on the Internet over there at the food court and I’m a gonna go over there an bust his sorry ass.” 

“Oh uh, which one is he?” Peyton asked intrigued. She squinted scanning the series of fast food eateries across the mall thoroughfare. “He’s the dude in the plaid shirt.” Peyton looked over and saw a slightly younger looking man as much in need of a makeover as his wife. The “dude’s” hair was styled in a mullet and he sported the same passé jeans as his wife along with a pair of green faux snake’s skin cowboy boots.

Peyton and the wife watched enthralled as he approached an attractive but, rather sleazy looking, slender, dark haired woman. Her exaggerated eye makeup gave her the appearance of an ancient Egyptian. A lace up black bustier peeped out of her red jacket tantalizingly displaying her synthetic goods. Still smarting from the panty lines writeup, Peyton noted that the woman’s black spandex pants left nothing to the imagination. 

The young woman smiled and struck a provocative pose. It was an impressive balancing act on her six inch stiletto heels. The “dude” began speaking in what looked like a rather unsavory come-on. That little floozy is really eating this up, Peyton thought, surprised by the level of contempt she felt.

The wife’s rage escalated as she watched this assignation unfolding before her eyes. “Uh, maybe you should call a detective and get all of this documented” Peyton suggested. “Oh, I’ll document it all right!” the woman asserted as she pulled out her cell phone. Peyton notice brass knuckles on the woman’s right hand. She held the phone out with her left hand and began making a beeline for the cheaters.

Peyton’s morale took a fleeting nosedive as she realized this was the most excitement she had had in ages. Instantly, she put those thoughts out of her mind as her eyes became riveted to the ersatz entertainment. Gleefully, she witnessed the sheer terror on the faces of the philanderer and his would-be paramour when they noticed the raging wife charging toward them. “Your ass is grass!” she snarled, her flaring nostrils emitting faint puffs of steam. 

Their rendezvous foiled, they bolted in separate directions. It took the wife just under a second to decide which one she was going to pulverize. Much to Peyton’s dismay she lost sight of them. She knew the husband had unwittingly dashed down a dead end wing of the mall. 

A crowd of Christmas shoppers began shamelessly gravitating toward the free show. Feeling thoroughly revitalized Peyton didn’t want to miss the showdown either. She was the only employee watching the two departments. She knew if she got caught outside the store she would get fired. After all, she was now on probation. 

In a snap decision that was totally out of character her curiosity and latent schadenfreude won out. Furtively, she glanced at her watch and gave her departments a 360 degree visual sweep. Seeing no one she slipped out of Blanchard’s and into the mall.

The crowd reminded Peyton of a great mythical beast undulating toward its prey.  Stealthily, she moved to lose herself in its anonymity. Still nervous about having left her departments unattended she hesitated for a second. Then she acquiesced to her impulse and became one with the mob as it herded down the dead end wing of the mall. 

By now the wife had driven her cheating husband into a corner where he was trapped, right in front of Félicité’s Boudoir! A trio of plastic dominatrices looked on mockingly from the display window. Coquettishly menacing, their attire ranged from chains and leather to latex and feathers. Decked out in 8” stiletto heel platform boots they brandished whips and cuffs. Choral strains of “Let heaven and nature sing” played softly over the mall’s PA system.

The husband was petrified, his face ashen. The wife’s hair was disheveled, her angry contorted face blazing red hot. She erupted into a cascade of curses. Her temples throbbing she cocked her brass knuckled fist and raised it high. She busted his nose with a nauseating thud that left them both splattered with blood. He moaned and groaned as blood continued flowing from his busted nose. 

Gluckman’s security arrived and tried to coax her off him but not before she managed to recoil and land another powerful punch, this time to his midsection. He emitted an eerie sound like a dog being hit by a car. 

Her fury was spent. The police arrived and promptly wrestled her into a pair of handcuffs. The great beast dissipated back into respectable Christmas shoppers and the chorus of taunting tarts reverted to being mere props.

Peyton felt a sinister sense of satisfaction from having vicariously participated in a bloodbath. She headed back to Blanchard’s steadily picking up her pace. She glanced from side to side for any sign of team players garnished with clear plastic handbags. 

 As she approached the entrance to Blanchard’s she peeked nervously at her watch. Her foray had been a mere five minutes, though it seemed like an eternity coming back. Her counter appeared much farther away than she remembered. Quickly she planted herself behind its safety and familiarity. 

Relief flooded over her, then cockiness. She felt as if she had just completed a home run or, better yet, like a clever criminal who has gotten away with it. Victoriously she began tapping her feet. Swaying from side to side she did a pirouette.

 Suddenly, a chill slithered down Peyton’s spine! She felt like she was the one who had been punched in the stomach. The entire collection of Silkette pants was gone! Her immediate reaction was denial. Horrified, she began searching to see what else was missing. She couldn’t decide whether or not to call security. 

She could only hope and pray the theft would go unnoticed until inventory and or get blamed on Shawna, since she was the manager. For a moment Peyton savored the malevolent thought of Shawna getting fired on her behalf. Maybe she could shuffle the merchandise around to hide the gap. With a sinking feeling she saw how unlikely this was noting that all of the Queen LaToya tank tops and the Johnny Girl boxers were gone as well. 

Maybe she could pretend to have fainted, since the clerk would have to have been sleeping for this much merchandise to be stolen. She could lie on the floor feigning unconsciousness until someone came along to revive her. That should induce sympathy and the theft wouldn’t be her fault. If she had a medical excuse legally they couldn’t fire her, she reasoned.

It only now occurred to her that her leaving the store would be on the security cameras. The reality that, more than likely, she was going to get fired began to sink in. 

“Did you enjoy the fight?” Peyton felt her blood congeal! Recognizing Shawna’s voice she turned around slowly, unsure how she should react. “You do know that leaving the store on the clock without permission is grounds for immediate dismissal? I’m going to have to take this up with Chris.” Peyton remained frozen in place. 

Shawna’s mouth gaped open, her eyes became round as saucers. “Holy..., Peyton! What the hell happened to all the merchandise?” Shawna continued surveying the extent of the theft. “Well, thanks to you, we were robbed! This happened all on your watch!” Shawna growled. Frantically, she grabbed the microphone and shouted: “Chris to women’s wear! Code 86, code 86!”  

Chris, the loss-prevention manager, came striding over, out of breath followed by a security guard. Her stalwart highly polished black shoes made slight thuds. Perspiration was beading through her dark fledgling goatee. Slight heaves were detectable from her starchy shapeless button down white blouse. Her belly hung over a pair of sturdy polyester khaki pants. Her only concession to fashion was a pair of red suspenders. She wore her Blanchard’s employee of the month badge proudly, right above her heart. Peyton thought of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and wondered if Chris had ever had an iota of individuality.

“What happened here!” she demanded in her lowing tone. “Peyton left the store to go watch a fight out in the mall and we were cleaned out!” Shawna related, all the while staring Peyton down. Chris turned to Peyton and bore through her with odious eyes. “I, I only left for a minute or so.” Peyton stammered. “And who’s going to pay for all of Blanchard’s stolen merchandise? Her deep voice steadily rising. “You’re fired!” 

Despondent and oblivious to the world, Peyton trudged toward the service entrance. It was still drizzling as she made the trek through the employee parking lot. 

She began to simmer. Her thoughts turned to that bitch, Shawna, and her perfect doctor husband. She recalled the time she had to drive herself to the doctor with a sprained ankle and then had to walk a hundred feet. She couldn’t park in any of the empty spaces right next to the door because they were reserved for doctors. 

Peyton got into her car and slowly wove through the parking lot, densely packed with Christmas shoppers. She was nearly at the exit when out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a man with a gray hoodie pulled up over his head and a baseball cap sitting low on his forehead. He had a baby slung across his back and was quickly transferring lots of clothes from a baby carriage to the trunk of his SUV. 

Instantly her intuition kicked in and her retail radar went up. They had been cautioned by the pinch-butt patrol at Blanchard’s orientation to consider anyone with a baby carriage a potential shoplifter and not to take their eyes off of them. 

Peyton slowed down and squinted. Even though he was wearing a hoodie she could tell he had a nice physique. As he turned in her direction she caught a glimpse of blond hair. Then as he looked up she saw his face. Her heart almost leaped out of her chest! Shawna’s golden boy med student and church-going husband was making off with Blanchard’s stolen merchandise! Not knowing how she should react, and afraid of a confrontation, she instinctively sped away. 

Instantly, Peyton regretted not having slowed down and recorded him on her cellphone. She thought about contacting security but decided not to get involved. He would be long gone by the time they moseyed over. Then it would be entirely her word against his. Knowing how highly people thought of Shawna’s husband, combined with her history of losing jobs, she feared that no one would believe her. She would only bring trouble and embarrassment upon herself and her family. 

She had already been fired so what would be the point? She, after all, would be considered a culprit too for leaving the store unattended. Why, what if she were considered a disgruntled accomplice for coming forward? she pondered. 

She couldn’t remember ever having felt so violated. Conniving Shawna gave such a stellar performance as the innocent dedicated manager she should win an Oscar for best grifter! Peyton felt like such a sucker. Even the windshield wipers seemed to be rebuking her as their chump, chump, chump rhythm crescendoed into a migraine. 

As far as Peyton was concerned Blanchard’s was a skinflint and she wasn’t going to feel guilty about their loss. Blanchard’s (she contemptuously enunciated the French pronunciation to herself) could stuff it. She tried to placate herself by rationalizing that Shawna and her accomplice husband would eventually have to face their karma. 

She looked over at the requisite clear plastic handbag lying on the passenger’s seat. The sun had fought its way back out and was shining brightly through the bold black letters, “PROPERTY OF BLANCHARD’S.”


© Copyright 2017 D.B. Goodpasture. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

More Mystery and Crime Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by D.B. Goodpasture

The Perfect Man

Short Story / Science Fiction

The Other Gweilo

Short Story / Humor

Borderline in the Workers' Paradise

Short Story / Mystery and Crime

Popular Tags